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BOOKS

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Pittsburgh Revealed: Photographs since 1850

Carnegie Museum of Art, 1997. 210pp. $39.95. (Distributor: University of Pittsburgh/ Eurospan 0171 240 0856)

British visitors may think of Pittsburgh as an overnight stop on the way to Falling Water, or as home to H H Richardson at his most monumental (the Allegheny County Jail), and Philip Johnson at his most kitsch (the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Building, a Post-Modern Palace of Westminster). But, writing in The New Yorker in 1989, Brendan Gill (biographer of Wright) said: 'If Pittsburgh were situated somewhere in the heart of Europe, tourists would eagerly journey hundreds of miles out of their way to visit it.'

The 113 images in Pittsburgh Revealed form a vivid portrait of the city as it grew, prospered in its industrial heyday (smoke from its many steel mills hanging overhead) and, in the past two decades, had to reinvent itself and find a new economic basis. Built at the confluence of two broad rivers, the Monongahela and the Allegheny (thereafter the Ohio), with panoramic views from its flanking hills, Pittsburgh is full of drama - as the photographs reveal. In the process they encapsulate the history of photography itself, from a dageurrotype post-mortem portrait in 1850 to experimental colour works in the 1990s.

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