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Robert J. Hughes:
Actress Jennifer Beals first rose to stardom while she was a student at Yale and appeared in the 1983 hit movie Flashdance, playing a welder by day and an exotic dancer by night. She now plays a driven art department dean in Showtime’s The L Word, which has just begun its fifth season.
In real life, Ms. Beals also has a keen interest in art, particularly photography. She says, however, that due to the demands of raising her 2-year-old daughter she doesn’t practice that craft as much as she did in the past, when she “photographed every day.” Here, she lists five books of photography she admires.
‘The Family of Man,’ by Edward Steichen and Carl Sandburg
The book was tied to a 1955 exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
“I first saw this book when I was a little girl,” Ms. Beals says. “It creates the cycle of humanity starting with birth, chronicles the good and the great and the not-so-great, the difficult and universal elements of what it is to be human.”
‘Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art,’ by John Szarkowski
“I encountered it in college,” Ms. Beals says. Pictures in this book “made me more aware of how we exist within our environment.”
‘Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Early Work,’ by Peter Galassi
Ms. Beals admires Mr. Cartier-Bresson’s “ability to hold two opposites with the same photograph, of struggle and joy and alienation and belonging,” she says.
“It jibes with me now as an actor, in terms of being interested in paying attention to life.”
‘Teenage,’ by Joseph Szabo
“This is a great book,” Ms. Beals says.
“Uncontrollable Urge” – Devo (mp3)
“It’s this amazing document of what it is to be in high school at that time, for almost anybody.
“Rain in Summertime” – Velour (mp3)
“Even though it’s from the ’70s to the late ’80s, you recognize people you went to high school with.”
“Tranquilized” – Inhaler (mp3)
‘Coincidences,’ by Sarah Moon
“She started as a fashion photographer, and the images are really dreamlike,” Ms. Beals says.
“There’s a sensation that something just happened and is about to happen, and you’re in that transitional gap. The technique is astounding.”
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