Signed by the Artist

I am forever torn between the marvel of the digital age and it's facility to present me with a choice of billions of photographic images at the click of a mouse, versus the intimate viewing of an actual photographic document printed and signed by the artist. Without the internet, my knowledge and appreciation of photography would be a small fraction of what it is today. Without galleries and museums, that knowledge would be dry and purely academic. I am not trying to stir debate between the internet art world and the virtual art world, that discussion is moot. Like most people though, my pendulum swings from one side to the other. Too much time viewing art on the computer gets me itching to visit some galleries or go hear an artist present a lecture to a live audience. Too many days trudging through museum halls have me wishing for the comfort of a nice chair and a warm mug of tea in front of my internet bookmarks. So I need and love both the digital and the virtual sides of the art world, but there are still a few elements of the virtual side that the digital world can not compete with. Books are one. (The tactile experience of turning a page will never be replaced by the tablet.) And the artist's signature on a print or the inside cover of a photobook is another. I love all of my books, but I treasure most the books that have been signed by photographers I know or have met face to face. The act of collecting becomes a personal experience.

I was looking through The Photograph Collector's Guide, by Lee D Witkin and Barbara London (1979 NY Graphic Society) the other day and I became fascinated by the signatures of photographers in the book. I am struck by the beauty and artistic flare in many of these. The personality of the photographer shows through and I almost feel as if I am experiencing something on an intimate level. Will there ever be a digital equivalent to this level of artistic intimacy? I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. I was planning to label each one with a caption to identify them, but decided that would be a distraction from their beauty. Most of these are easily recognizable, if you study them carefully you should be able to figure them all out. If you get stumped, leave a note in comments.

The Photograph Collector's Guide
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