Twientieth-Century American Photography.
Text by Gretchen Garner.
Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2003. 304 pp., numeorus color and black-and-white illustrations, 9x11".
American photographers documented and defined the twentieth century in a remarkable array of images, the style and content of which evolved dramatically over the course of the century. In Disappearing Witness, photographer and art historian Gretchen Garner chronicles this transformation, from the introduction of the 35-millimeter camera in the 1920s to the digital photography of today. Accompanied by over 125 key works in the history of photography-fine-art, documentary, and editorial-her thoughtful and enlightening discussion traces American photography's aesthetic, commercial, and technological changes, as the medium's primary role of spontaneous witness gradually gave way to contrived arrangement and artistic invention. Garner discusses direct witness as the dominant for American photographers from the 1920s to the 1960s. During these decades, photographers saw their medium primarily as a vehicle for truthful description and to graphic practice and its cultural significance shifted to reflect more personal, idiosyncratic, and staged visions of reality-a trend, Garner notes, that has intensified with digital photography. The major portion of the book is devoted to post-1960s work, exploring how the changes have affected portraiture, documentary, landscape, still life, fashion, and the new genre of self-imagery. In documenting this transformation in American photography itself.
Gretchen Garner is a photographer and independent scholar. She has taught photography and history of photography at Michigan's Grand Valley State University and at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, served as editor of Exposure and as photography editor of the New Art Examiner, and she has curated exhibitions at museums in Minnesota and Michigan. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.