Photography: A Cultural History / Edition 1

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Providing a new perspective on many of the old stories in the history of photography, Mary Warner Marien's book is a provocative and informative read. She shows how the medium developed in various historical, economic, political, and cultural settings worldwide, and discusses the many uses to which photography has been put-from art to vernacular, documentary to photojournalism, and science to advertising.

Incorporating new research not covered in any other survey, Marien thoughtfully explores ideas generated by and about photography in each period, and examines photography's key role in contemporary art and today's increasing use of digital photography. With a panoply of arresting images by famous photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, August Sander, and Margaret Bourke-White-as well as many unusual and seldom-seen pictures-the book is as enticing to look at as its original ideas are stimulating to consider.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130198563
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 8.72 (w) x 11.56 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Warner Marien is an associate professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, where she teaches courses on photographic history as well as on art criticism and its history. She is the author of Photography and its Critics (Cambridge University Press, 1997) as well as numerous articles on the history of photography.

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Table of Contents

1. The Origins of Photography (to 1839).

Before Photography. The Invention of “Photographies” . Responses to the Announcement of the Daguerreotype. The Politics of Invention. Focus: The Stranger. Philosophy and Practice: Nature's Automatic Writing.

2. The Second Invention of Photography (1839-1854).

The Second Invention. Focus: Iron, Glass, and Photography. Photography and the Sciences. Focus: Photography, Race, and Slavery. Recording Events with the Camera. War and Photography. Focus: The Mexican-American War. Expeditionary and Travel Photography. Portaiture and the Camera. Focus: The First Police Pictures? Photography and Fiction. Philosophy and Practice: A Threat to Art?

3. The Expanding Domain (1855-1880).

The Stereograph. War and Photography. Focus: The Valley of Death. Portrait: Mathew Brady. Portrait: Alexander Gardner. Topographical Surveys and Photography. Focus: The Abyssinian Campaign, or the Magdala Expedition. Photography and Science. Photography and the Social Sciences. Popularizing Ethnic and Economic Types. Art and Photography. Portrait: Julia Margaret Cameron. Women Behind the Camera. Focus: Lewis Carroll's Photographs of Children. Philosophy and Practice: “Superseded by Reality” .

4. Photography in the Modern Age (1880-1918).

The Challenge for Art Photography. Pictorialism. Portrait: Alfred Stieglitz. Portrait: Edward Steichen. Portrait:Gertrude Käsebier. Photography and the Modern City. Portrait: Jacob Riis. Science and Photography. Focus: Photography and Futurism. Focus: WorkerEfficiency: The Gilbreth's Time and Motion Studies. Photography, Social Science, and Exploration. Focus: The National Geographic. War and Photography. Philosophy and Practice: The Real Thing.

5. A New Vision (1919-1945).

Revolutionary Art: The Soviet Photograph. Focus: Photomontage or Photocollage. Dada and After. Surrealist Photography. Focus: Film and Photography. Experimental Photography and Advertising. California Modern. Social Science, Social Change, and the Camera. Portrait: Margaret Bourke-White. Portrait: August Sander. Popular Science. World War II. Philosophy and Practice: The “Common Man” and the End of Media Utopia.

6. Through the Lens of Culture (1945-75).

The Family of Man. Cultural Realitivism and Cultural Resistance. Focus: Making an Icon of Revolution. Mexico. Portrait: Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Africa. Asia. Portrait: Shomei Tomatsu. Focus: Photographing the Atomic Bomb. The West and the Cold War. Annihilation, Alienation, Abstraction: America. Technology and Media in Postwar America. Photography in Art. Philosophy and Practice. Photography “Born Whole” .

7. Convergences (1975-2000).

The Predicaments of Social Concern. Portrait: Sabastãio Salgado. Neutral Vision. Focus: The Cambodian Genocide Photographic Database. The Look of Politics. The Postmodern Era. Focus: Culture Wars. Family Pictures. Focus: Looking at Children. Nature and the Body Politic. Philosophy and Practice: The Passing of the Postmodern.

Epilogue: On Beauty, Science, and Nature.

Post-Photography. Everything Old Is New Again. Timeline. Glossary. Notes. Bibliography. Literary Credits. Picture Credits. Index.

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Although I have been captivated by photography since childhood, the thought that I might teach and write about a subject that was a fervent personal interest of mine never occurred to me until 1984. In that year, Professor David Tatham, then Chair of the Fine Arts Department at Syracuse University, persuaded me to try a one-semester course. I have been teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in the history of photography and writing about the subject ever since.

Despite the impressive increase in college photography courses during the last decades of the twentieth century, autodidacts such as myself make up the bulk of photohistorians. Like many others, I became a photographic historian in my parents' living room, while looking at copies of Life magazine. As a group, we revel in our passionate preferences. If I thought I could get away with it, I would have filled this book with my favorite pictures, such as those that French photographer Robert Doisneau made of Paris in the 1950s and 1960s. I have not yet found a way to show Doisneau's work in my undergraduate survey, nor have I included him here, even though, in a portrait pinned above my desk, a broadly grinning Doisneau points directly at me, prompting me to keep on trying.

In writing this book, I have tried to survey photography's history in such a way that readers can gauge the medium's manifold developments, and appreciate the historical and cultural contexts in which photographers lived and worked. Some readers may long for a comprehensive taxonomy of-photography, a unified field with movements and ideas carefully delineated like kingdoms, phyla, orders, and species. Indeed, this sort ofcategorization is a practical if sometimes blunt instrument with which to create order and highlight dominant ideas and visual approaches. Yet it is crucial to remember that people living in a particular era do not synchronize their thoughts. They interpret, refine, resist, oppose, or ignore the prevalent attitudes of their time. Years of teaching have brought home to me the dangers of homogenizing subtly distinctive viewpoints or creating periods so watertight that they leave no residue in the next chapter. The Victorians did not simultaneously pull out their pocket watches on the stroke of New Year's Eve and agree that the epoch of heroic landscape photography in the American West should end promptly then and there.

My students have taught me that, contrary to conventional wisdom, they do not dislike history, but are instead hungry for it. Consequently, I have tried to sketch the political and economic events, such as wars and depressions, that shaped the circumstances in which photography was practiced, while paying special attention to the particular ideas generated by and about photography in each period. The Focus boxes in this book contain much of this material.

The short history of photography gives it a special excitement, and it is still possible to discover historically significant images at tag sales and regional museums. In the last few decades, the scope of photographic history has widened to encompass fresh materials and new analytic tools that promise the emergence of a vital interdisciplinary field. Although photography is a Western discovery, students are rightly curious about its manifestations in the wider world. To serve that interest, I have both incorporated recent research into non-Western photographers and Western visions of the non-Western world as they were directed towards science, anthropology, journalism, and art.

Yet I am mindful that comprehensive histories of photography in India and China, those countries that make up more than one-third of the world's population, have yet to be written. Moreover, the photographic archives of business and industry have scarcely been mined, and the history of advertising photography, which has shaped the modern experience internationally, remains mostly unwritten.

Influential photographers have often led long lives traversing eras during which many changes took place. For example, Alfred Stieglitz (r864-i9q.G) was born one year before the American Civil War ended, and he died one year after World War II. Having taught an introductory course, I realized that newcomers to the field appreciate an overview of individual careers such as that of Stieglitz, even if this requires occasionally disrupting the chronological order of the presentation. Hence I have included a number of Portrait boxes that concentrate the mind on certain influential photographers.

I have discovered in the classroom that today's students are puzzled by the lengthy struggle waged through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to have photography accepted as an art form. I have narrated that contest, not simply as a large-scale attempt to achieve parity with painting, but as it relates to wider social issues, such as the ascent of a professional, moneyed middle class and the rise of consumer culture.

Globalization has encouraged a convergence and blurring of photographic genres: photojournalists show their work in art galleries; artists create new magazines to foster social change; practitioners from developing countries depict indigenous motifs from a postmodern perspective. The computer, invented, as its name suggests, to facilitate computations, has instead spun a communications web that has been investigated and refined by photographers from many fields. Along with my student-colleagues, I am intrigued by emerging technologies, and I have concluded this survey with an investigation of digital photography at the beginning of the new millennium.

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