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Book Review: Between Nature and Culture: Photographs of the Getty Center by Joe Deal

Getting Getty

Joe deal in his short essay about this assignment says: 'It was always my intention to interpret not Richard Meier's work, but the construction of culture in a unique site'. As such I think he has succeeded admirably with these wonderful photos.

The 116 photos of the portfolio section are divided into: Site; Position; Occasion and Place which show the building emerging from the prepared site. For some reason Deal declined to photograph the finished building. This reluctance to show the Getty from start to finish is in a way reflected in the editorial of the book. The photos are presented as images on the page with no reference as to their significance. This is not a title for the trade showing off the work of a world famous architect.

Because the photos do show technical aspects of building some sort of captioning is essential but to keep the photos just as that: photos, the captions are all at the back of the book. I've never understood the thinking behind denying the readers an explanation of what they are looking at and asking them to constantly flip backwards and forwards from a photo to a back of book caption listing. How does a line of type discreetly placed under a photo detract for its integrity?

The book is a pleasant production with attractive endpapers, good paper and printing. The photos, mostly one to a page, have generous margins and the first few pages of text from the four contributors are in a very readable format. The book continues the work of Joe Deal in the New Topographics genre.

Between Nature and Culture: Photographs of the Getty Center by Joe Deal (Getty Trust Publications: Getty Information Institute) is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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This is one of those photo books with the captions at the back, so expect a lot of flipping. Actually this is most annoying because Deal's photos are full of interesting detail and I kept asking myself: What's going on here? I can't believe it would alter the intergrity of the photos one bit to place these captions centered under each one.

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Title spread.

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So many of the photos have this kind of fascinating detail.

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