Art and Photography

Phaidon Themes and Movements book covering the role of photography in the visual arts.
Art and Photography
Edited by David Campany
Phaidon Themes and Movements Series, 2003
ISBN 0 7148 4286 9

Phaidon’s Themes and Movements series is one of the really great series of art books in the publishing world. They combine great editorial insights, great art and great articles and papers written by the movers and shakers of the area covered.

Art and Photography continues this tradition by providing a book that examines the use of photography in art practice since the 1960s. The fact that it looks at photography as part of contemporary art practice rather than the independent fine art photography area makes this a unique book.

The book starts with a 35-page survey written by the editor does a very good job of covering photography’s use in the arts. This is then followed by some 150 pages of photographs. The next 80 pages cover the documents, writings on and by the artists using photography in their practice. The book concludes with artist and author biographies and a decent bibliography.

Both the photography and the documents are organized into rough thematic groupings. These are:
*    Memories and Archives
*    Objective Objects
*    Traces of Traces
*    The Urban and the Everyday
*    The Studio Image
*    The Arts of Reproduction
*    ‘Just’ Looking
*    The Cultures of Nature
This organizational structure works quite well, in that rather than overwhelming you with a whole book worth of imagery and commentary, it is divided into more manageable chunks that still allow contemplation of the whole but also allow a tighter consideration, as needed. The work and documents cover the whole time range from the 60’s to the early 21st Century (2003 to be specific, the year of publication). So the book is an excellent survey document.

Anyone who is serious at coming to grips with the use of photography in contemporary art practice should have this book handy. It brings together in one great resource not only great examples of the work produced but also, through collating the writings that are included, bringing together the thoughts, criticisms and analysis of the major artists, critics, theorists and analysts of the time. Very highly recommended.

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