Photography and Humour

Louis Kaplan

Photography and Humour

Louis Kaplan

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 40 color plates, 70 halftones | 7 1/2 x 8 2/3 | © 2016
Paper $29.95 ISBN: 9781780236513 Published December 2016 For sale in North and South America only
Some photos are haunting, some breathtaking; some are illuminating, and some are beautiful. And some photos—as those of us who have ever been on the internet know—are downright hilarious. But humor has often been on the sidelines of photography scholarship. With this book, Louis Kaplan remedies this, gathering together over one hundred images in a revealing look at the way photographers—from the very beginning of photography in the nineteenth century—have found so much amusement at the ends of their lenses.
            Kaplan introduces readers to a key set of genres in photographic humor, showing how humor is often tied to serious topics such as our identity, social situations, and—yes—death. He offers a fascinating range of examples, from stereographic domestic comedies to biting political satire, from conceptual artistic pratfalls to surrealist humour noir, and from trick photography to decisively hilarious moments in photojournalism. In doing so, he brings together works by renowned photographers—including Jacques Henri Lartigue, Elliott Erwitt, Weegee, Cindy Sherman, and Martin Parr—as well as those by your everyday photoshopper. The result is a rich collection of the witty, the absurd, and the uproarious.
 
Contents
Introduction
one      Lenses of Laughter
two      Messing with Identity
three    Social Snaps
four     A Morbid Sense of Humor
Postscript

References
Select Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
Review Quotes
John C. Welchman, University of California, San Diego and Chair of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts
“In this excellent addition to a compelling series, Kaplan offers a stirring riposte to photography’s traditional association with ‘morbid sensibility,’ tracing the impact of the medium through a constellation of humorous genres: from vaudeville and slapstick to ridicule, satire, and the contrivances of cultural stereotypes—yet not forgetting the oddball disquisition on mortality represented by gallows humor. His keen reflections on the work of canonical photographers (Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and Jeff Wall, among others) is leavened by discussions of lesser-known figures and a buffet of amateur, anonymous, or commercial images. Photography is served up, here, with a side of mirth and merriment, sauced with a dash of mayhem.”
Mia Fineman, Associate Curator, Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
“What’s so funny about photography? Louis Kaplan answers this question and many more in this playful and provocative new book. Photography and Humour is a marvelous survey of funny pictures, ranging from the black humour of Hippolyte Bayard’s 1840 “Self-portrait as a Drowned Man” to viral internet hoaxes from the past few decades. Writing in lucid and entertaining prose, Kaplan delves deep into the history of the medium, pulling dozens of choice examples from photography’s bountiful bag of tricks.”

 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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