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Lux et Nox Hardcover – 1 Jan 2003
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Australian artist Bill Henson is a passionate and visionary explorer of twilight zones, of the ambiguous spaces that exist between day and night, nature and civilization, youth and adulthood, male and female. His photographs of landscapes at dusk, of the industrial no-man's land that lies on the outskirts of our cities, and of androgynous girls and boys adrift in the nocturnal turmoil of adolescence are painterly tableaux that continue the tradition of romantic literature and painting in our post-industrial age. The rich chiaroscuro, the oscillating light, and the masterful composition of his photographs map enigmatic states that escape rationalism's iron grip, providing a much-needed antidote to a culture that increasingly looses itself in a numbing vortex of blinking screens and glittering surfaces.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Henson is a manierist as Caravaggio, Murnau or Lynch are. Their "marks" and mise-en-scène are self-evident on their works. Henson is a master of light but, rather than light, of darkness. Cinema and painting are Henson's sources. Critics talk of transition, metamorphosis, disappearance, birth. Henson's nox (night) has the fullest meaning possible and that is because darkness has an entity on its own: a fifth element. Poetically speaking, darkness shines in the same paradoxical way as a black hole devours light. Darkness made tangible. Darkness as a symbol of the mysterious unseen, of the unknown.
Some people are afraid of the dark and fear kills their human nature. Others look into the dark with eyes wide open, full of hope and emotion. If you see yourself in the latter, do not miss this sublime book. Images talk for themselves so no essays are added. [...]
Because this book (which is unfortunately out-of-print as of mid-2005) covers similar territory, I bought it. It has received a lot of praise (e.g., it's been described as "sumptuous," "hauntingly beautiful," etc., and the 10/2005 issue of Photo District News [PDN, a magazine for professional photographers] named it one of the 30 "most captivating and influential photography books" from 1999-2004). I agree with everything positive that's been written about this book.
In addition, however, I believe that "Lux et Nox" (which I'll call "L") is worth obtaining because it complements "Mnemosyne" (which I'll call "M") in many ways. M has 501 pages on a number of series of color and B&W photos, while L has 175 pages with only color photos that are thematically related. Some of the images are the same in the two books (e.g., M448-449=L84-85, M451=L105, M452-453=L168-169, M454=L45, M456-457=L146-147, M463=L25, M469=L139, M470-471=L54-55, M472=L165, M476=L76), and others are similar. However, L's reproductions are about 3 times larger, the color and brightness of some of L's reproductions are somewhat different than M's, several dozen photos in M are not in L, and many dozens of photos in L are not in M. L has hardly any text, while M has 15 interspersed articles etc.
L is better than M in two respects: it is larger in format (42cm wide by 29cm high), and its covers are sturdier than M's. Buy "used & new" copies from Amazon.com!
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