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Season's Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree Hardcover – September 1, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Shimon and Julie Lindemann have been photographing collaboratively since the mid-1980s. Their work has appeared in New York, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune magazine, and in the books Wisconsin Then and Now: The Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Rephotography Project; Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde; and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self. Shimon and Lindemann live in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and teach at the Art Institute of Chicago and Lawrence University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Melcher Media (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971793530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971793538
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you are a child of the early 60s like me, or just someone who appreciates great photography, then you will love this sweetly nostalgic look at aluminum Christmas trees. Season's Gleamings is full of beautiful color photos showing the amazing variety of trees available at the time: small silver tabletop models, giant gold seven-footers, trees festooned with period ornaments, and others shimmering in the glow of rotating color wheels. I loved flipping through the pages of this book and being reminded of the Christmases of my childhood. I highly recommend it as a gift for family and friends, or as a holiday coffee table book for your own home. Wonderful!
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Format: Hardcover
Possibly the first book on the subject, this seasonal consumer-oriented photo art book resurrects and celebrates the ready-made art of the aluminum Christmas tree. Mass-produced to satisfy consumer tastes beginning about 1959, these tinselly beauties became passé in the mid-60's, but were later rescued from thrift store and garage sale by retro hipsters like Shimon & Lindemann. Better known for hand-crafted photographic studies using antiquarian techniques, Shimon & Lindemann teamed up with innovative Melcher Media for this exacting re-evaluation. The result is a compact project whose ostentatious packaging might have degraded the unremitting Pictorialist control the artists bring to their main body of work. Fortunately, Shimon and Lindemann respond to the motif of manufactured beauty with a supple ordering of Duchampian wit, pop art ironies and straight-up pictorial portraiture. Among my faves: In "Christmas Alone" religious and secular ironies are layered by dual focal points of aluminum treetop angel and a humble repast of instant coffee and popcorn; authentic period objects re-enforce the theme of the legacy of aluminum. "Viewing 1961 in 1959" in 2004, as the title clumsily suggests, leans heavily on anachronistic concept yet achieves an attractive combo of color and composition with various objects, including a working 1958 Philco Predicata Penthouse television. "P.P.'s family tree.." is planar, analytical. Twenty-five blue Shiny Brite ornaments and, seemingly, behind them, a scraggly Craft House Fairyland Pink Tree weightlessly occupy an off-white emptiness of space. Seasons Gleamings contextualizes the aluminum Christmas tree craze with two serviceable essays, one a sort of memoir by the artists and a second, by Brooklyn-based writer, Tom Vanderbilt.Read more ›
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By PC on January 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I only wish they put more pictures of the trees. I remember much more different colors than what is in the book.

I had a turquoise aluminum tree, with lime green bulbs, purple bulbs, silver bulbs, and turquoise. It was so pretty. I would have liked to see more color, and more trees.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was really excited to find this book. My friend loves old aluminum Christmas trees and all things retro. I thought this book would be something she would really enjoy, and got it for her as a Christmas gift. It is a little on the small side. There are lots of pictures of aluminum trees, but none of them great or exciting...in fact, most of them are a little blurry and a bit dull. It would have been so much cooler if they would have made the effort to find REAL old photos and advertisements. There is not much written about the subject, either. So much could have been added to how and why aluminum trees came about, when and why they went out of style, their comeback today, their value in today's market, etc.. I wouldn't recommend the book at all. I took a chance on it, and I am still going to give it to my friend, but now I feel like I have to supplement this lame book with something else. I don't want her to be totally disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's difficult to believe an aluminum tree can make you feel so warm! I purchased this book after Christmas as one of those 'surprise gifts' for myself when I dig out all of my holiday stuff in November '10. That said, I didn't peruse it front to back yet, but as someone who grew up watching one of those trees change colors in my grandparents' living room, this book evoked some fantastic feelings. The variety of photos I did peek at are lovely and although I never thought of these trees as 'art' before, I do now! I see I still have a bit to learn about the wonderful aluminum tree I inherited and the rest of its family. I've been wanting this book since it was featured on Sunday Morning years ago, and I'm thrilled to finally have it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My parents bought an aluminum tree when my sister and I were young, 1959, for safety reasons. I still have the tree and love it because it reminds me of my early Christmases. This collection of photographs is delightful for us aluminum tree lovers to not only see the different kinds created other than our own but also to see various decorating and lighting ideas. Safety hint, change the old hot bulb in the color wheel to a new energy efficient and cooler bulb.
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Format: Hardcover
Season's Gleamings begs you to look deeper than the tinsel, into the heart of small town America laid waste by the broken promises of wartime prosperity. It would be a shame if this book were relegated merely to the kitsch Christmas section of bookstores all over America. This is an ode to small town America and the secrets and memories that it holds as seen through the eyes of the documentary photographers J. Shimon and J. Lindemann, chroniclers of the ashes of the American dream. Not a nostalgic tribute to the Sears or Montgomery-Ward Christmas catalog but an adult tale that begs the reader to participate. For example, "Foot Massage Christmas", (page 23), shows a pair of spiked heels and a 1950s style vibrator upstaging a "seven foot, one-hundred branch, Star Brand Company Sparkler Pom-Pom Aluminum Christmas tree with a dozen shiny bright ornaments"-ho-ho-ho! "Insomnia" (page 59) depicts the seamy underside of a Normal Rockwell Christmas. Finally, "Nursing Home Christmas" on the cover of the book, reminds the reader of the hopes that the aluminum industry gave to small town Manitowoc, Wisconsin and the nothing they yielded. Perhaps this book, with its scathing insights crafted by two of Manitowoc's own children, is one of the best vestiges of the proud wartime industry of Manitowoc and of small towns all over America. These artists have accomplished something both mystical and haunting by documenting a past that dies a little bit every day.
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