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BOOK REVIEW: HARLEM: A CENTURY IN IMAGES 

 

By Joseph Romero

NEW YORK, 29 FEBRUARY 2012 — One can only sit and marvel at the astonishing images presented in this splendid survey of one of the Western Hemisphere's most mythic urban communities. And while art historian Cheryl Finley reminds the reader that Harlem has been a favourite subject of important documentary and fine art photographers for well over a century, rarely has such an aesthetically discerning approach been applied to its pictorial history.


Joe and Marva Louis by unknown photographer

With an autobiographical introduction by Thelma Golden, the perspicacious director and chief curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem, the book explores, in two hundred carefully selected prints and three short essays, the vivid history of Harlem and its diverse inhabitants of the African diaspora in the Americas. The result is the kind of richly satisfying close reading that one often lavishes on the iconography of European history and genre painting. Deborah Willis, whose Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present, a landmark work of scholarship, has once again distinguished herself with this collaboration.

Featured artists include: Gordon Parks, James VanDerZee, Eve Arnold, Alice Attie, Cornell Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Dawoud Bey, Chester Higgins, Jr., Helen Levitt, Aaron Siskind, Bruce Davidson, Roy DeCarava, Leonard Freed, Carl Van Vechten, and Weegee. Italian publishers Skira Rizzoli are to be congratulated on this contribution to the visual literacy of the United States. Highly recommended and exceptional value for money.

Harlem: A Century in Images
By Deborah Willis, Cheryl Finley, Elizabeth Alexander and Thelma Golden
 
Hardcover: 256 pages
Skira Rizzoli 
ISBN-10: 0847833356
ISBN-13: 978-0847833351
$55.00

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