Some of you might remember L. Fritz and Renate Gruber's The Imaginary Photo Museum, a book about a photo collection they would have put together—if they'd had the resources. Well, you might be interested to know that I've edited a wonderful book called "Readings for Photographers" that compiles some of the most crucial, most interesting, and best written article- or essay-length pieces written about photography in the past thirty years.
Only one problem, one small snag: it, too, is imaginary. All in my head. You know what they say: oh well.
Some of the pieces my imaginary anthology would contain are available online, however, and, thanks to Fazal Majid, I just became aware of another one.
Now, a word of caution: it might seem like schadenfreude for me to point to this, or maybe even like vengefulness, since I had a very public row with Walter Rosenblum in the pages of a magazine long ago. So my motives might be suspected. However, I think that Richard B. Woodward's article "Too Much of a Good Thing," from the June, 2003 issue of The Atlantic (the publication formerly known as The Atlantic Monthly) is one of those must-reads. In Richard's usual impeccable style (I don't know him, and don't know much about him, but I enjoy his work), it lays out one of photography's great recent scandals—or as much of the surface layer of it as is fit to be made public. Along the way, it brings up a lot of questions, some treated in the article and many more implied.
It's a bit long for reading comfortably onscreen, but you might print it out for one of those times when you have ten or fifteen minutes quiet and free. And you can imagine you're reading my anthology, if you like.
(Thanks to Fazal)
Featured Comment by Calvin Amari: "Edward Dolnick in his book The Forger's Spell notes that new forgeries of old masters tend to show something of contemporary sensibilities. Counter-intuitively, these modern stylistic elements make us more rather than less susceptible to the forger's trap—at least for a considerable period of time, perhaps decades, until sylistic sensibilities shift. I was reminded of this given the market acceptance of modern prints of Hine's Powerhouse Mechanic.
"While I don't know the story behind it, have you seen that variant that is printed in square format with everything outside the circular element of the steam engine printed in pure black? Talk about modern sensibilities—that looks like a Mapplethorpe!
"Incidentally, do you know what is stamped the verso of many vintage (but also some spurious 'vintage') prints by this great documentarian? 'Lewis W. Hine Interpretive Photography.' "
Featured Comment by David Dyer-Bennet: "I strongly support the art market's fixation on 'vintage prints'—it makes it much more likely that real people like me can acquire great prints of great images, while the collectors fight over the old tattered bad prints made on bad materials before the artist's talents matured."