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The Photograph
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From the first misty 'heliograph' taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826 to the classic compositions of Cartier-Bresson and Alfred Steiglitz, to the striking postmodern strategies of Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman and Victor Burgin, the history of photography is a record of dazzling and penetrating images. But photographs are also the most pervasive images of our time, infinite in their capacity to record and make moments significant, granting status to everything they touch. So how do we read a photograph? In a series of brilliant discussions of major themes and genres, Graham Clarke gives a clear and incisive account of the photograph's historical development, and elucidates the insights of the most interesting thinkers on the subject such as Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag. At the heart of the book is his ground-breaking examination of the main subject areas - landscape, the city, portraiture, the body, and reportage - and his detailed analysis of exemplary images in terms of their cultural and ideological contexts.
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About the Author

Graham Clarke is Reader in Literary & Image Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury. His publications include The American City: Literary & Cultural Perspectives (St Martin's Press, 1988), and The Portrait in Photography (Reaktion Books, 1992). He is on the advisory board of the journal History of Photography and the editorial board of Journal of American Studies (Cambridge).

Reviews

Clarke (literary and image studies, Univ. of Kent, Canterbury) contributes one of the first entries in a series of short texts now being published by Oxford that treat aspects of art history. A vast amount has been written about photography, its history, its practitioners and processes, its influences as an art medium, and its power as a documentary medium, and anyone hoping to write a succinct book on the subject is bound to come up short in one or more of these areas. This high-speed, wholly inadequate survey of photography's early years leaves out a sense of the process of discovering and extending photography's capabilities. The bulk of the subject-oriented chapters deal with photography of landscapes, cities, human forms, and events. Throughout, Clarke attempts to focus the discourse on how photographs convey their meaning. The reproduction quality is good, and the images selected from the 20th century are often quite provocative and memorable. An introductory text for large history of photography and general art history collections.‘Kathleen Collins, New York Transit Museum Archives, Brooklyn

a superb piece of publishing * Rupert Christiansen, Spectator * An important part of the Oxford History of Art series ... It's an enormous subject, but it's tackled in a tremendously accessible manner. A must for anyone interested in taking seriously good pictures. * Swansea South Wales Evening Post * Clarke does an admirable job of condensing theoretical debates concerning the reading of images * Yorkshire Post (Leeds) * An engaging, image-studded survey... Clarke is particularly good at playing two images off against one another to emphasise the cultural assumptions underlying each... Clarke raises fascinating questions about how the portrait seeks to encode social identity. In his representation of landscape, he deftly covers both the picturesque tradition and its opposite, the scientific orientation that viewed photography as a means of mapping and administering land. * V. Penelope Pelizzon, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Vol.40 No.2 * concise yet comprehensive, and wonderful value * The Irish Times (Dublin) * Read this book and you will never look at a photograph in the same way again. * House & Garden * Fully and often surprisingly illustrated, carefully annotated and captioned, each combines a historical overview with a nicely opinionated individual approach. * Independent on Sunday * A readable text discusses the way in which we see and interpret photographs. * The Bookseller *

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