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The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History (Oxford History of Art) Paperback – 10 Apr 1997
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A readable text discusses the way in which we see and interpret photographs. (The Bookseller)
Fully and often surprisingly illustrated, carefully annotated and captioned, each combines a historical overview with a nicely opinionated individual approach. (Independent on Sunday)
Read this book and you will never look at a photograph in the same way again. (House & Garden)
concise yet comprehensive, and wonderful value (The Irish Times (Dublin))
An engaging, image-studded survey... Clarke is particularly good at playing two images off against one another to emphasise the cultural assumptions underlying each... Clarke raises fascinating questions about how the portrait seeks to encode social identity. In his representation of landscape, he deftly covers both the picturesque tradition and its opposite, the scientific orientation that viewed photography as a means of mapping and administering land. (V. Penelope Pelizzon, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Vol.40 No.2)
Clarke does an admirable job of condensing theoretical debates concerning the reading of images (Yorkshire Post (Leeds))
An important part of the Oxford History of Art series ... It's an enormous subject, but it's tackled in a tremendously accessible manner. A must for anyone interested in taking seriously good pictures. (Swansea South Wales Evening Post)
a superb piece of publishing (Rupert Christiansen, Spectator)
From the Back Cover
In a series of brilliant discussions of major themes and genres, Graham Clarke gives a clear and incisive account of the photograph's historical development, and elucidates the insights of the most interesting critics on the subject such as Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag. At the heart of the book is his innovative examination of the main subject areas - landscape, the city, portraiture, the body, and documentary reportage - and his detailed analysis of exemplary images in terms of their cultural and ideological contexts.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
If you've ever felt the same way, there's a good chance that Clarke's book is the one that you are looking for. This could easily be used as a reference work for an undergrad degree (if not post-grad), yet it's always an easy read and interesting to pick up and browse a particular section, or just flick through the many interesting and high quality pictures. This last is something worth emphasising - this is a quality book on thick, quality paper and the picture reproduction is great.
It's just as scholarly as anything by Sontag or Barthes, but written in a much more accessible way:
"In a world dominated by visual images the photograph has become almost invisible. We take photographs, look at them endlessly, and carry them around with us so that their currency is pervasive. They are one of the most common of objects that change hands every day. And yet such a common status belies their underlying complexity and difficulty; for we are always left with the primary and shifting question: what precisely is a photograph?"
Just so you get an idea of what this book contains, the contents is as follows.
1. What is a photograph?
2. How do we read a photograph?
3. Photography and the nineteenth century
4. Landscape in photography
5. The city in photography
6. The portrait in photography
7. The body in photography
8. Documentary photography
9. The photograph as fine art
10. The photograph manipulated
11. The Cabinet of Infinite Curiosities
This book is not a guide on how to take photographs but an academic and theoretical look at how photographs work and what they can mean to us, and how these meanings come about. When I started reading this book I had no clue about art at all (still don't ;) )and this book definitely requires a certain level of knowledge around the subjects and debates to get the full gist of what's going on. However, that's not to say it's inaccessible and if anything the book did double duty for me because it highlighted my areas of ignorance.
The information is presented in a series of essays which highlight the photograph's relationship with various subjects, some analogous to genres, be it The City, Portraits, Art etc. Each essay is a very well informed and well considered look at how photographs function in those genres by bringing to the fore the main debates.
Illustrations are present throughout; there are not hundreds but the ones there are are commented on insightfully and with full relevance to the rest of the text.
As my knowledge grows in other areas grows I've found myself returning to this book over and over and re-reading chapters where relevant. I've always been able to further enhance my understanding by returning to this book. Every time I read a chapter another piece of the the overall puzzle falls into place or a perspective I've forgotten is mentioned thus giving a different interpretation on the area I'm researching.
All in all a very informative book full of useful information without being too dry.
Good for a general intrest in photogaphy and especially as a source for students who study- it will definatly come in handy when im writing essays for college. One of the most reccomended books on photography.
BTW-Not about technical aspects or how to use cameras, lighting etc.
The ideas, advice and conventions in the book will help any photogrophy student as well as many artists on their way to creating well thought out imagery.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book with compelling writing. The imagery is lush and sometimes disturbing in a thought provoking way.Published 4 months ago by R Roberto
I hated this book, the writing style is pompous and at times words were written and nothing quantifiable or tangle came from those words. Read morePublished 10 months ago by M. Greenwood
This became a valuable book during my Photography degree. I definitely recommend it to anyone studying photography or interested in the key aspects of the history of photography.Published 13 months ago by stephenmark
Very helpful book for the first year of my photography degree.Published 18 months ago by A. Colbourne
Seems strange that what arrived was a library book complete with stamped slips inside.Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
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