Luminous Years Portraits at Mid-Century
The Luminous Years
Portraits at Mid-Century
  • Imprint: Abrams Books
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2003
  • Price: $40.00
  • Trim Size: 10 x 12
  • ISBN: 0-8109-4602-5
  • EAN: 9780810946026
  • Page Count: 144
  • Format: Hardcover

Karl Bissinger photographed the luminaries of New York's café society and haute bohemia in the years following World War II, and then suddenly dropped out of the scene in the late 1950s. Now, more than four decades later, his compelling portraits of writers, poets, dancers, actors, musicians, and movie stars—either published here for the first time or not seen in over 40 years—capture a lost, golden era of the cultural life of New York City. With subjects ranging from Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift to Gore Vidal, Walter Lippmann, James Baldwin, and Katharine Hepburn in settings that include lofts, studios, and apartments, Greenwich Village gardens, and the stoops and shabby outer edges of Manhattan, these portraits offer a collective portrait of an artistic and literary milieu the likes of which will never be seen again. Bissinger also evokes the European cultural scene in remarkable portraits of notable figures from Jean Renoir, Jean Cocteau, and Colette to Aldous Huxley, Alec Guinness, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Not only will The Luminous Years fascinate anyone interested in that bygone era; it will also mark a signal event in publishing: the rediscovery of a lost master of photography.

About the author

Karl Bissinger studied painting before he began taking photographs in the 1940s, and he went on to shoot portraits as well as travel and fashion stories for Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Theatre Arts, and Town & Country. He was the staff photographer for the legendary Flair magazine. Bissinger eventually abandoned photography to work for the American Friends Service Committee and the War Resister's League, where he continues to work today. He lives in New York. Gore Vidal is the author of numerous books including, most recently, The Golden Age, a novel, and The Last Empire, a collection of essays. Catherine Johnson is the art buyer for the Arnold McGrath Worldwide advertising agency in New York. She serves as chair of the photography committee of the National Arts Club in New York.