The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book The Photography of Crisis

The Photography of Crisis

The Photo Essays of Weimar Germany Daniel H. Magilow
  • Copyright: 2012
  • Dimensions: 7 x 10
  • Page Count: 200 pages
  • Illustrations: 45 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05422-3
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-06707-0
“As an introduction to the field and a bold statement of the photo-essay’s central significance, Magilow’s book is a valuable piece of scholarship.”
The Photography of Crisis is the first full account of the photo essay as a ubiquitous presence in Weimar culture and a driving force behind the visual turn in German modernism. Daniel Magilow’s examination of new text-image relations in the illustrated press and the photobook not only complicates traditional accounts of avant-garde photography and modern photojournalism but also allows us to situate the famous photographers August Sander and Albert Renger-Patzsch within the emerging logics of visuality, physiognomy, and shock that would continue to haunt photography throughout the twentieth century. This book is required reading for all photo historians and scholars of modern visual culture.”
“[The Photography of Crisis] is a thoughtfully and elegantly argued contribution to Weimar photo history.”

The fifteen years in Germany between the end of World War I and the National Socialists’ rise to power in 1933 stand out as one of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous periods. These years of political and economic upheaval famously spawned significant and lasting changes in the arts. However, one noteworthy product of Weimar Germany’s booming cultural life has escaped significant critical attention: the photo essay. The Photography of Crisis examines narrative photography and creates a snapshot of where Germany was after World War I and what it would become with the rise of National Socialism. By reading Weimar photo essays within their historical and literary context, Daniel Magilow shows how German photographers intervened in modernity’s key political and philosophical debates regarding the changing notions of nature, culture, personal identity, and national identity.

Daniel H. Magilow is Associate Professor of German at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.


List of Illustrations


Introduction: The Photography of Crisis

1 The New Receptivity and the New Photographer

2 The Illustrated Press and the Photo Essay

3 The Modernist Photobook: The Nature of Nature

4 Photographic Physiognomies: Diagnosing Germanness

5 The Snapshot and the Moment of Decision

Epilogue: Crisis, Photographed




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