Joe Rollo: Beautiful Ugly

Isobel Crombie


Beautiful Ugly: The Architectural Photography of John Gollings
by Joe Rollo
Thames & Hudson, $120 hb, 332 pp, 9780500500316


What makes a good architectural photograph? In an ideal world, it is the product of a dialogue between the architect’s intentions for his or her building; the built form and its synergy with its environment; and the photographer’s ability to interpret these elements in a creative and dynamic way. A successful photograph should offer a clear visual representation of a building, but it should also capture its defining spirit. And there is one final element which often remains an unspoken, if fundamental, part of this process: the role of photography in ‘selling’ a building. So it is interesting that this large book celebrating the work of John Gollings begins with a quote by the great American architectural photographer Julius Shulman, which states, in part, ‘the truth is that I am a merchandiser. I sell architecture better and more directly and more vividly than the architect does.’

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Isobel Crombie

Isobel Crombie

Isobel Crombie has worked as a Curator of Photography since 1979. She began her career at the National Gallery of Australia and, since 1988, has been Senior Curator, Photography, National Gallery of Victoria. She regularly curates exhibitions on the history of Australian and International photography and has published widely on aspects of the medium. Recent publications include, Body Culture: Max Dupain, Photography and Australian Culture, 1919-1939 (2004); Light Sensitive: Contemporary Australian Photography from the Loti Smorgon Fund (2006); Body Language: Contemporary Chinese Photography (2008); Re-view: 170 years of photography (2009); and Fred Kruger: Intimate Landscapes (2012).

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