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About Town: A Case Study from Research in Progress on Photographic Networks in Britain, 1952–1969

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Abstract:

This article focuses on photography in Town magazine under art director Tom Wolsey. Magazines were pivotal to the dissemination of photography in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century. There were no dedicated galleries and the major art institutions resolutely refused to show contemporary photography. In 1959 the new proprietors of Town, a glossy consumer magazine for the metropolitan man, followed the lead of women's fashion and society magazine Queen, and responded to the socio-economic and cultural changes that marked the shift from austerity to consumerism in the late 1950s. Town was relaunched in 1960 with a contemporary editorial voice and an audacious design. Photography was at the heart of the design thinking. It was a singular moment, between the demise of the illustrated magazines, and the launch of the newspaper color supplements. This research forms part of a broader inquiry into "Photographic Networks in Britain: 1952–1969." Networks open up myriad connections but, as Christopher Booker notes, "Any process of social change takes place around certain focal points: around groups or individuals which … catch the infection of change before the majority, and from which the new mood and ideas fan out into society at large" (Booker 1969: 33). I set out to assess Town as such a focal point for the new generation of British photographers in the early 1960s.

Keywords: ART DIRECTION; MAGAZINES; MODERNISM; PHOTOJOURNALISM

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175145108784861446

Publication date: July 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Photography & Culture is a refereed journal that is international in its scope and inter-disciplinary in its contributions. It aims to interrogate the contextual and historic breadth of photographic practice from a range of informed perspectives and to encourage new insights into the media through original and incisive writing.

    Photography & Culture publishes research papers, discursive critiques, and reviews. In doing so, it offers a leading platform for critical thinking on photography and as essential reading the world over for academics, curators and practitioners with a central and indeed tangential interest in the media.

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