Christmas Books: Photography - This Little Piggy Went to NW1 from Rare Images of 1930s London to Great US Photojournalism, Tim Hilton Snaps Up the Best
Hilton, Tim, The Independent (London, England)
Photography is a democratic, international and up-to-date art, yet many of us still feel that the classic masters of the camera come from France - just as everyone believes that the school of Paris represents the central strain of modern painting. This Christmas the leading photography book is Vicki Goldberg's Jacques-Henri Lartigue: Photographer (Thames and Hudson, pounds 45), a sumptuous record of his work from 1903 onwards, with an emphasis on the utterly French visions of the 1920s.
But not merely French; also strangely out of time, as though this photographer had no sense that he belonged to an historical moment. Perhaps that is because Lartigue was childish. Goldberg writes that he was that rare, even unique person in photography, a child prodigy. The idea makes one ponder the nature of Lartigue's medium. Child prodigies, awesome in accomplishment and often odious in character, shine in the executive rather than the creative side of art. They trill out tricky sonatas. Or they draw, but with "photographic" skill rather than true feeling. Can there be an equivalent in photography?
Or did Lartigue - who always felt that God gave him his first camera - simply strike lucky because the camera was his only friend and other kids didn't want to play with him? His wealthy, sheltered background affected his art. Lartigue is good at rich people because he assumes that everyone in the world is, so he doesn't make them special. His hymns to racing cars are marvellous. It's as though all cars were wonderful toys, for him alone to play with. Of war, love or the struggles of the human condition Lartigue knows nothing. But he's still a classic - a classic child. A super book for boys, and girls too, is The Book of British Sporting Heroes (National Portrait Gallery, pounds 22.50), which contains around 150 pictures of champions, alphabetically arranged from Bobby Abel to George Young, with informative captions. Here are some famous shots, Gazza crying, Bobby Moore with the World Cup, but also a lot of images that I for one hadn't seen before. Just as one would expect, the cricketers tend to be over-dignified, the footballers over-dramatic. Pictures of the "minor" sports are invariably interesting (there's no such thing as a minor sport, only minority sports). These are not the best sports photos ever taken, but they are youthful, heartfelt and sometimes poignant - poor Beryl Burton, tragic Tommy Simpson! Far more thoughtful, even solemn, is Erika Billiter's A Song to Reality (Lunwerg Editores pounds 60), a history of Latin …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Christmas Books: Photography - This Little Piggy Went to NW1 from Rare Images of 1930s London to Great US Photojournalism, Tim Hilton Snaps Up the Best. Contributors: Hilton, Tim - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 29, 1998. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.