New in Print

PHOTOGRAPHY

EXHIBITION

Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography

by John Rohrbach (Editor), Erin Pauwels (Contributor), Britt Salvesen (Contributor), Fernanda Valverde (Contributor)

Cabinet cards were America’s main format for photographic portraiture throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Standardized at 6½ x 4¼ inches, they were just large enough to reveal extensive detail, leading to the incorporation of elaborate poses, backdrops, and props. Inexpensive and sold by the dozen, they transformed getting one’s portrait made from a formal event taken up once or twice in a lifetime into a commonplace practice shared with friends.  The cards reinforced middle-class Americans’ sense of family. They allowed people to show off their material achievements and comforts, and the best cards projected an informal immediacy that encouraged viewers to feel emotionally connected with those portrayed. The experience even led sitters to act out before the camera. By making photographs an easygoing fact of life, the cards forecast the snapshot and today’s ubiquitous photo sharing.  Organized by senior curator John Rohrbach, Acting Out is the first ever in-depth examination of the cabinet card phenomena. Full-color plates include over 100 cards at full size, providing a highly entertaining collection of these early versions of the selfie and ultimately demonstrating how cabinet cards made photography modern.

Hardcover, 232 pages – University of California Press – June 2020 – $45

HISTORY/ TECHNIQUE

Calotype or Paper Negatives: Historical and Alternative Photography 

by Peter Mrhar

The book Calotype or Paper Negatives in the Historical and Alternative Photography series takes the reader into the first decades after the birth of photography. The daguerreotype had already wholly conquered the world, and Talbot’s paper negatives only became more popular after the introduction of various changes. But it was only with the improvements of different French photographers that the paper negatives reached their peak. In this book, we describe these most popular and reliable methods. Thus, the reader will gradually learn all the details of making paper negatives following the procedures of Guillot-Saguez, Le Gray, Greenlaw, and Pelegry. We also mentioned some old and new variants, we devoted a lot of space to solving problems and producing positive images. I have also presented various operations in making paper negatives in the videos found on my YouTube channel.

Paperback, 164 pages – Independently published – April 2020 – $31 – Available at amazon.com

HISTORY

The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market 

by Nadya Bair

Since its founding in 1947, the legendary Magnum Photos agency has been telling its own story about photographers who were witnesses to history and artists on the hunt for decisive moments. Based on unprecedented archival research, The Decisive Network unravels Magnum’s mythologies to offer a new history of what it meant to shoot, edit, and sell news images after World War II.
 
Nadya Bair shows that between the 1940s and 1960s, Magnum expanded the human-interest story to global dimensions while bringing the aesthetic of news pictures into new markets. Working with a vast range of editorial and corporate clients, Magnum made photojournalism integral to postwar visual culture. But its photographers could not have done this alone. By unpacking the collaborative nature of photojournalism, this book shows how picture editors, sales agents, spouses, and publishers helped Magnum photographers succeed in their assignments and achieve fame. Bair concludes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when changing market conditions led Magnum to consolidate its brand. In that moment, Magnum’s photojournalists became artists and their assignments oeuvres. Bridging art history, media studies, cultural history, and the history of communication, The Decisive Network transforms our understanding of the photographic profession and the global circulation of images in the pre-digital world.

Hardcover, 336 pages – University of California Press – July 2020 – $49.95

Polaroid Now: The History and Future of Polaroid Photography

Polaroid Then and Now celebrates the history and evolution of the first and foremost instant imaging camera system.  Featuring both vintage and current Polaroid photography, this book covers iconic midcentury photographers and artists, as well as contemporary creatives.  A foreword by Matthew Antezzo, Polaroid Art and Culture Director, provides both an historical account and a visionary view forward of the creative possibilities with the revered brand.  An artist index features thumbnail images of every photograph included in the book along with the name of the artist, the location, date, and the specific Polaroid camera and film stock used.  The cover of the book features the original 1960s packaging design by renowned graphic designer Paul Giambarba.  This officially licensed partnership with the world-renowned Polaroid brand is the most comprehensive book published on Polaroid to date, showcasing the work of hundreds of photographers from all over the world.

Hardcover, 400 pages – Chronicle Chroma – August 2020 – Available from Chronicle Books

FINE ARTS, PRINTS, & GRAPHIC ARTS

HISTORY

This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot

By Alicia Yin Cheng

This Is What Democracy Looked Like, the first illustrated history of printed ballot design, illuminates the noble but often flawed process at the heart of our democracy. An exploration and celebration of US ballots from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this visual history reveals unregulated, outlandish, and, at times, absurd designs that reflect the explosive growth and changing face of the voting public. The ballots offer insight into a pivotal time in American history—a period of tectonic shifts in the electoral system—fraught with electoral fraud, disenfranchisement, scams, and skullduggery, as parties printed their own tickets and voters risked their lives going to the polls.

Alicia Yin Cheng is a founding partner of MGMT. design in Brooklyn, New York. She currently serves as an external critic for the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught at Yale University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Barnard College, and Cooper Union.

Hardcover, 176 pages – Princeton Architectural Press – June 2020 – $29.95

CRITIQUE

True Grit: American Prints from 1900 to 1950

By Stephanie Schrader, James Glisson, and Alexander Nemerov

In the first half of the twentieth century, a group of American artists influenced by the painter and teacher Robert Henri aimed to reject the pretenses of academic fine art and polite society. Embracing the democratic inclusiveness of the Progressive movement, these artists turned to making prints, which were relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute. For their subject matter, the artists mined the bustling activity and stark realities of the urban centers in which they lived and worked…

True Grit examines a rich selection of prints by well-known figures like George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Joseph Pennell, and John Sloan as well as lesser-known artists such as Ida Abelman, Peggy Bacon, Miguel Covarrubias, and Mabel Dwight. Written by three scholars of printmaking and American art, the essays present nuanced discussions of gender, class, literature, and politics, contextualizing the prints in the rapidly changing milieu of the first decades of twentieth-century America.

Hardcover, 112 pages – Getty Publications – 2019 – $35

AUDIO VISUAL

PRACTICE

The Palgrave Handbook of Audiovisual Translation and Media Accessibility

By Łukasz Bogucki (Editor), Mikołaj Deckert (Editor)

This handbook is a comprehensive and up-to-date resource covering the booming field of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) and Media Accessibility (MA). Bringing together an international team of renowned scholars in the field of translation studies, the handbook surveys the state of the discipline, consolidates existing knowledge, explores avenues for future research and development, and also examines methodological and ethical concerns. This handbook will be a valuable resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, early-stage researchers but also experienced scholars working in translation studies, communication studies, media studies, linguistics, cultural studies and foreign language education.

Hardcover, 759 pages – Palgrave Macmillan – July 2020 – $219.99 – Available from amazon.com

Book Reviews

FELIX THÜRLEMANN. MORE THAN ONE PICTURE: AN ART HISTORY OF THE HYPERIMAGE

Getty Research Institute, 2019

Reviewed by Sharon Mizota

I was excited to read More Than One Picture: An Art History of the Hyperimage by Swiss art historian Felix Thürlemann. I hoped it would provide much-needed background for the unexpected, non-linear ways in which we consume images today. 

Thürlemann defines “hyperimage” as a presentation of multiple, discreet images whose arrangement and juxtaposition create meaning. A hyperimage could be a museum exhibition, an art history lecture, or a book, but I was disappointed to discover that it does not apply (despite its tech-y sounding name), to the glut of imagery found on the Internet. Nor does it exist outside of Western European art history. The book is an informative, and at times insightful “compare and contrast” exercise familiar to most art history students, but it is a missed opportunity to make connections outside of its own discipline. For our “hyper” connected world, it’s exceedingly timid.

The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different type of hyperimage creator: collectors, curators, and artists. Each section is further divided into three case studies looking at specific hyperimages. All are arranged more or less chronologically, starting with 17th century salon-style hangings descended from the cabinet of curiosities, to early installations in the Louvre Museum, to more adventurous efforts by German art historian Aby Warburg and French writer André Malraux that incorporate non-Western images (and also reflect the imperialist and colonialist attitudes of their time and place). The final section is devoted to the artworks and reproductions that Pablo Picasso and Pierre Bonnard displayed on their studio walls to situate their own practices in a broader context. It ends with a look at the work of contemporary German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, whose output consists mostly of hyperimages.

Throughout, Thürlemann emphasizes how these varied creators arranged visual relationships for two main purposes: to distinguish different styles of art, and to compare works with similar iconography. German art historian Heinrich Wölfflin compared and contrasted nudes in Renaissance and Baroque styles to identify their aesthetic and formal differences. 18th century collector Johann Valentin Prehn arranged his remarkable collection of miniature oil paintings according to the “pendant” system in which pairs of images with similar subjects flank a central image, much like an altarpiece. Even Thürlemann’s reading of contemporary artist Tillmans reifies the main genres of Western photography: portrait, landscape, still life, and abstraction. This fixation with style and iconography, while certainly accurate with regard to art history, neglects other forms of hyperimage construction, such as 20th century exhibitions organized around the cultural, geographic, or racial backgrounds of the artists, or by tracing personal or professional relationships among them. 

Thürlemann’s desire to restrict his study to well-trod, Western European art historical ground is understandable. It’s no longer responsible or desirable to make grand, sweeping claims about the world. It’s too vast and chaotic, and it now seems like sheer folly to think that any one person or work could responsibly encompass all of human creation. Still, the idea of the hyperimage, as a structure that allows for relationship building, is tantalizing. I wish Thürlemann had at least gestured toward some of its broader implications for our current global context.

Still, More Than One Picture might be an illuminating read for archivists interested in the history of collecting and art historical pedagogy in Western Europe, or for museum curators responsible for the creation, presentation, and interpretation of hyperimages. For archivists, its careful analysis of creators’ intentions reinforces a bedrock concept, “respect des fonds.” Context matters.

Although it doesn’t address archival practice explicitly, the book hints at the meanings created or sundered by archival arrangement. It might make you think twice before separating images that seem to have little or no relation to each other. It might also make you question the traditional categories and criteria used to arrange and describe collections. They are also part of a long history of totalizing impulses, and may no longer serve or reflect the global, interconnected, multivalent world we live in now.


SIMON FERDINAND. MAPPING BEYOND MEASURE: ART, CARTOGRAPHY, AND THE SPACE OF GLOBAL MODERNITY

University of Nebraska Press, 2019

Reviewed by Mott Linn, CA, Los Alamos National Laboratory 

At a previous job, I oversaw both that university’s map library and the archives and special collections unit, which included a collection of artist books.  Both of these experiences helped inform this review of Mapping Beyond Measure: Art, Cartography, and the Space of Global Modernity.  Clearly, the maps are pertinent to Ferdinand’s work; however, the artist books are closer to what this book discusses.  You can think of the materials that the book is about as being “artist maps” (what Ferdinand refers to as “map art”), although he also includes more common types of art, such as paintings, that include a map.  

For those unfamiliar with artist books, they are when an artist takes a book and transforms it into art or makes art that takes the form of a book.  A well-known example is A Humument; you can see a few of its pages here: http://www.tomphillips.co.uk/humument/slideshow/1-50.  Consequently, one can think of map art as when an artist takes a map and transforms it into art or makes art that takes the form of a map.

As Ferdinand states, “This book is devoted to artistic experiments with cartography” and that the premise of the book is “that map art is especially well placed to explore themes of global modernity.”  Although much of the art he considers is two-dimensional, that is not solely the case.  For example, the last chapter is about a film and elsewhere he considers collages and walking performances.  Ferdinand, who is a lecturer in literary and cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam, also discusses the changes that have taken place over time in the field of cartography, from the handmade maps of decades ago to the current use of GIS software. 

One of the strengths of this book is its scope: the author covers artists from around the world and art works spanning many decades. The book also features a lengthy bibliography, numerous footnotes, and an ample index.

Considering that colorful maps/artwork is what this book is all about, it is most disappointing that the illustrations are relatively small and in grayscale.  It would be very valuable for the readers to be able to judge for themselves what Ferdinand is writing about.  Although one cannot expect the format of the book to allow for full-sized illustrations of the works being discussed, it would have been nice if the publisher would have used a format larger than 6” x 9”.  Likewise, although having the images next to the text that is discussing them is optimal, having all of the images in one gathering would allow for color versions of the maps without significantly increasing the cost of the book.

Some will certainly like this theoretical book, although I prefer looking at the more traditional maps that I use to decorate the walls of two of the rooms of my home.  As the old saying states, “to each his own.”

New In Print: PHOTOGRAPHY

ANALYSIS

The Image of Whiteness: Contemporary Photography and Racialization

by Daniel C. Blight, editor

“A unique study of art photography as a means to understand whiteness. In a time of new fascist and alt-right politics, from Donald Trump to Tommy Robinson, this book attempts to locate the “image of whiteness” as a thing both imagined and pictured so that we can better understand its meaning and construction. In over 60 images, a contextual essay and a number of interviews with artists and scholars, this book seeks to introduce its reader to some important extracts from the troubling story of whiteness and describe its falsehoods, paradoxes and oppressive nature. At the centre of these pages lies a set of important questions all white people should ask themselves: How was whiteness invented? What does whiteness look like? And is it really ever ok to be “White”? This book argues that the invention and continuation of the “white race” is not just a political, social and legal phenomenon, but also a complexly visual one.”

Hardcover, 224 pages – SPBH Editions/Art on the Underground – October 2019 – $31.15 – Available at Amazon.com

PERSPECTIVES

Documentary Photography Reconsidered: History, Theory and Practice 

by Michelle Bogre 

“Documentary photography is undergoing an unprecedented transformation as it adapts to the impact of digital technology, social media and new distribution methods. In this book, photographer and educator Michelle Bogre contextualizes these changes by offering a historical, theoretical and practical perspective on documentary photography from its inception to the present day.  Documentary Photography Reconsidered is structured around key concepts, such as the photograph as witness, as evidence, as memory, as narrative and as a vehicle for activism and social change.”

Paperback, 264 pages – Bloomsbury Visual Arts – October 2019 – £31.49 – Available at Bloomsbury 

PRACTICE

Notes on Archives 2: Culture Is Our Business

by Ines Schaber, editor

“In the process of transferring analog material to digital data banks, small independent archives are often not able to keep up with bigger, economically driven archives, such as stock-image companies.

Notes on Archives 2: Culture Is Our Business considers the case of Willy Römer, who in 1919 took a photograph of the street battles in the media district of Berlin during the German Revolution. Circulating widely throughout the twentieth century, Römer’s photograph in 2004 came to be owned simultaneously by a number of archives. Among them were the commercial stock-image agency Corbis, founded by Bill Gates, and the Agentur für Bilder zur Zeitgeschichte (Agency for images on contemporary history), an independent organization established by photo historian Diethart Kerbs. Both Corbis and Kerbs’s agency handle and make available the same image based on extremely different concepts and working processes. The book considers the complex issues around these two agencies. At stake in these differences are how the image’s story should be told, and how this telling is embedded in the viewing and understanding of history. This publication includes material from the artwork Culture Is Our Business by Ines Schaber along with a conversation with Diethart Kerbs and a text by Reinhard Braun.”

Softcover, 44 pages – Archive Books and Camera Austria Graz – September 2018 – €12.00 – Available at Archive Books

New In Print: FINE ARTS, PRINTS, & GRAPHIC ARTS

HISTORY

Communist Posters 

by Mary Ginsberg

“One of the common features of communist regimes is the use of art for revolutionary means. Posters in particular have served as beacons of propaganda – vehicles of coercion, instruction, censure and debate – in every communist nation. They have promoted the authority of state and revolution, but have also been used as an effective means of protest.  This is the first truly global survey of the history and variety of communist poster art. Each chapter is written by an expert in the field and examines a different region of the world: Russia, China, Mongolia, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba. This beautifully illustrated, comprehensive survey will appeal to a wide audience interested in art, history and politics.”

Paperback, 272 pages, 295 illus. – Reaktion Books – April 2020 – £25.00 – Available at Reaktion Books, Ltd.