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Book Review: Veramente


Book Review Veramente By Guido Guidi Reviewed by Tom Leininger Veramente by Guido Guidi is published in conjunction with his exhibition at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The exhibition and show bring together different series he has worked on over his 40-year career and highlights his overarching motivations. After looking at the work, I want to travel to see the exhibition, but the book serves as a suitable substitute.

Veramente. By Guido Guidi.
 MACK, 2014.
 
Veramente
Reviewed by Tom Leininger

Veramente
By Guido Guidi

$55.00
MACK, 2014. 172 pp., illustrated throughout, 9½x12½". 


Veramente by Guido Guidi is published in conjunction with his exhibition at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The exhibition and show bring together different series he has worked on over his 40-year career and highlights his overarching motivations. After looking at the work, I want to travel to see the exhibition, but the book serves as a suitable substitute. It is a very thorough book, offering a lot of insight and context about Guidi. We are able to see how Guidi’s work has been refined over the years, but still driven by specific themes. Guido Guidi is a photographer who is willing to go against convention, and make work that goes beyond the expected.

As a viewer, I have been trained to ask for the one image that sums up the particular scene he is seeing. My background is in singular decisive moments, and Guidi has me questioning this mind set. Guidi's earliest work starts with the notion of going beyond the idea of a singular moment in time. The book starts with his earliest experiments in black and white where pictures in twos and threes are presented. I kept going back and forth trying to pick the “winner” image. Not being able to decide on one image made me question why this editing notion has stayed with me for so long. At the end of the book a shadow moves over a weed growing out of a sidewalk. Guidi stumps me again and I can’t choose the one best representing all three. Each image does something a bit differently. Thematically, Guidi is playing time again, but in a subtle and refined way.

VeramenteBy Guido Guidi. MACK, 2014.

The bulk of the book contains his other landscapes and portraits. Guidi traveled through Italy, Europe and Russia photographing scenes in a contemporary manner. This is where the strong individual pictures are. Guidi’s humor and odd visual formulations are abundant. This is where the influence from the New Topographic photographers is most present. The billboards and signage are the only visible ways to tell where the pictures were made.

Marta Dahó’s and Agnès Sire’s essays reinforce my initial thoughts about Guidi’s work. I saw the aesthetic influences of Walker Evans, Stephen Shore and Lewis Baltz in the formal qualities of the pictures. Walker Evans is a clear influence in the black and white architectural pictures of rural Italy. Formally, the pictures tend to be frontal but in contrastier light, which made me think of Baltz’s work from the 1970s. Multiple pictures of light moving across a scene take the viewer into the larger theme he has been working with since the 1970s, which are time, light and shadows and the footprint of buildings, both real and implied. Guidi’s studies of light and shadow and how that changes the landscape are mostly in color and made with a large format camera. Lines and geometry play a stronger role with this work.

VeramenteBy Guido Guidi. MACK, 2014.
VeramenteBy Guido Guidi. MACK, 2014.

The book’s larger size highlights the pictures well and allows for small details to be seen. MACK, as a publisher, continues to impress me. While this book could be seen as a catalog, it goes beyond that in form and shape. The softcover with tipped-in picture of the title "veramente" graffitied on the wall of a building makes the book stand out. Caption information and the essays are at the end of the book printed on a pleasing cream colored uncoated paper. MACK is clearly letting the content of their books inform the design.

VeramenteBy Guido Guidi. MACK, 2014.

Guidi’s ability to arrange a photograph in a formally dynamic manner is overly evident. His interpretations of the notion of time in a still photograph and his humor are what set his work apart. The structure of the book shows how he evolved and changed as a photographer. He could have kept making pleasing images of the buildings in rural Italy. Guidi was interested in bigger ideas and that comes through the most. This book not only catalogs a specific exhibition, but shows a photographer in motion, challenging himself for a long period of time.—TOM LEININGER


TOM LEININGER is a photographer and educator based in North Texas. More of his work can be found on his website.

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