A Moment

‘The photographs in this book portray a moment.’

Review by Grady Harp

And to continue this brief statement by Michael Somoroff, ‘They were never intended for publication. They are very personal; a kind of journal that looks back on my beginnings and other’s endings. They were taken innocently, when I was an apprentice in the truest sense, without an agenda. There was never a book or a project in mind. As a matter of fact, this body of pictures lay mostly forgotten for what is now the better part of thirty-five years. These images were a labor of love, an homage to my teachers, friends, and mentors. And, they are my roots, roots that are firmly grounded in the history of photography; that is MY history. In a sense, they are a confession, an opening up of what matters to me most….Beyond words, they are landmarks in eternity, the passing of an era, and the passage of my life. They are very intimate. To be clear, first and foremost…I am a photographer.’ (page 81)

This magnificently designed and executed book is one of the more profound photographic monographs published. It reflects the work of Michael Somoroff from the years 1977 to 1983 while Somoroff was in his twenties and reflects the passion that consumed him to photograph some of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. The first half of the book is dedicated to the stunning full-page reproductions of Somoroff’s work unfettered by words or essays. The second half of the book is a feast of film strips, negatives with cropping marks, ideas in progress, unused and unseen (until now) images, and a Preface by Julian Sander, and essay about Somoroff’s place in art history and a summation of his genius, and an essay by Somoroff himself – A Moment – the first portion of which appears at the beginning of this review. And finally that last section is a series of biographies of the artists Somoroff photographed. It is an intensely interesting foray into the importance of photography as art in the 20th century.

But for many the book will dazzle and satisfy simply with the exquisite and elegant portraits of the first portion of the book. Here are full-page black and white portraits of Brassaï, Elliot Erwitt, Andreas Feininger, Ralph Gibson, André Kertész, Duane Michals, Arnold Newman, Helmut Newton, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Lillian Bassman, Mary Ellen Mark, Bert Stern Jeanloup Sieff, Herman Landshoff, Fritz Kempe, Sid Kaplan, Ben Somoroff, Art Kane. Horst P. Horst, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Frances McLaughlin-Gill, F.C. Gundlach, Ernst Haas, Robert Doisneau, and Cornell Capa – some in generous three page foldout presentation. Not only are the photographs and incomparable achievement, but accompanied by this book containing memorabilia and thoughts by significant writers the work of Michael Somoroff the importance of this gentle man, this artist, is made evident. Highly Recommended.

Grady Harp, October 2012

TITLE: A MOMENT MASTER PHOTOGRAPHERS: PORTRAITS BY MICHAEL SOMOROFF
AUTHOR: MICHAEL SOMOROFF
PUBLISHER: DAMIANI
ISBN: 9788862082112

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