Visual artists as well as writers have long extolled the presence of the tree. From the origins of photography to the present day, photographers have considered the tree, with its strong graphic form and evocative power, to be a popular subject. Through the works of artists such as Robert Adams, Eugène Atget, Anne Brigman, William Eggleston, P. H. Emerson, Gustave Le Gray, Eliot Porter, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, William Henry Fox Talbot, and Carleton Watkins, this book spans the history of photography from the mid-nineteenth to early-twenty-first century to address the image of the tree in its many connotations—as graphic form, symbolic icon, and role model for the beauty of nature.
The selection of eighty-one images carefully culled from the J. Paul Getty Museum's permanent collection of photographs and reproduced in color presents the tree in various contexts: the single tree; trees in the urban landscape; uses of trees; tree reflections and shadows; and details, abstractions, and conceptual views of trees as conceived by contemporary artists. This book was published on the occasion of the exhibition In Focus: The Tree, held at the J. Paul Getty Museum February 15 to June 3, 2011.
Françoise Reynaud is curator of photographs at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris.