Photography in February – a tribute to Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold's PeopleIt seemed appropriate this month to dedicate our picks of the photography books to those the library holds on legendary photographer Eve Arnold – who died on the 5th of January this year. Eve Arnold’s People, the most recent book on the subject of her amazingly diverse and long career was published in 2009.

Born in Philadelphia in 1912, Arnold left medicine for a photographic career after receiving a Rolleicord as a present in 1946. These were the heydays of documentary photography and Arnold dived into it wholeheartedly with only 8 weeks of training. Her career really began in 1951 after the British Picture Post published a story she had shot in Harlem which no American magazine wanted to take on. In 1957 she joined the acclaimed Magnum photo agency, becoming their first female photographer. She moved to London in 1951 and used the city as her base for the rest of her life, while travelling extensively on her many assignments for publications such as Life, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Geo, Epoca, Paris-Match and the Sunday Times.

A self-confessed workaholic, her work encompassed such diverse subjects as Hollywood stars (she will be most remembered for her intimate portraits of Marilyn Monroe, with whom she had a very long and productive professional relationship), but also (and as powerfully) underprivileged members of society – and even great heads of states. She travelled to China during a time when Westerners were only allowed in under strict supervision. She didn’t want to work under such conditions and relentlessly applied for a visa that would give her free rein. 10 years on, she was granted permission and in 1979 finally succeeded in making “a book about the lives of people, a book that would go beyond the ubiquitous blue suits and bicycles we had been seeing pictures of so many years”. She “wanted to penetrate their humanity, to get a sense of the sustaining character beneath the surface”. She travelled thousands of miles in the most remote parts of the country and documented “the tripod on which China had built her revolution – the peasant, the worker and the soldier”.

Compassionate, understanding, generous, courteous and soft-spoken were adjectives often used to describe this gentle woman. She took her work to heart and her work reflects it.

A new retrospective book on her whole career titled All about Eve, is about to be published by teNeues. Watch this space. It will be hot property! In the meantime – check out her most memorable shots in the Guardian and watch a slide show and interview produced by Magnum in Motion, or delve into our comprehensive collection of books dedicated to this inspiring photographer. Here are a few of the titles we hold:

Eve Arnold in Retrospect Marilyn Monroe: an appreciation Eve Arnold Film Journal Magna Brava - Magnum's Women Photographers

syndetics-lcHollywood Portraits
After having admired Eve Arnold’s stunning portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and Clark Gable among many others, this book is the perfect transition from looking at a great photographer’s portraits to making portraits of your own, in the classic Hollywood style. It provides useful insight on how to set up, light and shoot, based on specific examples described with diagrams and step-by-step instructions.

syndetics-lcRobert Rauschenberg Photographs 1949 – 1962
“Painter, sculptor, printmaker and photographer Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) provided a crucial bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. His exposure to photography while at Black Mountain College in North Carolina was so great that for a time he was unsure whether to pursue painting or photography as a career. Instead, he chose both, and found ways to fold photography into his Combines, maintained a practice of photographing friends and family, documented the evolution of artworks and occasionally dramatized them by inserting himself into the picture frame. This volume gathers and surveys for the first time Rauschenberg’s numerous uses of photography. It includes portraits of friends such as Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, studio shots, photographs used in the Combines and Silkscreen paintings, photographs of lost artworks and works in process. This allows us to re-imagine almost the entirety of the artist’s output in light of his always inventive uses of photography, while also supplying previously unseen glimpses into his social milieu of the 1950s and early 60s. Considered one of the most innovative artists of his era, he died in 2008.” (Adapted from amazon.com)

The August Photo Selection

Create Great iPhone Photos – Apps, Tips, Tricks, and Effects

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“I’ve been obsessed with photography since I was a teenager. I got an SLR when I was 15 and proceeded to spend an absurd amount of time watching the silver drift off photographic paper in my high school’s darkroom. I loved it – the amber glow of the darkroom light, the acrid odor of the fixer, the sheer magic of images apearing from nowhere.

Yet, I never had as much fun with photography as I have with my iPhone camera. Here is why:” Allan Hoffman, author of this new revelatory book, goes on to explain the great advantages of  iPhotography or, as it seems to be called, “iPhoneography”.

I have just discovered a new dimension, a new world I didn’t know existed. And I want to go there, quick. All I need now is an iPhone…

(Staff member)

Detroit Disassembled – Andrew Moore

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I first came accross Andrew Moore’s new work on Detroit in Aperture Magazine last year (Winter 2009 n197) in an article called Urban Archaelogy, and had the pleasure to discover the whole series in this new large format publication, perfectly suited to the large scale images of this urban landscape project on decaying Detroit.  As depressing and bleak as the subject may be, the resulting visual narrative is spectacular, the colours lucious. Rust, dust, moss all contribute to give a rich patina to the disused urban and industrial sets visited, transforming them into almost grandiose tableaux. Awe, sadness, irony are some of the emotions elicited. (Staff member)

The Pressure of Sunlight Falling – Fiona Pardington

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Fiona Pardington’s latest work is a series of large-scale portraits of life-casts made of Maori and Pacific peoples during Dumont d’Urville’s voyage to the Pacific in 1837-1840. Life-casts were a pre-photographic form of recording a person’s image and were often collected for ethnographic studies, phrenology and as curiosities. As works of art in a contemporary context they are poignant reminders of the humanity embodied within the casts and the photographic image. This exhibition explores the meaning of the casts, their individual history and their function in relation to portraiture and photography. (Summary from syndetics-lc)

Fiona Pardington was interviewed on National Radio on 31 July about this new work. Click here to access the Audio archive. 

And finally, not from our Photography collection, but still a book of photographs, you will find this book in the Dance section on our shelves:

A Dance – Alexander Barabanov

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Alexander Barabanov, a key figure in the Russian dance world, has sifted through many thousands of photographs of dance to accumulate an extraordinary collection of pictures, ranging from historical ballet photographs to shocking avant-garde imagery.

This work has been collected and edited to form an astonishing sequence. Rather than being assembled as an anthology, the sequence has in fact been ‘choreographed’ so the book is constructed to form a dance in ten movements. It begins with creation myths, follows erotic engagements and leads to a series of mass movements in the modern age. It includes such gems as the young Nureyev’s first performance with the Kirov and Baryshinikov’s debut as well as images with brutal reference to Abu Ghraib or the march of fascism. (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Timeline in photography

This month’s new picks in photography range from the most contemporary and high tech artists to the rediscovered pre-digital alternative techniques, not to forget the book on technique, this time about wedding photography, the best in a long time.

Contemporary Photography from the Far East

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A true catalogue raisonné, Asian Dub Photography presents the works of twenty-one of Asia’s most important contemporary artists who have made their mark on the international contemporary art scene in the fields of photography, video, and film. It features works by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Yang Fudong, Cao Fei, Kimsooja, Nobuyoshi Araki, Yasumasa Morimura, Daido Moriyama, Tabaimo, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Ai Weiwei, among others. It is accompanied by in-depth biographies and artists’ statements and is introduced by critical essays by Filippo Maggia and Taro Amano, chief curator at Yokohama Museum of Art.
(book cover) 

Shadow Catchers Camera-less Photography

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“At the dawn of photography, various image-makers explored camera-less techniques, and today there are a number of artists who continue to challenge the belief that a camera is necessary to create a photograph. Shadow Catchers presents the work of five leading practitioners – Pierre Cordier, Susan Derges, Adam Fuss, Garry Fabian Miller and Floris Neusüss – who, by casting shadows on light-sensitive paper or by chemically manipulating its surface, capture the presence of objects, figures or glowing light. The results are powerful images, often with surreal effects and symbolic content. This is the first book to gather together the exciting works of these key contemporary artists, revealing the technical processes and creative practices involved in their art. In an age of mass-produced imagery, Shadow Catchers offers hand-crafted photographs that are both haunting and thought-provoking.
A unique survey of the most prominent contemporary artists creating photographs without the use of a camera.
An authoritative and sumptuously produced account of the history of camera-less photography and the processes involved”.
(book cover)

Photographers A-Z – Hans-Michael Koetzle

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The greatest photographers of the last 100 years

A comprehensive overview of the most influential photographers of the last century and their finest monographs: Richly illustrated with facsimiles from books and magazines, this book includes the major photographers of the last hundred yearsespecially those who have distinguished themselves with important publications or exhibitions, or who have made a significant contribution to the culture of the photographic image. While most of the 400-plus entries feature North American or European photographers, the scope is worldwide, with significant emphasis on the photography of Japan and Latin America, Africa and China.
(amazon.com summary)

PERMANENT ERROR – Pieter Hugo

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When you see your work referenced in a music video, you know you have reached a certain level of recognition. First it was Nick Cave, then came Beyoncé. Beyond those, some will remember the striking and hauntingly beautiful portraits of The Hyena & Other Men that established Pieter Hugo’s place among today’s influencial photographers.
In Permanent Error, the award-winning photographer depicts in the same format, colour palette and intense gazes, the  livehoods scavenged on a wasteland dedicated to e-waste by a local community on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana’s capital. Jim Puckett’s essay on the issues raised by e-waste trade and the devastating consequences it has on poor countries communities is as thought provoking as those impossible to ignore photographs.
(staff member)

Fine Art Wedding Photography – Jose Villa & Jeff Kent

Acclaimed wedding photographer Jose Villa was a pioneer in fine art wedding photography before it became a trendy buzzword. Here, he shares his secrets for bringing a stylized sense of composition, lighting, posing, and most important, design, to your images, while still keeping them organic and narrative. You’ll learn Jose’s trademark technique of capturing the more natural moment after a pose, and tips for getting images right in-camera to avoid the need for heavy postproduction.
(amazon.com summary)