- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: American Pictures Foundation; 1st edition (June 1, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8798170201
- ISBN-13: 978-8798170204
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Pictures: A Personal Journey Through the American Underclass 1st Edition
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Do not buy this book with the expectation that it will be a traditional photo/art book. In many ways, his lack of skills likely increased his opportunities to create intimate and honest images. For example, it would have been difficult for Holdt to sneak in his camera to a KKK cross burning if he was using large, high quality equipment. Rarely do photographers make images of marginalized people without a sense of exploitation and voyeurism. Over the years, Holdt’s photography skills have grown significantly. He has other later publications that include more “technically good” images.
This book includes images of drug use, sex, nudity, violence, and more. Many of the images are graphic and upsetting. There are also graphic descriptions of racial violence, discrimination, and other topics which many people may find upsetting. Please be aware of this before purchase.
Holdt came to America in the middle of the social upheavals of the early '70s and traveled penniless, except for selling blood plasma to buy rolls of film. He lived with members of the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement, rode in Teddy Kennedy's limo, met members of the Ku Klux Klan, was a houseguest of the Rockefellers, and lived with a black farmworker, which led to her home being firebombed by racists.
Holdt compiled a stunning visual record of our country's failure to live up to its ideals, evidence that Americans too rarely see. Through the lives of the people he met--their stories jump out at you from every page--and the true friendships he forged across racial and cultural lines, he paints a searing portrait of what life is like for the Americans that America would just as soon forget.
There are some great photos and they do illustrate a side of (60's and 70's) America we do not often see, but Jacob Holdt is no Jacob Riis.