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American Artifacts: Phil Bergerson
American Artifacts: Phil Bergerson
by Phil Bergerson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.56
43 used & new from $16.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Capturing everyday surfaces, May 14, 2015
The book is the second helping of Phil Bergerson's fascinating photos showing handmade and commercially produced signage in faded urban areas across the US. The previous title (Shards of America) had sixty spreads revealing shop windows, building and walls, this newer book extends the theme by including several commonplace landscapes.

Bergerson has a knack of finding visual conundrums in the everyday city or town environment, the sort of thing no one notices until you see them in these photos. One of the things I really like about his work is the evenness of color, whether it is a mid-distance landscape or a close up of a scrap of paper stuck on a window. Combine this with some very intriguing compositions and this becomes a book of photos that delivers on every return visit.

The layout follows the successful photo book format: all of them are eight inches square, centred on the page with generous margins, a location and date caption complete each page. The only downside, in my opinion, are the two essays front and back of the photo section. Neither really considers Bergerson's work, Margaret Atwood writes about debt and wealth while 'Sequencing' by Nathan Lyons is a remarkable elitist written essay on framing and sequence in photography. Fortunately the essays only occupy nine pages of the 158 in the book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2015 5:38 AM PDT

OfficeUS Atlas (Repository)
OfficeUS Atlas (Repository)
by Ana Miljacki
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $45.57
30 used & new from $41.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Export only, April 27, 2015
A remarkably comprehensive look at American's contribution to world architecture. The 1232 pages, divided into twenty chapters, use articles from the leading architectural magazines to explore 169 companies (who each get a profile spread) and 675 examples of their overseas work. Though the book starts its historical look from 1900 it isn't until the Thirties that a large number of European architects (including Neutra, Pie, van der Rohe, Gropius, Breuer, Gruen, Sert) emigrated to the US to join existing or start their own companies, they all helped create the powerhouse of the American architectural office.

The years after 1945 provided a huge increase of overseas work with, for example, American oil companies and hotels chains expanding around the world. The Cold War and politics also provided plenty of creative stimulus. US embassies and staff accommodation required contemporary structures in dozens of countries. At the end of each chapter there are spreads with thumbnails of overseas buildings plus details of the architectural office who designed them. All the embassies have a logo saying: United States of America Embassy, they keep appearing right up to 2010.

The Gulf States were another lucrative area. Pages 752--753 has a graphic with a map and timeline detailing seventy-four projects from 1948 to 1986. Riyadh, Kuwait City and Jubail are dotted with American designed structures. From the mid-nineties Asia and especially China, provided plenty of work not only the usual standout office buildings but museums, universities and schools, airports, stadiums, shopping plazas (the Jerde Partnership designed six) and the usual embassies and consulates.

I thought the book packs in a huge amount of detail, especially the essays, on a spread at the start of each chapter, the book's four editors clearly know their subject. There is though one annoyance I found with the book, frequently the spreads from the architectural magazines have the columns either side of their middle unreadable because of the thickness of this book. The title was designed by the international design company Pentagram and they really should have known better. The easy solution would be to slightly separate the reproduced magazine spreads so that they don't go into the books spine.

'Office-US Atlas' is a huge compendium of American architectural creativity.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2015 11:25 PM PDT

The Weegee Guide to New York: Roaming the City with its Greatest Tabloid Photographer
The Weegee Guide to New York: Roaming the City with its Greatest Tabloid Photographer
by Weegee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $31.18
50 used & new from $23.81

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roaming the streets with Mr Speed Graphic, April 15, 2015
If you have a book or two of Weegee's work the photo captions usually just give the date and vague location, now, at last, with this intriguing book you can find exactly where he took 265 if his remarkable street scene photos in these pages.

As the title suggests this is a guide book (loosely based on those popular tourist guide books like Dorling Kindersley 'Eyewitness' series or 'Everyman Guides') with its upright shape, fold-out maps and clean layouts and typography.

The book is divided into eleven chapters, basically Manhattan and one for Brooklyn plus Coney Island, remember those crowded beach scenes shots? Each starts with a fold-out map (and these have been beautifully created by Adrian Kitzinger) and they show not only the street location but which direction Weegee was facing and a symbol reveals what was being photographed: fire; vehicle accident; police action; murder/suicide; aerial view; burst water main. Not all the photos are what might be called news oriented, there are plenty of ordinary street scene shots but they are all located on the maps. The photos are from the late Thirties to the start of the Sixties, all have captions and nicely some are quite detailed. The only color shot is Times Square from September 1957, a Weegee rarity as newspapers only used his black and white photos.

I found the book quite fascinating and though New York has changed over the decades I've used Street View to find some of these places and occasionally found a location that is more or less as Weegee saw it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2015 8:54 AM PDT

Gordon Parks: Segregation Story
Gordon Parks: Segregation Story
by Gordon Parks
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from $128.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Southern life not so long ago, April 12, 2015
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A wonderful selection of photos from Gordon Parks assignment to Shady Grove and Mobile, Alabama, in 1956. As a Life magazine staffer he was the ideal photographer to cover colored life in Jim Crow country and the magazine spread the photos over a very generous twelve pages, though oddly the feature wasn't mentioned on the cover.

The sixty photos in the book clearly show how a significant minority of Americans lived in the southern states back then. An aura of poverty comes across in so many of these images and Parks instinctive knack of framing the essential detail pulls you into the composition. The shacks, school, a church service, funeral, work in the fields and kids playing are all here, showing the colored community separate but hopelessly unequal. The full impact of these photos really comes across in the last few photos in the book because here segregation is spelt out in no uncertain terms with signs: 'Colored entrance' at a movie house; two drinking fountains with 'Colored only' on one of them; 'Colored waiting room' at a bus station (actually taken in Nashville) and the book's cover photo at Atlanta airport with a sign, partially obscured, that says 'Colored only'. The final photo in the book shows six children looking through a wire fence at a playground (slides, swimming pool, et cetera) in a white neighborhood.

Steidl have nicely added an something extra at the back of the book: the twelve pages from the September 24, 1956 issue of Life that featured Parks segregation photo assignment. Reproduced smaller than Life size but the story by Robert Wallace and all the captions are quite readable. Incidentally, the Steidl five volume box set of Gordon Parks photo career has one of the books devoted to reproductions of several of his Life assignments.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2015 6:45 AM PDT

James Donkey USB 2.0 Optical 2000DPI Flexible Wired Gaming Mouse for ipad PC Laptop (Black)
James Donkey USB 2.0 Optical 2000DPI Flexible Wired Gaming Mouse for ipad PC Laptop (Black)
Offered by Storm Store
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Let this Donkey do the work, March 31, 2015
A handsome looking mouse from Shenzen Mahu Technology, essentially designed for gamers though, of course, it can used on any devise with a USB port. I found it very sensitive and precise in use.

It looks and feels well made with six hand-friendly control options, a switch underneath turns on a yellow light inside the mouse to create two eyes on the front. I particularly liked the scroll wheel because it can move the cursor in small increments. The flex is a generous five foot and made from non-twisting TPE and a nice touch is the USB end which has been designed to include the styling of the mouse. Check out the tech specs on this page.

The packaging is worth a mention. A matt black landscape box with black gloss ink for the product name. Pull open the box with a small yellow tab to reveal a long piece of yellow card wrapping the mouse and flex. The card has the specs in English and Chinese (somewhat predictably the type is rather tiny). It's interesting that the company has considered all aspects of the product and its packaging.

A mouse treat for gamers and at a very reasonable price.

Barbara Crane: Chicago Loop
Barbara Crane: Chicago Loop
by Sarah Anne McNear
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from $10.09

2.0 out of 5 stars Great images in a loopy design, March 15, 2015
The forty photos in the book are close-ups of buildings, old and new, in the Chicago Loop. Actually they could have been taken in any large American city because the reveal close-up sections of structures rather than the views from sidewalk and up. Barbara Crane took these to capture the texture and tones and using a long lens to compress brickwork and steel and as such I though they worked beautifully. The tight cropping (which removes the sky) and mostly straight on shots really deliver some remarkable patterns of vertical walls, windows, fire-escapes and shadows.

It's unfortunate that despite an excellent print job by Meridian (probably America's best art book printers) and using a three hundred screen I thought the book was hopelessly over designed. The problem is that the photos (6.75 by 4.75 inches) are centred on large black pages which overpower the images so that their quality is dramatically reduced. If the photos were kept at the same size but on a much smaller page the book would have been excellent. There is also a bit of designer whimsy with each photo retaining the small tabs that come at the top of plate adds nothing to the appreciation of the photos in my view.

It's shame that design spoils great work. Another fine book of images from the LaSalle Bank Photo Collection published in 2004 looks at the buildings and people of Chicago over several decades and didn't have the design annoyances of Crane's book but rather oddly didn't include one of her photos.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2015 3:15 AM PDT

Comedy Movie Posters (Illustrated History of Movies Through Posters)
Comedy Movie Posters (Illustrated History of Movies Through Posters)
by Richard Allen
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $4.91

5.0 out of 5 stars The kings of comedy, March 8, 2015
'Comedy movie posters' is the twelfth volume in Bruce Hershenson's excellent movie poster series. I have another book: 'Crime movie posters' and as it's the same format as Comedy so I assume all the books follow the same visual style. The way the pages are poster heavy might not be to everyone's taste but (neatly) cramming them in was the only way to show so many in eighty pages.

The posters are for movies from the 1920s to 2000 and it's the ones from the late forties into the fifties that I like with their use of color, illustration and lettering creating an exuberant collage style that was used by all the studios. Into the sixties and seventies the style was a mix of photos and illustration and in the last decade of the century photography was the main visual element.

A worthy addition to any movie fan's library.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2015 10:25 AM PDT

Walker Evans: Signs
Walker Evans: Signs
by Andrei Codrescu
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from $7.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Sign language, March 8, 2015
This review is from: Walker Evans: Signs (Hardcover)
I've had the book for some years and every time I look through it I think it should have looked much better. There two problems:
1 The photos are treated as if they were ordinary graphic images so the designer, to create visual interest, has made them different sizes, butted some together into the spine, used black pages with the photos centered, run some off the edges of the page.
2 Perhaps more serious is the small type Technical Note on page ix (I can't think of any reason to use roman numerals for the first nine pages) that says some of the photos have been slightly cropped and a few severely cropped.

The cropping of the photos seems so unnecessary, if they had all been centered on the page with reasonable margins the reader could enjoy and appreciate these wonderful photos. Rather oddly they are captioned twice, once on the relevant page and again at the back with four pages of thumbnails and brief technical details.

The fifty photos reveal Walker Evans love of letters in the environment, especially on buildings though this is a common theme among all well known American commonplace photographers. Evans seems to have searched out the most obscure bits of typography, page thirteen has a photo of some stairs with a repeated sign on each step, page fifteen is a close-up of a female pedestrian holding a newspaper under her arm with just the letters CI and part of a T visible, page thirty-nine shows the interior of a room in a house with TICKETS on a piece of board and it's hanging just above a fireplace.

A wonderful selection of photos unfortunately presented in a rather uninspiring way.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2015 10:24 AM PDT

Taking My Time
Taking My Time
by Joel Meyerowitz
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $489.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Captured moments, March 2, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Taking My Time (Hardcover)
A beautiful two-volume overview of Joel Meyerowitz's contribution to the art of photography. The 680 pages reveal 580 photos (400 in color) covering his work from 1962 to 2011. Apart from the eight page intro by Francesco Zanot all the text is by Meyerowitz, either as an essay with each chapter or deep captions for dozens of individual photos and I thought it's pity that there wasn't more of these because he reveals his interesting thoughts about what caught his eye and why.

I thought the selection of photos was excellent, with so many in the two books you might expect to see a few also-rans but no, virtually every picture pulls you into the frame, then you appreciate the subject, composition, color or mono and I found several that just kept me looking and looking before turning the page. The books have additional material: a twenty-page graphic novel in book two about a car trip Meyerowitz and his pop took from New York to Florida and back, the images are taken from the eighty minute DVD in the back of the book. Book one has a fascinating sixteen page landscape insert with six photos presented as color on the left-hand page and virtually the same shot in black and white opposite. Meyerowitz, in his essay, makes a very credible case for the superiority of color over mono images.

Inside the back cover of book one there is a fold-out that has a color print signed by the artist (it seems genuine too, not an ink-jet job, he had to do it 1,500 times for this limited edition run). The same image is shown over a spread in the book and raises an interesting point about the book's printing. The screen used by the Chinese printers could be 300 or 350 which is not too far off the quality of the color print. Most art books use a 175 to 200 screen so the printing for 'Taking my time' is very impressive in my view. The quality matt art paper helps, too.

I think it's worth commenting on the rather high price of these books, I can't see why they should cost so much (reassuringly expensive?). Steidl have publish several high quality photographer box sets, some with up to five books and none of them cost as much as this Phaidon set.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2015 4:39 AM PST

Logo Life: Life Histories of 100 Famous Logos
Logo Life: Life Histories of 100 Famous Logos
by Ron van der Vlugt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.12
57 used & new from $14.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Making their mark, February 13, 2015
Any professional designer probably has a few logo books handy for reference and from my experience they can be divided into two types: those that are just full of dull, unimaginative marks that show no signs of creativity (and with current software it's so easy to churn them out) and those, like this book, that reveal well thought out designs that have stood the test of time.

The author has devised a simple, straightforward layout for the hundred companies, mostly American or European. Each starts on a left-hand page with a few hundred words about their history and specific details regarding the logo and changes over the years. The right-hand page shows how the logo has changed over time with several historical examples and nicely these are dated and frequently the designer or design company is named. Many of the designs run over onto the next spread with graphics of them in use.

The book is a handy size (check out the Product Details above) well printed though it does have the quirk of the Contents spread printed on yellow paper with white numbers next to the black company names. The white is unreadable in a domestic lighting environment.

The perfect complement to Logo Life is Taschen's Logo Book, a thick, chunky title with six thousand logos all in color on 776 pages (ISBN 978 3836534130)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2015 9:11 PM PST

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