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Tahiti: Adolphe Sylvain (Taschen's photobooks) Hardcover – 27 Apr 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen GmbH (27 April 2001)
  • Language: German, French, English
  • ISBN-10: 3822860530
  • ISBN-13: 978-3822860533
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 2.2 x 30.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,905,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
Summary: Adolphe Sylvain had an eye for the images that people in developed countries imagine about a fairy tale South Pacific. Many of our ideas about what a tropical paradise is come from his photographs. For a few minutes, you can imagine yourself to be part of a local village of people who fish for a living back in the 1940s and 1950s. This book is dominated by scenes of native Polynesians enjoying the natural beauty of Tahiti. The model is most frequently M. Sylvain's Tahitian wife, nee Ms. Jeanine Tehani Vidal, whom he married in 1946.
Content Caution: Before proceeding further, please realize (as the cover image indicates) that this book is filled with photographs of topless and nude female models, usually the photographer's wife. These images would earn this book's material an R rating if it were a motion picture.
Review: M. Sylvain's photography makes unusually good use of black-and-white contrasts for capturing lush tropical landscapes, lagoons and beaches, nudes, and everyday scenes in Tahiti. His work benefits from the frequent use of his wife, Tehani, as a model. She is remarkably relaxed and happy in these images, and helps to set a mood of natural enjoyment of nature that will have the viewer yearning for Tahiti. Lest you think these scenes are very overposed, I saw scenes very much like these during a vacation in Tahiti in the mid-1980s.
Some of the images are ragged around the edges, which reflects the terrible loss of much of M. Sylvain's work during a fire in his studio. Some of these images were rescued from the debris that remained. As a result, these images almost all date from 1946-1957.
Ms. Sylvain will remind you of a sea otter in some of the images, as she glides effortlessly through the crystal lagoon water.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Coote on 7 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although principally an exercise in wish-fulfilment for prurient and paradise-starved Europeans it is hard to deny the captivating beauty of Sylvain's photos. That said, colour is the essence of Tahiti and black and white studies do more for the drizzle-drenched backstreets of Leeds and Liverpool than for the lush forests and lagoons of the tropical South Pacific. A book that has prolonged the myths and contributed to the transformation of Tahiti into a tacky theme park.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By the Watcher on 5 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover
A truly beautiful work, showing why French Photographer Sylvain was captivated by Tahiti and its people. Although all black and white, the pictures still convey the warmth of the not just the weather, but the people too. They show a land and a people who love life, and are relaxed in themselves, with no pretensions.
Most (though not all) of the images are of the women of the island, nude or partially nude. This is not an erotic or pornographic collection however, but a document of the grace and beauty that so charmed and entranced Sylvain. It shows a natural beauty and charm that I think any of us would love to share, and takes your mind of the 'real world' we know, and transports you to as close to heaven as earth may get.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michelle7 on 16 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This might be the most exciting publication of the entire year! It's certainly one of the most thrilling books published in recent times. It recounts the life's work of Adolphe Sylvain who visited Tahiti in 1946 and, enchanted by the landscape, the people, and a girl named Tehani, decided to stay. He settled in, married his lover, and dedicated himself to photographing the island's many delights while working as a correspondent for magazines such as Paris Match, Life, and National Geographic. His black & white photos are spectacular visions of the earthly paradise that is Tahiti and showcases the splendid beauty of the landscape and its people, especially its girls (...).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Exotic Natural Beauty in Paradise 25 Jun. 2001
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Summary: Adolphe Sylvain had an eye for the images that people in developed countries imagine about a fairy tale South Pacific. Many of our ideas about what a tropical paradise is come from his photographs. For a few minutes, you can imagine yourself to be part of a local village of people who fish for a living back in the 1940s and 1950s. This book is dominated by scenes of native Polynesians enjoying the natural beauty of Tahiti. The model is most frequently M. Sylvain's Tahitian wife, nee Ms. Jeanine Tehani Vidal, whom he married in 1946.
Content Caution: Before proceeding further, please realize (as the cover image indicates) that this book is filled with photographs of topless and nude female models, usually the photographer's wife. These images would earn this book's material an R rating if it were a motion picture.
Review: M. Sylvain's photography makes unusually good use of black-and-white contrasts for capturing lush tropical landscapes, lagoons and beaches, nudes, and everyday scenes in Tahiti. His work benefits from the frequent use of his wife, Tehani, as a model. She is remarkably relaxed and happy in these images, and helps to set a mood of natural enjoyment of nature that will have the viewer yearning for Tahiti. Lest you think these scenes are very overposed, I saw scenes very much like these during a vacation in Tahiti in the mid-1980s.
Some of the images are ragged around the edges, which reflects the terrible loss of much of M. Sylvain's work during a fire in his studio. Some of these images were rescued from the debris that remained. As a result, these images almost all date from 1946-1957.
Ms. Sylvain will remind you of a sea otter in some of the images, as she glides effortlessly through the crystal lagoon water. Her connection with nature is direct and joyous. Her apparent pleasure in what she is doing is infectious.
The images themselves are well composed, technically very fine, and the reproduction quality is excellent.
Towards the end of the book, you will also see some photographs of famous visitors to the island like Brigitte Bardot and Charles de Gaulle.
My original interest in visiting Tahiti was tied to having watched a television series, called Adventures in Paradise. The stories related to a schooner captin operating out of Papeete. When I read the book, I was interested to see that M. Sylvain had been an adviser to that series as well as other major filming in Tahiti over the years.
Many people also know Paul Gauguin's paintings of Tahiti, which have also helped form expectations about the islands and their people. In particular, James Michener with his Tales of the South Pacific helped created an image of beautiful, winning Polynesian maidens that is echoed here. Ms. Sylvain observes that her husband played a key role in creating the myth of the vahini, as a result.
After you look at these dreamscapes of Tahiti, you should sit back and think about what your ideal image of life is. What would you be doing? Where would you be? Who would be with you? What does that picture tell you about yourself?
Dream boldly . . . and recognize the opportunity to life your dreams as Adolphe Sylvain did!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is a true depiction of the Tahitian woman 20 Aug. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Contrary to what Mr. Mitchell mistakenly states, most of the models in this book are not Madame Sylvain. They are women of Tahiti plain, simple and beautiful. I actually bought this book while in Tahiti and each time I leaf through it I remember the wonderful moments I had in Tahiti. Tahitian people are quite possibly the most beautiful people in the world and Sylvain captures this perfectly.
Polynesian Romanticism 8 May 2011
By William C. Geoghegan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A highly romanticized and seductive collection of photos showing a Tahiti that probably only ever existed in the imagination of the western man.
Nice book of Tahitian expression! 8 Sept. 2014
By Raymond R. Appenzeller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was a nice book but I felt it left me a little short as the pictures are somewhat limited and all in B&W. I was expecting more of an artistic expression and naturalism towards the woman and the beauty of the tropical islands. It was nice but it seems to be lacking something!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A paradise of clichés 11 Jan. 2009
By Trevor Coote - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Although principally an exercise in wish-fulfilment for prurient and paradise-starved Europeans it is hard to deny the captivating beauty of Sylvain's photos. That said, colour is the essence of Tahiti and black and white studies do more for the drizzle-drenched backstreets of Leeds and Liverpool than for the lush forests and lagoons of the tropical South Pacific. A book that has prolonged the myths and contributed to the transformation of Tahiti into a tacky theme park.
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