Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 30, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Process and Page


  • See a new exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum that offers a look at how famous photographers take their images and turn them into a book.
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, art, artbeat, phoenix, museum, famous, photographers, images, book,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: And tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" looks as an exhibit that shows how famous photographers turn their images into books. Shawna Fischer and Juan Magana show us how the process goes to the page.

Shawna Fischer: Photographs capture a moment in time. Sometimes a look at our history and sometimes a glimpse into our future. Phoenix Art Museum curator, Rebecca Senf, explains that through photograph books artists are able to expand their reach to a much larger audience, and also control how we see their art.

Rebecca Senf: I think a lot of people assume when an artist produces a book of their work, they give over the pictures to someone and that other person produces the final book. But actually photographers are very involved in the process of producing their book, and many photographers see it as an extension of their career.

Shawna Fischer: In the exhibit, the process and the page, we can see how famous photographers, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, and W. Eugene Smith among others immersed themselves in creating their books. She says it was much more than choosing the photographs themselves.

Rebecca Senf: The first step is defining the book, what is the book going to be about. The second is securing the publisher, who are are you going to work with to produce the book. The third step is making aesthetic decisions, how will the pictures appear in the book. The fourth step is actually producing the physical book and going on press. The fifth stipulates marketing and selling the book and getting it out to your audience.

Shawna Fischer: Ansel Adams was known for his breathtaking and detailed nature photographs.

Rebecca Senf: When he realized many more would see the books than the prints, it caused him to give more attention to how he produced the books, as well. He was very invested not just in the design and content and what the book said, but the way the book was made, and that the quality of reproductions reflected the high quality of his artistic production.

Shawna Fischer: In fact, Adams was the first photographer to create books of his work. To get his first book published in 1930, he created the prototype for kick-starter, the crowd funding website. People paid $35 in advance for the copy and the money helped Adams pay for printing costs. She says one of her favorite parts of the books is looking at the maquettes. The photographer can play around with images to get the book to be exactly what they want.

Rebecca Senf: In the cases you'll see artists working on these things. And what I'm most proud of are examples where you see multiple maquettes and watch as the artist refines thinking about the books and makes adjustments to those book maquettes and dummies and the changes as it evolved.

Ted Simons: The book sets up traditional museum experiences. Alongside the books are the photograph prints to see the photographer's visions come alive.

Rebecca Senf: It was great fun to go through the vaults and look at the materials and find thousands objects that would help our audience understand the ways in which the artists had participated and the investment they had in producing a finished product that really reflected their ideas and their career.

Ted Simons: The Process and the Page will be at the Phoenix Art Museum until August 17th. For more information check out the website, phxart.org. Thursday on Arizona Horizon another debate. This one features Republican primary candidates for Arizona Congressional District 9. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us, you have a great evening.

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