New Photography Books Received

During the 1920s and 1930s, builder Joe Webb constructed nearly three dozen log homes in   the tiny Appalachian town of Highlands, North Carolina. The cabins were built without the aid of power tools–or architectural plans–and all of these exquisite structures are located within a five-mile radius.In The Work of Joe Webb, photographer Reuben Cox captures the atmosphere and ambience of these idiosyncratic and important historic buildings. Using a   large-format field camera, Cox has documented all of Webb’s extant cabins. Beautifully presented in tritone, his images explore the lush, rhododendron-filled settings of Webb’s constructions as well as the rich grain of their chestnut and pine posts and beams. Cox, a Highlands native, also includes an essay that places the work within a regional and historical context. Yet this is less an analytical taxonomy of Webb’s cabins than an expansive meditation in which Cox employs his own art to understand another man’s life work and the extraordinary qualities of that which is handmade and unique.


Francesca Woodman (April 3, 1958 – January 19, 1981) was a young American photography who worked primarily in black and white. Although she used herself as a model in many of her photographs most of her subjects were young women photographed in the nude. Her subjects usually were blurred due to long exposures and movement. Much of her work was taken with medium format cameras that resulted in 2-1/4 by 2-1/4 inch square negatives. Woodman had a love for decaying rooms and peeling wallpaper; these are the backgrounds she used for many of her subjects. She photographed many of these women in odd positions, some glowing or camouflaged and some hidden in objects, some posed with taxidermy. She also used symbolic images such as mirrors and eels taken from Surrealist and Gothic fiction read.

Many of Woodman’s images are untitled and are known only by a location and date. She produced at least 10,000 negatives which are now in the possession of her parents. This show,  first seen at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) represents the first comprehensive exhibition of her work. The show includes her photographs, artist books, and some of her rarely seen short videos. A complete list of her photographs can be seen here. The show can now be seen at the Guggenheim now through June 13, 2012.

Woodman suffered from depression as she felt unsuccessful with her relationships and her work. On January 19, 1981 she committed suicide at age 22. Woodman is now represented by the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York.


Cindy Sherman has not a had a major show in 15 years. On February 26, 2012 a retrospective survey opens at The Museum of Modern Art in NY. This exhibit will show some of Sherman’s favorite self-portrayed characters, “including the fictional film actresses of the 1950s and 60s from “Untitled Film Stills”; common subjects from Old Masters paintings, such as aristocrats and milkmaids; and her over-the-top “society” women.” (quote from Photo District News).

This book is the catalog from the show.

Wim Wenders ranks among the greatest artistic minds of contemporary film. Wenders brings to this collection of photographic essays the same literary and cinematic talents, the same command of the art of storytelling that we find in his films. In the tradition of Paris, Texas and Faraway, So Close, the texts and pictures in Once weave ambiguous and moving narratives in fits of rhythmic prose and inventive imagery. Prefaced by Wenders’ poetic meditations on the metaphysics of photography and film, Once gives us a unique look at the universe Wenders has created out of the hidden pieces of everyday life.

Wim Wenders (born 1945) started taking photographs at the age of 7. Throughout his subsequent global acclaim as a director, Wenders has doggedly maintained his life as a photographer. In fact, the two careers have served each other well, as many of his photographs are created while location-scouting for films. His image repertoire of neglected industrial buildings, vacant lots, cemeteries, dilapidated urban niches and courtyards express a mixture of bemusement, melancholy and dislocation. These strange and quiet color photographs are accompanied by poetical captions, “It is amazing how many different ideas of ‘fun’ co-exist in this world”). Places, Strange and Quiet gathers photographs from 1983 to 2011 in a full panorama of Wenders’ photography to date.

This captivating selection of 70 intimate black and white photographs conveys Patti Smith‘s singular experience as a photographer as it relates to many facets of her fascinating life and career. Exquisitely designed and produced, Patti Smith: Camera Solo accompanies the first museum exhibition of the artist’s photography in the United States.

Using either a vintage Land 100 or a Land 250 Polaroid camera, Smith photographs subjects inspired by her connections to poetry and literature as well as pictures that honor the personal effects of those she admires or loves. In the catalogue’s interview, conducted by Susan Lubowsky Talbott, the artist talks about her “respect for the inanimate object” as well as the talismanic qualities of things in her life. We see, for instance, a picture of Mapplethorpe’s slippers or a porcelain cup that belonged to her father, and are drawn into their intimacy and quiet power. Moreover, these images reveal how the camera has proven to be a means for Smith to retreat—undisturbed—to “a room of my own.”

From her explorations as a visual artist in the 1960s and 70s and her profound influence on the nascent punk rock scene in the late 1970s and 80s, to Just Kids, her National Book Award-winning memoir of life with her beloved friend Robert Mapplethorpe, Smith continues to make an indelible mark on the American cultural landscape.

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