From the invention of photography up through the internet age, animals have been a frequent subject of the camera’s lens, from portraits of beloved pets and exotic creatures to the documentation of human cruelty against them. Drawing on the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, this book traces the relationship between animals in photographs and the rapidly advancing technology of photography. From the wild dogs of South Africa to William Wegman’s photogenic Weimaraners, from images of Victorian zoos to visions of the heavy toll of game hunting, animals on film are moving, sympathetic, and sometimes tragic figures.
In this vivid and engaging book, Arpad Kovacs explores the social, symbolic, scientific, and aesthetic approaches to a subject that has been of continuous interest to photographers across the centuries. Over ninety full-color plates represent image makers ranging from Felice Beato, Eadweard Muybridge, André Kertész, and Alfred Stieglitz to Berenice Abbott, Manuel Àlvarez Bravo, and Man Ray. More recent photographers, such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Hiroshi Sugimoto, are represented along with contemporary artists, such as Tim Hawkinson, Pieter Hugo, and Graciela Iturbide. The result is a book that shows the evolution of a photographic obsession that abides to this day.
This book is published on the occasion of the exhibition In Focus: Animalia, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from May 26 to October 18, 2015.
Arpad Kovacs is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
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