A majestic collection celebrating the life and work of one of the deans of railroad photography.Jim Shaughnessy is a revered name among railroad photographers. This collection, the best of his work over a forty-year career, features 170 duotone photographs taken between 1946 and 1988, with an emphasis on the railroad culture of the fifties and sixties. Jeff Brouws―a railroad authority and photo historian―has contributed a biographical essay that traces Shaughnessy's beginnings photographing steam locomotives in his hometown of Troy, New York, to his documentation of the dramatic steam-to-diesel transition, with an emphasis on the northeastern United States and Canada, where the concentration of railroad action and often deep snow resulted in beautiful and unusual images.
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Jeff Brouws is a fine art photographer and part-time writer who has nine books to his credit, authoring five on railroad photography alone. He has been published in Trains, the NRHS Bulletin and the R&LHS Quarterly. A book of his own photographs, Approaching Nowhere (also from W. W. Norton) was published in 2006. His photographs can be found in major institutional collections around the country including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, Harvard’s Fogg Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* The end of railroad trains as major means of long-distance travel and short-haul shipping was foreseeable since the 1930s, as automobiles and trucks became sturdier and cheaper, paved streets and highways covered the nation, and, after World War II, wages mushroomed. Fortunately, a generation of camera-wielding young “railfans” artfully recorded the decline, thanks to the very cars that doomed the railroad companies. Shaughnessy began shooting trains in downtown Troy, New York (his hometown), in the middle 1940s. He eventually took lengthy trips, first in New England and Canada, later across the Midwest to the Southwest, to photograph trains. He initially focused on the big engines but quickly extended his purview to include railway workers, railway buildings, and the countrysides through which the trains rolled. A civil engineer rather than a professional photographer, he became as skilled as any pro and at least as resourceful as, say, O. Winston Link (The Last Steam Railroad in America, 1995), whose nighttime train photography Shaughnessy actually anticipated. Less theatrical than Link, Shaughnessy is an artist equally capable of achieving a shining lineation reminiscent of fine-point engraving and of rendering roiling masses of steam and smoke as charged as a running dog in a futurist painting, of dignified stillness and enveloping motion. Appearing on full pages of this oversize volume, his pictures are engrossing, stunning masterpieces of photodocumentation. --Ray Olson
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