No other art form has pervaded almost every corner of the globe in the 20th century quite like photography. Accessible, personal, direct, it operates with the simple click of a shutter, but has a level of potential to sate the most ambitious appetite. In the 19th century it was used primarily to document and record, in the following century it blossomed into the multifarious medium that continues to develop. Portraiture, landscape, surrealism and, perhaps most significantly, photojournalism, have all had wonderful exponents who, at their best, can uniquely capture the spontaneous complexity of an instant. Perhaps it is the unpredictability of the medium that sets it apart, that can give a dangerous edge to the most carefully prepared composition. Reuel Golden has selected his most vital exponents of the craft, including several examples of their oeuvre accompanied by a brief biography and crib- notes. In arranging them alphabetically he gives unity to the creator rather then the art or the history, which produces a lucky dip of delights that can bear unexpected treasures. On the dust-jacket he admits his favourite snapper to be Helmut Newton, an influence reflected in his selection's unduly heavy bias towards fashion photography. As with any collection of the "best", what strikes one most is who hasn't been included, and here perhaps the list is too long: Robert Frank, Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray, Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Lee Miller, Don McCullin, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn. For some reason, presumably copyright, none of these seminal artists appear and the collection is less than comprehensive for their omission. However, there is much also to discover, or re-discover, from the classic images of Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Brandt, Jacques-Henri Lartigue and Weegee, to the more modern, but no less exciting, works of the likes of Martin Parr, Cindy Sherman and Nick Knight. Part of a glossily well- produced series by Carlton Books, which includes the rather marvellous C20th Architecture
by Jonathan Glancey, Golden's volume should be read more as a useful introduction to the subject than a definitive study--for that, one should train one's eyes, or biceps, to Bruce Bernard's gargantuan Century
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Reuel Golden was editor of the British Journal of Photography for six years. He has also lectured on photography, appeared on television, judged many photographic competitions, including the John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award, and written for British newspapers. He now lives and works in New York, as a Contributing Editor on Photo District News and Executive Editor of PIX. His favourite photographer of all time is Helmut Newton.