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Photography and Play

Overview

Photography and leisure go hand in hand. Cameras are part of our everyday lives, but we are never more likely to take a picture or to be photographed than when we are at play. As recreation and entertainment flourished in the nineteenth century, so too did the new medium of photography. Cameras became increasingly accessible to amateurs and were quickly deemed an indispensible part of what it meant to have fun. Acting as social commentators, many artists also turned their attention to the subject of pleasure and ...

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Overview

Photography and leisure go hand in hand. Cameras are part of our everyday lives, but we are never more likely to take a picture or to be photographed than when we are at play. As recreation and entertainment flourished in the nineteenth century, so too did the new medium of photography. Cameras became increasingly accessible to amateurs and were quickly deemed an indispensible part of what it meant to have fun. Acting as social commentators, many artists also turned their attention to the subject of pleasure and entertainment, often observing how photography itself has changed the way we spend our free time.

Photography and Play reveals the various ways that artists throughout photographic history have turned to topics as diverse as Victorian billiard players, Parisian barflies, moviegoers, sightseers, and suburban sunbathers. The book features eighty-seven photographs, all drawn from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, that span nearly 150 years of image making. The works included are by such noted artists as Diane Arbus, Eugène Atget, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, André Kertész, Bill Owens, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Joel Sternfeld, Alfred Stieglitz, Weegee, and Garry Winogrand—all of whom documented people at play.

 

The illuminating introductory essay traces the relationship between the growing importance of leisure over the past 150 years and the part that photography has played in changing how we see ourselves.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Independent curator Garcia (Photography as Fiction) shares over 80 images from the J. Paul Getty Museum in this study of leisure as a photographic focus, noting that despite the small amount of time it consumes in our lives, it is an important and frequent subject as "we hope to turn that one good day into something tangible." Garcia summarizes the history and use of photography by both amateurs and professionals to document play, concluding that "Photography is unique in its capacity to visually transport us from one reality to another, and that has made it our ideal companion in leisure." Featured photographers include Weegee, Cartier-Bresson, Arbus, Owens, Seto, Feininger, Nagano, and Model; most images are black and white, though some range back to the sepia toned 1840s and '50s, and others, like Lauren Greenfield’s shot of L.A. teens in their cars by the beach, showcase the vibrant colors of the 1990s. Though the images span a broad swath of time and place (from Paris to Tokyo to New York City) , it is evident that notions of leisure haven’t changed much—people show a resilient love of the beach, chess, billiards, drinking, and lounging under an open sky. Garcia's introduction serves as a thoughtful backdrop to the images, and although the volume is slim, the photographs here warrant revisiting. (June)
From the Publisher
"Filled with young faces at carnivals and ballparks, picnicking and swimming."—The Wall Street Journal 
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606061077
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,320,233
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Erin C. Garcia is an independent curator in the San Francisco Bay area. She is the author of Man Ray in Paris (Getty Publications, 2011) and Photography as Fiction (Getty Publications, 2010).

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