Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer

Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer

by Howard Bossen
     
 

Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer reintroduces the work of an important artist who had been relegated to virtual anonymity after his untimely death in 1944.  As both a biography of Swank (1890-1944) and an analysis of his work, the book focuses on his essential contribution to the modernist movement and positions Swank alongside contemporaries

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Overview

Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer reintroduces the work of an important artist who had been relegated to virtual anonymity after his untimely death in 1944.  As both a biography of Swank (1890-1944) and an analysis of his work, the book focuses on his essential contribution to the modernist movement and positions Swank alongside contemporaries Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, and Walker Evans.

In 1930, at age forty, Luke Swank was selling cars in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Just two years later, his five-part photo mural “Steel Plant” was featured in Murals by American Painters and Photographers, the first show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to include photography.

Although Swank’s images share stylistic similarities with many of the modernists, they also reveal his unique visual poetry.  His compositional exploration, technical virtuousity, and use of intense highlight and shadow and geometric forms and lines affirm his contributions to the modernist movement and the emerging art of photography.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Swank was one of the best photographers of his (or any) era. [Luke Swank] by Howard Bossen goes a long way toward reintroducing us to Swank and his work. It's a hefty edition that tells us about Swank's life, gives context to the man's work and beautifully reproduces more than 140 of his images. . . . These are pictures that have become more than art and more than documentation. They connect us . . . to the past in a way that's at once frighteningly real and exhilarating.”
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“It is thrilling when a lost American artist is brought back into deserving light, and that is the gift Howard Bossen has given us with his rediscovery of the work of Luke Swank: both a thirties documentarian and photographic explorer of modernism.”
—Paul Hendrickson, Carnegie Mellon University

“Luke Swank is a great rediscovery.  This “Flaubert of the camera’ has been forgotten and overlooked until this timely and beautifully illustrated reappraisal by Howard Bossen.”
—Pamela Glasson Roberts, former curator, Royal Photographic Society, England

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822942535
Publisher:
University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date:
09/28/2005
Edition description:
1
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 10.50(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Naomi Rosenblum
The fact that the work of Luke Swank has not received the kind of analysis or understanding it deserves has been corrected in this well-researched book. It affords the reader an opportunity to see a great deal more of Swank's images than previously possible, and to place them within the context of better-known photographic works of the 1930s (photographic historian)
Paul Hendrickson
It is thrilling when a lost American artist is brought back into deserving light, and that is the gift Howard Bossen has given us with his rediscovery of the work of Luke Swank: both a 1930s documentarian and photographic explorer of modernism. (University of Pennsylvania)
Charlee Brodsky
An important photographer is rediscovered, not only for western Pennsylvania but for the history of photography in our country. Because of Bossen's scholarship we are given the gift of Swank's stunningly memorable images within the context of his life. (Carnegie Mellon University)
Pamela Glasson Roberts
Luke Swank is a great rediscovery. This 'Flaubert of the camera' has largely been forgotten and overlooked until this timely and beautifully illustrated reappraisal by Howard Bossen. (former curator, Royal Photographic Society, England)

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Meet the Author

Howard Bossen is a professor of journalism and an adjunct curator at the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University.  He is guest curator of the Carnegie Museum of Art exhibit Luke Swank: Modernist Photographer.  Bossen is also the author of Henry Holmes Smith: Man of Light, a biography of this photographer, educator, and critic.

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