Mary Ellen Mark: Exposure

By Weston Naef

Published by Phaidon Press

Reviewed by Kristy Caruso

The average person is not a connoisseur of fine art photography. Ever hear of Steven Meisel? Richard Avedon? Annie Liebovitz?  Maybe, maybe not. No bothers here - you don't have to know your stuff to know that Exposure, Mary Ellen Mark's latest masterpiece, is poignant, effective, and will leave an impression. Mark’s pictures are a celebration of humanity in its most diverse and eccentric forms-something anyone can (and will) appreciate.

Exposure is a 288-page paperback perfect for either the coffee table or art gallery. It offers a career retrospective on one of the world's most renowned documentary photographers - and it won't matter if you’re familiar with the work beforehand.  From a circus in India to a high-security women's mental ward in Oregon to the streets of the South Bronx, Mary Ellen Mark takes the reader on a trip that will undoubtedly inspire some sort of feeling. Sadness, nostalgia, disgust, awe, confusion and joy are all evident in these iconic photos—and it doesn't take a trained eye to be touched by their emotion.

Mary Ellen Mark has achieved worldwide visibility as a documentary photographer through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial work. For almost thirty years, she has traveled the world shooting people in both mundane and bizarre situations.  No matter where, who, or what she shoots, one comment trait is found-an eerie sense of humanity.  

An interview with Mark appropriately closes Exposure.  We get insight into her point of view, hear entertaining quips of what happened where, learn about her favorite places and favorite people, and experience the honor of looking at the world through Mary Ellen Mark’s eyes.

An Exposure plus - it’s paperback, and won’t break the bank.  Art fiends and the rest of us alike are able to enjoy Mark’s world and the world surrounding us. Take a look at Exposure and you’ll be taking a look at the beautifully compelling story of human strength, joy, and suffering.  You may not leave knowing more about the art world-but you’ll definitely end your trip as a satisfied customer.


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