NY Times Book Review's Holiday Gift Guide Highlights Photography

Posted by David Ozanich — 6 Dec 2010

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The New York Times published their annual Holiday Gift Guide on Sunday and it was chock full of nifty photo books. Here's three that caught my eye:

  • Those with a taste for the macabre should enjoy "Lost Souls" which collects the photographs Lena Herzog has taken of "cabinets of curiosities." These anatomical specimens, some dating back to the 17th century and still lost in time, are the stars of her series.


    While she cannot pose her subjects, she casts them in blatant religious iconography. Light refracted through liquid splashes halos on faces, and captures one in the attitude of supplication. In these photographs illumination is so pure and radiant it recalls the paintings of Caravaggio, velvety blacks and glowing whites joined in dramatic chiaroscuro.
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  • Armchair travelers and francophiles might like "Yvon's Paris". Jean Pierre Yves Petit, whose pen name is Yvon, published his first photo essay about Paris in 1919:

    "Ciels et Reflets de Paris" ("Skies and Reflections of Paris"), a series of six melancholy cityscapes in which overcast skies played a starring role. Reproducing these and some 70 other black-and-white snapshots in a gorgeous new collection called "YVON'S PARIS," the photographic historian Robert Stevens emphasizes Yvon's extraordinary "instinct for poetic light." By exploiting the romantic potential of Paris's clouds, mist and fog -- in their ceaseless interplay with the sun -- Yvon created images that "stand well apart from views made by so many other photographers, who usually preferred sunny weather."

    That's his picture of Paris from the perspective of a Notre Dame gargoyle above.

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  • "New York: Portrait of a City" is the latest in Taschen's series celebrating individual cities. Over 600 pages trace the story of New York City from the mid-19th century to present day.

    The selection includes photographs by virtuosos like Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Weegee, assembled by Reuel Golden, the executive editor at Photo District News, and graced by his concise accounts of five historic periods since 1850.


    The photographs evoke not just the city's energy -- as Golden observes, "the ambitious, the visionary and the opportunistic" are "part of the city's DNA" -- but its haunting fragmentation. A photograph by Walker Evans shows a teeming city where too many people live Hopperesque lives of loneliness and alienation. The mood is underscored by a quote from Holden Caulfield: "New York's terrible when somebody laughs on the street very late at night. You can hear it for miles."

    Below you can find a video that takes a deeper look at "New York: Portrait of a City."


UPDATE: The Lens Blog has an excellent selection from "New York: Portrait of a City" in a 16 image slideshow.

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