cover image Italy


Rizzoli, Colombo. Rizzoli International Publications, $29.95 (191pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-5517-9

This is the companion volume to the exhibit that inaugurated Florence's Fratelli Alinari Museum of Photography and currently is traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada under Smithsonian auspices. Sontag notes that the book's title ``announces a double narrative: a century of Italy as well as a century of photography.'' Although these 160 duotone images provide somewhat uneven coverage on both of those counts, there are few photographs here that are not pleasing to the eye. Many of the 19th century selections reflect the grand-scale renaissance qualities that Colombo, the exhibit's curator, identifies with the style of the photographic studio founded by the Alinari brothers in that century: ``Technical know-how, amazing dexterity and entrepreneurial intelligence in exploiting the `catalogue' of views.'' Among 20th century pictures are several classics by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Strand. This collection may sidestep the challenge of controversial images and inscrutable techniques, but it has ready appeal for those with an affinity for Italy, handsome photography and elegant bookmaking. (Oct.)