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Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s

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Wartime Kiss is a personal meditation on the haunting power of American photographs and films from World War II and the later 1940s. Starting with a stunning reinterpretation of one of the most famous photos of all time, Alfred Eisenstaedt's image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day, Alexander Nemerov goes on to examine an array of mostly forgotten images and movie episodes--from a photo of Jimmy Stewart and Olivia de Havilland lying on a picnic blanket in the Santa Barbara hills to scenes from such films as Twelve O'Clock High and Hold Back the Dawn. Erotically charged and bearing traces of trauma even when they seem far removed from the war, these photos and scenes seem to hold out the promise of a palpable and emotional connection to those years.

Through a series of fascinating stories, Nemerov reveals the surprising background of these bits of film and discovers unexpected connections between the war and Hollywood, from an obsession with aviation to Anne Frank's love of the movies. Beautifully written and illustrated, Wartime Kiss vividly evokes a world in which Margaret Bourke-White could follow a heroic assignment photographing a B-17 bombing mission over Tunis with a job in Hollywood documenting the filming of a war movie. Ultimately this is a book about history as a sensuous experience, a work as mysterious, indescribable, and affecting as a novel by W. G. Sebald.

Publishers Weekly Review

Aug 13, 2012 – As art historian Nemerov (To Make a World) reminds us in this exceptional set of reflections on photography and history, photographs bring a lost moment and person directly into our view, so that what was and what is coalesce in eerie combination. Nemerov focuses on several photos and film stills from the 1940s ranging from Alfred Eisenstaedt’s image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day and John Swope’s luscious 1940 photo of Jimmy Stewart and Olivia de Havilland lying on the grass at a picnic, to Margaret Bourke-White’s photos of bombing runs over Berlin in 1943. Walter Sanders’s Life cover photo, Ballet Swimmer, captures actress and athlete Belita Jepson-Turner descending vertically into a still pool and “speaks of peace, of peacefulness” while at the same time representing a bomb descending much like the one that had been recently dropped over Hiroshima. The aesthetic and the historical intersect in Sanders’s photo and others. Nemerov’s radiant meditations cast a penetrating glance into the moments captured in the photos and the larger stories they reflect.
Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s
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  • $17.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Art & Architecture
  • Published: Nov 25, 2012
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 184 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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