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'I love how curious, and sensitive these readings of pictures are, bringing me into the photographer’s mind. I felt I was seeing some images (that I know well) for the first time.  The writing is totally visual,  stimulated and stimulating, whether it is dealing with Julianne Nash in 2017, or a daguerreotypist in 1839. Even when Rexer is telling me something I already know historically, it feels like being there, and I am getting to know it in a new way.' —Lisa Kereszi, photographer, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Art, Yale School of Art

Based on the highly successful course at the School of Visual Arts developed by the author, this book provides a comprehensive approach to the critical understanding of photography through an in-depth discussion of fifteen photographs and their contexts – historical, generic, biographical and aesthetic. This book presents an intensive course in looking at photographs, open to undergraduates and general audiences alike. Rexer argues that by concentrating on fifteen carefully chosen works it is possible to understand the history, development and contemporary situation of photography.

Looking to images by photographers such as Roland Fischer, Nancy Rexroth and Ernest Cole, The Critical Eye is the only book to address the totality of issues involved in photography, from authorial self-consciousness to the role of the audience. Its subjects are not limited to art photography but include vernacular images, commercial genres and anthropology. With every chapter it seeks to link the history of photography to current practice. This highly illustrated and beautiful book provides a much-needed introduction to image production.