THE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK (Phaidon £39.95) 2nd Edition. Revised and updated I cannot recommend it too highly. 550 images arranged alphabetically from mid-19th century to the present. It’s a wonderful, comprehensive, authoritative and immensely useful guide. Widely acclaimed, it’s probably the best of its kind. It’s a joy to have; I cannot think of a better Christmas present to give oneself.
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON Here and Now by Clement Cheroux (Thames & Hudson £45). A lavishly illustrated homage and monograph published to cover a major retrospective of the work of one of the greatest and most revered photographers of the 20th century. A pioneer in photojournalism, wide in range, invaluable as documentary, he embraces surrealism, political commitment, reportage and visual anthropology. The composition is always stunning and there are images you know well and images you don’t know at all. For anybody seriously interested in Cartier-Bresson it is a must.
EDWEARD MUYBRIDGE The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs (Taschen £12.99). The price is an absolute bargain. Muybridge (1830-1904) was famous for capturing anatomy and movement. His real fame began with photographing a galloping horse. Man was able to see for the first time what no man had been able to see accurately before. Commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania, he photographed males and females, nude and clothed, running, walking, jumping, leaping, heaving, lifting, rowing, boxing, etc, etc. Regrettably there is no photograph of Muybridge shooting his wife’s lover dead. The Californian jury thought it was justifiable homicide.
THE WORLD ATLAS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY (Thames & Hudson £24.95) takes you to North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. It’s an atlas for those who like grim urban photographs. It is particular useful for those who prefer to do their travelling whilst safely remaining at home in an armchair. Here is a fascinating kaleidoscope of images of life as it is (and documenting a life most people wouldn’t want and would turn a blind eye to). The short essays on the photographers are very useful.
MASTERS OF PHOTOGRAPHY by Ruel Golden (Goodman £19.99). A goodly selection from the 20th and 21st century; and like all good anthologies, the pleasure comes from being able to find your own personal favourites and discover new favourites and in some cases learn who actually took the photograph. It’s a curious phenomenon but photographs over-shadow their photographers. This book at least gives credit where credit is due. Each entry has its own short incisive commentary
WILLIAM HELBURN Mid-Century Fashion and Advertising Photography (Thames & Hudson £39.95) “I meant to shock people as much as I could,” said Helpburn, who worked with the top models in the 1950s and 1960s. The photographs are arresting in their dynamic energy, sexiness and sheer sophisticated wit. There is plenty here to make you smile and that is why he was so successful commercially. The models must have had a lot of fun. .
SHARK by Jean-Marie Ghislain (Thames and Hudson £29.95). Swimming and flirting with sharks is not something most people would want to do; rather Ghislain than me, you may well think. But Ghislain, wanting to overcome his fear, took his camera along with him and he came back with some beautiful and amazing photographs. I doubt, however, if they will change most people’s perceptions of Sharks as Jaws.
ARTE POVERA (Phaidon £14.95). Poor Art, the relation between art and life, was a modern art movement in Italy (1967-1979), spanning photography, sculpture, installations. Difficult though it is to define, it was immensely influential, using “poor” materials – animals, vegetable, minerals, glass, fabric, stones – in order to turn away from traditional “high” art. This book is a good guide.
COME HOME AT ONCE by Guy Atkins (Bantam Press £9.99). Today we text. Sending postcards with brief, tantalising messages was a national obsession in the Edwardian era. The Post Office was delivering close to a billion cards a year. Atkins offers some charming examples from his personal collection. The combination of photo, message and handwriting works