Chris Johnson and
Phaidon Press Inc., $7.95
By Steve Anchell
From Vol. 2 No. 5
Wynn Bullock has long been widely acknowledged as a master photographer, printer, and photographic technician. His place in the pantheon of fine art photographers, especially those associated with the US West Coast, is firmly established. Bullocks penchant for connecting photography with philosophy and psychology is also well known and helps distinguish him from his peers such as the Westons and Ansel Adams.
This book provides a great service to those who, like this reviewer, are enamored of Bullocks images. The authors have succeeded in demystifying Bullocks own words and the commentaries of others who attempted to explain him and his photography/ philosophy/psychology connections. The authors have clarified what Bullock meant by such terms as space-time continuum by explicating images in which he employed multiple exposures to incorporate the passage of time in an otherwise static subject. Bullocks belief that truth often exists beneath the surface of the visible world is illustrated by several images. Other Bullock principles are also illustrated in and by his images.
Wynn Bullock was a complex and passionate man who relentlessly and rigorously pursued truth and self-expression through photography. The authors point out that he frequently changed his technical approach to his work throughout his life to help manifest the principles he was exploring. He developed and employed such tools as solarization, multiple exposure, and image tone/direction reversal as he needed them to give substance to his vision. While most of his work was in black-and-white, he ventured into the world of color imaging in his quest to explore light. He was inquisitive and probing of life, essentially until his death in 1975.
This book is small, approximately 6 1/8 x 5 1/4, and contains 55 of Bullocks images of which three are in color and the rest black and white. Quality of the reproductions is quite good, given the small size and low cost of the book.
Unfortunately, some of the images are spread across portions of two facing pages, thus incorporating the fold of the book into the image. This distraction occurs in nine of the images. The book print is also small and lacking in contrast; aging eyes may find it somewhat difficult to read the text easily. Carping aside, the book represents a real bargain at the price, even without the very informative and well-written text. Many of us who have long cherished Wynn Bullocks work will benefit from the book with the clear explanations of the photography/ philosophy/ psychology connections noted above. Those new to Bullocks work can experience good quality images as well. Many of the Bullock icons are present, including solarized work, Child in Forest, Stark Tree, Erosion, The Pilings, Sea Palms, Foggy Forest, Rock, and several nude studies including Navigation Without Numbers, whose title is finally clarified. The book concludes with a useful chronology of Bullocks life, awards, and honors. WJH