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20th Century Photographers - Livres du Mois

In Novembers livres du Mois I recap all of the photographers that I have written about over the last two years and my favourite books of their work. Now some of the photographers I have featured on the Compendium are so niche that they have no written material to share, which ironically are also some of the most interesting photographers, so these individuals are missing from the list. Organised in chronological order we begin, of course, with Cecil Beaton.


Cecil Beaton

Portraits & Profiles

Hugo Vickers

"This beautiful collection of fabulous photographs and incisive pen portraits captures the world of Cecil Beaton, one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of the twentieth century.

Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles combines Beaton’ s photographic and pen portraits. Beaton’ s portraits offer insight, beauty, witty observations and a fascinating glimpse into his world. His images often flattered but his diaries and journals didn’t necessarily follow suit and he was described by Jean Cocteau as ‘ Malice in Wonderland’ .

Included are stars of music, fashion, society, stage and screen. From Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel and Princess Grace through to Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Cecil Beaton’s life spanned many worlds and these are captured here through his fabulous photographs and incisive observations."

To explore more on Cecil Beaton the link to my article is here.



The Photography of

Carl Van Vechten

"Carl Van Vechten was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein. As an appreciator of the arts, Van Vechten was extremely intrigued by the explosion of creativity which was occurring in Harlem.

He promoted many of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, including Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman.

The book is a compilation of photographs of famous actors, artists, dancers, musicians, singers and writers taken by Van Vechten from the 1930s to the early 1960s. Includes portraits of Bessie Smith, Lena Horne, Billie Holliday, Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Georgia O'Keefe, Henri Matisse and more."

To explore more on Carl Van Vechten the link to my article is here.


Laure Albin Guillot

Le Catalogue De L'exposition


"Laure Albin Guillot was a French photographer. In addition to portraits of Paris celebrities, she covered a wide variety of genres and had a number of high-ranking positions.

Laure Albin Guillot exhibited in the 1920s, adopting a classical approach or French style rather than the avant-garde trends of the day. But it was in the 1930s and 1940s that her work dominated the photographic scene. She covered a variety of genres, everything from portraits and nudes to landscapes, still lifes and, to a lesser extent, journalism. A master of technology, she made use of the very latest methods of image production, perfectly suited to the requirements of publication."

To explore more on Laure Albin Guillot the link to my article is here.


Eugène Atget



"A flâneur and photographer at once, Eugène Atget was obsessed with walking the streets. After trying his hand at painting and acting, the native of Libourne turned to photography and moved to Paris. He supplied studies for painters, architects, and stage designers, but became enraptured by what he called documents” of the city and its environs. His scenes rarely included people, but rather the architecture, landscape, and artifacts that made up the societal and cultural stage.

Atget was not particularly renowned during his lifetime but in the 1920s came to the attention of the Dada and Surrealist avant-garde through Man Ray. Four of his images, with their particular fusion of mimesis and mystery, appeared in the surrealist journal, La Révolution Surréaliste, while Ray and much of his artistic circle purchased Atget prints. Atget’s fame grew after his death, with several articles and a monograph by Berenice Abbott.

This TASCHEN edition gathers some 500 photographs from the Atget archives at Musée Carnavalet and the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris to celebrate his outstanding eye for the urban environment and evocation of a Paris gone by. Down main streets and side streets, past shops and churches, through courtyards and arcades and the 20 arrondissements, we find a unique portrait of a beloved city and the making of a modern photographic master."

To explore more on Eugène Atget the link to my article is here.


A Singular Elegance:

The Photographs of

Baron Adolph de Meyer

Baron Adolph de Meyer was a photographer famed for his photographic portraits in the early 20th century. He was also the first official fashion photographer for the American magazine Vogue.

He photographed many of the beau monde of the era including Mary Pickford, Rita Lydig, Luisa Casati, Billie Burke, Irene Castle, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Ruth St. Denis, King George V, and Queen Mary.

To explore more on Adolph de Meyer the link to my article is here.


George Platt Lynes

Photographs from the Kinsey Institute

James Crump

"George Platt Lynes was an American fashion and commercial photographer who worked in the 1930s and 1940s. He produced photographs featuring many gay artists and writers from the 1940s that were acquired by the Kinsey Institute after his death in 1955.

Emphasising the photographs which have been least published, this book reproduces 80 of his most striking images, half of them nudes - male and female - and all drawn from an archive of 600 prints collected by Alfred Kinsey, founder of the Kinsey Institute. James Crump has contributed two essays, one about Lynes's role in the avant-garde and the other concerning the male erotic sub-culture of which his private world was a part."

To explore more on George Platt Lynes the link to my article is here.


Toni Frissell

Photographs 1933-1967

"Toni Frissell was an American photographer known for her fashion photography, World War II photographs, and portraits of famous Americans, Europeans, children, and women from all walks of life.

In 1971 Frissell donated 300,000 images (her life's work) to the Library of Congress. The present book brings together a selection of these images. The images cover her whole career, from the ground-breaking fashion photographs taken in the open air for' Vogue' and 'Harper's Bazaar', to her war photo-journalism, her sports photography, and her portraits of figures such as Winston Churchill, Gloria Vanderbilt, JFK and Jackie Kennedy, and the Duke of Windsor. The photographs are accompanied by excerpts from interviews with Frissell, her diary entries and her letters."

To explore more on Toni Frissell the link to my article is here.


Lee Miller

in Fashion

Becky E. Conekin

"Lee Miller was an American photographer and photojournalist. She was a fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became a fashion and fine art photographer.

The world of fashion emerges as the backbone of Miller's creative development, as well as an integral lens through which to understand the effects of war on the lives of women in the 1940s and 1950s. Miller witnessed incredible acts of resistance born out through fashion--and her photographic record of women's indomitable spirit even in times of war has remained an invaluable resource in fashion and global history. Lee Miller in Fashion presents these striking archival fashion photographs as well as contact sheets, memos, and Miller's published illustrations, vividly setting the wit, irrepressible creativity, and daring of Miller within the larger story of women's experience of fashion, art, and war in the twentieth century."

To explore more on Lee Miller the link to my article is here.


The Essential Herbert List

Photographs 1930 - 1972

"Herbert List's photography has become part of the classical canon of 20th-century pictorial art. By their metaphysical and visual presence, his pictures are as familiar to us and as influential as de Chirico's visions are in painting.

This monograph on List's oeuvre presents for the first time all phases of his creativity: the early fotografia metafisica; his Greece photographs blending Antiquity, Mediterranean light and Eros in visions of Classical Hellas; his sensitive homoerotic pictures; his artist portraits of the 40s through to the 60s; and the human interest photography of his late work. Essays by noted authors explore List's particular interests and the photo-historic context of his oeuvre. A selection of List's own writings, a comprehensive chronology, a bibliography, a list of exhibitions, and a list of publications complete this lavish volume."

To explore more on Herbert List the link to my article is here.


The Photographic Art of


William A. Ewing

"George Hoyningen-Huene was a fashion photographer of the 1920s and 1930s. Hoyningen-Huene began at “Vogue” as an illustrator and then became a supremely successful fashion photographer. Moving to “Harper’s Bazaar”, he extended his range to portraiture and travel, capturing artists, composers and Hollywood stars including Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Igor Stravinsky and Jean Cocteau. In this book, colour and duotone images display the full range of Hoyningen-Huene’s talent, alongside an extended account of his career, drawing largely on unpublished biographical material."

To explore more on George Hoyningen-Huene the link to my article is here.


Rodney Smith


"Rodney Smith was a New York-based fashion and portrait photographer. Smith bridges the gap between commercial photography and art, between the real world we live in and the artist's world of the imagination. His images--silhouettes and skylines, a man in a hat, elegant women in lush gardens--are by now familiar to us. Rodney Smith Photographs presents the man behind the photographs.

A selection of pictures spanning four decades, organized thematically, stand alongside personal reflections drawn from Smith's popular blog. It reveals that the photographer's signature style is the product of his unusual background, his unique perspective, and his many years of self-analysis: in short, Smith's photographs are also pictures of their creator."

To explore more on Rodney Smith the link to my article is here.


Edward Steichen:

The Early Years

Joel Smith

"Edward Steichen was a Luxembourgish American photographer, painter, and curator, renowned as one of the most prolific and influential figures in the history of photography. Steichen was credited with transforming photography into an art form.

This book is a stunning visual record of the emergence of Steichen as a great artist and is one of the most important books to be published on his life and work in recent years."

To explore more on Edward Steichen the link to my article is here.


Alfred Stieglitz

Camera Work

The Complete Photographs

"Photographer, writer, publisher, and curator Alfred Stieglitz was a visionary far ahead of his time. Around the turn of the 20th century, he founded the Photo-Secession, a progressive movement concerned with advancing the creative possibilities of photography, and by 1903 began publishing Camera Work, an avant-garde magazine devoted to voicing the ideas, both in images and words, of the Photo-Secession.

Camera Work was the first photo journal whose focus was visual, rather than technical, and its illustrations were of the highest quality hand-pulled photogravure printed on Japanese tissue. This book brings together all photographs from the journal’s 50 issues."

To explore more on Alfred Stieglitz the link to my article is here.


I hope you have found an interesting book (or an interesting person) amongst the list of remarkable photographers but if not you may find a book to lose yourself in inside the Compendiums Library.


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