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American Horizons: The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh
American Horizons: The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh
von Keith F. Davis
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 46,13

3.0 von 5 Sternen Art deserves better, 29. April 2012
I think it's a pity that as more people discover this rather under-appreciated photographer they will have to rely on 'American Horizons' as the only monograph available because the reproduction of the eighty-five plates is just not good enough. This became evident when I compared several of Sinsabaugh's photos in this book with the same ones in 'Chicago photographs' (ISBN 0970245238). In particular 'Chicago landscape #214' appears in CP as a bright, clean image full of precise and fascinating detail, in AH it is a very subdued photo and in comparison with the CP one hardly worth looking at. The other photos in both books make me believe that the majority of images in 'American Horizons' are also too dark and grey.

The explanation for the poor quality can be put down to the coarse screen used. Though the photos are tritones they are, rather amazingly, only printed with a 150 screen, hardly much more than the screen used in most consumer magazines. 'Chicago photographs', also tritones, use a 300 screen and it shows. Sinsabaugh used a large plate camera to capture every detail and it seems a nonsense to print his photos in a hopelessly inadequate screen, it just can't reproduce the detail that he took so much trouble to capture.

Despite the poor reproduction 'American horizons' does deliver a huge amount of information on Sinsabaugh. The first thirty-four pages have an excellent illustrated essay from photo historian Keith Davis. After the plates there thirty-seven pages of Notes concerning the photos, a Concordance to the Art Sinsabaugh Archive at Indiana Uni art museum, Bibliography and finally an Index.

Art Sinsabaugh can perhaps be considered as the first of the New Topographic photographers with a vision of the central states he shares with Wright Morris. It's a shame the photos in this book don't display his brilliant creativity to the best advantage.


LIFE 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE
LIFE 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE
von Editors of Life
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Living the Life, 23. April 2012
Yet another 'Best of...' book about the world's greatest photo magazine. After the weekly folded in 1972 and the monthly folded in 2000 then another go at a weekly which folded in 2005 Time is left with magazine specials and anniversary editions like this one to generate income. All the top photos in these pages, that appeared in the magazine over the years, have been reprinted many times, especially in the last anniversary book `Life: the first fifty years 1936-1986'.

This book though does have some interesting things going for it. A large format, at sixteen inches deep, making stunning photos and even more impressive and printed on a good matt art paper with a 175 screen. The layout and typography is probably the best I've seen in any Life book. The back pages reproduce thumbnails of all the weekly covers from issue one and nicely all the special editions and books right up to the magazine edition of this book.

The cherry on the cake for me was the facsimile of the first edition inside the back cover. (If you're buying a pre-used copy I suggest you check with the seller that this included, I've already seen a copy where the seller stated it wasn't) The production is probably better than the original, the paper certainly is and I doubt it had a thicker cover paper like this one. It's a pity the heading and captions are missing on page fifty-four, a heading and caption from the previous page is used and on sixty-nine the caption is missing above a photo. Hard to imagine why these mistakes happened.

If you are too young to remember Life this book is a good introduction to a magazine that presented some of the world's best photojournalism to several million readers each week. If you want the same photos a more conventional format check the remarkable 'The great Life photographers' (ISBN 0500542937).


Information Graphics
Information Graphics
von Julius Wiedemann
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 49,99

9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Data daze, 6. April 2012
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Information Graphics (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Look at all the amazing graphics in this huge book and it's hard to imagine that the original data existed just as numbers and text, in black and probably printed on white paper. Some very clever designers have managed to turn this raw data into beautiful eye-catching images. It's not only numbers into charts though, several pages show diagrams that interpret a situation: Improvised Explosive Devices in Afghanistan (pages 144-145) or the Tour de France (page 193) for example.

The first ninety-six pages (printed on a shorter page width) with four essays, look at the background and history of charts and diagrams. The best I thought was by Simon Rogers of the Guardian with an interesting overview of data and the press. To go with the essays (in English, French and German) there are sixty-four illustrations as a visual timeline from 1144 BC to 2010. This includes a couple of old favourites, Minard's wonderful flow map of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow and Harry Beck's 1933 London Underground map.

The main section of the book is in four parts: Location; Time; Category; Hierarchy. Each explores graphics with generously sized images on the page and detailed sections where the original was quite large or a poster. The work is from the last ten years with a long caption to explain the concept and an additional caption for technical detail: project info; data source; research; design; illustration. I thought the range of material within the four sections very impressive and incredibly wide ranging, though predictably, some of the graphics really do appear to be unreadable (but pretty looking).

Once again Taschen have chosen a subject and given it their usual thorough treatment with a comprehensive editorial in a beautifully produced book. No doubt Edward Tufte would dismiss most of the content as `chart-junk' but I always thought his interesting observations were more concerned with the visual treatment of data for an academic or technical readership rather than eye candy for readers of magazines and the consumer press where so many of the books graphics originally appeared.


North South East West
North South East West
von Peter Galassi
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 34,44

5.0 von 5 Sternen Hi-grade commonplace, 27. März 2012
Rezension bezieht sich auf: North South East West (Gebundene Ausgabe)
I noticed in Benson's superb analysis about the history of printed images (ISBN 9780870707216) that he used several of his own photos to illustrate contemporary printing techniques. This book, with 105 of his photos, confirms that as well as an authority on printing he can also take wonderful pictures.

The images are a selection of the natural environment and man-made commonplace. The latter are easily comparable to the work of Brouws, Eggleston, Plowden, Shore and Tice in my view. So many of the shots are rich in detail, colour and perfect framing and like those I've mentioned Benson has the eye to capture something so everyday and visually ordinary but presented as a compelling image that is worth returning to over and over.

There is something extra in many of these photos though. They are the kind that the graphic arts industry uses to sell their product. It has to be a great shot with: texture; colour; depth; clarity. You'll see them sparkle on beautiful papers using the finest four colour screens and printed by craftsmen on quality presses. The book, of course, is a good example of this.

The landscape format works well with the one photo to a page though eight pages each have two uprights and printed in an impressively fine screen (three hundred+ I think). There is a little extra feature in the book, ten pages at the back where Benson writes about his many years exploring the art of photography and the printing press. I thought this was a lovely addition to come across after looking through the pages of his work.


Poemotion
Poemotion
von Takahiro Kurashima
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Moire the merrier, 16. März 2012
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Poemotion (Taschenbuch)
The thirty visual patterns in the book create some dazzling movement when the plastic sheet (included) of vertical lines is moved horizontally across them. I thought the best ones are the designs that don't fill the page. One called Orbit cleverly has the two rings of small squares turning in one direction with a ring of triangles inside the square rings but turning in the opposite direction. Another called DNA has a vertical collection of blobs in a tube form that turns as the plastic sheet is moved across them.

The whole page patterns don't seem to create the same sense of motion, more a series of shapes that either come towards you are recede depending on whether the sheet is moved left or right.

Takahiro Kurashima created the designs and they certainly are a bit of fun though Kenya Hara, on the back cover, suggests that: `The world doesn't simply stop at the limits of our bodies but reaches inside to our very senses. Through fascinating artifice, Takahiro Kurashima's small book serves to poetically enlighten us.' Well, possibly! However my five year old grandson certainly enjoyed the moiré effects.


Corporate Diversity: Swiss Graphic Design and Advertising by Geigy 1940 - 1970
Corporate Diversity: Swiss Graphic Design and Advertising by Geigy 1940 - 1970
von Museum Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 40,00

5.0 von 5 Sternen The Look of Switzerland, 4. März 2012
A remarkably thorough, comprehensive look at the graphics output of this Swiss chemical company. The clean, elegant designs of the Geigy 'look' really took off in the early fifties though the head of the publicity department Rene Rudin, as early as 1944, said: We must take care that a certain artistic level is maintained, marked by impeccable typographic design, high quality illustrations and technically flawless reproduction'. An excellent example of this design approach is shown with two pack shots on page sixteen. A 1942 insecticide spay shows a dull, unimaginative can the total opposite of the 1959 version, now with clean type (Helvetica, of course) and a simple graphic.

Page forty-three reveals an interesting observation: Geigy had no style manual, except for the packaging. The company relied on choosing designers who all had a similar attitude to design and were mostly trained at the Allgemaine Gewerbeschule in Basel. Clearly this paid off judging by the high quality of the printed material shown throughout the pages.

As the leading Swiss chemical company with an impeccable corporate face (I would place Hoffman La Roche a close second during the fifties and sixties) the company exported this to other countries. There is a chapter on Geigy in America and another dealing with United Kingdom. An interesting chapter, by graphic historian Roger Remington, though not relating directly to the company deals with the influence of Swiss graphic design in America.

The first part of the book takes an overall look at the how Geigy organised and ran their Publicity department (a footnote says that before 1966 this was known as the Propaganda Department) in Basel. The rest of the pages cover ads and a wide range of promotional material for named products produced by the pharmaceutical, dyes and agricultural divisions. The last chapter looks at how the company presented itself as a responsible company to the public through books and other media.

The book itself is a sort of reflection of the design Geigy used until the seventies. Clean, orderly presentation of text and the 385 illustrations and well printed on a matt art paper. I think thanks should go to Steven Lindberg who did an excellent translation job from the original German text.

The title will certainly interest designers and anyone dealing with the way a company presents itself in print.


Dan Graham's New Jersey
Dan Graham's New Jersey
von Craig Buckley
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 45,00

3.0 von 5 Sternen Spatial, man!, 26. Februar 2012
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Dan Graham's New Jersey (Gebundene Ausgabe)
The book is a celebration of Dan Graham's first magazine article. It appeared in the December 1966/January 1967 issue of the small circulation 'Arts Magazine' and the editors drastically cut the copy and discarded all the original illustrations except one: a Florida developer's ranch house with floor plan. Since this first publication the article has taken on a life of its own. Odd in a way because it is quite short and I didn't think it offered any particular insight regarding American tract housing. A spread in the book features ten versions in various publications up to 1976. These repeat the original text but use different photos from Graham's New Jersey field trips.

The book is in three sections: thirty-six New Jersey photos from 2006; three essays; thirty-eight New Jersey photos from the sixties and seventies. In the first essay, by Mark Wigley, Graham admits his photography is never more than a hobby, the work of a resolute amateur. The seventy-four photos were taken with an Instamatic and the 2006 ones with a cheap point-and-shoot one. As I looked through the pages I became aware of tilting uprights, soft focus, washed out colour and several confusing shots with reflections looking through windows. But these are working photos (to be used in slide shows for example) tightly cropped to emphasize the area of interest and in the same amateurish style as the student shots used in Venturi and Scott Brown's 'Learning from Las Vegas'. It's rather unfortunate that all the photos are presented one to a page in the classic photo book style which I think gives them much more credence than they deserve.

Apart from the three essays Graham writes, in the first photo portfolio, short intros to the seven cites and towns he photographed and contributes captions to many of the photos, commenting on the architectural style, the environment and the New Jersey and Staten Island working-class communities where he grew up. Of the three essays (over forty-two pages) I thought Mark Wigley's the most interesting. He reveals the background to the Homes for America article and Dan Graham's working methods. The two other essays are by Mark Wasiuta, one a Q and A with Graham and the other a full blown academic analysis with sentences like:

Yet Mallarme's "book" is described in terms that might be understood as a nonsolipsistic prescription for a form of confusion or interpretation between linguistic systems and objects, and as a procedure for operating on conventions of linearity, narration, and temporality - all terms that informed Graham's serial, permutational projects.

The book seemed to me a rather indulgent look at some bland, amateur photos of New Jersey tract housing. George Tice with his two books: 'Urban landscapes' and Patterson II' did a much better job of photographing the gritty cites of New Jersey and Barbara Kelly's 'Expanding the American dream: building and rebuilding Levittown' summed up tract housing concisely.


Age of Silver: Encounters with Great Photographers
Age of Silver: Encounters with Great Photographers
von John Loengard
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 45,48

5.0 von 5 Sternen You've seen their work now see their faces, 11. Februar 2012
John Loengard really started his ambitious project to capture some of the world's greatest snappers in 1989. In these pages he presents fifty-nine of them though this does need some clarification. To capture these creative folk he took two options: either a portrait or (and probably unique to this book) a shot of a negative reflecting the photographer's most famous work.

In some cases you can see both options: Alfred Eisenstaedt is here and his hands holding a negative strip showing a sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square, 1945; Cartier-Bresson and his hand with the 1932 negative of `Behind the Gare St. Lazare'; Dmitri Baltermants at home and on the facing page he's holding the 1942 negative of his searing `Grief'. Some photographers, who died some time back, just have their negatives displayed on a light box, held by others.

The 136 pages with 200 duotones (in a 200 screen) are well presented with an elegant straightforward layout. The back pages have extensive biographies of all those included. Page 117 has Loengard's list of living photographers and as he says 183 of them he has yet to capture.

I enjoyed this book because it was a treat to see so many people whose work I had been familiar with and enjoyed for years. Admittedly the negatives idea might not appeal to everyone but it creates an interesting change of pace as you look through the book.


Lufthansa und Graphic Design: Visuelle Geschichte einer Fluggesellschaft
Lufthansa und Graphic Design: Visuelle Geschichte einer Fluggesellschaft
von Jens Müller
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Up in the air, 3. Februar 2012
A worthwhile overview of this world-class airline's corporate look though the small size of the pages is not the best way to present all the interesting visual material.

Lufthansa corporate look really begins in 1963 when the management implemented design proposals put forward by a design team from Ulm design college under the direction of Otl Aicher. The reputation of the Ulm student design group was sufficient to allow this to happen. The design proposals allowed the airline, by 1967, to be one the world's most forward looking commercial carriers. The first pictorial section of the book shows the evolution from a rather haphazard graphic design approach, especially with paintings for posters, to a much tighter and simpler graphic style using photos, flat colour panels and clean typography.

The book's next section (printed on sixteen pages of orange paper) use excerpts from the Ulm design study. It seemed to be particularly thorough, covering every aspect of the airline's graphic look. The rest of the book looks in detail at various design manuals over the years, modifications to the logo from Helvetica Medium to Semi bold (and cutting part of the horizontal of the L so that it gave a tighter optical fit with rest of the logo) lots of ads and menu designs. In 1979 the airline's ad department did a design overhaul and created an even more comprehensive look which lasted up to 2000 when the Californian company Design Management Online took Lufthansa into the digital age with an online design manual. Unfortunately there are only two small, unreadable examples of the DMO work.

The last pages have some interesting comments from seven designers about the Lufthansa look, a company timeline and a book and article listing but no index.

I have mentioned the small page size and consequently small photos and graphics but also a small text size that makes reading the book very hard (so four stars). Six point type is just too small and annoyingly there is plenty of empty page space to allow for a larger size and for that matter bigger images throughout the pages. Oddly the book's Introduction is set in a quite readable eight point type.

Though the book is a paperback it has a jacket. Remove this and it unfolds to a mini poster with a mono graphic on one side and on the reverse seven colored profiles of the Lufthansa jet fleet with various livery options suggested over the years.


Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
von John Maloof
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 31,40

10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Vivian comes out of the shade, 18. Januar 2012
I'm surprised how many one, two and three star reviews there are on US Amazon for this excellent photo book. On any level it really can't be faulted. Blank pages in a photo book are quite common though here the confusion was probably caused by having them very close to each other and repeated as such throughout the pages. Book designers would normally space a few blanks roughly evenly between all the photos. The printing by Asia Pacific is comparable to any other quality printed art book (and it costs less than quality printing in Europe or the US). The duotones use a 200 screen on a very acceptable 157gsm matt art with perfect register. The slight black/ochre feel to these photos, I thought, was a wise color choice.

As to Vivian Maier's photos, the 106 in the book are quite stunning. In particular the framing is just prefect and I think this separates her work from other well known street photographers especially those classed as the New York School who go for a more emotional style of imagery. The photos reveal everyday street scenes in Chicago and New York and work so well because they always pull you into the composition without any distractions about what to look at first. The pacing helps here too, close-up portraits merge into medium shots and then, perhaps, a long shot saturated with detail. The more I looked through these pages the more the sequencing added to the photos.

If I have a criticism it is that there is really nothing about Vivian Maier. Her named website gives some background and I think it would have been helpful to the reader to have included some of this material

John Maloof, the book's editor, is to be congratulated on finding and preserving a treasure trove of photos by an unknown photographer who had such a remarkable eye. I'm hoping this will be the first of many books revealing Ms Maier's creative vision.


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