Crisis of the Real: Writings on Photography, 1974-1989

Andy Grundberg, Author
Andy Grundberg, Author Aperture $39.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-89381-400-7
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Every one of the 50 essays in this popular-minded collection raises the issue of postmodernism--how it is defined, why it is relevant for our looking at photographs. In most instances, Grundberg concludes, outside the context of critical discourse, postmodernist theory is irrelevant; photography itself remains a wholly modernist art form. Thus, such modernist luminaries as Walker Evans and Robert Frank hold the most fascination for Grundberg, and he attributes many of the tactics of contemporary photographers--Nan Goldin's psychodrama of the ``disaffected'' or Lee Friedlander's humanist satire--to their influence. The tension between photography's inherent surreal quality, its ability to freeze time, and the perceptual sophistication we bring to viewing it, mediated for instance by television, disposes us to nostalgia while releasing a desire for imagery unknown, unheard-of, unseen. For Grundberg, this modernist dilemma has yet to be resolved by even the most postmodern of photography. Most of these essays have appeared in the New York Times, for which Grundberg is a photography critic, and other publications. (July)
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