Monday, July 16, 2018

Winslow Homer and the Camera by Frank H. Goodyear, Dana E. Byrd

book cover
Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting
by Frank H. Goodyear, Dana E. Byrd

ISBN-13: 9780300214550
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: July 10, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
One of the greatest American painters of the 19th century, Winslow Homer (1836–1910) also maintained a deep engagement with photography throughout his career. Focusing on the important, yet often-overlooked, role that photography played in Homer’s art, this volume exposes Homer’s own experiments with the camera (he first bought one in 1882). It also explores how the medium of photography and the larger visual economy influenced his work as a painter, watercolorist, and printmaker at a moment when new print technologies inundated the public with images.

Frank Goodyear and Dana Byrd demonstrate that photography offered Homer new ways of seeing and representing the world, from his early commercial engravings sourced from contemporary photographs to the complex relationship between his late-career paintings of life in the Bahamas, Florida, and Cuba and the emergent trend of tourist photography. The authors argue that Homer’s understanding of the camera’s ability to create an image that is simultaneously accurate and capable of deception was vitally important to his artistic practice in all media. Richly illustrated and full of exciting new discoveries, Winslow Homer and the Camera is a long-overdue examination of the ways in which photography shaped the vision of one of America’s most original painters.

My Review:
Winslow Homer and the Camera is basically two essays about Winslow Homer. The first was by Frank Goodyear, who looked at Homer's entire career with a focus on what influenced his artwork and especially at how photography influenced his art. The second essay was by Dana Byrd, who looked at how Homer captured the Bahamas, Cuba, and Florida in his art during his vacations in 1884-1886. She compared and contrasted his art with others who were painting or photographing these areas at that time. There were pages of pictures along with each essay showing the photographs and artwork that were mentioned in the essays.

The essays were informative and will probably be of most interest to fans of Homer's artwork. I was curious about how photography influenced American artwork at that time, and now I know as much as I care to. However, the authors assumed a previous knowledge of Homer's overall body of artwork, which I didn't have. While I could follow the specific references since pictures were provided, I couldn't fully appreciate their comments about his work in general.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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