Picks and Pans Review: The Restless Decade

UPDATED 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Introduction by Max Kozloff

Born in Germany in 1905, photographer John Gutmann came to the United States in 1933 during the Great Depression. He saw this country with the unique perspective of the outsider, perceiving some things much more clearly than native Americans did, while at other times mistaking the commonplace for the quintessential. This collection of his photographs from the 1930s, introduced (in a sometimes unduly abstract essay) by art critic Max Kozloff, is a portrait of that tumultuous decade, whose influence is obvious still in American life. Gutmann saw, for instance, the peculiar fascination that Americans have always had with cars; his photographs reflect the emotional importance of the automobile, as well as their transportation value. Other pictures range from a sideline shot of a 1935 polo match in Pacific Palisades, Calif. to his view of a New Orleans breadline in 1937 to a message carved into a wet cement sidewalk in San Francisco: "To my best pal I ever had. I'm sorry I did you wrong, Glenn. From Clarence." These are real images of real people—our grandparents—in this book. It is all but irresistible, along the lines of a family album writ large. (Abrams, $29.95)

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