“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” ~ Charles Bukowski
In 1988, the editors of LIFE magazine asked some of the era’s greatest icons – including John Cage, Annie Dillard, Arthur C. Clarke, John Updike, and many more – what the meaning of life is. Here are some of the answers, in words and photos.
Artist Trevor Paglen is etching 100 images of mankind onto an ultra-archival disc and sending it into space for eternity, as humanity’s longest-lasting artifact.
If your house was on fire, what would you take? A collection of photographic answers.
An ambitious look at the history of sexual difference, published as a companion volume to a Smithsonian exhibition of the same title, but offering a powerful stand-alone piece of visual scholarship charting the hidden impact of gay and lesbian artists on the history of art and portraiture and how they explored the fluidity of gender and sexuality.
Photographer Rania Matar explores the inner lives of teenage girls through the interiors of their bedrooms.
“I was discovering a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she barely outgrew, a person on the edge between two worlds.”
Poignant global portraits of women’s strength amidst adversity by French guerrilla artist-activist JR
Sharon Beals photographs bird nests to offer an intimate glimpse of nature’s fascinating architects.
Philippe Halsman’s iconic “jump portraits” of cultural icons, including Salvador Dali, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, and Richard Nixon.
Photographer duo James and Karla Murray bring the lens of retrostalgia to New York City’s morphing landscape of mom-and-pop shops. For eight years, the Murrays shot the facades of hundred of stores, more than half of which are now gone.
From the retrotastic typographic signage to the beautiful vintage color schemes, these storefronts are priceless time-capsules of an era as faded as their paint coats, haunting ghosts caught in the machine of progress.
What straitjackets have to do with Eames chairs and the mutations of policy ideals.
From actual bookmarks to photographs, ticket stubs, lists, scribbled recipes, children’s drawings, birth certificates, four-leaf-clovers, unsent love letters, and countless other funny, heartbreaking, and odd ephemera, this scrapbook of intriguing finds by a used bookstore owner Michael Popek opens a rare window into the private lives of anonymous strangers through snippets of their life stories.
Documentary photographer James Mollison’s remarkable series capturing the diversity of and, often, disparity between children’s lives around the world through portraits of their bedrooms. The project began on a brief to engage with children’s rights and morphed into a thoughtful meditation on poverty and privilege, its 56 images spanning from the stone quarries of Nepal to the farming provinces of China to the silver spoons of Fifth Avenue.
In 2003, British photographer Robbie Cooper was shooting the divorced CEO of a company, who shared that he used virtual world games to play with his children, a meeting them every evening in Everquest, where they would play and chat about mundane things like school and their mother. It was a way for him to connect with his kids, to whom he had little access after the divorce. So Cooper spent the next three years traveling the world, from France and Germany to Korea and China, to photograph virtual world players, placing their portraits next to their avatars. The results — poignant, powerful, remarkably eye-opening — are gathered in this fascinating and, at its core, profoundly human glimpse of our quest for selfhood, identity, and social belonging. Micro-essays by each gamer offer a layered look at how we assemble our personas in a way that transcends the physicality of our bodies, our genetics, and our circumstances.
In 1872, some thirteen years after The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin published The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, one of the first scientific texts to use photographic illustrations. Though the work itself was hardly groundbreaking — it was based on the research of French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne, who ten years prior used electrodes to explore the human face as a map of inner states and published Mécanisme de la Physionomie Humaine (The Mechanisms of Human Physiognomy) — Darwin’s book is regarded not only as his main contribution to psychology, but also as a pivotal turning point in the history of book illustration, right up there with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.