Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America's most famous photo book, 27 April 2010
This review is from: American Photographs (Paperback)
What can I saw about this remarkable photo book that hasn't been said before? Well, regarding the photos nothing really but, as I found out, the history of this title is quite fascinating. Over the years there have been four editions. Originally published by MoMA in 1938 (the five thousand copies were letterpress printed) to coincide with an exhibition of a hundred of Evans photos. Oddly forty-seven of these don't appear in the book and thirty-three in the book didn't make it to the exhibition. Even photos that appeared in both had different cropping or were from different negatives of the same event.

The second edition, in 1962, was again published by MoMA in an edition of four thousand copies, letterpress printed from the 1938 plates. The third edition, with the photos now out of copyright, was published by the East River Press. This edition is best avoided because it was printed from pages in the 1938 book, by offset litho, rather than from the original prints.

This, the fourth edition, was again published by MoMA to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary in 1988. The eighty-seven photos here are printed as duotones from prints made from the original negatives, with one exception which was made from the printed photo in the 1938 book because the negative had been destroyed.

The original 1938 exhibition photos have long been forgotten, (though if you are interested they are shown in Walker Evans: The Hungry Eye) so it is this book that carries on his legacy. Unfortunately prices vary enormously for the different editions but you can see what pages in the original book looked like by checking out Walker Evans: American Photographs (Books on Books), this is a copy, page by page, of the original 1938 book .

***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Oct 2010 22:40:36 BDT
Angele says:
Very insightful! It gives a history of the book. Thank you!

Posted on 30 May 2011 09:33:19 BDT
Robin Benson says:
It's worth pointing out that Amazon have placed this review with the Errata Editions `American Photographs' (ISBN 978-1935004240) which is a facsimile of the original. They have copied the original and reproduced it in their book with two spreads a page or a spread over two pages.

This seems to have caused plenty of confusion on various book selling websites, especially on the used book ones. The original MoMA editions are now quite expensive with the Errata Editions book usually less than 20.
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