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
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.