Christopher Beane's "Flower"
by, 05-02-2008 at 12:02 PM (5184 Views)
This blog is a review of Christopher Beane's new book, Flower.
Flower, is a floral autobiography.
Beginning with traditional, abstract, black & white compositions in the 1990s, Beane's early works make reference to a number of noted photographers but also reveal how he developed his own eye for presenting unusual floral shapes and textures.
In the late 1990s, Beane left the b&w world behind and dove head-first into vibrant colour. In the words of Anthony Janson, who narrates the book: "Fortunately, in 1997 Beane began to experiment with color photography."
Fortunately is an understatement: right from the first few photographs in Beane's aptly titled "orgy" series, we see a whole new world of color within his macro subjects, and Beane's explorations quickly depart from whatever preconceptions you may have of floral macro photography. Beane's colour work is truly his own: creative and evocative in a manner unlike what one typically finds in the sensual photography of pistils and stamens and pretty petals. In his representations you find more abstract emotion, perhaps evoking flames and mysterious sea creatures... as well as gasp-worthy ultramacro depictions of familiar subjects.
The cover of the Flower is itself a flamelike depiction of tulips; fortunately, an unadorned version can be found inside (plate 40). The book continues through the evolution of his macro photography, with each subject a new step forward for Beane. After mastering a particular motif, Beane deconstructs and reinvents his approach and summons up entirely new perspectives, new ways to infuse form with colour.
While it is impossible not to marvel at the intricacies of his macro subjects, from the Coral Charm Peony (plate 51) to the sensual Bearded Iris Blue (plate 42), his latter work moves forward ever more progressively and ultimately departs the ultramacro realm in the direction of abstract art. Particularly striking to my eye are the Fritillaria (plates 127 and 128) which play with a reduced colour palette in an entirely new way, departing from the natural colours of the flowers themselves but somehow remaining true to them in abstract impression.
In addition to plate after plate of masterful 4x5 colour photography, the reader will find details of Beane's battle with stage-4 lymphoma, how this affected his mood and vision, and how he returned, triumphantly, to his craft. Beane's adventure is inspiring and not only in the visual sense.
I very highly recommend this book. It is truly inspirational and provocative.