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Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at Fifty [Paperback]

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Item description for Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at Fifty by R. H. Cravens...

Since its founding in 1952, Aperture has grown from a small periodical to a cultural phenomenon that reaches the largest and most diverse audience for significant photography worldwide. By examining it's own history, Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50 explores the currents in photography that have brought the medium to its present status as one of the most important art forms, and arguably, the most powerful medium of communication. It also demonstrates how Aperture has shaped and furthered this evolution, expanding the international audience for photography.

A remarkable selection of images culled from every period of Aperture's history illuminate photography's ever-expanding ability to evince uncommon beauty and render subjects as diverse as landscape and portraiture to issues of international social concern, whether civil rights, AIDS, domestic abuse, freedoms of speech, environmental conservation, or mass migration, to name a few. Other selections will explore evolving photographic techniques that have allowed image-makers to push artistic boundaries, from Aperture's revival of the vintage photogravure process to current explorations in the digital realm.

With groundbreaking images by such early masters as Joseph Nicphore Nipce and William Henry Fox Talbot to seminal figures in the history of the magazine including Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange, Minor White, Ansel Adams, Barbara Morgan, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, this lush publication traces the evolution of both the magazine and the photographers whose work has become an important part of its story. Long-time collaborators Sally Mann, Eugene Richards, Richard Misrach, Robert Adams, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, and Mary Ellen Mark, among many others, have made a selection of recent work, which together with images and original spreads from past issues offer a dynamic view of the medium's breadth of focus and innovation.

Remaining true to Aperture's history of providing a vital sounding board for a vast community of thinkers on and practitioners of photography, Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50 is supplemented by texts-excerpted from Aperture issues #1 (1952) through #165 (2001)-in which a range of voices from Nancy and Beaumont Newhall to Danny Lyon, Madonna, and Arthur Danto expound theories, manifestos, musings, and critiques on a broad range of photography-related subjects.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 11.2" Width: 9.6" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   3.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 15, 2004
Publisher   Aperture
ISBN  1931788375  
ISBN13  9781931788373  

Availability  0 units.

More About R. H. Cravens

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Artists, A-Z > ( J-L ) > Lange, Dorothea
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Collections, Catalogues & Exhibitions
3Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > General
4Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > History
5Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Photo Essays
6Books > Subjects > Reference > Catalogs & Directories > Catalogs

Reviews - What do customers think about Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at Fifty?

Essay and gallery commemorating 50 years of Aperture  Jan 13, 2008
Aperture published this book in 2002 to accompany the exhibition that it put together to celebrate its first fifty years as an organization and publisher, 1952-2001.

The book consists of two parts that are only loosely tied together: an extended essay by R. H. Cravens entitled Visions & Voices: A celebration of genius in Photography (36 pages in all), and a large gallery of photographs intermixed with quotes from Aperture writers ranging in length from single lines to whole pages (194 pages in all). Most of the items are marked with the volume of Aperture where they appear. The rest constitute "additional material" assembled for the event. Though not noted as such, some have also appeared in other Aperture publications, but probably not all. I assume that the gallery - the photographs if not also the quotes - corresponds fairly closely with the exhibition.

If you crack the book open and start leafing through it you may not see the clear two part structure. This is for two reasons. First, the essay has illustrations of its own - mostly smallish pictures of pages or double pages from various issues of Aperture but also some photos of the people involved including the founders and the editors. And second, the two parts are not presented as single pieces but are rather interleaved: four chapters of the essay each followed by about a quarter of the gallery photographs and quotes. It's actually easy to tell the two kinds of content apart once you notice that the pages of the essay have Visions & Voices next to the page numbers whereas the pages of the gallery do not.

The organization of the essay is basically chronological and traces the history of Aperture from its founding to today (or rather to seven years ago). Cravens bases it on interviews with the insiders and offers an insider's view. He talks a lot about the beliefs and goals of the principals as well as their concrete accomplishments and frustrations (especially in the area of money). He portrays the people with charity and circumspection, and even though he notes a surprisingly large number of unfortunate developments including divorce, alcoholism, disability and death, he barely hints at the personal animosities and conflicts that must have been part and parcel of an enterprise such as Aperture.

He focuses on the chief editors, first Minor White and later Michael Hoffman along with for a few crucial years Carole Kismaric. He mentions many photographers in passing but says little about most of them. Exceptions are Paul Strand, who receives the most treatment of all (more than Minor White in his capacity as photographer as opposed to editor), and Frederick Sommer, who figures in one of the very few controversies that is noted in the essay, the publication of some photographs of his in the pages of Aperture that evoked angry responses from a segment of the journal's readership.

The sequencing of the gallery is loosely chronological but relates more to the artistic trends that could be tracked in the pages of Aperture over the years. The progression is, very roughly, from straight to experimental photography, seen against the background of the eternal tensions between aestheticism and social conscience, realism and artifice, safety and shock. Those familiar with the individual photographers will probably recognize the works selected for the collection, but those whose knowledge of 20th century photography is limited (as mine is), will find much that is new. Photographs are identified by photographer, title, date (but not size or original print type), and, where applicable, appearance in Aperture, but there is no commentary other than the interleaved quotes. Those who want to read need to read the language of the photographs themselves.

I would give the essay by itself four stars and the gallery by itself five stars. I really like the book as a whole and give it five stars overall.

BTW the account of the Sommer controversy in the essay appears on p. 15. The photograph at the middle of it, Untitled (amputated foot), 1939, is included in the gallery on p. 225.
Gallery is great!  Nov 17, 2004
I saw this show in a gallery and I loved it! I bought the book so I could take the exhibit's beauty home with me.
A celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of "Aperture"  Dec 10, 2002
Photography Past Forward is a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of "Aperture" magazine enhanced with the kind of visual imagery (excerpted from issues of Aperture ranging from 1952 to 2002) that Aperture is so closely identified with, and enhanced with a informative history of this world-class publisher by R. H. Cravens. The essence and mission of Aperture was to be a forum where serious photographers could communicate about the nature of their art. Visual and textual highlights from fifty years of sharing fill Photography Past Forward, which numerous select photographs - some in color, most in black and white - as well as quotes and articles offering timeless wisdom and advice to aspiring photographers everywhere. Photography Past Forward is a strongly recommended and memorable visual treat for all dedicated students and practitioners of the photographic arts.

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