This Land (Review)

I came across a great big, heavy book of photographs this week and brought it home.  I wanted to view its contents, because I knew it would not be just another coffee table book full of “picture perfect” photography.

Photographer Jack Spencer offers a book full of his emotional interpretations of the “lower 48” in This Land: An American Portrait.  This is a book filled with art. Art that tugs at the heartstrings of nostalgia. It’s the nostalgia for what we know is part of our world…an ethereal vision we have longed for…a dream that lies just beyond our grasp.

This viewer noticed that most of the photographs did not contain humans.  Those that did, treated people as abstract parts of the rest of the landscape.  The images are very soulful art. Many of the photographs look more like oil paintings, not art photography.

I thought a few of the images tried too hard to be “artsy”, the degree of their lack of focus brought too much attention to the fact of mechanical manipulation.  I reminded myself that these photos represented the emotional output of Mr. Spencer’s reaction to his subjects. Thankfully, the radically unfocused images are very few in number.

This Land is a book that is best viewed on a tabletop. It’s the kind of book you pull up a chair and ponder.  In this way, you can study and contemplate each image as if you’re viewing it at an art gallery. I got lost in wordless emotions when viewing decrepit or mundane architecture presented as a main subject in some of the pictures.

There are two beach photographs that best achieve a painterly quality. I kept going back to them to enjoy their subtle neuances. I hope the beach photographs are included in Spencer’s gallery shows at art venues. They are the ones I’d most like to own and display in my living room.

My positive opinion about the beach pictures should not overshadow the positive feelings I have about the rest of the photographs in this beautiful, luxurious book. Most of them are worthy of long periods of contemplation.

If you love art photography, This Land: An American Portrait is a book you should seriously consider seeing.

{ This Land: An American Portrait photographed by Jack Spencer; 284 pages published March 2017,  by University of Texas Press; ISBN:  978-1-4773-1189-9 }

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Henry David Thoreau. “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in art, Books, cultural highlights, photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to This Land (Review)

  1. Sounds like a book a person can get lost in.
    I like the Thoreau quote at the end of the article — definitely words to live by.

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