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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Photography and Germany

The idea of photography in Germany evokes everything from the pioneering modernist pictures of the Weimar era to the colossal digital prints that define art photography today. But it also recalls horrifying documents of wartime atrocities and the relentless surveillance of East German citizens. Photography and Germany broadens these perceptions by examining the medium’s multi-faceted relationship with Germany’s turbulent cultural, political, and social history while rethinking the notion of German photography with fresh insights on its historical context.
Andrés Mario Zervigón covers this history from the region’s pre-photographic experiments with light-sensitive chemicals to today’s tension between analog and digital technologies. Rather than simply providing a survey of German photography, however, he focuses on how the medium, as a product of the modern age, has intervened in a fraught project of national imagining, often to productive ends but sometimes to catastrophic results. Richly illustrated with numerous previously unpublished images, Photography and Germany is the first single-authored history of photography in Germany ever published, one that deepens our broader understanding of how photography cultivates notions of a nation and its inhabitants.

224 pages | 55 color plates, 60 halftones | 7 1/2 x 8 2/3 | © 2017


Art: Photography

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“Zervigón has written the first English-language survey of the history of photographic practice in Germany from the medium’s beginnings to the present day. . . . The book's core strength resides in the author’s focus on the uses made of photography during the many periods of social and political turmoil that mark Germany’s history. In no other nation have political events so directly impacted the history of the medium as in Germany, and—in consequence of the destruction and diaspora of modernist artists by the Nazis in the 1930s—those events have in turn impacted the history of the medium throughout the Western world. The writing is informed, insightful, and lucid, and the author presents photographs in the venues of high art, commerce, journalism, propaganda, and even personal albums. The book’s design is clean and provides a good platform for the 122 well-reproduced photographic illustrations. This is a valuable addition to the literature on photography. . . . Highly recommended.”


“The Exposures series is carefully commissioned to achieve the surprisingly rare balance of offering an easily readable ‘textbook’ style approach to the medium’s multiple and complex histories and discourses, whilst simultaneously producing a specialist scholarly resource. . . . [Zervigón] brings an astute awareness of the political mobility of the photographic image to this nuanced, thorough account of photography in Germany. . . . His book undoubtedly succeeds in offering an insightful, commendably readable, and thoughtfully framed contribution.”

Source Magazine

“Zervigón set himself the ambitious goal of chronicling the different histories of photography associated with Germany over the past 175 years. Concisely written, well-structured, and with a clear concept, [Photography and Germany] navigates this ‘sea of emulsion’ in six chronologically ordered chapters, each introduced with a representative case study that leads on to a critical question. . . . Zervigón convincingly argues that photography has been used to ‘perform the cultural work of national self-imagining’ and is still part of contemporary reflections on the country’s troubled political and cultural history. . . . A vividly written introductory tour de force through Germany’s cultural, social, and political history as reflected in photography’s many faces throughout the last 175 years.”

Burlington Magazine

"This astute and erudite narrative adroitly navigates the highly complex ground of photography in Germany since its early photograph-mad days to the present. While the editorial format limits in some ways the representation of the rich scholarship that continues to build around German photography, its merits are found in the brilliantly written overview of its subject. Essential reading for the scholar, student, and avid photography aficionado alike, Zervigón reveals through this monograph the ways in which photography mediates, narrates, and exposes the complexity of German history after 1839 and how the medium shaped the German nation and its identity."

History of Photography Journal

"Zervigón is an exceptionally knowledgeable and sometimes inspired guide to the subject, skillfully weaving the history of Germany into the history of photography. The copious, high-quality illustrations are accompanied by writing of real panache, and the result not only represents an excellent introduction to the subject but includes enough original and little-known material—as well as fresh and provocative interpretations—to keep the expert engaged throughout. And one cannot ask for more than that from a book of less than forty thousand words."

Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies

"Zervigón creates an engaging read by connecting his history with a vivid selection of pictures, most of them unfamiliar to his readers. . . . A book like this, resplendent with strategically chosen, powerful imagery, is in itself a work of photomontage. . . . Lately, nationalism is a vexed issue, and Zervigón’s book gives us a valuable photographic perspective against which to consider it."

On This Date in Photography

“The book at hand is an excellent introduction to German photography: carefully researched and well written. It is also superbly designed, printed, and illustrated (with many broad sections in color). Even the price . . . is sensational. Photography and Germany belongs in every good photography library. . . . The author questions some of the apparent certainties of German photo history, challenging assumptions big and small.”

Anton Holzer, editor of "Fotogeschichte"

“Delicately navigating the complex history of Germany, a nation state invented in the same century as photography, Andrés Mario Zervigón shows how photographic images have both buttressed and fissured that state ever since. Addressing vernacular and artistic photographs with equal aplomb, Zervigón offers a welcome overview of German photography that will be essential reading for anyone interested in this topic.”

Geoffrey Batchen, author of "Burning with Desire: Conception of Photography"

“Photography can be an agent of memory and history, giving shape to conflictual understandings of national identity. Photography AND Germany persuasively juxtaposes the fractured history of modern Germany and the multi-layered evolution of German photography in politics and the arts, the public and the private sphere. An eminently readable book and a model analysis of the rise and the effects of a visual medium once it had begun to saturate everyday life.”

Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University, and author of "Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film"

“Through a powerful interpretation of outstanding examples, Andrés Mario Zervigón provides an exciting narrative of Germany’s troubled encounter with modernity. A brilliantly written survey which is both an indispensable introduction into the history of German photography and a significant contribution to our understanding of the manifold relationship between the medium and the German society.”

Steffen Siegel, Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen

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