In his fine introduction to these even finer photographs, Dominik Wichmann makes the following observation: "Pictures impact when you can look into them, like into a real life, and not when you have to look over them like on a surface." I can think of no better description of this superb collection from the 1970's up to 2011 of the German photographer Volker Hinz. Sometimes you are about as close to the subject as is possible to go: for instance, the close-ups of a woman's breasts ("A party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Playboy, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA, 1979") or "A tourist, New Orleans, UA, 1979"-- I have a friend whose hands look so much like these in the photo that it is eerie-- or the shot of Lady Gaga's breasts and hands in those scary gloves. Many of the shots, in both black and white and in color, look like snapshots (Mick Jagger jumping for instance) while others appear to be formally posed portraits (Woody Allen and one of my favorites from the series of other photographers, Joel-Peter Witkin, to name just two). To a photo, they are intriguing, inviting and sometimes edgy. Who else would photograph Helmut Kohl the way Hinz does, in front of two horses with their backsides in the reader's face? An interesting commentary on Mr. Kohl I believe.
While many of the images are of celebrities-- designers, sports figures, politicians, famous photographers--the shots of unknowns are just as interesting: for example, the photographs taken at the Area Club in New York or "A man with a pin-up calendar, Detroit, USA, 1982." Mr. Wichmann makes much in his introduction of Mr. Hinz's intuition and ability to get the right photograph at just the right time. The shot of Leonard Bernstein is a perfect example. The people in the background also have a story to tell and don't we want to know what they are about as well. Or the couple dancing behind Chet Baker on the next page.
My favorite photo in the whole book is that of "The chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel, Berlin, 2006." Mr. Hinz uses a collage method-- if that is the proper name for it-- where he had taken two shots of Ms. Merkel and printed one slightly over the other, a technique that David Hockey devoted an entire book to, by the way. This is just a fine photograph that you cannot get away from.
Like all good books of photography, this is one that you will come back to again and again.