Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FWIW: My Top 30 Photo Books

What isn't a surprise here is how many truly great books are left out. What was the most admittedly subjective criteria used? Well, the most obvious- I had to own said book, and it had to inspire and be accessible on a multitude of levels, actively serving to place you in the world it seeks to portray or recreate, thus causing one to return again, and again, and again... Frequently, the love that went into the making of the photographs also extended into the making of the book itself, so that content and presentation complement each other to create one uniquely endearing work of art.

So... in no particular order:

1) In The American West -- Richard Avedon; one of portraiture's giants at his peak.

2) Ambiguous Ambassador- Tseng Kwong Chi; from humorous to majestic, all great photographs that happen to be self portraits.

3) Uncommon Places- Stephen Shore; the common made uncommon in color.

4) Madness- Claudio Edinger; beautiful images straight from hell.

5) Glory- Robert D'allessandro; the epitome of early seventies, wide angle, Tri-X documentary.

6) The Killing Fields; "art" by genocide...

7) The Inner City- Joseph Mills; street photography in dream time.

8) American Prospects- Joel Sternfeld; Americana redefined.

9) The Silence -- Gilles Peress; genocide and poetry in Africa.

10) Farewell To Bosnia-- Gilles Peress; genocide and poetry in Europe.

11) The Lost Border- Brian Rose; lyrical ghost imagery of bygone era.

12) Coney Island- Bruce Gilden; mid seventies NY at its grainy, idiosyncratic best.

13) Seydou Keita- Scalo (publ); the king of "outsider" portraiture, whether in his village in Africa or on opening night at the Gagosian in NYC on 10/23/97.

14) Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue- Eugene Richards; beauty in the depths of the human condition.

15) Inferno - James Nachtwey; high intensity, world wide drama crammed into 1 x 1 1/2.

16) Rich & Poor- Jim Goldberg; an intimate look into rich v poor. Guess who comes out looking worse...

17) Diane Arbus- Aperture (publ); the queen of portraiture.

18) William Eggleston's Guide- The Revolutionary Handbook.

19) The Last Resort- Martin Parr; stories within stories, live and in color.

20) Troubled Land- Paul Graham; tension and forboding in the land of beauty.

21) A Green And Pleasant Land- John Davies; landscapes past, present and forever.

22) Central Park -- Bruce Davidson; wonder and discovery in the manmade microcosm.

23) Sticks And Stones- Lee Friedlander: the swan song of swan songs.

24) Along the Ohio- Andrew Borowiec; middle America made familiar and magical.

25) The Black Triangle- Joseph Koudelka; a land laid waste in all its epic grandeur.

26) The Oxford Project- Peter Feldstein; the most simple of projects, the most brilliant of presentations.

27) Found in Brooklyn- Thomas Roma; neighborhood wonderland.

28) The Innocents- Taryn Simon; American tragedy as real as it gets.

29) At Dusk and By The Ground- by Boris Mihailov; two hard cover volumes of the most depressing panoramics imaginable sold in one package, haphazardly printed and toned into... true works of art.

30) The Americans -- Robert Frank; The New Testament.

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