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Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters [Hardcover]

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Item description for Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters by Vicki Goldberg...

Vicki Goldberg, one of the leading voices in the field of photography criticism, is well known for her cogent and perceptive writing, which is regularly featured in such national publications as the New York Times, American Photographer, and Vanity Fair. Aperture's Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters gathers for the first time a selection of this remarkable author's essays and criticism, culled from her writings published over the past twenty-five years.

Goldberg's take on photography is both insightful and encompassing: her subjects range from pop imagery to war journalism, from photo-booth portraits to manipulated digital imagery, from the "boredom" of voyeurism to the great preponderance of tragic photographs in the news. She brings new light to the work of the medium's "old masters," among them Walker Evans, Lotte Jacobi, and Lartigue, writing with equal acuity about contemporary trailblazers such as Bill Viola, Daido Moriyama, and Bastienne Schmidt. Goldberg also tackles provocative larger issues facing the medium, such as the potentially "transgressive" nature of photographs, and the camera's powerful role in a culture of commodification.

Dismissing clichs and deftly negotiating the many diverging paths photography now follows, Goldberg demonstrates how to consider not just photographic images themselves, but their impact, and the meaning of that impact. Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters showcases a writer of great intelligence, wit, and insight, whose understanding of this multifarious and evolving medium is unsurpassed. Vicki Goldberg is the author of The Power of Photography: How Photographs Changed Our Lives (1991), and editor of Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present (1981). In 1997 she was the recipient of the International Center of Photography's prestigious Infinity Award. Goldberg writes on photography and the arts for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, American Photo0 , and other publications.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.74" Width: 5.75" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.23 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 15, 2005
Publisher   Aperture
ISBN  1931788634  
ISBN13  9781931788632  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Art & Music > Studio Art > Photography
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Criticism & Essays
3Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > General
4Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Lighting
5Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Photographers, A-Z

Reviews - What do customers think about Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters?

The author refrains from reading too much into the photographs, and (usually) writes accurately.  Jan 25, 2008
LIGHT MATTERS by Vicki Goldberg contains 27 chapters. There are 18 chapters on individuals and nine chapters on photography and society, e.g., "Documenting Poverty." The chapters on individuals occur in alphabetical order and include Ansel Adams, Eleanor Antin, Dain Arbus, Richard Avedon, Walker Evans, Chauncey Hare, Suzanne Opton, Martin Parr, Joel Sternfeld, and Weegee. Thus, there are chapters about artists that everybody knows and other chapters about more obscure artists.

For a small book (247 pages), one finds an unusually thorough index of six pages.

There are some interesting comments about Ansel Adams: "serious students of photography dismissed him as a kind of Norman Rockwell," and "many have long suspected that Adams' photographs were even better than they looked." Also, Goldberg writes, "Adams also celebrated the unspectacular hidden corners of nature with close-ups of blades of grass adrift on water like random scratch marks." These are all fine comments.

Unfortunately, Goldberg falls into the conventional trap of criticizing Ansel Adams of photographing scenes that do not really exist. She writes, "People were becoming aware that the land Adams found so achingly beautiful scarcely existed outside his photographs anymore." (Anybody with an automobile, and able to motor to the Sierra Mountains, will find an abundance of remote areas devoid of people and commercialization. In other words, Vicki Goldberg's comment is just plain wrong.)

About Martin Parr, Goldberg writes that he "ruthlessly cuts off other people's heads and catches still others leaning precariously into the picture," and "angles grow so slanted it's a wonder everyone doesn't slide out of the frame, and incongruous juxtapositions rule the day." About Martin Parr, Goldberg writes, "anxious tourists and vacationers trying to squeeze the last ounce of sun and fun out of the few moments left." Regarding Martin Parr's depiction of the dietary habits of the lower social classes, Goldberg writes that "cholesterol has conquered more territory than Napoleon ever did . . . Parr is transfixed by fast food. His camera homes in on grease and calories . . . Reddi-Wip extravaganzas . . . smiley-face pastries of turquoise." Goldberg writes, "Parr is a cultural observer of the underobserved . . . people loading up on beer, bored couples in restaurants." Goldberg tells us about Martin Parr's portfolio from Boring, Oregon. Vicki Goldberg inspired me to travel to Boring, Oregon to take pictures of signs reading BORING MIDDLE SCHOOL and BORING FIRE DEPARTMENT.

Boring, Oregon is not far from the Columbia River, one of the greatest tourist attractions on the west coast. This area features a dramatic trail up Beacon Rock, a splended trail up Multnomah Falls, and numerous microbreweries dotting the flanks of Mount Hood.

In the chapter, "Documenting Poverty," Goldberg focuses on Jacob Riis, Dorthea Lange, Ben Shahn, and Walker Evans. We learn that Lange used low angles and figures silhouetted against the sky, to romanticize the subjects or make them stereotypical, while Ben Shahn used a right angle mirror to take candid photos of the poor, catching them off guard. Regarding Andres Serrano, Goldberg writes that "his large, jaunty color portraits of the homeless look like advertisements from the newest grunge fashions."

Unlike the writings of many photography critics, Vicki Goldberg's writing is intelligent. She refrains from committing the usual grotesque custom of reading too much meaning into a photograph. Ms.Goldberg's writing sticks to the subject matter and meaning of the image, and does not fly off into a fanciful land of metaphors. All the chapters in LIGHT MATTERS are short. If you don't like one chapter, you can always move on to the next. FIVE STARS.

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