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Reflections in Black

Willis, Deborah

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ISBN 10: 0393048802 / ISBN 13: 9780393048803
Published by Norton, 2000,, 2000
Used Hardcover
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1st ed., hardcover, fine in fine dj, in mylar, a history of black photographers 1840 to the present, photography, blm50. Bookseller Inventory # 3282

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Reflections in Black

Publisher: Norton, 2000,

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

A triumphant celebration of the power of family, endurance, spirituality, and the diverse range of the African American experience over the last two centuries.

Reflections in Black, the first comprehensive history of black photographers, is Deborah Willis's long-awaited, groundbreaking assemblage of photographs of African American life from 1840 to the present. Willis, a curator of photography at the Smithsonian Institution, has selected nearly 600 stunning images that give us rich, hugely moving glimpses of black life, from slavery to the Great Migrations, from rare antebellum portraits to 1990s middle-class families. Featuring the work of undisputed masters such as James Presley Ball, C. M. Battey, James VanDerZee, Morgan and Marvin Smith, Gordon Parks, Moneta Sleet, Jr., and Carrie Mae Weems, among hundreds of others, Reflections in Black is, most powerfully, a refutation of the gross caricature of the many mainstream photographers who have continually emphasized poverty over family, despair over hope. Recalling Roman Vishniac's Vanished World in terms of its documentary importance, and Brian Lanker's I Dream a World in terms of its exceptional beauty, Reflections in Black is not only an exceptional gift book for any occasion but also a work so significant that it has the power to reconfigure our conception of American history itself. It demands to be included in every American family's library as the record of an essential part of our heritage. Publication will coincide and tie in with a major exhibition at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, which will then travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Albany, New York; Corpus Christi, Texas; and other cities.

From the Inside Flap:

A triumphant celebration of family, endurance, spirituality, and the diverse range of the black experience over the last two centuries, Reflections in Black overturns many common ideas about black life during the last century and a half, and through its sheer power and beauty rewrites American history itself.

Reflections in Black, the first comprehensive history of black photographers, is Deborah Willis's long-awaited, groundbreaking assemblage of photographs of African American life from 1840 to the present. Willis, a curator of photography at the Smithsonian Institution, has selected nearly 600 stunning photographs, with 487 in duotone and 81 in full color, of which more than 100 images have never before been seen. As this panoramic saga unfolds, we are given rich, hugely moving glimpses of African American life, from the last generation of slaves to the urban pioneers of the great migrations of the 1920s, from rare antebellum daguerreotypes of freemen to the courtly celebrants of the Harlem Renaissance, from civil rights martyrs to postmodern photographic artists of the 1990s.

Each photograph suggests an astonishing, often spellbinding story. Augustus Washington's mid-nineteenth-century portraits of African Americans, for example, offer a window of seeming calm in an American era known largely for its upheaval. A startling suite of J. P. Ball photographs depicts, in three images, the life, death, and burial of a black man hanged for murder in the territory of Montana. Equally arresting are the twentieth-century images: from James VanDerZee's glittering shot of a Harlem couple decked out in raccoon coats, to Ellie Lee Weems's photographs of everyday African Americans in 1930sAtlanta, to Addison Scurlock's gorgeous wedding photos, to A. P. Bedou's portrait of a rapt crowd listening to Booker T. Washington, to John W. Mosely's image of a young drum majorette marching in an Elks parade in 1940s Philadelphia, to Clarissa Sligh's fascinating peeks at African Americans submitting to the deceptively mundane chores of haircuts. These images reinforce the notion that there is no single black America, but a multitude of diversity and richness.

Also in Reflections in Black are great celebrity images, including classic photographs of Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Dinah Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sarah Vaughn, Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali, James Coltrane, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and a veiled Coretta Scott King at her husband's funeral.

Reflections in Black is, finally and most powerfully, a refutation of the gross caricature of so many photographers who have, in their depiction of African Americans, continually emphasized poverty over family, despair over hope, rage over accomplishment. Exceptionally beautiful, monumentally important, Reflections in Black is not only that rare gift book that can be given on any occasion but also a work so significant that it has the power to reconfigure the imagination. It demands to be included in every American family's library as an essential part of our country's heritage.

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