Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present

Overview

"[N]othing less than an epic of Homeric proportions....Willis's magnificent gathering of images...rewrites American history."—Robin D. G. KelleyReflections in Black, the first comprehensive history of black photographers, is a groundbreaking pictorial collection of African American life. Featuring the work of undisputed masters such as James VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, and Carrie Mae Weems among dozens of others, this book is a refutation of the gross caricature of black life that many mainstream photographers have manifested by continually

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Overview

"[N]othing less than an epic of Homeric proportions....Willis's magnificent gathering of images...rewrites American history."—Robin D. G. KelleyReflections in Black, the first comprehensive history of black photographers, is a groundbreaking pictorial collection of African American life. Featuring the work of undisputed masters such as James VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, and Carrie Mae Weems among dozens of others, this book is a refutation of the gross caricature of black life that many mainstream photographers have manifested by continually emphasizing poverty over family, despair over hope. Nearly 600 images offer rich, moving glimpses of everyday black life, from slavery to the Great Migration to contemporary suburban life, including rare antebellum daguerrotypes, photojournalism of the civil rights era, and multimedia portraits of middle-class families. A work so significant that it has the power to reconfigure our conception of American history itself, Reflections in Black demands to be included in every American family's library as an essential part of our heritage. A Los Angeles Times and Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2000, and a Good Morning, America best gift book of 2000.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the 19th century, early black photographers fought against racist stereotypes by positively representing their communities through portraits and images of free blacks. Later, in the 20th century, black photographers documented all aspects of African-American life, from the glory of the Harlem Renaissance to the injustice that sparked the civil rights movement. Now comes Reflections in Black, a stunning collection of nearly 600 photographs that traces the history of black photographers from the mid-1800s to the present.
Barbara Summers
Take the time to examine these faces. Make the time to treasure this book. —BET.com
Robin D. G. Kelley
[N]othing less than an epic of Homeric proportions....Willis's magnificent gathering of images...rewrites American history.
Library Journal
Willis curator, Smithsonian s Center for African American History and Culture continues enlightening the public about visual representations of African American experiences, work that just won her a MacArthur genius grant. This catalog of a Smithsonian exhibit that will tour America starting this summer should be read in conjunction with her other books on the subject: Black Photographers, 1840 1940: An Illustrated Bio-Bibliography New Pr., 1992, VanDerZee, Photographer, 1886 1983 LJ 11/15/93, and Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography LJ 12/94. In this more comprehensive book, Willis alternates chronological sections of photographs with essays that discuss the individual photographers and the scope of their work. They range from men and women who operated photography studios and made dignified portraits of the people in their communities, to photojournalists documenting social change, to contemporary artists making creative statements with digital montage techniques. This book certainly should be selected for African American or photography collections, but it could alternatively be put in general American history or social history. Anne Marie Lane, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
This history of black photographers covers 1840 to modern times, presenting a wide-ranging set of images and social and artistic observations which should intrigue a diverse audience, from artists to those interested in black history. Black and white images accompany in-depth text coverage of the artists and their times in this first comprehensive history of black photographers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322804
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 946,396
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Willis, a MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fletcher Fellow, is the author of Reflections in Black, Posing Beauty, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, and the New York Times bestseller Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs. She is chair of the photography department and a University Professor at New York University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Acknowledgments xii
Introduction xv
Part I The First Sixty Years 1840 - 1900 1
Part II The New Negro Image 1900 - 1930 33
Part III 1930s and 1940s Photography 83
Part IV Social and Artistic Movements 1950 - 1979 109
Part V Photography in the 1980s and 1990s 169
Notes 333
Bibliography 338
Index 345
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2003

    The many images of the African American

    The book opens people's mind to the fact that there are many faces in Black life. The book exposes the world to the many great photographers who have the skills and knowledge to document the black experiences for future generations to discover.

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