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New York, N-E-W Y-O-R-K!
on 23 September 2010
This lovely book follows the same format as Taschen's Los Angeles (ISBN 978-3836502917): a history of the city based on named photographers though there are many fine images taken by anonymous snappers. The LA book had thirty-nine photographers but as this is New York it takes 124 of them and over 500 photos to expose the city.
All the regulars are here, photographers who have created that special look over the years. Abbott, Bubley, Eisenstadt, Feininger, Klein, Orkin, Riis and a good showing from Weegee but what I found fascinating was the number photos from anonymous sources. Right up to the late Forties unknowns had taken some quite remarkable shots revealing a particular aspect of city. Some of these run over spreads throughout the book and they look stunning. Pages 108-109 have that famous shot of the sunlight streaming through windows at Grand Central Terminus, anonymous from 1929.
The book's five chapters look backwards over 160 years starting in
1850 and though maybe one could fault it by only using historical photos rather than a wider range of graphic images I think it succeeds because of this. The city has a long pedigree of photographic interpretation and some of the best works are in these pages. Nearly all the images are exteriors showing the changing landscape, people (either New Yorkers or personalities) or just out on the street. I thought it was a plus that there are very few celebrity shots here.
Several pages have largish thumbnails of cultural graphic items: book jackets and posters for plays and movies. The back pages have brief artistic listing of suggested reading, listening and viewing. All the named photographers get a hundred or so word biography.
Like Taschen's LA book this is a lovely designed and produced title that takes a different and fresh look at the city. The large page size and huge photos celebrate one of the world's great cities.