City capture from Eve Arnold to Charlie Zoller
Bob Shamis choice of 235 color photos in these pages clearly lift it way above the usual New York photo book and there are enough of those around already. I thought this was a vibrant selection of work mostly from known photographers, a hundred of them and they all have something to say about the world's leading cultural center. Obviously very few photos are pre-forties but Steichen's 1904 Flatiron Building is here and over the page is Alfred Dutertre's Pointillist style shot of the Plaza Hotel from 1908. Other older images were originally in mono and hand colored including one from Jacob Riis taken in 1888.
The city comes alive with color from the fifties onward and Saul Leiter has some great work included, sort of color versions of the influential mono New York School work of the period. Most of the fifties and some of the sixties photos come across with muted colors probably as much to do with the technical aspects of film back then as to do with the subject choice of photographers experimenting with this new medium. The vibrancy and dazzle of color had to wait until the eighties, now it's permanent. There's a stunning shot by Andrew Moore (page sixty-five) of Times Square taken in 2002 that sort of sums up the color image one expects of the city now. Thomas Hoepker's famous 9/11 photo (page 210) and one by Joel Meyerowitz, also from 9/11 (page 217) are also good examples of the documentary color style.
The subject matter of the photos is a mixture of cityscapes, street scenes and a some interiors. A few feature personalities, Gay Talese, Diana Vreeland for example but it is basically the city that comes across so strongly.
The book's square format works well with one photo a page, printed in a 175 screen. There is a minor designer's conceit in having no page numbers on the left-hand pages and on the right-hand pages the number is placed near the book's gutter, a pretty pointless position in my view, especially when a reader uses the Index and then to find a particular page.
'New York in color' is sort of comparable with Taschen's huge, wonderful New York: Portrait Of A City. Both books look at the city using work from the same photographers though the Taschen book is arranged historically and has as many mono photos as color ones.
The other New York photo book. More comprehensive because it includes black and whites as well as color and arrange historically.
Visit Amazon to check out more reviews.
If you buy from the links, I get a little commission that helps me get more books to feature.