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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snaps of the visual generation, November 24, 2007
This review is from: The Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies (Hardcover)
Rather cheekily, I thought, Gilles Mora kicks off his fascinating study of sixties and seventies photography with a reference to a 1958 Popular Photography magazine poll, by 234 critics, to nominate the world's ten greatest living photographers. The chosen ten, naturally famous but annoyingly for Mora did not include Walker Evans or Robert Frank (or Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind and Paul Strand either). The reason it seems was that American photography was stuck in either providing illustrative or informational work and its last gasp was the 1955 MoMA Family of Man exhibition.

The 1958 publication of Robert Frank's 'The Americans' is generally considered to be the event that kick-started a generation of photographers to explore, in very individual ways, the American social and man-made landscape. It is twenty-nine of these who form the basis of Mora's book. Mostly they are well-known now having had exhibitions and books published and been around long enough to have created photographic genres: like New Topographics or American Lumanists.

I thought the editorial flow of the book rather impressive. The five chapters are sub-divided into sections where Mora explores a theme followed by a selection of relevant photographers (and their work) with each getting some copy about their life and creative output. Related areas include the rise of the photo gallery, photo publishing and running through most of the pages (rightly I thought) the extraordinary influence and drive of MoMA's photo-curator John Szarkowski.

The book's production is as impressive as the contents. The two hundred photos are printed on quality matt paper with plenty of large images in 250+ screen. Photos have captions on the same page (thank goodness, so no flipping to back pages to check out a caption, which seems to be the annoying style of so many photo books these days). Strangely there is no index or bibliography, maybe Mora thought this was too personal a photo journey to bother with such things? I'll add two that I've enjoyed: American Images: Photography 1945-1980 a good reference to eighty-five photographers with 350 photos and American Photography more a straight history.

'The Last Photographic Heroes' delivers a lively look at American imagery and Mora's efforts might make it the standard book on the subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must, January 7, 2008
This review is from: The Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies (Hardcover)
I purchased this book sign unseen. Always risky. But I am extremely pleased with my purchase. The book is insightful and smart. Anyone who loves this particular era of photography will find it to be informative, provocative, and thorough. The delightful and unexpected aspect was learning about a few photographers who I was unfamiliar with. Surprising since I studied photo. I have given it to a couple of friends to read in order for them to understand the era that defined the kind of photography I love. Great examples of great photographers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just Superb!, December 21, 2012
This review is from: The Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies (Hardcover)
Gilles Mora has done an outstanding job of compiling the 'who's who' of that golden age of photography. The title was kinda corny and made me wonder. But once I cracked the book open it proved itself to be the bible on the subject.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capturing the Baby Boomers Booming, February 6, 2009
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This review is from: The Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies (Hardcover)
I was surprised and pleased with how much I enjoyed this book. I didn't and still don't necessarily agree with all the author's choices for "Heroic Photographers" but that's a matter of personal taste. But as someone who lived through the decades covered by the book and saw the pictures as they were first introduced to the public, this book is a good collection of that work starting with "The Family of Man" exhibit and the work of Robert Frank and moving on to various other photographers and photojournalists. There were even a few pictures I'd never seen before and a few photographers I'd never heard of, of it I had, I simply dismissed them as celebrity flashes in the pan. I still don't care for their work. I was introduced to a photographer-photojournalist I'd never before encountered by the name of Larry Clark. He seemed like the "son of Robert Frank" in photography. There was a stunning photograph entitled "They met a girl on acid in Bryant Park at 6 a.m. and took her home." Now I'm certain I'd never come across this particular photo because no magazine of that time period would have dared publish it and risk the wrath of the government censors. In the above mentioned picture the woman on acid is getting just what anyone in that condition would expect to get--taken advantage of in every way possible. Hopefully the poor girl didn't get pregnant or a social disease because it's obvious that she was being gang raped (probably with her consent), and it's clear from the next nude guy in line that no safe sex was being practiced. She appears to be enjoying herself even though she was probably much too stoned to even remember what happened. This example of Larry Clark's photographs comes from the book "Teenage Lust" published in 1983 by Ralph Gibson's Lustrum Press. This essay and his earlier 1971 photographic essay "Tulsa" both "function as an unprecedented autobiographical chronicle, without the slightest compromise, commercial posturing, or other false artistic alibi." The second book "is a scorching memoir of Larry Clark's teenage years and his troubles with the law."
This was the most interesting work that I'd not previously been acquainted with. I was also pleased with the other subjects covered such as Mike Madel's "series of photographs printed in the format of baseball cards." These 143 black and white cards were all of famous photographers dressed up like baseball players.
Without going into more descriptions, this book is an absolute must for the serious student of modern photography. I can't easily think of many other books about photography that I've enjoyed more other than various photographic essays by David Douglas Duncan, who isn't included in this collection for some reason and he was without question a "real hero photographer." He not only risked his life covering several wars from the trenches, but his intimate essays in "The Private World of Pablo Picasso" and several other books about that most famous painter allowed the world a glimpse into the world of one of the greatest artists of all time.
Even without DDD, this book is a must and a keeper!
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