From Publishers Weekly
Willis (Reflections in Black
), a MacArthur fellow and chair of New York University's photography department, curates a collection of iconic portraits and snapshots by anonymous photographers in a history of beauty that merges gender, race, family, class. Willis's words, a distillation of her inquiries into beauty and race, are few—the images speak for themselves. The photographs, organized thematically, reach back to the 1890s and forward to the current first family. Famous photographers share perspective with family photographers and those known only as Unidentified Photographer. The recognizably famous—James Baldwin, Marian Anderson, Joe Louis—appear along with those known only as Mom and Friend, Two women holding magazine, ca. 1950s or Barber cutting man's hair outdoors, ca. 1930s. Willis's content is groundbreaking; rarely, for example, are men this adequately represented in a work devoted to beauty within black culture. For Willis, this extraordinary compilation is the culmination of my exploration of beauty within black culture and through the medium of photography. For readers, this is a dazzling eye-opener. (Nov.)
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“Drawing on 10 years of research and photos from archives, galleries, photographers, friends, and family, Willis reflects the broad spectrum of images of beauty over more than a century. She examines how beauty is defined, exploited, manipulated, and marketed.... An aesthetic look at black beauty by the author of Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present
.” (Vanessa Bush - Booklist
“The book is a treasure, a triumph and a singular achievement that invites fresh and enduring insights with each viewing.” (Jennifer Baszile - The New York Times Book Review