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The Mythic City
Photographs of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho, 1925-1940
Donald Albrecht

ISBN 9781568985626
Publication date 9/1/2005
8.5 x 11 inches (21.6 x 27.9 cm), Hardcover
224 pages, 175 b/w illustrations
Rights: World; Carton qty: 12; (-1.1)

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Daring, bold, dramatic, towering, impossibly glamorous: this is how we imagine New York in its golden age, and this is how Samuel H. Gottscho, the preeminent architectural photographer of his generation, captured it. Through his lens, New York of the 1930s became the quintessential modern metropolis, a round-the-clock city in which night was as charismatic as day. Rigorously editing out the Depression-weary city's more seamy aspects--its tenement slums, breadlines, and soup kitchens--Gottscho presented a dreamlike Gotham of skyscrapers and penthouse luxury that literally and figuratively glowed with glamour's sheen. His gimlet eye focused on the bold interplay of sun and shadow, dramatizing the chiseled forms of Manhattan's signature skyline and bridges. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings, Rockefeller Center, the Plaza, the George Washington Bridge--Gottscho brought them all to sparkling life.

In this beautifully produced, landmark book, historian Donald Albrecht presents 175 of Gottscho's extraordinary images of the city, from the Battery to Harlem. An introductory essay tells the story of this legendary photographer, describing his working methods and philosophy, while placing his work in the broader context of photographic history.

The exhibition The Mythic City will open at the Museum of the City of New York in the fall of 2005.

Donald Albrecht is an adjunct curator of architecture and design at the Museum of the City of New York. He also serves as adjunct professor for the Masters Program in the Decorative Arts at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times:
"It is a kind of Woody Allen movie diorama of Manhattan, close to the real thing but also very much invented, with no evidence of the Depression or the raggedness of the city below its grandeur."

Met Home:
"Gottscho's images record in gorgeous chiaroscuro the construction of landmarks that went up during the interwar years, including Rockefeller Center,the George Washington Bridge and an electrified Times Square."

"(Gottscho's) photos capture the soaring height of Rockefeller Center, the dizzying action of TImes Square, and the delicate pride of the Chrysler Building. In addition, the author reveals the photographer's techniques for adding virility to his subjects and techniques for photographing the city at night."

Shepherd Express:
"An invaluable document of urban style and history from a time when cities were looking up."

Library Journal:
"The photographs are beautiful and technically perfect, rivaled only by the book itself, which is exquisitely designed and produced. Clearly one of the best photography books of the year, Mythic City is both a visual delight and a fascinating history."

Forth Worth Star Telegram:
"The Mythic City captures the New York of the 1930s in a way akin to Atget's Paris, in all its stark black-and-white deco elegance, caught in dramatic sunlight and shadow--as loving and optimistic a vision of the city as any Woody Allen movie."

"Gottscho's portraits capture the city in a variety of moods. "

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