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Loretta Lux Hardcover – June 15, 2005

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

German artist Lux combines painting, photography and digital imagery to create disturbing, fairy tale-like portraits of children. In this sleek collection of 45 portraits, Lux superimposes photographs of her young models, many sporting vintage clothes and hairstyles, onto imaginary backgrounds of painted clouds or rose gardens. As essayist Prose explains, the portraits do not capture the reality of childhood; instead, they communicate something "about the world that children live in, about the way adults see them." The children's faces, all unsettlingly expressionless, are like those of porcelain dolls, frozen pale pink with blushed cheeks. Most of the models stare straight at the camera, their glassy eyes penetrating the reader, but even more intriguing are the photos in which the children are looking elsewhere, focused on something that no longer exists. At first glance, the children look flawless, almost too perfect to be real, but viewers captivated by their beauty will soon take notice of discomforting subtleties, like the stains on the girl's jacket in "Marianne," or the girl's bandaged and bruised knees in "Study of a Girl 1." "Like every child, the children in these pictures have secrets from the adult world, secrets more urgent and real to them than the reality around them," Prose writes, and it is this disparity between the secretive and the superficial worlds that makes these photographs so captivating.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Apparently inspired by the child portraiture of Velazquez, German artist Lux produces eerily composed photo portraits of children. She poses her subjects, dressed in costumes of her selection, against a blank backdrop. Later she digitally places them in landscapes and barren rooms culled from other photographs. Characteristically, the colors of a child's clothes match or nearly match those of the backgrounds, and all are pale as the children's skin. The children never smile; rarely do their eyes gaze directly out, more rarely do they suggest communication. Seemingly floating before rather than inhabiting the settings, they are to be appreciated strictly for what they are, like the little royalty and aristocrats in old paintings. In the introductory essay, Francine Prose says just about everything that needs to be said to enrich viewing the portraits, but she doesn't notice the album's single image of an adult: a young man with a shotgun, dressed in camouflage and kneeling beside a dog, whose anomalous presence encourages leafing through the book again and again to figure out how he fits. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931788545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931788540
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #798,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris R. Richards on June 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Lux's first monograph is highly original and challenging to its viewers. The children in these 45 images will haunt anyone who views them and provoke you to view the children around you in a new light. Lux was a trained as a painter and each image takes her months to compose from the painted elements in the backdrops to the alterations in color and shape she makes within the photographs themselves. The result are images that make the viewer reflect both on childhood and on the act of viewing something outside ourselves. How often do we actually look at children directly that are not are own? How self aware are the children around us or how well do they understand the world around them? The pictures taunt and elude are perceptions. At first the children seem too photoshopped and perfect - like an adult's idealized view of childhood. Then your eye notices bruises on the child's body, eyes unnaturally large, or a bandaid covering a knee cut. The myth of the perfect child living in an edenic world is violated and the viewer is left in an uneasy place. These strange images are ones that will stick with viewers beyond their first impressions and Lux has a bright future in the art world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Loretta Lux's first monograph packs in 45 portraits, but this is no recap from prior publishings; over half have never been published before. You'll find the German photographer's imaginary portraits of children to be both haunting and chilling. Her kids are rarely smiling - indeed, they face the world with a seriousness not usually seen in portraits of kids seemingly middle-class or more in society. A haunting set of artistic images for any interested in portraits and photos of children.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey P. Smith on August 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The portraits are quite startling, and technically dazzling. However there is little empathy with the children apparent to this eye, and the results are a bit chilly. I'll be interested to see how often I return to muse over these photographs.Reservations aside, this is provocative new work, and a good addition to a collection of contemporary photo monographs . The book's production is excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Bollobas on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I saw Loretta Lux's "Boy with Drum," I've been fascinated by her work. She manages to mix photography with painting and produce works that just stay in your mind (at least in mine). Her subjects are amusing, beautiful, and even slightly subversive. Everything in the images, from the colours used, to the clothes worn, and even the backgrounds, all combine to create unforgettable pieces that take the viewer back to a time that never existed. In my mind, this book conjures up a semi-Hitchcockian dream world where children are in control.

Her pictures are incredible and truly unique (something that cannot be said of most) - you know when you are looking at a Lux. Every time I pass the book, I pick it up. And each time, I am surprised by how intrigued I still am about her work. The book is timeless... A phenomenal book! Buy this book and you will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Sanchez on January 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ultimately beautiful and unsettling, this book contains a collection of highly stylized and manipulated photographs that are deceptively simple.

This is only one of many paradoxes that this series of photographs seems to straddle.

It is nostalgic and modern

It is familiar and fresh.

It is modest and complex.

It is frank and secretive.

It is austere and playful.

Published by Aperture, the printing is flawless. The reproductions are arresting and I don't doubt that only the real prints can trump them.

The only two adults featured in this book are Loretta Lux and The Hunter. The other portraits are of children--an oft featured subject matter of many photographers; But whereas others before her dress kids up like bumble bees and/or sunflowers, Lux chooses to posit an altogether different assessment of children and childhood.

To be sure, there is nothing "cute" about this book. That, in and of itself, is an impressive feat as overly saccharine and trite photos of children run rampant. The word "cute" never even crossed my mind.

Interesting indeed: they say that a picture is worth a thousand words but these images evoke a quietude that transcends.

Simply said: Lux leaves the viewer quite without words. Utterly. Speechless.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Felix Allen on February 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

I'll take Loretta's oversize headed models with their blank icy expressions and combine them with Maggie Taylor's surreal complex backgrounds. As Dire Srtaits would say in their Money for Nothing song,"yeah, that's the ticket!" If I did that, I'd emerge from the struggling artist classification. I'll be an instant hit!

But really, this is an excellent representation of another emerging photographic artist who is using Photoshop very creatively in a painterly way. I just wish she would add some more obvious "danger" to her compositions. After all, alluring mystery is good - but there's just too much cutesy innocence here for my taste. Oh well, I guess it's a cool thing in modern photography to present subjects which are "cryptically innocent" and "vulnerable".

But it's still highly recommended. They are masterly done. Stare long and hard at the pictures, they will give you the chills!
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