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American Icons - Steve Gottlieb



Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ALTHOUGH first published in 2001, I've only recently come across photographer, Steve Gottlieb's American Icons, a book devoted exclusively to what he calls 'the most quintessential' and enduring symbols of America.

Not surprisingly, they include the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Ironically, the first copies of the book were delivered to bookshops in America only 24 hours prior to the terrible events of September 11.

As a result of those attacks, Gottlieb's image and others like it, are all that remain. They, at least, will endure.

This particular image is, however, just one of many, all with a common denominator - they've been done before, in the majority of cases, many times over.

But the interesting thing about photography is that no two people see things in quite the same way, so the image created depends very much on the individual.

Take for example, the Statue of Liberty - surely one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. Gottlieb has captured not only a unique angle, but also the mood of the moment. It's something photographers, in general, aim for but which very few achieve.

For convenience, American Icons is divided into 11 sections - some, like Grand Landscapes, which includes both Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks; and Symbols of Freedom, illustrated by the Washington Monument and a bald eagle, are exactly what you'd expect in a book of this nature.

Others though, will possibly surprise - American Palate, for instance, which examines iconic food - pizza, burgers and bagels; fast, convenient and very, very big.

Moreover, each section is accompanied by an engaging and informative text which presents an accurate picture of the country and its peoples; images that, sadly, are all too often distorted by media representation.

Americon Icons is, in essence, a journey - a trip down memory lane for those lucky enough to have experienced the real thing; and an invitation for those who haven't.

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