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Robert Frank: In America
Robert Frank: In America
by Robert Frank
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Americans: book two?, October 9, 2014
Looking through the 131 fascinating photos in the book is like coming across The Americans volume two, though this is not strictly accurate because there are twenty-two from the original title included here. Peter Galassi's front of book illustrated essay provides some thoughtful background detail about Frank's photo style in the context of mid-fifties America. On page thirty-three he says The Americans is not an album of Frank's best work, though it does have some of his great photos but the book, with its one photo per spread sequencing, allows the images of everyday America to create an emotional punch when viewed as a whole.

No other photo book of the period could claim that, Klein's classic New York title and work from the New York School photographers produced powerful images but only from a regional perspective. Frank's book is successful I think because it covered a huge area of post-war America, a time of plenty for many millions and why the critics of the day didn't like the coverage because it didn't reflect that feel-good factor.

Included in Galassi's essay is a detailed map (over a spread) with the places Frank visited between 1949 to 1961 with page numbers for the photos in the book. New York, Los Angeles and Detroit provide the most. The photos follow no particular geographic or date sequence: New York 1951 on one page is facing Hollywood 1958. Galassi says the trips created 767 rolls of film or 27,000 frames. (The Steidl book Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, Expanded Edition reproduces over two thousand of these frames in contact sheet form.)

A thing I noticed about many of the photos is that people are looking elsewhere, not at Frank taking their photos but out of the frame to the left or right or at something in the frame, a shop window for instance. Many photos have no people in them at all but showing almost still-life detail: a rack of postcards at Hoover Dam; a New York photographer's window full of baby snaps; the letter H of the Hollywood sign; a shirt on a hanger in a Detroit factory. Nearly all the eighty-three in the original book feature people.

A point worth noting from Galassi's essay is that he suggests having a copy of The Americans at hand because he refers to so many photos in it and this book and usefully he provides a page number guide to the original title that just had captions for the photos. This Steidl edition is beautifully produced with 175 screen tritones on a slightly off-white matt paper.

Robert Frank in America with its excellent essay and photos is the perfect comlement to the original classic photo book.

Josef Muller-Brockmann: Poster Collection 25 (English and German Edition)
Josef Muller-Brockmann: Poster Collection 25 (English and German Edition)
by Alice Twemlow
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.17
54 used & new from $23.24

5.0 out of 5 stars The Swiss leader, October 5, 2014
The twenty-fifth book in this fascinating poster series is devoted to Muller-Brockmann, this is only the sixth title dedicated to an individual. Because of his poster work, books and lectures around the world he is probably the foremost designer one associates with the 'Swiss Style' of graphic design and typography.

Look through the first few pages and you'll see MB's concert hall posters designed in the early fifties with strong figurative elements and typography using serif faces, these designs merge into posters using pastel colours, irregular curved shapes and sans type then suddenly, in 1955, the famous Beethoven poster appears with its carefully crafted circular abstraction and using Standard type (Anzeigen Grotesk in Europe). The style was set for all the stunning 'musica viva' series of Tonhalle, Zurich concert posters over the next few years. These posters are now decades old yet they look as fresh and exciting as they did when first appearing on Zurich poster sites. Their creativity is timeless.

There are 102 posters in the book from 1948 to 1978, most are full page with others four to a page. Lars Muller (the book's publisher) contributes an essay as does Catherine de Smet on MB's design work and books. An excellent book for design students or professionals who want a visual record of this great Swiss graphic artist and typographer.

The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newpapers, Magazines, and Books
The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newpapers, Magazines, and Books
by Allen Hurlburt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $52.10
45 used & new from $16.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Modular look, September 25, 2014
Despite having only ninety-six pages and using a grid that uses about three-quarters of each page (and not forgetting the text in a large point size) this can be a useful book for a designer new to publication grids. Hurlburt was a great Art Director who elevated the every two weeks Look magazine into a must-see for designers. His books always looked beautifully designed but I always thought they were rather lightweight in content -- like this grid book.

The contents look at the use of grids in newspapers, magazines and books but there really aren't too many examples shown and nowhere is there a page or spread from a publication with a grid laid on top to show exactly how the grid helps create the page design. On page fifty-eight there is a whole page illustration of a grid for the German magazine 'twen' which would be much more informative if it was laid over an actual 'twen' page showing how the headlines, columns of type and pictures conform to the grid. It's slightly annoying that most of the grids in the book are in sort of muddy mid-brown panels with black lines for the columns.

The lack of thoroughness in Hurlburt's book is really brought home if you look through Josef Muller-Brockmann's suburb book on the subject: Grid Systems in Graphic Design/Raster Systeme Fur Die Visuele Gestaltung (German and English Edition). Here you'll find page after page of detailed information about the subject: grid construction; type faces and sizes; the use of images. Consideration is also given to using grids with posters, all kinds of printed matter and exhibition design.

Hurlburts book is lovely to look at but there is no comparison with Grid systems by Muller-Brockmann. Also Hurlburt's book is far too expensive for what you'll get out of the contents.

I bought a paperback copy of this book recently but it was a print-on-demand inkjet copy which I thought was very poor because it's black only so that the mid-brown second color in the original hardback is reproduced as grey. The reproductions in the original were not that good to start with and made worse in the inkjet copy. I think it's worth looking around the net for the original hardback copies from Van Nostrand (1978) or the UK publisher Barrie & Jenkins (1979). My inkjet reproduction copy is of a Wiley paperback published in 1982.

Mid-Century Modern Complete
Mid-Century Modern Complete
by Dominic Bradbury
Edition: Hardcover
12 used & new from $58.31

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fluid lines of modernity, September 21, 2014
The essence of this book are ninety-five heavily illustrated biographies of the designers and artists from around the world who produced the feel and look of mid-century creativity. The seven chapters cover: Furniture (109 pages) Lighting (42) Glass and ceramics (58) Textiles (46) Industrial and product design (48) Graphics (55) Houses and interiors (123). This is a very comprehensive coverage of modernity though, in my view, with some slight idiosyncrasies: why does the rather narrowly defined Lighting get so many pages and the broad scope of Industrial design only forty-eight and not one Case Study House is featured in the Houses chapter.

Each of the chapters has one or two essays with an overview of the subject with Furniture and Houses also looking at the collecting aspect. I thought these illustrated essays well worth reading especially Steven Heller's on 'Type, design and technology' and the author neatly sums up modernity with his six page intro. There is also a useful thirty-three page illustrated A-Z at the back of the book with about three hundred entries of individuals and companies, looking through these I found it hard to think of someone who had been left out.

Because the biographies are more or less standard detail, the sort of thing you can read in books by design historians Charlotte and Peter Fiell, it's the photos that made the pages come alive for me, there are over a thousand of them, all in color and mostly big on the page. Slightly annoying that several hundred are cutouts floating on the page without a slight drop shadow, some do have this shadow effect and it makes them look much more interesting. The Houses chapter, the longest in the book, is particularly fine with plenty of wonderful interiors, rather the opposite of many architectural books that tend to favor just an exterior shot of a house.

'Complete' in the book's title is very true.

The Look Book
The Look Book
by Leo (ed) ROSTEN
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from $4.92

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Have a LOOK in, September 16, 2014
This review is from: The Look Book (Hardcover)
The last issue of Look magazine was October 19, 1971 and it sold 6,500,00 copies, a very reasonable circulation but unfortunately circumstances like a strike at General Motors (who cancelled nine million dollars worth of ads) the start of an economic recession, huge increases in paper, mailing and maybe the biggest killer: the flight of advertising to television did it for the title. A year after Look folded so did Life. Still, Americans bought over four billion copies of Look over 903 issues and the biggest seller was the March 7, 1967 issue: 9,270,830 copies.

This book from 1975 is a sort of photo celebration of Look's thirty-five years. Because the magazine was published every two weeks (leaving the weekly Life to be the more news oriented of the two titles) it took a perspective view of contemporary events, social problems, personalities and lifestyle material. There are several hundred photos, mono and color throughout the pages but I thought the editorial lacking because none of the pictures are dated or say how they related to any issues of the magazine. Considering it was a visual magazine and used work from some of the world's greatest photographers it's odd that their names are in small type and set sideways by the side of the photos. The book only has photos but Look frequently used illustrations (the book's cover uses part of a Norman Rockwell painting from January 14, 1964 issue) the lack of non-photo images that appeared in the magazine is another example of weak editorial in these pages.

As well as great photos there are eighty-eight pages of text in four sections and printed on a light buff stock. They are pieces taken from Look over the years but none are dated (a few have text copyright dates). It's the lack of context to the magazine that lets the book down in the areas I've mentioned but as you can pick up this coffee-table, heavy title quite cheaply I think it's worth searching for because of the wonderful photos.

Edward Burtynsky: Water
Edward Burtynsky: Water
by Russell Lord
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $100.39
53 used & new from $93.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liquid through the lens, September 10, 2014
This is the second liquid book from Burtynsky following on from his stunning photo survey of the oil industry published by Steidl in 2009. Both books are the same landscape shape and about the same number of pages. While 'Oil' used photos shot at ground level and just above, 'Water' required a bird's-perspective from a plane to capture the scale of the subject. The book's photos were taken over four yeas and Burtynsky makes an interesting point in his preface: the introduction of high-quality digital camera equipment allowed him to make crisp, sharp images from a moving aircraft, something that wasn't easily done with older analogue film.

Despite oil and water both being liquids they clearly don't mix. The photos in 'Oil' show massive despoiling of the landscape and the visual ugliness of the industry while water from above provides some remarkably abstract looking photos like pivot irrigation systems in the south west of the US, rice growing terraces in China and salt aquaculture in Spain. Oddly the most colorful abstractions are from the highly polluted water: phosphor tailings in Florida; the Colorado River delta in Mexico. Probably the most abstract are the last eight photos in the book revealing the glacial runoff and rivers in Iceland.

The chapter titled 'Waterfront' brings the photos to a more human perspective with shots of homes in Florida's Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Verona Walk, all them show houses connected by roads and canals (Cape Coral has the largest canal system in the world) and predictably these rapid, sprawling developments create environmental and social problems though the photos don't reveal that except by implication. In less developed India water is revealed as a precious resource, four photos show the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival that can attract a hundred million people over fifty-five days, they all come to bathe in the junction of the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers. India also provides four remarkable photos of stepwells, large deep wells, sort of like inverted pyramids, with sides made up of steps and terraces leading down to the water.

With 112 beautiful photos Burtynsky has managed to capture the impact of water on our world and revealed the ongoing problems we have created with its usage. These problems are detailed in an twenty-eight mini essays (over fourteen pages after the photos) that correspond to the book's sections.

Like the 'Oil' book 'Water' is well produced with a matt art paper for the 175 screen printing and well designed as one would expect from Steidl. It has the minor annoyance though of having the photo captions in the back pages, so expect a lot of page flipping. The book's large landscape shape size allows most photos to be 12.5 by 9.5 inches with one to a page.

New Bus for London: The Inside Story
New Bus for London: The Inside Story
by Martin S. Curtis
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $23.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bright bus in a dull book, September 3, 2014
On a recent trip to London I made a point of having several rides on this marvellous bus, upstairs front and back seats and repeated on the lower deck, very impressive inside and out, especially the incredible sweeping window at the back.

The journeys made want to know more about the New Routemaster and I chose this book by Martin Curtis. Having read it and looked through it several times I can only say the publication is frustratingly amateurish. More the fault of Nostalgia Road than the author. From my career in publication design it seems to me that publishers know that books aimed at fans of a subject, whether military equipment, railways, comics or buses, are happy to accept titles overloaded with photos and illustrations of varying quality and presented blandly on the page with no attempt to get the best out of the material.

'New bus for London' is a good example of unimaginative editorial production. For example there are seventy or so street scene color photos of the bus in operation (most by the author) which is just endless repetition page after page after page and amazingly not one of them runs big across a spread for a change of pace among all the one or more photos to a page, even a fold-out of the bus would heve been nice. A chapter devoted to Boris Johnson (the London Mayor who championed the bus) has, on pages thirty and thirty-one, four photos of him and the bus (again by the author) one would have been enough as they are just ordinary snaps. Page eighteen has a tech drawing of the Bristol VR bus, a similar illustration for the new bus is relatively small on page fifty-seven and doesn't even have any tech-spec information. The text falls short on several pages and no thought made to make a photo bigger using the empty page space, captions vary in line length throughout the pages and the photo cropping is rather thoughtless

Considering the book is about a new bus one thing missing is a chapter full of photos showing every aspect of inside the vehicle. Page sixty-eight has a taste of this with two excellent photos showing the clever design of the rear stairs. There should have been lots more to reveal just how new and different the inside of this vehicle is instead of the author's repetitive exterior photos making up the bulk of the book's pictures

There is another book about this bus: London's New Routemaster (ISBN 978-1858946245) though it is more concerned with the design and development but from the few pages I have seen it looks remarkably more professional than this poor effort from Nostalgia Road.

Photography Today
Photography Today
by Mark Durden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $47.19
65 used & new from $26.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light players, August 24, 2014
This review is from: Photography Today (Hardcover)
I thought perhaps that the title referred to contemporary photography rather than, as it turns out, creativity from 1960 onwards. Mark Durden considers the work of 164 photographers, each getting between one and four images (some get more if a spread from one of their photobooks is included) but I thought the strength of the book is the way he looks at their work, not an A to Z of names or a strict historical survey but eleven themed essays. The titles will give you an idea of the book's scope: The copy; The face; Colour; The street; Landscapes; History; The body; Documentary; Self; Constructions; Photography tomorrow.

Each of these essays has a short introduction followed by a photographer getting a several hundred word analyses and samples of their work. I suppose one could query the way Durden slots various people together. For example part of Landscapes is further divided into Sublime: Thomas Struth; Andreas Gursky. New topographics: Robert Adama; Lewis Baltz. Romantic: Thomas Joshua Cooper; Roni Horn; Jem Southam. Documentary landscapes: Joel Sternfeld; Richard Misrach; Edward Burtynsky. Throughout the book these chapter sub-divisions seem to make perfect sense and nicely Durden's writing style is jargon and elitist free making his photographer essays well worth reading. Because there are so many photographers considered it's a pleasure to come across names I had never heard of and discover new works.

This 464 page book, with over 500 images is a handsome print production with plenty of large size photos (in 200 screen) though being a Phaidon book means that the layout has its quirky moments. Here the two columns per page of the photographer essays have several of the first lines indented and the number varies for each name, pure design whimsy in my view as it contributes nothing for the reader. Similarly the short biographies are in the back pages rather than placing them with each photographer's page.

Mark Durden has written an interesting and worthwhile book looking at several recent decades of visual creativity.

1Byone USB Smart Charger SuperSpeed Hub with 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub + 2 Charging Ports (5V/1A) + 1 Charging Port (5V/2A) with 12V 5A Power Adapter and USB 3.0 Cable
1Byone USB Smart Charger SuperSpeed Hub with 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub + 2 Charging Ports (5V/1A) + 1 Charging Port (5V/2A) with 12V 5A Power Adapter and USB 3.0 Cable
Offered by 1Byone
Price: $36.99
2 used & new from $36.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speedy hub, August 20, 2014
I always find it slightly annoying when Amazon include reviews for similar products on the one page. Here are reviews for similar products at different prices. My review is for the seven port/three charge unit.

I found this a well made and handy bit of kit. It works efficiently and what I liked about it was the options to plug in various digital products with the one lead to my desktop or as a charger for a camera and phone. It's versatile enough to have all the ports in use at once. I'll leave the tech specs to other reviewers (and some make good points) but at Amazon's price this is certainly a worthwhile buy.

Though it's nothing to do with the product's operation I wish the User Manual (actually just a single sheet of paper) would try get the English right: 'User can put it to any easy access places such as office table, teapoy, bedside, etc, without afraid that contacting when high voltage current may cause some safety dangers'.

Makiba: Cute Farm Animals
Makiba: Cute Farm Animals
by Miki Hirabayashi
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.79
27 used & new from $13.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Aaaaaahh...., August 16, 2014
Definitely a book with the ...aaaahh factor. Delightful photos of farm and countryside animals either playing with each other or paying close attention to photographer Miki. There is no text in the book except for captions (in Japanese) with thumbnails at the back of the book. Oddly these thumbnails have page numbers but there are none in the book.

Lambs, goats, cows, horses, geese, rabbits, pigs and more are presented whole page or two photos to a page in this landscape paperback. They all look remarkable clean, healthy and relaxed. I wonder though why no chickens or piglets to make the cute complete? The few shots of the landscape remind me of the at TV series Tellytubbies with its gently rolling fields and very green grass.

Your young kids will enjoy the photos and stressed-out adults could probably benefit from these peaceful scenes, too.

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