on 5 January 2013
I came across this book in one of the many "top 10s" of 2012.
Even if it was not much better than a thumbnail on screen, the cover was inviting enough to prompt me to purchase it. And true to my hunch when the book arrived the cover was even more beautiful, having been printed on a wonderfully tactile cloth. The chosen image (with its heavy green cast) is suggestive of explorations in some lost eden.
However, this is The Garden at Orgeval where Strand passed the remaining years of his life (late 1950s to the early 1970s). Perhaps due to reduced mobility or waning wanderlust Strand focused on extensively photographing his and his wife's garden. In keeping with Strand's meticulous eye for detail, both of his subject and executed work, the reproduction quality in this book is exceptional.
In particular - and as a photographer - I love the profound exploration and recording of such a potentially "limited" space. Strand turns his semi-wild garden into an extensive wilderness to be deeply engaged with and understood. Indeed, I would suggest that the garden became to Strand what Yosemite was to Ansel Adams. This is one of those rare works where every now and then you'll want to open a single page and contemplate that one image: for me its 'Fruit Blossoms, 1965' or 'Our Willow, Winter, 1970'.
I did, however, feel that too many images were selected and that a tighter editing was required. Perhaps it was the rush of holding such a legend's final work and earnestly wanting to pay due homage. I also feel that the opening short quote from Strand that 'the artist's world is limitless ... ' more than sufficed for an understanding and reading of this body and that Meyerowitz's essay was unnecessary (and not particularly revealing).