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Book Review: Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Check

'Color rush' is one of those books that was co-published with a museum coinciding with an exhibition. The show at the Milwaukee Art Museum ended in May but this lovely book will most likely be the standard history of American color photography. It follows the same format as Kevin Moore's 'Starburst' book (another exhibition title from 2010 at the Cincinnati Art Museum) with essays in the front of the book followed a portfolio of work from relevant photographers.

I thought the two essays in 'Color rush' were first class. Katherine Bussard covers the history and Lisa Hostetler looks at the nature of color work. Both writers cover it all: early color; Hollywood; newspapers; Kodak; advertising; magazines (National Geographic, Life and Vogue) and many individual photographers. The acceptance of color as art took some time as Hostetler says on page twenty-one: 'Thus in the documentary era -- the 1930a and early '40s -- monochrome photograph's association was with reality and truth, while color photography was usually associated with superfluous fantasy and commercial extravagance'. Bussard makes an interesting point about the 1976 MoMA Eggleston exhibition that is generally assumed to kick-start the creative interest in color because in the same year Ernst Haas, Jay Maisel and Pete Turner started the Space Gallery, and the George Eastman House, Corcoran Gallery, Images Gallery, Zabriskie Gallery all had serious exhibitions of color work. She says of the MoMA exhibition: 'It should instead be understood as one of many separate instances in which artistic practice embraced the hybridity that had long characterized color photography'.

One of the strengths of the book is the excellent portfolio section, mostly showing the work of individuals but nicely there are photo sections looking at the remarkable advertising work of Nickolas Muray (including two stunning photos of models sitting around a swimming pool from 1931) and Victor Keppler, magazine photography by Anton Bruehl, Victor Keppler, Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Kodak gets six pages, FSA six and Life magazine eight. Thirty-four photographers are included in the rest of the book each having a short biographic essay to go with their work (mostly two to five shots). The back pages have a useful twelve page photography timeline, glossary, exhibition checklist and index.

Aperture have done a lovely job with the book's production using a silky matt art paper for the 250 screen printing. Someone had a bright idea of putting all the many footnotes on the same page to avoid the tedious (and annoying) turning to back pages to check out a reference.

'Color rush' delivers with two excellent essays and two hundred beautifully printed photos.

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman
Nickolas Muray lovely shot of models sitting around a swimming pool. From the Ladies Home Journal 1931.

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman
Pages from Life magazine.

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman

Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman
A Glossary in the back pages with an Index, Biographies and a Timeline.

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