PRINT April 2002


The Book of 101 Books

STRIP AWAY THE LUSH trappings of The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century (PPP Editions/Roth Horowitz, 2001), and you basically have a list. But what a list! It begins with The North American Indian, Edward S. Curtis's twenty-volume portrait of “a vanishing race” from 1907, and ends with LaChapelle Land, David LaChapelle's 1996 book of personal kitsch. In between, you can chart the progress and regress of the photographic book over the course of the twentieth century.

Each title gets the royal treatment: a spread (at least) including several sample pages and a brief text by critics. David Levi Strauss or Vince Aletti. But how to approach this book of books? As a narrative plowing through the twentieth century? As a catalogue to its companion exhibition? A best-of list to argue with? A shopping list for potential collectors? One way not to read the list is

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