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Lauren Greenfield: Generation Wealth Hardcover – May 15, 2017
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From the Publisher
Generation Wealth is both a retrospective and an investigation into the subject of wealth over the last twenty-five years
A highly anticipated monograph from the internationally acclaimed documentary photographer and filmmaker
Features 600 images alongside poignant first-person interviews with her subjects
The introductory essay is by author Juliet Schor - who has written numerous books on wealth and our consumer culture
Chapters include: I Shop Therefore I Am, New Aging, The Queen of Versailles, The Legacy of Gordon Gekko, The Bling Dynasty and the New Oligarchy
Lucie Award for "Best Book Photographer of the Year", 2017
"Expertly crafted visually... Generation Wealth enthralls from the start."—Hollywood News
"An insightful and scathing look at society's obsession with excess."—Screen International
"Greenfield is on to something in this unexpectedly personal documentary of the same name - she makes a compelling argument for a society on the brink of precipitous decline."—Variety
"Generation Wealth (the film) succeeds in its whiplash, globe-spanning look at the roller-coaster of soul-devouring narcissism and wealth, and it also finds depth in Greenfield's self-examination. Maybe for it to stick any of its thematic or ideological landings, I'd have to buy the book."—Hollywood Reporter
"For nearly three decades, Greenfield has been meticulously documenting wealth [her] ongoing examination of wealth feels more urgent than ever." —Artsy
"Generation Wealth is a comprehensive study of excess and evolution. Revolting and revelatory, sobering and stunning. Lauren Greenfield is the Doris Kearns Goodwin of the visual medium."—Jamie Lee Curtis
"Lauren Greenfield's photographs range from hilarious to terrifying, sometimes in the same image. The images are unjudgemental - dystopian shock and awe somewhere at the end of Empire - and yet moving: she makes it personal. It could have been me."—Brian Eno
"Greenfield is a prodigious talent, and this book is a masterpiece. If I had the privilege of putting together the time capsule left underground for future generations, I am certain that Generation Wealth would be in the box."—Juliet Schor
"Generation Wealth takes us down the yellow brick road where we are able to see who we, as a collective, are becoming. Like Studs Terkel with a camera, Greenfield's lens allows us to watch the transmogrification of the American Dream of success through hard work, modesty and discipline turn into a nightmare of conspicuous wealth, excess and addiction... Whether the photographs are humorous, heart-wrenching or both we never feel judgement, just observation and that observation gives us room to know we are all complicit in varying degrees."—Jennifer Beals
"A staggering indictment of materialism."—Smithsonian
"[Greenfield] treats her subjects as individuals, but her work derives its greatest power from its ability to succinctly and enthrallingly chart a larger national story. All that glitters is not gold."—Brooklyn Rail
"With a golden cover and 650-odd images inside, [Generation Wealth] is a sociological record of the extreme measures taken to acquire and spend money, what Greenfield calls "the influence of affluence."—The New York Times
"[A]n anthropological deep-dive into the way the very idea of wealth has infected the human psyche globally."—Los Angeles Times
"It is an artist's special privilege to gain access to the world of the rich - and one of her noblest callings is to show the rest of us what that looks like, how money functions, how the system works. It's hard to think of anyone who does it with as much diligence as Greenfield."—The Times Magazine
"Generation Wealth, the forthcoming coffee-table book by brilliant photographer Lauren Greenfield... A tragicomic catalogue of material excess across the globe."—The Times
About the Author
Lauren Greenfield is an Emmy-award-winning photographer and filmmaker. A preeminent chronicler of youth culture, gender, and consumerism, her documentary The Queen of Versailles won the Best Documentary Director Award at Sundance in 2012. Her photographs have been widely published, exhibited - and collected - and her Super Bowl commercial, Like a Girl, went viral and swept the advertising awards of 2015.
Juliet Schor is an author, economist, cultural critic, and professor of sociology at Boston College. Her research focuses on the economics of work, spending, the environment, and consumer culture.
Trudy Wilner Stack was Curator of Exhibitions & Collections at the Center for Creative Photography, the University of Arizona for over a decade, after holding positions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the International Center of Photography, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. She has curated dozens of exhibitions of contemporary and historical photography around the world, and is a frequent contributing author and lecturer.
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The author is not a wizard with a camera; there are no "compositions" that draw you in on the strength of visual organization. OTOH this book wouldn't work as a normal book from the normal photo nerd world, in which a photog makes intrinsically engaging images and an academic offers ideas on how to think about the images. I also wouldn't want the normal journalistic model, in which images merely illustrate the text.
I admire this book so much - the coherence and *actual* importance of the subject of the author's career. Not "importance" as in "This important body of work marks the artist's return to the subject of dialectics of gender and universal humanity..." It doesn't feel like any other retrospective type project I can recall. Occasionally I was aware of gears turning in the segues to new sub-subjects. Still, nothing is force-fit at all.
It's hard to imagine anyone who likes photography or reading - or anthropology, or behavioral economics, or just interesting stuff in general - who wouldn't enjoy this book. I really savored it, reading just a few pages at a time, coming back to it for a fresh jolt again and again. I actually recommend going through it this way.
I watched all of Greenfield docs mentioned in the book. They are all good. Queen of Versailles was already one of my all-time faves. There is a website for the upcoming Generation Wealth doc, with great info supplementary/ancillary to this book. E.g. the bibliography is worth perusing if you find Generation Wealth interesting at all.
I feel like I still haven't pinned down what I like so much about this book. IDK - I guess if you are a photo nerd like me, looking at these pictures thinking, hmm I'm not seeing exhibition quality here, give this book a chance. It really is a great achievement - a grand whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
Over the last decade of the 20th century and into the first two decades of the 21st-century, we have become increasingly fixated on what we can buy, what we wear, and how we can show off to our peers. This is not a good thing. Greenfield shows how this new materialism is destructive across social classes, and even across national boundaries, as the nouveau rich of formerly communist countries of Russia and China have adopted the conspicuous consumption of the West.
Whether it is teenagers in LA competing for the best bar mitzvah, or poor students saving up hard earned money to splurge on proms, cosmetic surgery to achieve an idealized body image or buying the fanciest hand bags, Greenfield shows that these shallow fixations are not good for her subjects or our society in general.
But Greenfield looks at many other groups of the already-wealthy, as well as those who seek wealth. Does wealth confer class? Sometimes, if the definition of "class" is a "grill" of diamonds in a person's mouth, it does. Lauren Greenfield is fairly quiet on the definition of "wealth" and the ramifications of the acquisition and holding of wealth. Many of the people in her pictures look a bit sad - or is that my projection? I don't know and Greenfield doesn't follow up on many of the people in the photographs. That's okay, wealth - like fame - is often fleeting...
By the way, this is a very, VERY large book.