CAHN, Robert; KETCHUM, Robert Glenn
American Photographers and the National Parks
New York; Washington DC: The Viking Penguin Inc; National Park Foundation, 1981. Large quarto. (12 1/2 x 11 inches). First edition. 180pp. 204 small black-and-white and color laser and offset printed plates by a variety of photographers spanning over 120 years, printed on Lustro Offset Enamel Dull 100 lb paper.
Green publisher's cloth with gold lettering on cover and spine, includes accompanying color illustrated slipcase. Fine copy.
Over 100 photographs, both color & black and white, of the National Parks from William Henry Jackson's influential Yellowstone & Yosemite photos through the present.
"A lavishly produced, slip-covered catalogue to an exhibition that was held at the New York Public Library as part of a two-year tour in the early 1980s, ''American Photographers and the National Parks'' surveys the landscape enclosed by our national park system as seen by 27 photographers of various esthetic persuasions. Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter, who are the major figures of the book in terms of numbers of images alone, represent a generation of artist-conservationists dedicated to preserving America's beauty by photographing its magnificence. Harry Callahan and Brett Weston are artists more intent on evolving their own private visions. John Pfahl and Gail Skoff are even more removed from the veneration of the landscape one finds in Adams and Porter; Pfahl reworks the landscape on site before photographing it, while Skoff creates pictures with arbitrary and whimsical colors. On the basis of this book's illustrations, one might suggest that photographers are becoming increasingly skeptical about our efforts to preserve our wilderness. Nowhere is this more vividly visualized than in Roger Minnick's 1980 ''Sightseer Series,'' which pictures tourists posed in front of some of the country's best-known scenic locations. What is horrifying about these images is the way they resemble studio portraits, with the landscape reduced to a mere backdrop. Man, Minnick seems to say, has taken center stage despite our best efforts and intentions toward the landscape. The contradictions of the national park system, then, are mirrored in the contradictions of these photographs."