Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Views of Tumult Between Two Wars

By ROBERTA SMITH @ New York Times

For some of us in the art world, the history of photography began expanding suddenly and rapidly in the late ’70s. The big bang was a 1978 book of photographs from the collection of Sam Wagstaff. It was an elegant object: a pale pink, stylishly square cover distinguished by a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph of tulips.

I remember feeling dumbfounded by the 150-odd images inside, most from before World War I. They were beautiful and riveting in their direct access to other times and places. But while familiar to photo-savvy people, names like Henry Fox Talbot, Francis Frith, Gustave Le Gray, August Sander and Édouard-Denis Baldus were at best extremely vague for most of us.


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