Saturday, January 31, 2015


Book:  Group f.64
Author: Mary Street Alinder
Edition: eBook on Overdrive from the Fresno County Public Library
Read: January 31, 2015
745 pages
Rated: 2  out of 5

In 17 chapters, Alinder looks at the lives of the Group f.64. She lays out facts, with some lengthy quotes from some of the principals of the group.

I was disappointed in this book, on several levels. Alinder was an assistant to Ansel Adams so she had access to many of the Group f.64 people. This part shows through. She was able to talk with many of the main people and able to look through their papers and bodies of work. This part shows through well. There is an amazing amount of detail.

But I think that may have been one of the problems. She was too close to the group with too many details. Instead of a book which allows me to understand these outstanding photographers and see the hardships they needed to go through to get recognition for their work, I felt like there was a mass of information, loosely collected around each of the principals of the group. 

Between using first names all the way through, even when there was duplicates, it become hard to understand who she was talking about. Which Edward is this? Weston? Maybe somebody else. Another this is her organization. Most of the chapters are organized around a principal of the f.64 group. This was an OK arrangement. But the problem with it is that a lot of the stories are overlapping, so you are left with trying to figure out, didn't I read this someplace else?  Lastly, as a means of documenting the facts of these lives, she did a wonderful job. But much of what she did could have been reduced to a series of timelines. 

I wish that Alinder would have gone more into who these people were, why and how did they photograph the way they did. I also would have been a lot more interested in her talking about Ansel Adam's love of the Sierra's than what she did-but she probably did in her Adams biography. After reading this book, I am no more inspired to be do good photography than I was before.

New Words:

  • Cognoscenti (128): people who are considered to be especially well informed about a particular subject.
  • Sycophant (263): a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.
  • Fecund (264): producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertile.
  • daguerreotype (467):i ntroduced in the early 1840s as the first publicly available and commercially successful photographic process to gain widespread use.

Good Quotes:

  • First Line: In 1932 an energetic alliance of dedicated San Francisco Bay Area photographers burst upon the art world, demanding local attention and looking beyond to the East Coast.
  • Last Line: Christi Yates provided Beaumont with caring companionship until his death from a stroke on February 26, 1993.
  •  Keep all things simple as possible so as not to divert the mind from what is truly important-creative work.(83)

Table of Contents:

Prologue, ix,
1. October 1932, 1,
I. Edward Weston, 1,
II. Sonya Noskowiak, 26,
III. Willard Van Dyke, 30,
IV. Imogen Cunningham, 39,
V. Ansel Adams, 51,
2. The Party, 68,
3. Group f.64, 82,
4. The Exhibition, 92,
5. Unsung Heroes, 111,
6. A Major Loss, 126,
7. The Way of Stieglitz, 135,
8. A Tale of Two Galleries, 145,
9. The Enemy Mortensen, 156,
10. Expansion, 169,
11. Divergence, 181,
12. Reaching Out, 193,
13. Relevance, 200,
14. Moving On, 214,
15. A Time to Soar, 226,
16. We Are Not Alone, 240,
17. Seeing Straight, 257,
Epilogue: After 1940, 273,
Acknowledgments, 294,
Appendix 1. Group f.64 and Closely Related Exhibitions, 1932-1940, 297,
Appendix 2. M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, Photography Exhibitions, 1930-1940, 308,
Appendix 3. 683 Brockhurst, Oakland, California, Exhibitions, 1933-1935, 312,
Appendix 4. Ansel Adams Gallery, 166 Geary Street, San Francisco, Exhibitions and Events, 1933-1934, 314,
Notes, 316,
Photograph credits, 377,
Index, 379,


      No comments: