Remembrance of Things Past

Coffeetable Books

December 17, 1999:

Parisian Views

by Shelley Rice

MIT Press, 288 pp., $18 (paper)

In addition to being gorgeously illustrated, Shelley Rice's Parisian Views is both intellectually profound and elegantly written. When photography emerged into the world, it seemed like magic. The fact that the medium was invented in the City of Light in an "age under construction" had implications both for the city's perception of itself and for peoples' sense of time and of reality. Rice coherently and subtly explains the ways in which a photograph was then perceived not as an image of a thing, but rather as "an event transformed into an object." Rich with philosophy and history, teeming with quotes from the likes of Baudelaire and Sartre, Parisian Views offers in an accessible, non-academic fashion thought-provoking insight into the art of photography and into how Paris both architecturally and emotionally became the city we know now.

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