The photo compendium 'A Democracy of Imagery' by Colin Westerbeck (ed.) includes photo history from the 1860s to 2002.
Colin Westerbeck, curator of the exhibition of the same name at New York's Howard Greenberg Gallery in spring 2016, brings together in this volume all the photographers of distinction. In addition, photographers Richard AVEDON, Margaret BOURKE-WHITE, Edward BURTYNSKY, Henri CARTIER-BRESSON, Walker EVANS, Robert FRANK, Saul LEITER, Vivian MAIER, MAN RAY, Robert MAPPLETHORPE, Joel MEYEROWITZ, Gordon PARKS are joined in this large-format book by other notables such as Andy WARHOL, Roy LICHTENSTEIN, Edgard VARESE, David HOCKNEY, William S. BURROUGHS, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Photographers covered in this compendium
Richard AVEDON, Margaret BOURKE-WHITE, Edward BURTYNSKY, Henri CARTIER-BRESSON, Walker EVANS, Robert FRANK, Saul LEITER, Vivian MAIER, MAN RAY, Robert MAPPLETHORPE, Joel MEYEROWITZ, Gordon PARKS, Andy WARHOL.
Photobooks of the photographers discussed in the compendium
- AVEDON, Richard
"A history of photography through the eyes of an expert", The New York Observer
"Colin Westerbeck’s criterion in choosing the 100 photographs published here was to seek out underappreciated work by great photographers and great work by underappreciated photographers.
These 100 prints have all been drawn from the many thousands in the inventory of Howard Greenberg Gallery. Westerbeck was particularly drawn to Greenberg’s wide-ranging taste in both American and European photography of the twentieth century.
The resulting book bears the name 'A Democracy of Imagery' because Westerbeck believes all the works it contains should be considered equal. Each has been selected for its individuality ― indeed, its idiosyncrasy ― rather than its similarity to or compatibility with other images. In this spirit, works chosen for commentary are discussed individually.
Westerbeck explores the background stories of particular photographs, as opposed to generalizing about the photos as a whole." (publisher's note)
About the exhibition, A Democracy of Imagery, March 24 – April 30, 2016, at Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, curated by Colin Westerbeck:
'A Democracy of Imagery', an exhibition of work by 84 photographers from the 1860s through 2002; 100 images by artists including AVEDON, Erwin BLUMENFELD, Margaret BOURKE-WHITE, Edward BURTYNSKY, Henri CARTIER-BRESSON, Walker EVANS, Robert FRANK, Allen GINSBERG, William KLEIN, Saul LEITER, Leon LEVINSTEIN, Vivian MAIER, George Platt LYNES, MAN RAY, Robert MAPPLETHORPE, Joel MEYEROWITZ, Gordon PARKS, Jan SAUDEK.
In 2014, Colin Westerbeck had the genesis of an idea for a photography exhibition based on a challenge. Writing about Howard Greenberg in the book’s foreword, Westerbeck notes, 'I approached him because I suspected I could do a museum-quality exhibition—one with the reach and variety of the slow time over which museum holdings accumulate—out of his stock-in-trade.'
(...) The book and exhibition began with a unique and thoughtful theme: As Westerbeck writes, 'From the beginning, the purpose of the exhibition was to include underappreciated photographs by famous photographers and great photographs by underappreciated photographers. To me, in the end, they’re all great photographs by great photographers.'
'A Democracy of Imagery' includes historical images both enchanting and ominous. The book’s cover image, an anonymous photograph from the mid-1880s, shows the Statue of Liberty under construction in France, before it was disassembled and shipped to New York for installation in the harbor on Liberty Island.
Another photograph from 1938 by Margaret BOURKE-WHITE depicts thousands of smiling Czechs giving the 'Heil Hitler' salute in response to a speech by the Czech Nazi leader Konrad Henlein.
A number of portraits of famous artists and writers provide highlights in the exhibition. Saul LEITER’s 1950s photograph of a young Andy Warhol shows the artist reviewing images when he was known as an illustrator.
Allen GINSBERG’s 1989 photograph of David Hockney and William S. Burroughs reveals two well-dressed gentlemen with their hats on a table facing away from each other. Hockney has the corner of his month upturned and Burroughs has a slight frown, as if they’re ying and yang, reciprocal spirts of bemusement and disapproval.
Alfred Hitchcock is shown hamming it up for the camera in a 1942 photograph by Gjon Mili using stroboscopic flash. According to Mili, the great director “found the idea of being directed very amusing and behaving accordingly.” Also performing for the camera are Secretary of Defense William Cohen, President Clinton, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. The 1999 photograph by Diana Walker shows the leaders enacting 'hear no evil, see no evil…' in a lighthearted moment in a holding room before a NATO conference."
About the editor, Colin Westerbeck
Before moving to Los Angeles, Colin Westerbeck was a Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1986 through 2003. Since then he has written a weekly column on photography for the Los Angeles Times in 2006 and 2007 and has contributed frequently to Art in America. He has also taught photographic history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. From 2008 until 2012, he was the Director of the California Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside. In 2017, Laurence King published the third edition of Westerbeck’s book with Joel MEYEROWITZ, Bystander, 'A History of Street Photography'.
- HC with dust jacket, 29 x 29 x 2 cm., 120 pp., 100 b/w & color ills., text language: English