This Week In Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

A few weeks ago, I outed myself for having created a male-centric photo-book review column. Rather than embracing the gender bias, I sought to rectify the problem, good feminist that I am. (My wife went to Vassar and Smith, so my credentials are solid.) So of course, this week, just to keep you guessing, I’m  offering up a week of guy books. Most men, as we all know, like cars, sports, and blowing stuff up. With that in mind…

“The New Cars 1964″ is a blue, hard cover book by Lee Friedlander, recently released by Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. (Not content to merely put on exhibitions, those guys are a serious publishing house as well.) In our aerodynamic present, where a Hyundai can look like a Mercedes, and Nissan commercials mock the Chevy Volt for having a gas tank, it’s hard to imagine anyone bragging on a new gas-guzzler with a bitchin’ set of shark fins. Big, heavy, lumbering behemoths from Detroit are a part of our nation’s history, not the present. Which is what makes this book so much fun. It’s just straight up vintage. Apparently, Mr. Friedlander was commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar to photograph the secret new 1964 models, and he did it in a style to which we’ve since become accustomed. The photographs, not exactly glamorous advertisements, were rejected, and sat in a box until very recently. The images are busy, witty, and headache-inducing, as we might expect. It’s a cool opportunity to see a bit of Americana, timestamped in (mostly) Motown circa 1963.
Bottom Line: Never-before-seen vintage work

To purchase The New Cars 1964 visit Photo-Eye

 

“Weird Sports” is a smooth, hard cover monograph by Sol Neelman, recently published by Keher Verlag in Germany. Does the title give away the content? You bet it does. This is not a book that will make you feel like you are boning up on brain cells in a quest to cure cancer. It will, however, make you chuckle, and develop an appreciation for the absurd and countless ways people choose to amuse themselves. If you were to sit down, get stoned, and write a list of the silliest things that anyone could invent and call a sport, you probably wouldn’t be as creative as the lunatics that Mr. Neelman found in his global quest. Doubt me? Here are some examples: Extreme Pencil Fighting, Lingerie Football, Mutton Busting, Live Monster Wrestling, Head Pulling, and Cardboard Tube Fighting. Obviously, there are some less ridiculous offerings in this book, but it’s a terrific collection of images, and must have required a hefty travel budget. Between Mr. Neelman’s wit, well-constructed compositions, and facility with color, I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t enjoy “Weird Sports.” (Though I’m sure you’ll let me know if I’m wrong.)
Bottom Line: Hilariously human

To purchase Weird Sports visit Photo-Eye

 

Though I joked about mens’ love of blowing shit up, and my tone thus far has been breezy, there’s nothing funny about “Antipersonnel,” a new hard cover monograph by Raphaël Dallaporta. This edition was published by the Musée de L’Élysée in Lausanne and Éditions Xavier Barral, though I believe there was an edition of this project previously released. The book contains a suite of stark images of land mines, shot straight up, in studio, against a black background. Killing machines, decontextualized. Each image is paired with a text page that gives the code, country of origin, size and a description for each bomb. It’s a dry, categorical approach to looking closely at a messy, destructive, borderline evil subject matter. The viewer supplies the emotion through our imagination, as we mentally project the screams and shrieks that each model has no doubt produced. The project was supported by Amnesty International, and it’s easy to understand why.
Bottom Line: Important

To purchase Antipersonnel visit Photo-Eye

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Jonathan Blaustein

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. Thanks for the list. Yes guys like to destroy stuff, go fast, and play hard. It was my lifestyle for fifteen years of my life. I wish I had those photographs still.

    • I agree!!

      I am not surprised that they didn’t run it in ’64, they probably wouldn’t run it today. LF was so true to his craft with this project that he did exactly what he does, his vision, end of story.

      Love it.

      • Noel Neuburger

        So true, you have to hand it to both parties, LF for just doing what he does and Harper’s for taking a chance. Hopefully they paid him.

  2. The authenticity and heart displayed in Sol’s book Weird Sports is unreal. This was the first book my non-photographer friends picked up off the coffee table and flipped through cover to cover.

    You hear that!? That’s a non-photographer endorsement via a photographer.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with Daniel Berman.

    I have this in my studio and it is nearly always the first book to be picked up. The shots are not only photographically superb but highly interesting to look at whether you have an interest in photograghy or not.