Luminous Years: Portraits at Mid-Century

Overview

Karl Bissinger photographed the luminaries of New York's café society and haute bohemia in the years following World War II, and then suddenly dropped out of the scene in the late 1950s. Now, more than four decades later, his compelling portraits of writers, poets, dancers, actors, musicians, and movie stars—either published here for the first time or not seen in over 40 years—capture a lost, golden era of the cultural life of New York City.With subjects ranging from Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Marlon ...
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Overview

Karl Bissinger photographed the luminaries of New York's café society and haute bohemia in the years following World War II, and then suddenly dropped out of the scene in the late 1950s. Now, more than four decades later, his compelling portraits of writers, poets, dancers, actors, musicians, and movie stars—either published here for the first time or not seen in over 40 years—capture a lost, golden era of the cultural life of New York City.With subjects ranging from Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift to Gore Vidal, Walter Lippmann, James Baldwin, and Katharine Hepburn in settings that include lofts, studios, and apartments, Greenwich Village gardens, and the stoops and shabby outer edges of Manhattan, these portraits offer a collective portrait of an artistic and literary milieu the likes of which will never be seen again. Bissinger also evokes the European cultural scene in remarkable portraits of notable figures from Jean Renoir, Jean Cocteau, and Colette to Aldous Huxley, Alec Guinness, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Not only will The Luminous Years fascinate anyone interested in that bygone era; it will also mark a signal event in publishing: the rediscovery of a lost master of photography.

Author Bio: Karl Bissinger studied painting before he began taking photographs in the 1940s, and he went on to shoot portraits as well as travel and fashion stories for Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Theatre Arts, and Town & Country. He was the staff photographer for the legendary Flair magazine. Bissinger eventually abandoned photography to work for the American Friends Service Committee and the War Resister's League, where he continues to work today. He lives in New York. Gore Vidal is the author of numerous books including, most recently, The Golden Age, a novel, and The Last Empire, a collection of essays. Catherine Johnson is the art buyer for the Arnold McGrath Worldwide advertising agency in New York. She serves as chair of the photography committee of the National Arts Club in New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Bissinger was behind the lens of many of the great postwar pictures in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and Flair, but the subtext of this artist's first monograph remains a compelling story of an artistic journey in question. Bissinger left his passion in the early 1960s for other arguably greater callings, and he continues social and political pursuits today, working with the War Resister's League. This volume at last documents his pinnacle photographic enterprise of the 1940s and 1950s, with black-and-white images of myriad fashionable personalities in their creative environments, from Hollywood actors and directors to European writers, dancers, and artists (e.g., Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Jean Renoir, Aldous Huxley, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote). This reexamination, which can be compared to the 1960s celebrity images in Diane Arbus: Magazine Work, should assure Bissinger's place in the history of photography. A useful index includes a brief bio of each of Bissinger's subjects. Light on background or critical commentary but dense in quality images, this volume is for larger public and academic libraries with an interest in portrait photography or midcentury history and culture.-Kate Cunningham-Hendrix, Colorado State Univ. Libs., Fort Collins Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810946026
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 12.25 (h) x 0.62 (d)

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