Today's entry on the Ten Best Photography Books on My Shelf is #8.
#8 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art by John Szarkowski
One of the simpler books on my shelf in format, and one of the most educational. A collection of 100 black and white photographs from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, accompanied by a typical one page critique written by Mr. Szarkowski. For nearly 30 years, from 1962 until 1991, Szarkowski was the Director of Photography for the Museum of Modern Art. One of the great intellects and champions of photography as fine art, Szarkowski put together this book to help teach photographers and other artists to look at photographs critically, with intelligence and understanding.
The photographs are arranged chronologically by date of creation, beginning with an 1845 Daguerreotype and continuing on to a 1968 silver print. Some of the images being discussed are by more recognizable names such as Steichen, Weston (Edward), Man Ray, Modotti, Moholy-Nagy, Kertesz, Arbus, Strand, Cunningham, Bresson, Winogrand, and Caponigro, while others, although giants in photography, may be lesser known to the non-photographer public, such as Bennet, Hine, Boubat, Giacomelli, Krause, Metzker, and Koudelka.
Szarkowski's knowledge, patience, and passion for photography sings clearly through in each essay, opening the eyes of anyone that takes the time to really look at any of the images included. This is a "must read" for anyone that wants to really understand and appreciate the craft of photography.
"Photography, if practiced with high seriousness, is a contest between a photographer and the presumption of approximate and habitual seeing. The contest can be held anywhere - on a city sidewalk, or in a scientific laboratory, or among the markers of ancient dead gods." - John Szarkowski