‘Nothing Personal’ is a largely unflinching portrait of mid-Century America, strangely re-released by Taschen at this time of American Greatness, and we’re really, very, very, really Great, where we’re all, really very united—it’s stupendous, really.  The photographs of our heroes, they’re really, really great, really, and those other people in there, we love them, really. It’s stupendous.

Oh, right.


James Baldwin’s text is a brilliant, unflinching dissection of Americanness, in all its really really greatness. Paired with Avedon’s photographs, Nothing Personal is everything we are, everything we think we are, and gives us hope for something better, if we can look at each other and allow others to look at us. I bought this book primarily for Avedon’s work; I’ll keep it handy for Baldwin’s writing.

The Taschen reprint is gorgeous in its slipcover, with an introductory essay/remembrance by Hilton Als, some outtakes and contact sheets, and a facsimile of an early book dummy. It’s a bit expensive, sadly, and has the look of a coffee table book, but so many photography books do. And it’s probably going to live on the coffee table, alongside some Stephen Shore and Paul Graham and Joel Sternfeld.


Overall, I’d give Nothing Personal an enthusiastic 4.5 stars, it really is very stupendous.

Nothing Personal is out of print at Taschen (as of March 2021 when I made a small update to this post), sadly. Copies are available on the used market, for more than double the cover price, so I guess I’m glad the slipcover has mostly collected dust on the bottom of a pile of other over-large photobooks by famous art photographers (and I’m glad I got in when I did). Retirement may one day be possible.

lol. Retirement? At the rate you buy photobooks? Please. smh.

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