History and Memory Appear More Alive in Black and White
A MARITIME ALBUM: 100 PHOTOGRAPHS AND THEIR STORIES
Photograph selection and introduction
by John Szarkowski
Essays by Richard Benson
MARINERS' MUSEUM AND YALE U PRESS
245 pp., $39.95
A VANISHED WORLD
By Roman Vishniac
Farrar Strauss & Giroux
180 pp., $75 ($35 paper)
BRIDGES: A HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS AND IMPORTANT SPANS
By Judith Dupre
Black Dog & Leventhal
128 pp., $22.98
I have always been captivated by black-and-white photographs. Perhaps it's the sense of serenity that a black-and-white image offers, or maybe it's because the eye is immediately drawn into the core of the picture. Black and white seems a perfect medium for remembering the past - getting to the heart of memory.
At first glance A Maritime Album: 100 Photographs and Their Stories, by John Szarkowski with essays by Richard Benson, merely appears to be a collection of photographs. However, the images selected from the archives of the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Va., are displayed in a format that reveals the relationship each photo has with the sea. The album allows the reader to relish the artistry of the visionaries behind the lenses. The lovely essay that accompanies each picture connects the reader to individual pieces of United States maritime history.
In Germany during the 1930s, Roman Vishniac took more than 16,000 pictures with a hidden camera. Vishniac recorded the daily life of a people who had no desire to be captured on film. He knew that Hitler's mission was to exterminate all Jews. Because he could not save his people, Vishniac felt he could make certain that these people did not totally disappear
A vanished World is not a part of history that one enjoys remembering, but Vishniac's images gently record a beauty of strength and dignity that survives.
If you know someone who is remotely interested in bridges, Bridges: A History of the World's Most Famous and Important Spans by Judith Dupr, is the book to give. Dupr introduces the reader to more that 50 bridges around the world. Through pictures, maps, facts, quotations, and an essay of two pages per bridge, the reader discovers an astonishing union of technology and art.
Spanning 2,000 years of engineering and aesthetic triumphs, this book presents a panorama of some of the most famous bridges ever constructed: the Sydney Harbor Bridge, historical bridges such as the 400-year-old Mostar Bridge (destroyed by fighting in Bosnia in 1993), and the Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale, Britain.