Full of Grace: A Journey Through the History of Childhood

Ray Merritt, Author
Ray Merritt, Author powerHouse Books $50 (400p) ISBN 978-1-57687-329-8
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007
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In this elegant edition, Merritt, author and editor of more than 20 books, chronicles how youth is rendered in photographs, as well as other art and literature, over the course of the last 150 years. Highlights include hand-colored photos from Lewis Carroll (including an image of his muse, young Alice Liddell) and masterpieces by Richard Avedon, Andre Kertesz, Sally Mann, Robert Mapplethorpe and Nan Goldin. Cutting no corners, Merritt tackles the usual suspects (children at play, children at rest, children and dogs) as well as the difficult issues: hunger and poverty, embodied in the chilling Great Depression work of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans; war, including opposing quotations from Adolf Hitler and Anne Frank; and political oppression, as in Carl Iwasaki's shot of Linda Brown in her segregated Kansas classroom prior to her landmark case against the Board of Education. These sobering images are set beside thorough, concerned discussion of critical issues facing children today: AIDS, over-population and famine among them. The text, broken into modes of perception-""the innocent child,"" ""the child assailed,"" ""the child alone,"" etc.-is peppered with quotes from the likes of Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Rainer Marie Rilke, Jack London, William Wordsworth, Victor Hugo and Herman Hesse. An eclectic, captivating study, this is a fine volume for anyone who works with children or children's welfare issues. 350 four-color and duotone photographs. (Jan).
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