The Photobook Review

Robert Adams on Gregory Halpern, ZZYZX

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D. H. Lawrence admired the American Southwest but found Southern California troubling: “In a way, it has turned its back on the world, and looks into the void Pacific. It is absolutely selfish, very empty, but not false.”

Gregory Halpern records an aspect of what still seems to be its emptiness—a careless isolation from one another. The idea of community appears to be almost beyond our imagination.

Halpern’s Southern California is, however, in another sense, far from empty. Despite our neglect of what we might improve—others’ lives, and the places we share—there is frequently evident an unorthodox beauty. No matter the smog, the view from the junky chairs is one of distant harmony. The blackbird, though at risk next to the street, is for the moment a shape perfectly whole. And the young man with arms outstretched in the sun is worthy of Donatello.

Beauty and its implication of promise is the metaphor that gives art its value. It helps us rediscover some of our best intuitions—the ones that encourage caring.


Robert Adams has worked as a photographer of the changing American landscape for the last five decades. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Deutsche Börse Prize in 2006 and the Hasselblad Award in 2009.


Gregory Halpern
MACK • London, 2016
Designed by Lewis Chaplin
9 3/8 x 11 3/8 in. (24 x 29 cm) • 128 pages
77 color images • Silkscreened hardcover

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The PhotoBook Review is a publication dedicated to the consideration of the photobook—focusing on the best photography books being published, from the coffee-table book to the handmade artist’s edition, and on creating a better understanding of the ecosystem of the photobook as a whole.

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