Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Open Road...

Greatest Hits compilations whether musical, photographic or otherwise are usually uneven affairs; the usual played out, super hits squeezed under one rock for those who must have been living under one, and the mixed bag compilations containing a few of the aforementioned thrown together with a few B tracks or outtakes. I opened this delightfully designed book and it most certainly didn't have that run down, retread, let's milk the very last penny out of it feel. Yes, it does lead with the best and brightest usual suspects in the genre, but the graphics, layout and editing make for one impressive presentation! I anxiously leafed through a world class collection, all under one roof that made me want to purchase it right then and there- even though I already had many of the photographs in separate monographs (save for Inge Morath's impressive showing); beautiful reproductions that often contained one or two "new" finds (at least for me) for each photographer featured to add some zest and make it all the more worthwhile. Why then did I leave it lying on the shelf?

Two thirds of the way through I was pretty much besides myself at how solid a find this was; the damn thing had no weaknesses, no filler, no questionable additions whatsoever- and then... and then, the inevitable weak links finally surfaced as the book progressed in its timeline (ie- the eighties and beyond). More recent photographers with their own post modern versions of reinterpreting, reinventing and reconstructing the great American road trip. Not that they were necessary all bad: I do love Doug Rickards' A New American Picture, but Todd Hido's recent work (good as it is) looked kinda pale in comparison, and dare I say it, even Ryan McGinley's selected photographs weren't as bad as expected- but if ya even have to go there... not to mention the few I had no interest in whatsoever (so much for a clean sweep). Pity it didn't include Lizzy Oppenheimer's remarkable Rest Stops- it could have ended on a much needed high note!

Final verdict? A must get if you don't already have the monographs of included favorites- it's one beautiful, well laid out compilation, no doubt about it. And still worth getting, if ya got the idle cash to spare... better yet- save it, and take to the road!

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