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Friday, 28 December 2018

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I want that 544 Volvo?!

Wondering if I was I the only one to mutter "Wow, look at that 544!" before even noticing the point of the whole photograph?!

Good grief! I thought I was looking at a '47 or '48 V8 Ford.

We had one (Ford) when I was a kid living in India... It soon looked dated as hell when the Studebakers and DeSotos arrived on the scene. I wonder why Ford seemed to be on the styling back foot compared with GM and the Chrysler products of the immediate post-war period?

Maybe the answer lies in production halts during WW2, and new Fords were actually old Fords? Anybody know?

I have never been able to tell if the Kenneth Josephson car is a deliberate reference to Robert Frank's car in The Americans

Josephson does like those sorts of references after all.

Love them both I do.

Rob Campbell: "Good grief! I thought I was looking at a '47 or '48 V8 Ford."

Me too! When I was a kid living in Allahabad (U.P., India)in the early 50's, one of my uncles had a Ford V8 and it looked so drab next to his elder brother's dashing Oldsmobile 1948 (6-cyls). The car was a year older than me but looked newer! I hated my Dad's mousy 1934 Adler Trumpf 2-door convertible but loved his 4-stroke BSA 2.5 HP motorcycle (I rode on the petrol tank). Maybe that's why I bought a 3.5 HP Royal Enfield 'Bullet' the year I turned 22. Fond memories rushing back ... thanks, Rob!

The Volvo grabbed me, too. I drove one of them for about 15 years, till it fell apart from rust. The snow shadow sank in more slowly.

The reason for the number 544 is that it is a reduced-scale copy of the 1944 Fords, which did not change in appearance since before the War. The 1948 to 1951 Fords were equally dumpy, but the '52-'54 were not bad looking, the '55 and '56 were pretty plain, but the '57-'59s were slick, at the peak of tyhe tailfin era.

I first saw this photo in the early ‘80s published in a book about photography. It was one of the best ‘about’ photography books ever published. I lent my copy to a friend and never saw the it again. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the book so Mike I have to ask, given the very vague description but with your extensive knowledge of photo books, do you remember ever seeing this picture in a general publication about photography?

Or maybe one of your readers might remember. The book wasn’t a ‘how to,’ more of a showcase of creative photography, with single examples from many photographers.

Reading photographs is akin to reading maps, especially topographic maps. They require intense attention to minute detail, and gift those who pay that attention with just rewards. Both require focus, both require some knowledge of the “what” one is looking at, and both pay handsomely for that attention.

I just received a copy of “Distintcly American: The Photography of Wright Morris.” Like Kenneth Josephson, the photographs require a scrutiny and attention to detail that exhausts the Eye quickly. But, given patience, persistence, and time, both are exhilarating and rewarding.

It seems to be almost impossible to put together a book about "all of photography" without having a Ken Josephson picture in it. John Szarkowsky's "The Photographer's Eye" has the baby in the photographer's shadow. His "Looking at Photographs" has Josephson's son, now three years older, holding his polaroid picture in front of his face, inverted like an image on the ground glass. These two pictures are titled "Season's Greetings 1963 and 1966" so I guess he, like David Vestal, selected an annual favorite for distribution to friends.

Stephen Shore's "The Nature of Photographs" has Josephson's arm and hand, holding a picture of an ocean liner above the horizin of the sea on the cover as well as inside. But I haven't found the Volvo.

A book, in part meeting Omer's recollection is: AMERICAN IMAGES Photography 1945-1980. ISBN 0-670-80619-6.

Has a graphically strong, half-and-half Red and Blue dust jacket. Robert Frank's tuba player blowing the Stars & Stripes on the front and Leonard Freed's, 'I'm tough' young black boy on the back.

Essentially an exhibition catalogue of a show at London's Barbican Gallery, covering a sound selection of around 80 photographers, with essays by Pete Turner, Gerry Badger, Jonathan Green, Bill Jay and Lewis Baltz.


Includes two Kenneth Josephson pictures, though neither is the snow shadow Volvo.

A useful overview of the period.

An analytical and biographical essay from the full career Josephson book that launched this article can be read at https://mcachicago.org/Publications/Websites/Kenneth-Josephson/
and is quite intriguing. Of course, the Volvo does appear in it.

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