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The Face of Minnesota

2008
Author:

John Szarkowski
Foreword by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Afterword by Richard Benson

The Face of Minnesota

Commemorate Minnesota’s first 150 years with this gorgeous photographic classic

Originally commissioned to commemorate Minnesota’s centennial in 1958 and out of print for nearly forty years, The Face of Minnesota is a lost masterpiece of photography and an eloquent tribute to the people and places of the North Star state. This beautifully produced edition includes contemporary essays about John Szarkowski’s impact on American photography and introduces his work to new generations of Minnesotans.

Ducks in a stream, the bridge at St. Anthony Falls, streets of cities and towns, a fish in a net, the glittering lakes seen under low skies. The Face of Minnesota is a fresh, simple, unpretentious statement of a place and time by people who know what Minnesota is because they live there.

Minor White, Aperture, 1958

Originally commissioned to commemorate Minnesota’s centennial in 1958 and out of print for nearly forty years, The Face of Minnesota is a lost masterpiece of photography and an eloquent tribute to the people and places of the North Star state. Republished in celebration of the state’s sesquicentennial, this beautifully produced edition includes contemporary essays about John Szarkowski’s impact on American photography and introduces his work to new generations of Minnesotans.

Featuring more than 175 arresting photographs as well as essays filled with wit and affection, The Face of Minnesota opens with this statement: “This book is about Minnesota now. But as a mature man carries on his face and in his bearing the history of his past, so does the look of a place today show its past—what it has been and what it has believed in.” Though Minnesota has changed dramatically during the past fifty years, The Face of Minnesota reveals the simple beauty of the imprint of the past and its deep resonance today.

The Face of Minnesota

John Szarkowski (1925–2007) was director of the photography program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he transformed our understanding of the art of photography through influential exhibitions and books, including Looking at Photographs (1973). In 2005 his work was surveyed in a traveling exhibition, accompanied by the book John Szarkowski: Photographs.



Verlyn Klinkenborg joined the editorial board of the New York Times in 1997. He is the author of several
works, including The Rural Life.

Richard Benson has worked as a photographer and printer since 1966. He teaches at Yale University and is the coauthor, with John Szarkowski, of A Maritime Album: 100 Photographs and Their Stories.

The Face of Minnesota

Ducks in a stream, the bridge at St. Anthony Falls, streets of cities and towns, a fish in a net, the glittering lakes seen under low skies. The Face of Minnesota is a fresh, simple, unpretentious statement of a place and time by people who know what Minnesota is because they live there.

Minor White, Aperture, 1958

It is a triumph. A triumph not only because it captures in pictures and words the look and tone of Minnesota at a particular moment in time—the 1950s—but because it probes so deeply into the sinew and fiber of the people, lays bare the rugged bounty of the landscape, and articulates the stoic dreams that mark us as Minnesotans. His book is 50 years old and as fresh and welcome as dawn.

Mary Abbe, Star Tribune

Szarkowski has been able to create a unique marriage of poetic essays and photographic images to capture this northern state’s history. He draws in readers immediately.

Foreword Magazine

The Face of Minnesota’s a trip down memory lane if you remember the 1950s. All manner of pictures in color and black and white appear, pictures of farmers, of operating rooms, of baseball games of piney forests, country churches, log jams, all packed together on high quality paper foreword by Verlyn Klinkenborg.

Dave Wood’s Book Report

Even when the cars and clothes are 50 years out of fashion, there is an honesty of purpose with a shimmer of strength but tenderness that saves them from nostalgia. The specificity and humane warmth of these images give them a relevance that is well served by this richly produced new edition.

The Bloomsbury Review

The book contains some of the finest black-and-white and color photography ever snapped—farms, landscapes, various rural outposts, and plenty of Minnesotans from all walks of life—as well as Szarkowski’s originals musings on the Minnesota character and the photographer’s elusive art. The Face of Minnesota is a must have for anyone interested in the history of Minnesota or the photographic arts in general. It’s a forgotten masterpiece that another generation of Minnesotans now has a change to discover.

Mpls.St. Paul Magazine

Szarkowski’s importance as a critic and curator, as director of the Museum of Modern Art’s photography department, is beyond dispute, but his own photographic work is less well-known, so this reissue of a book he produced to mark Minnesota’s centennial is a welcome glimpse at his early career as well as a look back at the Minnesota of 50 years ago. . . . a sweet, almost naive portrait of a place that exists mostly in memory now.

Rochester Post-Bulletin