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Book of the Week: A Pick by Tim Carpenter

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Tim Carpenter Tim Carpenter selects Diary/Landscape by James Welling as Book of the Week.
Diary/Landscape. By James Welling.
University of Chicago Press, 2014.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Tim Carpenter who has selected Diary/Landscape by James Welling from University Of Chicago Press.

"It took me a while to warm to James Welling. I always liked the Railroad Photographs, and admired how the Wyeth pictures so tenderly engaged a terribly unhip subject, but the more conceptual work never really connected until I got ahold of Aperture’s James Welling: Monograph a couple years ago. That book made explicit a cohesive career-long vision that I had failed to see before. It also rewardingly exposed me to a number of somewhat-less-conceptual projects, among them Diary of Elizabeth and James Dixon (1840-41)/Connecticut Landscapes, 1977-86.

That project — one of Welling’s earliest efforts — was represented in the monograph by just 14 small and compelling images, leaving the viewer wanting more. And more is what we got with the remarkable 2014 publication of the entirety of Diary/Landscape by The University of Chicago Press.

As much as I had come to admire Welling via the Monograph, I was surprised by my reaction when I picked up Diary/Landscape: it broke my heart a little, in just the right way. True to its title, the book consists of pictures of the travel diaries of Welling’s great-grandparents, along with Connecticut landscapes, and a number of interiors and still lifes — all from 4x5 negatives. Welling experimented with contact printing on papers that could be exposed using light bulbs or sunlight; the idiosyncrasy of the slightly uneven results feel intensely personal. The pictures are by turns elegiac and sweet and sad and funny and inscrutable, and also unfailingly beautiful. Diary/Landscape is a fine and too-rare example of the type of book that offers much imaginative space in which the viewer may — indeed, must — roam."—Tim Carpenter

Purchase Book

Diary/Landscape. By James Welling. University of Chicago Press, 2014.
Diary/Landscape. By James Welling. University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Tim Carpenter is a photographer and writer who works in Brooklyn and central Illinois. He is a co-founder of TIS books, an independent photobook publisher.

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