John Gutmann The Photographer at Work Douglas R. Nickel, Sally Stein, Amy Rule

Publication date:
22 Sep 2009
Yale University Press
180 pages: 302 x 238mm
175 duotone illus.
Sales territories:

A revealing look at the work and life of an exceptional 20th-century photographer, based on his own archive of photographs and papers

John Gutmann (1905–1998) was one of America’s most distinctive photographers. Born in Germany where he trained as an artist and art teacher, he fled the Nazis in 1933 and settled in San Francisco, reinventing himself as a photo-reporter. Gutmann captured images of American culture, celebrating signs of a vibrant democracy, however imperfect. His own status as an outsider—a Jew in Germany, a naturalized citizen in the United States—informed his focus on individuals from the Asian-American, African-American, and gay communities, as well as his photography in India, Burma, and China during World War II.

This handsome book acknowledges Gutmann’s place in the history of photography. Drawing on his archive of photographs and papers at the Center for Creative Photography, it presents both unfamiliar works and little-known contexts for his imagery, linking his photography to his passionate interest in painting and filmmaking, his collections of non-Western art and artifacts, and his pedagogy.  In addition to a major essay by Sally Stein, the volume includes an introduction by Douglas R. Nickel, and an overview of the Gutmann archive by Amy Rule.

Sally Stein is associate professor in the Department of Art History and Ph.D. Program in Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

"The photos . . . are exceptionally varied in angle of regard, subject, and place, though all do tend to look caught-on-the-fly and kinetic even when their subjects are stationary. They're so captivating one can't help wishing there were many more than 108 plates in the book."?Ray Olson, ALA Booklist (Starred Review)

Winner of the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal in the Photography National Category, given by Independent Publisher Online

"Fascinating book. . . . [a] valuable volume of social and economic history."  —Sheldon Kirshner, The Canadian Jewish News