The Edge of Vision

The Rise of Abstraction in Photography

by Lyle Rexer

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8 x 10 inches 292 pages, 180 four-color images Paperback 978-1-59711-242-0 September 2013 Designed by Andrew Sloat
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Abstraction has been, and remains, intrinsic to photography. The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography is the first book in English to document this phenomenon and to put it into historical context. Author Lyle Rexer examines abstraction at pivotal moments, starting with the inception of photography, when many of its pioneers believed the camera might reveal other aspects of reality. He traces subsequent explorations—from the Photo Secessionists, who emphasized emotional expression over observed reality, to Modernist and Surrealist experiments. From the 1940s through the 1980s, a multitude of photographers—Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind, and Barbara Kasten, among them—took up abstraction. Finally, Rexer explores the influence the history of abstraction exerts on contemporary thinking about the medium. Many contemporary artists—most prominently Silvio Wolf, Marco Breuer, and Ellen Carey—reject photography's documentary dimension in favor of other possibilities, somewhere between painting and sculpture, that include the manipulation of process and printing.


In addition to Rexer's engagingly written and richly illustrated history, this volume includes a selection of primary texts from key practitioners and critics, such as László Moholy-Nagy, and James Welling.


Lyle Rexer (editor) is a New York–based independent writer and critic. His previous books include Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Garde (2002) and How to Look at Outsider Art (2005); he contributed an interview with Chuck Close and Bob Holman to A Couple of Ways of Doing Something (Aperture, 2006), and is the author of Edge of Vision (Aperture, 2010.)