Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-01-02
- Reviewer: Staff
A photographic style often characterized by soft, sepia tones and a wispy focus, Pictorialism reached its nadir at the turn of the 20th century and transformed photography from a tool of documentation to an art form that rivaled painting in terms of technique and aesthetics. Here, George Eastman House Curator of Photographs Nordström presents an exquisite collection of photographs from around the world (as well as essays by many of the movement's contributors, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Robert Demachy) to offer a dreamlike summary of the style and its progenitors. Examinations of the mechanics of the photographic process, as well as surveys of the style's impact in Australia, Japan, and Eastern Europe, will give readers a panoramic view of the scientific and cultural factors that led to Pictorialism's appeal. Though it was ultimately short-lived—societal changes and the rise of Modernism soon eclipsed the movement—Nordström and her collaborators make a strong argument for the importance of the movement and the innovation of its contributors. While some may balk at the book's relatively high price, the academic essays and gorgeous reproductions of many rare images ensure that academics and casual fans alike will get their money's worth. Photos. (Nov.)