Book Review: The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Year: New York, 1949-50

Homer Page, Who?

Page could be considered the photographer who slipped through the public gaze but look at the bibliography at the back of this book and there are plenty of examples of Page's work from the forties to mid-sixties in a variety of magazines and books. As well as helping Steichen organize the Family of Man show he had nine photos included, the same as Dorothea Lange. Only Wayne Miller, with twelve and Henri Cartier-Bresson, with ten, had more.

Perhaps the reason for Page's low profile, as Keith Davis explains in his excellent essay, is that Page had two photographic careers. The first, revealed in the seventy-two plates in the book, was his personal, creative look at New York thanks to a Guggenheim Fellowship and after 1950, he concentrated on commercial assignments.

Davis also mentions that Page is a link between two eras of American photography: the FSA and Photo League of the thirties and forties and from the fifties the expressionistic young street photographers centered in New York. Certainly some of the book's photos give me that impression. There are several that would blend right into a selection from Don Donaghy, Louis Faurer, Helen Levitt or Lisette Model.

Though the book's sub-title is New York 1949-1950, only four are from 1950. Not that it matters because none of them is really date related but they all capture in a wonderful, vibrant way street life back then. Flick through the pages and be amazed at the ebb and flow of pedestrians that Page managed to capture. So many of his shots just grab you and pull you into the frame.

Great photos deserve a great book and this one cannot be faulted. Three hundred screen tritones beautifully printed by Meridian of Rhode Island from separations that only Thomas Palmer knows how to do properly. Meridian and Palmer's name keep popping up on the best American photo books year after year.

The photography of Homer Page, with this lovely book, has finally arrived.

The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Year: New York, 1949-50 (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art) is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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Title spread.

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Left: Levittown 1949.

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Self portrait.

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