Personal Vision: Photographs

Glitterati. Jan. 2017. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780986250064. $75. PHOTOG
The diverse career of renowned photographer Cowans (b. 1936) has spanned more than six decades and defied genre categorization. From working as a U.S. Navy photographer, apprenticing with photographer Gordon Parks, documenting civil rights activism, and shooting publicity on Hollywood sets, his oeuvre is massive. This beautiful retrospective not only includes Cowans's own work but also five critical essays by Parks, Anthony Barboza, Tuliza Fleming, Romare Bearden, and Dòwòti Désir. The book is organized by genre sections: "Urban" (Harlem street photography and photos from the civil rights movement), "Voice" (intimate portraits of African American jazz musicians), and "Heroes" (portraits of African American activists and artists, as well as famous actors from his motion picture days). "Water" contains complex, abstract images that demonstrate his extensive range. Cowans's work has been widely exhibited in museums such as New York's Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and George Eastman House. This is the first monograph for the Connecticut resident.
VERDICT Recommended for enthusiasts of photography and African American history.

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