Taking pictures

Peter Campbell

  • In Radin’s Studio by Albert Elsen
    Phaidon, 192 pp, £10.95, May 1980, ISBN 0 7148 1976 X
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer
    Thames and Hudson, 155 pp, £25.00, April 1980, ISBN 0 500 54062 4
  • Isle of Man: A Book about the Manx by Christopher Killip
    Arts Council of Great Britain, 69 pp, £9.95, March 1980, ISBN 0 7287 0187 1

When the young Steichen photographed Rodin’s ‘Balzac’ by moonlight in 1908, the sculptor gave him 2,000 francs. Steichen was being treated as an equal: Rodin’s skilled studio assistants were at this time being paid 60 francs a week. Not all photographers who worked with Rodin were treated so well, but because he wanted his work to be known through prints which he had approved, and because he used photography as a way of looking freshly at that work, the collection of photographs in the archives of the Musée Rodin is of absorbing interest. In this selection by Albert Elsen they are published for the first time; they reveal much about Rodin’s methods of work, and many of them are magisterial interpretations of his sculpture. But the book is also a contribution to the history of photography, and it is the light it throws on the relationship between works of art and photographs that concerns me here.

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