Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thousands of pictures worth millions of words

There are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them. 

--Diane Arbus, 1972

From the first horses scrawled roughly on cave walls to the latest Pixar film in 3-D, no art form in history has experienced as rapid an ascent -- or such astonishing evolution -- as photography. Through it all, it has remained a vital tool for self-reflection and a compelling product of human creativity. Silent and omnipresent, photography plays a role in all of our lives, every single day -- many times a day -- and yet never loses its inherent power to teach, delight, comfort, or overwhelm us.

Over the past few months, we at Piedmont College Libraries have been working hard to grow our collection of fine art photography monographs, nearly doubling the number of volumes in Class TR (which is where you'll find them, on the last row of the 4th floor of the Arrendale Library). From a small selection of books dealing mostly in black-and-white fashion and landscape photography from the mid-1900s, our collection has expanded to include the groundbreaking color work of pioneers like William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, the highly-stylized pop art of David LaChapelle and Gregory Crewdson, and the poignant social critique of Joel Sternfeld and Martin Parr. We've also gone back in time and acquired several masterpieces of the genre that had never sat on our shelves -- peerless classics like Robert Frank's The Americans, Bernd and Hilla Becher's Industrial Landscapes, Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places, Richard Avedon's Performance, William Eggleston's Guide, and Walker Evans' American Photographs. No photography collection is complete without these touchstones, and now they're available to you at the Piedmont College Library.

This project is ongoing. We've already purchased many significant new works, such as Richard Misrach's Petrochemical America -- which inspired the striking visual style of the hit HBO drama True Detective -- and Robert Polidori's After the Flood, which covers the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster...and we will continue to collect these important cultural and artistic documents. You can browse the newest additions by clicking here. As always, we love requests, so please -- if you don't see your favorite photographer in the stacks, let us hear about it!