Thoughts on Landscape: Collected Writings and Interviews

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9781936102068: Thoughts on Landscape: Collected Writings and Interviews

A lifetime's meditation on photography and the landscape.

Frank Gohlke has been a leading figure in American landscape photography for over thirty years. He has photographed grain silos in Minnesota, the aftermath of a tornado in Texas, the destruction and rebirth of the land after the Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington, and a river's quiet course in Massachusetts. His is a career of deep, unbroken contemplation of the enduring landscape and of our place within it. And for nearly as long as Gohlke has been photographing the landscape, he has been writing about it.

In the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson's seminal book, The Mind's Eye, and Robert Adams's Beauty in Photography, Gohlke'™s writings on photography span from the philosophical to the personal. In interviews, essays, artist statements, and lectures, Gohlke focuses both on his own work and life, and on the works and lives of the photographers around him. Woven throughout is his affection for and loyalty to the landscape around him, and his uncanny ability to convey the richness of his experience to readers--in words just as in images.

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About the Author:

Photographer Frank Gohlke has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been shown internationally and is included the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Bibliotheque Nationale. Born in Texas, Gohlke received his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. At Yale University, where he received his MA in English in 1966, Gohlke met met Walker Evans and then studied privately with photographer Paul Caponigro. Gohlke has taught at Massachusetts College of Art; and the universities of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He is now Laureate Professor of Photography at the University of Arizona and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Creative Photography, in Tucson, Arizona.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Affection for the land runs deep in us, and its manifestations—from the garden plot to the national parks—encompass a vast range of human actions and choices. At what point in the history of our species, I wonder, did the watchful, anxious regard for our surroundings, on which survival depended, begin to modulate toward love of a particular place? There must be an Other before there can be love; Eden becomes the object of our desire only after we are cast out. The best landscape images, whatever their medium and whatever other emotions they may evoke, are predicated on that loss. They propose the possibility of an intimate connection with a world to which we have access only through our eyes, a promise containing its own denial. In the case of landscape photographs, the paradox is sharpened because the world represented must have existed for the picture to be made, and yet the existence of the photograph attests undeniably to that world’s disappearance.

Culture creates a gulf between people and the world they inhabit. Some human groups experience this rupture as a problem and expend enormous amounts of energy in their attempts to heal it. Americans have been noticeably divided on the necessity, even the desirability, of a harmonious relationship with the natural world; but when we do attempt to establish a connection with larger realities, photographs of unspoiled Nature frequently play a central, almost devotional role. It is an odd choice of tools: the making of a photograph presupposes distance, which accounts, I think, for the elegiac tone, the note of longing that suffuses so many of the finest landscape photographs. I admire those pictures most that acknowledge our predicament without causing us to lose heart, just as I am most touched by those places where damage and grace are inextricably entangled. Photographs bear witness to the facts, be they visible or existential, and it is a fact that our relationship with the natural world is a troubled one that can never be otherwise under the present cultural dispensation.

(from the brief essay, "Thoughts on Landscape", 1995)

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Gohlke, Frank
Published by Hol Art (2009)
ISBN 10: 1936102064 ISBN 13: 9781936102068
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Book Description Hol Art, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111936102064

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