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Archive Style Photographs and Illustrations for U. S. Surveys, 1850-1890

ISBN-10: 0520249356

ISBN-13: 9780520249356

Edition: 2007

Authors: Robin Kelsey

List price: $85.00
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Description:

This imaginative study of American visual culture reveals how the political predicaments of a few small bureaucracies once fostered pictures of an extraordinary style. U.S. geographical and geological surveys of the late nineteenth century produced photographs and drawings of topography, American Indians, geologic features, botanical specimens, and specialists at work in the field. Some of these pictures have long been celebrated for their anticipation of a modernist aesthetic, but Robin Kelsey, in this abundantly illustrated volume, traces their modernistic qualities to archival ingenuity. The technical and promotional needs of surveys, Kelsey argues, fostered the emergence of a taut, graphic pictorial style that imitated the informational clarity of diagrams and maps. As this book demonstrates, these pictures became sites of struggle as well as innovation when three brilliant survey artists and photographers subtly resisted the programs they were hired to serve. Discovering a politics of style behind the modernist look of survey pictures, Kelsey offers a fresh interpretation of canonical western expedition photographs by Timothy H. O'Sullivan and introduces two exceptional but largely forgotten sets of pictures: views of the U.S.-Mexico boundary from the 1850s by Arthur Scott and photographs of the Charleston earthquake of 1886 by C. C. Jones.
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Book details

List price: $85.00
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 6/5/2007
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Size: 7.00" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.782
Language: English

Robin Kelsey is Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography at Harvard University.

Acknowledgments
Illustrations
Introduction: Riddles and Premises
Marking the Mexican Boundary
Surveys of the American West
The USGS Investigation of the Charleston Earthquake
Conclusion: Archive Style
Notes
Works Cited
Index