Reviews - What do customers think about A Short History of Photography?
A thoughtful meditation on photographic style Apr 4, 2008
Harvey Benge's latest photo book turns the idea of never showing your derivative photographs to anybody on its head. The book is a serious meditation on photographic style and approach but not without humor. This is a strong conceptual work with a series of brilliant pictures. Strongly recommended.
Another perceptive photo book from Harvey Benge Apr 4, 2008
Over time, I've wandered through all of Harvey Benge's books, no matter there are so many they would seem to overlap at the printers. I've spied on his development of ideas, and bent over breathless at his frenetic explorations.
It was suggested to Benge that he should not make this book, which served only to encourage him. A SHORT HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY collects many of the biggest names in photography and presents a picture from each - well, a picture from each, yes, but from Harvey Benge's own archive, photographs Benge has taken that have turned out to be in the manner of these great names. There's some humour to this, of course, but not flippancy because the idea is a serious one of style and content. It has required Benge to fixedly peer in at the work of significant others - which, naturally, he has done forever - and to grasp their intentions, their meanings, and present them in a photograph taken by him. Importantly, Benge has not set out to photograph these images, rather they have occurred over time, and lately been gathered by him for this series - a research project of sorts, but one much more persuasive than any scholarly analysis.
Gerry Badger has written a perceptive, intelligent and well-written introduction, and the book's design and typography is by the very fine New Zealand typographer and designer, Catherine Griffiths.
A delicious irony Apr 3, 2008
A new book from Harvey Benge is always an exciting occasion, both for the delicious irony that informs the images and the excitement they engender in the viewer. As serious as they are playful, his photographs tempt us back for another look, again and again.
"A Short History of Photography" takes all this a step further. Turning his gaze as much upon his own practice as that of his peers, this is a deliberate trawling through his files to establish that nothing under the sun is actually new and while different ways of seeing may all have their validity, the surprise is the extent to which they can be replicated, either accidentally or with homage in mind.
By no means a final statement, "A Short History of Photography" reminds us not only of the range of Harvey Benge's practice but also his insistence that the photographer be alert in all sorts of ways to what it is they are seeing. It is precisely this degree of thoughtfulness - and the lively humour - that keeps his earlier titles continually in our mind.
40 photos: can you name the photographers? Oct 31, 2007
The photo books of Harvey Benge are always thought-provoking and enlightening, and his new book, "A Short History of Photography" is no exception.
The cover is like a visual poem, invoking the names of 40 of today's most famous photographers, and promising "a short history of photography". And sure enough, when you flip through the full-page photos, it is relatively easy to match each photo with one of those famous names, even though we've never seen any of these particular photos before, and even though they do not have captions to identify the photographers.
There's good reason for that: Each photograph was made by Benge himself.
When I first saw this book, it gave me pause, and then I had to laugh, and then I had to think how truly difficult it must have been to make all of these photographs look so uniquely like the work of different famous photographers.
It brings to mind some questions we all face. Is this work original? Is it unconscious influence or something more intentional? Can you trademark a "style" in photography?