The Colour of Time

A New History of the World 1850-1960

I’ve been following Marina Amaral on twitter for about 12 months after discovering her work through a retweeted image. An artist who’s dedicated her career to colouring black and white images from historic moments taken over the last 170 years.

This book, a collection of 200 images with a brief backstory to the context and significance of each, brings to life iconic and equally unknown photographs. Her co-author Dan Jones provides a written insight to each selection, not only tying each selection to the time it was taken but helping to describe the use of each image and the effect it had on perceptions.

I looked to this book for inspiration on several point, firstly I thought it would be a good way to identify photographers I had never previously researched, I also thought it would be a good way to investigate key points that made up these iconic images, how important was composition, exposure and other technical points over contextual influences such as the audiences interpretation, the medium used to publicise the image or the subtext to the composition.

Viewed purely as a history book, I found that the most compelling part of the book was the images, the scope of the brief for this book is so wide that this I would say is the point. A book covering over one hundred years of global history has a multitude of complex issues that would require hundreds of experts, texts and references to even scratch the surface but for those with a familiarity already, the text does a reasonable job of summarising the chosen key moments.

As an art book dedicated to taking the iconic photographs of history, contrasting and comparing them to the culture of the time, I feel there’s is a distinct lack of detail on who the photographer is, when the image was taken and sometimes the location of the image. Whilst I know the star of the show is Marina and her amazing art and research skills, having more information about the original image would help highlight not only Marina’s abilities but also the original artists.

Overall, the book is an interesting read and the images selected are often unknown which I have personally found helpful and intriguing.

I have taken the time to select several of my favourites to do further research into, mainly to identify the photographers or to further develop my knowledge of those that are mentioned in the text.

My only criticism is the lack of dedicated reference information for each image. Also I would have liked to see the original black and white alongside the full recolour to further see the difference the colouring has mad.

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