When certain images come to mind that both capture and create our cultural history - photographs of Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor or Albert Einstein; a final embrace of John Lennon and Yoko Ono - we may not have known that the creators of these images are Jewish. Descendants of Light: American Photographers of Jewish Ancestry by Penny Wolin is an original work of art and scholarship that investigates the extraordinary skill of the photographic witness. It is the culmination of unprecedented face-to-face encounters with many of the most original photographers of our time.
Over a six-year period, photographer and author Penny Wolin embarked upon multiple road trips across America, photographing, interviewing and discovering the family albums of over 70 leading photographers of Jewish ancestry. This work assembles her own original portraits of each subject, excerpted interviews from each session, historic ancestral photographs collected from each photographer, and one emblematic example of each artist's work. Her first-person collaboration with each photographer, or with close family members of the deceased, yields a unique, multigenerational vision of American Jewish culture and its intersection with the art of photography.
Wolin and her colleagues discuss in depth the motivations and processes involved in each artist's photographic vision. From Alfred Stieglitz to Annie Leibovitz, Helen Levitt, Lauren Greenfield, Arnold Newman, Robert Frank and scores of others; these photographers created and continue to build the visual lexicon of American culture. These photographers have been the witnesses to the icons and iconic events of American and world history since the dawn of photography. They have taught the world how to see.
Hardcover book 2015