Friday, July 24, 2009

The Power Of Reading

As seen via Zen In Darkness' Facebook profile: The Power Of Reading by Blake Morrison, from The Guardian. An excerpt:

One of my favourite André Kertész photographs shows two young men sitting with their backs to a tree, each absorbed in a book. Both are wearing glasses; both use their thighs as a lectern; the one facing forwards is black, the other, in profile (a dead ringer for Woody Allen), is white. Their proximity suggests they know each other and are friends. And given the time and place of the composition, the photo could serve as an icon of the civil rights movement – racial harmony as observed in Washington Square, New York City, 1969. What's equally striking, though, is how separate the two men are, how oblivious to each other's presence (and to the camera). They might be friends but their real companions are their books.

The Budapest-born Kertész enjoyed a long life (1894-1985), visited many countries and was involved in several different artistic movements. But wherever he went and whatever the commission, a constant preoccupation was with people reading. In one of his earliest and most moving images, three small boys (two of them barefoot) crouch over a book in a Hungarian street in 1915; in one of the last, a young woman stands reading in the shadow of a vast Henry Moore statue. Ferocious concentration is common to both. The act of reading involves no action, beyond turning the page. But the mental activity is intense, and it's this that fascinates Kertész.

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