What I'm reading (and enjoying) right now. Well, in between writing blog posts and walking around with a camera...
The book is NOT an encyclopedic look at the usual pantheon of photographers in the late 20th century, rather it is a work devoted to understanding how photography went from the red-haired stepchild of the art world to being the single most important component of the art industry now, in the digital age. How did photography pierce the protective membrane of traditional art, make its way into museums and galleries and then, like an invasive species of killer fish, make the transition from servant to king?
It's also a good primer on the evolution of modern art from the late 1950's to now; at least if you are mostly interested in "art" as it is practiced in north America.
I really like Mr. Grundberg's writing style; his voice. But, by way of disclaimer, you should know that I'm only just a third of the way through the book. That being said I already feel as though I've gotten my money's worth from my impulse investment. He connects dots in a very interesting way and really illuminates how photography snuck into the art mainstream via a "Trojan Horse" tactic of becoming a vital part of the overall presentation of Conceptual Art, Minimalist Art, Construction Art, Performance Art, etc. Why? Because most of these schools of art were/are largely conceptual and mostly ephemeral and the only continuity with future audiences was by way of the photo (or video) documentation of the work. Those Christo building wraps didn't hang around forever... The photographs were the "souvenir" of the performance or creation. I never realized how important those connections were in making photography legitimate in the eyes of the "Big A" art world. They also provided collectors with something tangible to...collect.
There's an new evolutionary step written about in each successive chapter and all the chapters are as short as a good, long blog post. I think the book should be required reading for anyone who wants to pontificate loud and long about the history of photography's transition to fine art in earnest.
Note: The cover of the book is in color. My camera was not. Mr. Grundberg's detailed narrative (and it is in some spots biographical --- he was in the middle of a lot of the history) is a good fireplace and quiet evening read, for sure.
When I finish devouring the book maybe my own written content will become lofty and elegant; well informed. But I don't think so....
Additional logistics note: While I was agonizing over every word I'd written in the post above, and doing re-write after re-write; revision after revision, a UPS driver arrived at the front door and delivered a small but exquisitely well done cardboard box. It was a battery I ordered from the Leica Store in Miami. It was delivered not only a full day earlier than promised but...it was also delivered hours before the scheduled timeframe on the UPS website.
The box contained a battery. The battery is for my newly acquired TL2. It's insanely expensive. It's the universe's way of punishing the more careless camera buyers.