THE BODY

PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE HUMAN FORM

Through thoughtful essays, Ewing (Breaking Bounds, not reviewed) transforms a fantastic collection of photographs into a history of photography itself. With careful arrangement and stylish writing free of art- critic blather, Ewing has rendered accessible an almost intimidatingly wide range of works. The introduction covers attitudes toward photographed nudity (and therefore toward sexuality), beginning with a photograph of two topless Zulu women published in a British magazine circa 1879. Setting a pattern for the remainder of the book, Ewing discusses how these photographs reproduced their subjects and simultaneously served as a mirror for contemporary British culture. Chapters carry vague titles like ``Probes'' and ``Metamorphosis,'' which are pithily defined (in these cases as ``the realm of scientific exploration'' and ``the body transformed,'' respectively). Each section starts with a mini- essay expounding a basic principle and tying together the photos. For example, ``Flesh'' links Regina DeLuise's nude woman gripping the heavy, knotted rope of a tire swing and Robert Davies's close- up of a navel. ``Eros'' ponders the personal nature of sexuality, and an 1865 photograph of one woman inserting an umbrella in a second, tuba-playing model's behind is grouped with some squeaky- clean, pin-up-style shots from the 1950s. The shocking chapter entitled ``Estrangement'' contains a range of striking, often disturbing images, including a servant crucified for killing his boss's son and a grotesquely obese sideshow man with a relatively tiny towel placed over his behind, as well as a series showing ``the Hilton Siamese Twins of Texas'' cheerfully swimming, playing tennis, dancing, and flirting in tandem. Some ground is covered twice, and there is an occasional oversight (the essay on ``Estrangement'' brings up the 19th-century popularity of photographs of corpses of loved ones, but no examples are offered). Overall, however, the result is engrossing and the balance of text and photos just right. Stunning, clever, and very provoking.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8118-0762-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

INSIDE THE DREAM PALACE

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEW YORK'S LEGENDARY CHELSEA HOTEL

A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven.

Turn-of-the century New York did not lack either hotels or apartment buildings, writes Tippins (February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof In Wartime America, 2005). But the Chelsea Hotel, from its very inception, was different. Architect Philip Hubert intended the elegantly designed Chelsea Association Building to reflect the utopian ideals of Charles Fourier, offering every amenity conducive to cooperative living: public spaces and gardens, a dining room, artists’ studios, and 80 apartments suitable for an economically diverse population of single workers, young couples, small families and wealthy residents who otherwise might choose to live in a private brownstone. Hubert especially wanted to attract creative types and made sure the building’s walls were extra thick so that each apartment was quiet enough for concentration. William Dean Howells, Edgar Lee Masters and artist John Sloan were early residents. Their friends (Mark Twain, for one) greeted one another in eight-foot-wide hallways intended for conversations. In its early years, the Chelsea quickly became legendary. By the 1930s, though, financial straits resulted in a “down-at-heel, bohemian atmosphere.” Later, with hard-drinking residents like Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan, the ambience could be raucous. Arthur Miller scorned his free-wheeling, drug-taking, boozy neighbors, admitting, though, that the “great advantage” to living there “was that no one gave a damn what anyone else chose to do sexually.” No one passed judgment on creativity, either. But the art was not what made the Chelsea famous; its residents did. Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Robert Mapplethorpe, Phil Ochs and Sid Vicious are only a few of the figures populating this entertaining book.

A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-618-72634-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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