Body: The Photography Book

Thames & Hudson. Jun. 2019. 432p. photos. index. ISBN 9780500021583. $65. PHOTOG
The human form has been a source of photographic inspiration since the medium was invented, with many books dedicated to this timeless subject, including William Ewing’s The Body, Deborah Willis’s The Black Female Body, and Diane Fortenberry’s Body of Art. In this incarnation, art historian Herschdorfer (director, Museum of Fine Arts, Le Locle, Switzerland) pushes Ewing’s original 1994 concept (with his blessing) into the 21st century by redefining what “body” means in 2019. Featuring photographs from 175 contemporary artists, including Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, Catherine Opie, and Martin Parr, the volume defines the human form by a range of body-related subjects—images of dental impressions, medical equipment, dietary supplements, and blow-up sex dolls. Like Ewing, Herschdorfer organizes photographs into thematic chapters: “Physique,” “Alter Ego,” “Constructions,” “Mutations,” “Celebration,” “Flesh,” and “Love.” Each investigates how advancing digital technologies, gender identity, and online social networking have redefined the photographic tradition of the nude. Although not original in its focus and structure, this stylish contemporary collection brings together a wide range of profound and contemporary photographs, beautifully reproduced in full color.
VERDICT Recommended for all photography and art history enthusiasts.
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