Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
2
Free sample

The first narrative biography of the Civil War's pioneering visual historian, Mathew Brady, known as the “father of American photography.”

Mathew Brady's attention to detail, flair for composition, and technical mastery helped establish the photograph as a thing of value. In the 1840s and '50s, “Brady of Broadway” photographed such dignitaries as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Dolley Madison, Horace Greeley, the Prince of Wales, and Jenny Lind. But it was during the Civil War that Brady's photography became an epochal part of American history.

The Civil War was the first war in history to leave a detailed photographic record, and Brady knew better than anyone the dual power of the camera to record and excite, to stop a moment in time and preserve it. More than ten thousand war images are attributed to the Brady studio. But as Wilson shows, while Brady himself accompanied the Union army to the first major battle at Bull Run, he was so shaken by the experience that throughout the rest of the war he rarely visited battlefields except well before or after a major battle, instead sending teams of photographers to the front. Mathew Brady is a gracefully written and beautifully illustrated biography of an American legend-a businessman, a suave promoter, a celebrated portrait artist, and, most important, a historian who chronicled America during the gravest moments of the nineteenth century.
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About the author

Robert Wilson is the editor of The American Scholar and a former editor of Preservation. His articles, reviews, and op-eds have appeared in numerous publications, including The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The Washington Post, The Wilson Quarterly, and The Boston Globe. He is the author of The Explorer King and the editor of A Certain Somewhere: Writers on the Places They Remember. He lives in Manassas, Virginia.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
Aug 6, 2013
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781620402047
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
Photography / Individual Photographers / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The comprehensive biography of the iconic twentieth-century American photographer Berenice Abbott, a trailblazing documentary modernist, author, and inventor.

Berenice Abbott is to American photography as Georgia O’Keeffe is to painting or Willa Cather to letters. She was a photographer of astounding innovation and artistry, a pioneer in both her personal and professional life. Abbott’s sixty-year career established her not only as a master of American photography, but also as a teacher, writer, archivist, and inventor. Famously reticent in public, Abbott’s fascinating life has long remained a mystery—until now.

In Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography, author, archivist, and curator Julia Van Haaften brings this iconic public figure to life alongside outlandish, familiar characters from artist Man Ray to cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener. A teenage rebel from Ohio, Abbott escaped first to Greenwich Village and then to Paris—photographing, in Sylvia Beach’s words, "everyone who was anyone." As the Roaring Twenties ended, Abbott returned to New York, where she soon fell in love with art critic Elizabeth McCausland, with whom she would spend thirty years.

In the 1930s, Abbott began her best-known work, Changing New York, in which she fearlessly documented the city’s metamorphosis. When warned by an older male supervisor that "nice girls" avoid the Bowery—then Manhattan’s skid row—Abbott shot back, "I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer…I go anywhere." This bold, feminist attitude would characterize all Abbott’s accomplishments, including imaging techniques she invented in her influential, space race–era science photography and her tenure as The New School’s first photography teacher.

With more than ninety stunning photos, this sweeping, cinematic biography secures Berenice Abbott’s place in the histories of photography and modern art, while framing her incredible accomplishments as a female artist and entrepreneur.

In this, one of the year's most compelling biographies, Robert Wilson paints a brilliant portrait of Clarence King -- a scientist-explorer whose mountain-scaling, desert-crossing, river-fording, blizzard-surviving adventures helped create the new West of the nineteenth century.

A sort of Howard Hughes of the 1800s, Clarence King in his youth was an icon of the new America: a man of both action and intellect, who combined science and adventure with romanticism and charm. The Explorer King vividly depicts King's amazing feats and also uncovers the reasons for the shocking decline he suffered after his days on the American frontier.

The Yale-educated King went west in 1863 at age twenty-one as a geologist-explorer. During the next decade he scaled the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada, published a popular book now considered a classic of adventure literature, initiated a groundbreaking land survey of the American West, and ultimately uncovered one of the greatest frauds of the century -- the Great Diamond Hoax, a discovery that made him an international celebrity at a time when they were few and far between.

Through King's own rollicking tales, some true, some embroidered, of scaling previously unclimbed mountain peaks, of surviving a monster blizzard near Yosemite, of escaping ambush and capture by Indians, of being chased on horseback for two days by angry bandits, Robert Wilson offers a powerful combination of adventure, history, and nature writing. He also provides the bigger picture of the West at this time, showing the ways in which the terrain of the western United States was measured and charted and mastered, and how science, politics, and business began to intersect and influence one another during this era. Ultimately, King himself would come to symbolize the collision of science and business, possibly the source of his downfall.

Fascinating and extensive, The Explorer King movingly portrays the America of the nineteenth century and the man who -- for better or worse -- typified the soul of the era.
Who was Vivian Maier? Many people know her as the reclusive Chicago nanny who wandered the city for decades, constantly snapping photographs, which were unseen until they were discovered in a seemingly abandoned storage locker. They revealed her to be an inadvertent master of twentieth-century American street photography. Not long after, the news broke that Maier had recently died and had no surviving relatives. Soon the whole world knew about her preternatural work, shooting her to stardom almost overnight.

But, as Pamela Bannos reveals in this meticulous and passionate biography, this story of the nanny savant has blinded us to Maier’s true achievements, as well as her intentions. Most important, Bannos argues, Maier was not a nanny who moonlighted as a photographer; she was a photographer who supported herself as a nanny. In Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife, Bannos contrasts Maier’s life with the mythology that strangers—mostly the men who have profited from her work—have created around her absence. Bannos shows that Maier was extremely conscientious about how her work was developed, printed, and cropped, even though she also made a clear choice never to display it. She places Maier’s fierce passion for privacy alongside the recent spread of her work around the world, and she explains Maier’s careful adjustments of photographic technique, while explaining how the photographs have been misconstrued or misidentified. As well, Bannos uncovers new information about Maier’s immediate family, including her difficult brother, Karl—relatives that once had been thought not to exist.

This authoritative and engrossing biography shows that the real story of Vivian Maier, a true visionary artist, is even more compelling than the myth.
“Robert Wilson’s Barnum, the first full-dress biography in twenty years, eschews clichés for a more nuanced story…It is a life for our times, and the biography Barnum deserves.” —The Wall Street Journal

P.T. Barnum is the greatest showman the world has ever seen. As a creator of the Barnum & Baily Circus and a champion of wonder, joy, trickery, and “humbug,” he was the founding father of American entertainment—and as Robert Wilson argues, one of the most important figures in American history.

Nearly 125 years after his death, the name P.T. Barnum still inspires wonder. Robert Wilson’s vivid new biography captures the full genius, infamy, and allure of the ebullient showman, who, from birth to death, repeatedly reinvented himself. He learned as a young man how to wow crowds, and built a fortune that placed him among the first millionaires in the United States. He also suffered tragedy, bankruptcy, and fires that destroyed his life’s work, yet willed himself to recover and succeed again. As an entertainer, Barnum courted controversy throughout his life—yet he was also a man of strong convictions, guided in his work not by a desire to deceive, but an eagerness to thrill and bring joy to his audiences. He almost certainly never uttered the infamous line, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” instead taking pride in giving crowds their money’s worth and more.

Robert Wilson, editor of The American Scholar, tells a gripping story in Barnum, one that’s imbued with the same buoyant spirit as the man himself. In this “engaging, insightful, and richly researched new biography” (New York Journal of Books), Wilson adeptly makes the case for P.T. Barnum’s place among the icons of American history, as a figure who represented, and indeed created, a distinctly American sense of optimism, industriousness, humor, and relentless energy.
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