UPDATE: We’ve added four great photography books to the 2015 Holiday wish list we posted recently. They all represent –in one way or another – the world that once was and is now gone — or going quickly! What we added: American Cool, some of the coolest people on the planet; Jacob A. Riis’s unforgettable look at New York’s “other half” in the late 19th century; and two fabulous books on the beauty of the world’s glaciers. Scroll down for details.
From Exoplanets to Invisible Life in the Oceans…
Expanding Universe: Photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope, 260 pp full color photographs, several pullouts, 12 x 12 inches. Multi-lingual text. Taschen $69.99
The Hubble has truly changed the face of astronomy and our sense of what it means to “see” deep space. If you love the mysteries of the universe, this book is for you. It was published on the 25th anniversary of the Hubble launch into low-earth orbit, but its vistas are extravagant deep space images that are ultra-high resolution.
The collection is accompanied by an essay from photography critic Owen Edwards and an interview with Zoltan Levay, who explains how the pictures are composed. Veteran Hubble astronauts Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and John Mace Grunsfeld also offer their insights on Hubble’s legacy and future space exploration. Details and slide show
Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World, Christian Sardet. University of Chicago Press, 224 pages, 550 color plates, 9 3/4 x 12 ½ inches.
Can you tell zoöplankton from siphonophore? Not to worry, this extraordinary volume based on Christian Sardet’s years-long observations through the Tara Oceans expedition at hundreds of sites, will introduce you to living plankton of the world –with stunningly beautiful “jewel-like” microphotographs of these creatures. Sardet conducted a two and a half-year, 70,000-mile voyage around the world to survey plankton from the schooner Tara and collected 35,000 samples. Check out The New Yorker slide show.
Plankton may seem pedestrian (and invisible to the eye) but they are essential to the web of life that has evolved over three billion years, and to life on earth. And yes, they are endangered. The name comes from planktos, Greek for “wandering or drifting.” There’s a condensed history and biography that’s a side feature of owning this volume. Here’s what the Spectator (UK) says: “Humans are even more indebted to plankton, the organisms that make up 98 per cent of the ocean’s living biomass and which are brought vividly to life in Sardet’s microscopic images.” Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World was awarded Best Underwater World Publication by the World Festival of Underwater Images (Marseille 2014) Go to the web site and touch the mandela to see the plankton.
National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is 10 years into PhotoArk, his 20-year project to document 12,000 of the rarest and most endangered animals, birds and insects on the planet, as well as – on occasion – a few threatened animals whose population is on the rise. He wants us to love them –not just the charismatic megafauna (elephants and polar bears) but the species that many of us don’t know anything about and probably don’t care. With 5,000+ animals (and bugs) documented, his work is now on display at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC, where, if you’re patient, you can spend two hours watching screens on four walls project a traveling cornucopia of the species he has documented. He calls it “a living photo tapestry of the world’s most glorious species.”
Two books of Sartore’s animals belong on your shelf or as gifts including for kids:
Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species is a 120-page, full-color, full bleed compilation of animals he has photographed in captive situations, on black velvet or white photo paper. The images are studio-quality beautiful, but he doesn’t rest there. The accompanying text tells the story of why each species is in decline, and there’s a number assigned: 392 is, for example, the number of Mexican gray wolves known in the wild (Canus lupus baileyi) and the one he photographed is luckily protected in the Wild Canid Center in Eureka, MO.
Here’s what Joel says: “Some of them [species in the book] are likely to go extinct without people ever knowing they existed. Rare shows what we stand to lose if we don’t act now.” You can order directly from Sartore and get a signed copy. Hardcover 7 ¼ x 10 ½ inches $24.00
Photo Ark: A World Worth Saving (60 pp, $9.95) is a pocket-size trove about 5×5 inches of endangered species and those on the brink that live in zoos and aquariums where there are people who can care for them. It’s perfect for kids and families. You can order directly from Sartore and get a signed copy.
Sartore wants us to do something. In his foreword to Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, he asks: “So wouldn’t it be great to begin a national dialogue now about the importance of saving the wild places that remain and the species living there? To do this,” he says,” nature must become more than just a faint notion…something that we like in the abstract but consider irrelevant to our daily lives.” Here’s a behind the scenes video of Sartore at work
Spirit of Place, Aurélien Villette (teNeues). Hardcover, 176 pp, 100 color photographs. Text in English, German and French. Some people call it “ruin porn,” others believe these images are silent witnesses to decay (e.g., Detroit). French photographer Aurélien Villette has traveled to the Balkans, Italy and elsewhere to capture abandoned theatres, chapels and villas with evocative images often suffused with light. They are described as “stylized to create cultural heirlooms of the various periods and countries where they are located” – the opposite of horrific ruin.
Available from YellowKorner and Amazon – priced from $50 (Amazon) to 59 Euros.
Hidden Likeness: Emmet Gowin , 64-page publication includes 48 full-page plates of works in the exhibition, a conversation between the artist and curator Joel Smith, and an exhibition checklist.
A unique look at photographer Emmett Gowin’s wide-ranging work in relation to paired selections he made from the Morgan Library’s celebrated collections –also resulted in a catalogue worth having for your photo library. Gowin (born 1941) is notable for finding beauty in endangered and interrupted spaces – a corollary to Edward Burtynsky’s industrial landscapes of China.
Gowin has photographed land after catastrophes (Mount St. Helens and nuclear test sites), “working landscapes” that have been shaped by people; and the jewel-like beauty of nocturnal moths in rain forests, in both Central and South America. In this exhibition, Gowin paired his photographs with works from the Morgan collections, including ancient seals and tables to medieval illuminations to master drawings by artists such as Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Mondrian. Gowin received a BFA in Graphic Design from the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) in 1965 and an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967. He taught in the Visual Arts Program at Princeton University from 1973 to 2009. He is represented in New York by Pace/MacGill Gallery. Aperture blog
Online exhibition at the Morgan Library
HOLD STILL: A Memoir With Photographs, Sally Mann 482 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $32.
Two excellent reviews do justice to why Sally Mann’s memoir is well worth the time to read – and peruse the variety of home photographs, photos by others, letters and documents contained in this book. Mann’s love of the Blue Ridge landscape (Virginia) and in particular, her farm, has informed every decade of her work – from photographing her children to later work at the Body Farm in Tennessee.
“I have loved Rockbridge County, Virginia, surely since the moment my birth-bleary eyes caught sight of it.” It’s an unconventional life –a childhood of privilege, she married at 19, lived a bohemian existence, often used her children as her subjects, lived through her in-laws’ murder suicide, and more. Read both reviews and then decide, as I have, that it’s a stupendous read. New Republic review New York Times review
Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers, James Balog, with preface by Terry Temptest Williams. (approx. 300 pp) hardcover.
International photographer James Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) could be described as a watching a planetary train wreck through time-lapse photography – it is breathtaking, bizarrely beautiful, shocking and worrisome. Climate change deniers and those disputing the threat of rising sea levels along coasts and deltas need only observe the careful, factual sequences of conventional time-lapse photography assembled in video animations that show the dramatic retreat – the “meltdown” — of earth’s glaciers from global warming.
He’s won an Emmy for his documentary Chasing Ice, but there a book too — a permanent record of glaciers that in 50 years will be no more. Here’s a memory book for your kids and grandchildren. This year, Green News Update named Balog a 2015 Environmental Hero.
Balog ( a National Geographic alum) is like a great war photographer – on the scene while the fray is going on. In this case, it’s a world-changing event. Once gone, the glaciers – like the endangered species National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is documenting (see above) – are gone forever. Details on the book Details on James Balog
Melting Away: A Ten-Year Journey through Our Endangered Polar Regions, Camille Seaman (Princeton Press 2014)
Every glacier is unique — in form, coloration and its pace of melting. It has its own “personality.” For over a decade, Seaman, who is a Native American and was brought up in these brutal climes, was an expedition photographer aboard small ships in the Arctic and Antarctic. There she has chronicled the accelerating effects of global warming on the face of nearly 50,000 icebergs. What is breathtakingly beautiful is also a bitter reminder of what’s also gone and what remains to fight for. Seaman’s book includes short thematic essays that, no doubt, are informed by the unique perspective she brings as a Native person. Seaman is a TED Senior Fellow whose 2011 TED Talk has been viewed more than 400,000 times. Scientific American magazine says, “The steady disappearance of Earth’s polar ice is illustrated beautifully, but devastatingly, in this large-format book.” Details on the book
Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half
Jacob Riis documented a world of heart-rending poverty in New York City in the 1890’s. The notion that there were “two cities” – one for the Gilded Age tycoons, the other for people (and a lot of child labor) at the other extreme –is food for thought in our current global social scene. Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half, is an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York (through March 20, 2016) and also a catalogue that merits being on your shelf. (The exhibition travels to Washington DC in 2016; and on to Denmark.)
Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half, Bonnie Yochelson. Co-published by Yale University Press, the City Museum, and the Library of Congress, is a complete catalog of Riis’ photographs, the first of its kind, with detailed entries on every photograph Riis produced or commissioned.
Riis made poor people visible – something now easily captured on iPhones that record a lot of suffering and injustice. Riis photographed in the sweatshops, alleys, and the nickel-a-night flophouses. But he was also “media savvy,” says exhibition curator Dr. Bonnie Yochelson. He gave lectures on his work (and charged for them!) and worked with the Tenement House Commission to battle the slums. The exhibition – and the catalogue – are powerful reminders of a world of immigrants in America and their sweaty labor. Yochelson’s point, “we’re still struggling with it….A lot of his themes are the same [today]….” It’s a blessing that the Library of Congress and New York Public Library preserved Riis’s photographic legacy for all time – and for your personal library too. New York Times exhibition review Collections portal to see the images
Read Ted Gup’s personal account of purchasing the 1890 first edition of Riis’s How the Other Half Live, complete with margin notes by the photographer.
American Cool, Joel Dinnerstein and Frank H. Goodyear III. (Prestel 2014) 196 pp, illus, $49.95. This book is the permanent document resulting from the waay cool 2014 exhibition American Cool at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.. Co-curators and co-authors Joel Dinerstein and Frank H. Goodyear III identified the 100 “coolest” Americans based on four criteria:
“These avatars had to possess a signature artistic style, rebel against the societal norm, attain iconic status and leave a cultural legacy.” The exhibition featured 100 chronologically arranged portraits that both surprise and delight: Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as James Dean, Bob Dylan, and Chrissie Hynde. The book includes an essay by Dinnerstein on the evolution of cool from the 1930s to the present while Goodyear explores how the mediums of film and photography have helped define the term. There is biographical information on each of the 100 subjects, along with profiles of major eras and movements of past decades. Book details and Chicago Tribune article
CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS FROM THE GREEN NEWS UPDATE ARCHIVE
Holiday Books 2013: 14 books from the Vietnam War to Edward Burtynsky’s Water, Russia’s wooden churches, Brian Skerry’s Ocean Soul and more
Holiday Books 2012: Paris, the Antarctic, architectural photographer Ezra Stoller, Edward Curtis