Bettmann: The Picture Man

Otto L. Bettmann, Author, Norman Sheffield, Editor
Otto L. Bettmann, Author, Norman Sheffield, Editor University Press of Florida $45 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8130-1153-0
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
For half a century art directors, picture editors, ad execs and publishers have found the Bettmann Archive a source for portraits and unusual illustrations, often historical, on almost any subject, from apple-bobbing to zebra-training. In this appealing memoir (abundantly illustrated with holdings from the Archive), its founder recalls his childhood in Leipzig, Germany's book-trade center, where he was born in 1903. His father, an orthopedic surgeon and an ardent bibliophile, instilled in him a devotion to books, particularly those finely designed and illustrated. The author wrote a doctoral dissertation on literary piracy in the 18th century, supplemented his Ph.D. with a degree in library science and became a curator, all the while developing a carefully indexed picture file. When he fled Nazi Germany in 1935, he painstakingly built up his file into the now-famous picture agency in New York City, a process he recalls with an attractive mix of pride and self-deprecating humor. His experiences with major publishing figures, among them Harry Scherman, Van Wyck Brooks and Harry Abrams, will especially interest those in the trade. (Dec.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!