I’m also a possessor of both volumes, and really just wanted to express how much I enjoyed Tell You What in the first instance, and will move on to RB’s now I’ve finished that.
I’m not a non-fiction reader, as a rule, but this essay format seems to suit me. Maybe it will be the gateway drug for longer forms, although I really struggle with autobiographies, for some reason.
Having said that, there have been a few photographic collections I’ve enjoyed this year.
And finally, in the rock legends category, my pre-ordered copy of Obscure by Andy Vella arrived recently. Which is pretty much a book about Robert Smith’s hair, as it turns out, but I love it.
Having said that, there have been a few photographic collections I’ve enjoyed this year..
I’d suggest you pop over to the library website, and put a reserve on their copy of Schirmer/Mosel’s close-as-its-ever-going-to-get-to-complete-in-one-volume reprint of August Sander’s legendary photo-documentary project People of The 20th Century
The son of a carpenter, August Sander was born in 1876, in a farming and mining community east of Cologne. His introduction to photography came while working as a young apprentice in the mines, when a visiting landscape photographer asked the boy to serve as his guide. Despite his provincial background, Sander became involved with many of the avant-garde artistic ideas of his day, among them the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), a movement led by his friend, the painter Otto Dix, which advocated a return to realism and social commentary in art.
Around 1922, Sander conceived and embarked on a magnum opus to be called People of the Twentieth Century, intended, as he stated, to be “a physiognomic image of an age,” and a catalogue of “all the characteristics of the universally human.” His portrait images were grouped into seven categories, which, in and of themselves, reveal Sander’s views of the German social order. Sander prefaced the project with a “Portfolio of Archetypes” (Stammappe), which he then expanded to form the first group, the Farmer (Der Bauer); six other categories followed: the Skilled Tradesman (Der Handwerker); the Woman (Die Frau); Classes and Professions (Die Stände); the Artists (Die Künstler); the City (Die Großstadt); and, the last and perhaps most compelling category, the Last People (Die Letzten Menschen), comprising the elderly, the deformed, and the dead.
Sander’s inclusion of these and other marginal elements of German society—gypsies and the unemployed also figured in his work—incurred the disapproval of the National Socialist party. In 1936 the Nazis confiscated his first published version of the project, Face of Our Time (Antlitz der Zeit), and destroyed all the printing plates. Some years later Sander left Cologne and moved to the relative safety of the countryside, taking with him some 10,000 negatives. The remaining 25,000 to 30,000 negatives were destroyed by fire before he was able to transport them to the Westerwald. The project remained incomplete at his death in 1964.
August Sander’s legendary photo-documentary project People of The 20th Century
Thanks Craig. That looks amazing. Hope you and yours are keeping well, and a very Merry Christmas to you.
Hey all - I've been quiet, but taking notes on what to read next, and loving the discussion. Carry on, carry on!
In the interests of mailing the books out before Christmas, I've just done a randomised draw from contributors so far... and the winner is...
Murray, could you drop me a line via the "Email" link at the bottom of the original post, and I'll pop those in the mail to you?
Happy reading, everyone :-)
This feels like the appropriate place to note the passing of legendary documentary photographer and portraitist Jane Bown . There's such a lot to look at in each of her pictures. I'm glad to own her Men of Consequence . If only I had the Women of Consequence to go next to it!
Her pictures are proof of what can be done with available light and informal moments.
The most excitement I have had reading this year has been The Particle at the End of the Universe about the Higgs boson. I've been pretty much completely out of science for about 10 years while raising my children, so coming back to it with such hard stuff was a real rush.
Ha! Local treasure from the secondhand shop.
Chchch artist too, I note...
Junkyard Planet, by Adam Minter, about the global recycling trade – fascinating and full of unexpected insights.
Thanks for the recommendation, just finished it, found it very educational.
Happy New Year, good peoples. here is another nonfiction reading treat - great article by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker, about NZ's crusade against mammals.
And another recommendation: Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer. It is quite a departure from his earlier books Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, and is about the murky and weird world of Mormon fundamentalism, and more generally about the nature of religious belief and its role in American society.