Henry WESSEL, Thomas Zander (ed.), Georg Imdahl (text), Sandra Philips (text)

Henry Wessel - SOLD OUT!

HC with dust jacket, 29 x 27,5 x 2,5 cm.,
184 pp., 14 color & 118 triplex ills., English.
Steidl 2007.
ISBN 9783865213914

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'I had been meaning to buy a book of WESSEL's photos for some and this monograph seemed the best choice. The images date from 1967 to 2003 though the book was published in 2007 to coincide with two exhibitions of his work.

Looking through the plates and reading the two essays in the book I realised how committed Henry WESSEL is to light, especially in the western US. With exterior shots there are very few clouds visible and the sky just becomes a light grey backdrop to whatever butts into it. The selection of photos covers a range themes: the man-made landscape of the highway and what can be seen along it; landscapes with people; residential buildings in California; night shots of housing with a simple light source (a porch or inside domestic lighting); several of single-storied dwellings which include nine color ones.

Though so many of the 133 plates are wonderful shots I was rather disappointed with the book because all of them come across, to me, as being too light. I accept that this is WESSEL's style but I attribute it more to the printing (with 175 screen) of the book rather than a deliberate choice.
I was really made aware of this when looking at plate 112: `Santa Monica, 1989' which is reproduced virtually the same size in the excellent `An American Century of Photography' by Steve DAVIS. Here the blacks are solid which naturally helps the mid-tones and light areas of the image and being printed as a tritone with a 200+ screen helps too. This book lacks punch because the overall impression is of grayness and the blacks are never solid (I can still see the screen when using a tester).

Well, I bought my WESSEL book and I'll keep it in my collection of contemporary American photographers whose work I enjoy looking at though I doubt I'll be flicking through the pages quite as often as some other titles.' (amazon buyer)