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Photography of the 20th Century (Icons Series) Paperback – 25 May 2001
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"Defining images of photographic art in this century which kept me turning the 750+ pages with enthusiasm for many an hour." (Photo Art International, United Kingdom)" --Photo Art International --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In my experience, you can't beat the quality of Taschen products.
Excellent little book.
Published by Taschen, a German publisher of such high esteem that they sometimes publish special 'Art Editions' of individual titles that are as limited in edition numbers as are some prints, 1000-1500 typically, and which may sell at prices of several thousands of Euros per copy and still sell out! You do sometimes need to exercise a little care when ordering their titles as they often produce parallel versions in English and French in addition to the expected German. Whatever the subject or title, you will not be making a serious error of judgement were you to order anything of theirs, whatever its language.
This is a small book, approximately 8x6-inches and with just under 200 pages.
Published in 2001, it is a high-quality publication that highlights about 90 of the most eminent photographers of the Twentieth Century, with each photographer given a two-page spread. The book was in essence a catalogue for a 1996 exhibition held at and by the Museum whose name appears on the cover, about which I have little knowledge other than it is supposedly the foremost of its type in Germany and in some way comparable to that of Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York. All the images are owned or held by the Museum, and may represent a significant proportion of its collection at the time.
In view of the German prominence in the manufacturing side of photography with names such as Agfa, Leitz/Leica, Zeiss, Contax and many others in positions of prestige and eminence plus those of the post-war East Germany with its Pentacon that put good quality, inexpensive cameras in the hands of millions, it is not surprising that the country would host a Museum of Photography. There are several German and German-born photographers such as Steichen and Stieglitz who were and remain of international renown whose artistic rather than technical involvement was no less important or relevant and on a par with their possibly more numerous French counterparts.
Within the confines of the imposed limitations of size, the book cannot be as comprehensive as some may wish and there are therefore some omissions that need not exist (other than by non-representation within the Museum's collection) and some inclusions that may be questioned. However, to be more inclusive, its size, bulk and cover price would need to increase. I know of most of those photographers included, some more so than others but, as the book originated in Germany, it is possible that some of the less familiar may be better known in that country and those surrounding it than in the UK. I cannot therefore substantially dispute its contents. In any event, I cannot know the full scope of the museum's collection.
Most of the obvious candidates such as Ansell Adams, Cartier-Bresson, and Paul Strand are here, as are many more. Each of the segments, arranged alphabetically by surname, occupies a double-page spread with two or more images and a potted biography in each instance. No one photographer is therefore given any greater preference or precedence than any other. There is no index, nor is one needed by virtue of its sequencing.
As with all Taschen books, its printing is of superb quality and although its size is an obvious limiting factor in being able to show its images to best advantage, there are none too small to be acceptable.
If you can find a copy, and they can still be found, I would suggest that it be considered. As indicated above, there are other titles that appear to offer alternative collections of 'The Best', 'Greatest' or whatever else, but of those seen this is probably the best and least contentious. Consider it as a reference source and it may lead you to books which more comprehensively explore the subject photographers' work. For some there will be several alternative titles from which to choose, for others only one, but none at all for others. Such is the nature of photography.
a great inexpensive intro to the world of photography,and a veritable trasure trove of images most of have seen over the years but are collected here with brief biog info of each featured photographer (each give two images here). the book is from the collection of the influential Museuem Ludwig Cologne - so it cannot be entirely comprehensive and some personal faves are not here such as Nan Goldin, Tillmans or or Eggleston but hey for the price...
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