The art of the landscape photograph was first pioneered in this country by the likes of Timothy O'Sullivan and Carleton E. Watkins, who carried their cumbersome equipment and wet plates to the Western frontier. It was refined by a second generation of artists, led by Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and Minor White, whose legacy was passed on to - and further refined by - a third generation: most notably by artists like Paul Caponigro. In this fine selection, his first book in six years, he has selected images from the work done in New England over the past quarter century.
It is work that is as unmistakable as a Scarlatti sonata or a Bach fugue: pure, precise, visceral and premeditated. It is work showing not only surpassing technical skills, (which would be expected in any case from a photographer with this provenance) but also a genius for perfect framing; a patience to await precisely the right light; a profound understanding of what landscape tells us about ourselves and the places we live. These images are profoundly New England: birch trees covered with winter snow; the stark sea coast of Maine; quiet, deserted, slightly disheveled fields. But they examine the particular as well as the general; the shape of a maple leaf, the intricacies of seashells, the contours of stones. Caponigro is a master, an exponent of a continuum that stretches back to the nineteenth century and, in his hands, extends into the future.