Water for Tears

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Title: Joan Liftin: Water for Tears
Author: Joan Liftin:
Publisher: Damiani, 2018
ISBN: 8862085966, 9788862085960
Length:144 pages



"Joan Liftin's third monograph, Water for Tears , is a lyrical memoir. The book is about family and trips, about running away and coming back, short texts and photographs about pleasure in the newness of everyday life. There are layered images from everywhere, like the blind woman feeling her way by a timeworn splattered wall in Mexico or the teenage boys posing with a head of Reagan in the Soviet Union in 1988, while the darkest ones are from the American South's brutality during the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. Her observations are mysterious, sensuous and often very funny. At the heart of the book is a tender farewell to her life with Charlie, photographer Charles Harbutt. There are no captions or dates, except in the back of the book, but you know where you are - you are with Joan."

—Sylvia Plachy
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Purchase a signed copy

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Trolley Books (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904563198
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904563198
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds



It's a summer night on the plains, a night for dreamers and lovers, a night for drive-in movies. In Chickasa, Oklahoma, and Turkey, Texas, Main Street is dark and shuttered. Out on the prairie there flickers the first reel of the movie. This is the boundless nostalgia of the drive-in, of the serene confidence of the United States in the 50s, when Korea was a far-off land and Vietnam wasn't on the map, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House, and Edward Hopper captured the spirit of the age. It was remembered again in The Last Picture Show and by the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, when he sang My Home Town. There were 6,000 drive-ins across the Union then. There are 547 now. Idaho has The Spud, Texas had The Trail, and even New York City has the walk-in show in Bryant Park. The drive-in was born in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey, when an enterprising gas station owner projected a movie on his wall to entertain impatient customers. Since then the drive-in has had its ups and downs, latterly torn down to be replaced by shopping malls and tatty developments. But that zeitgeist will not die, and in Drive-Ins Joan Liftin has rung again the town bell that remembers it. There are many who will agree with her, and shake their heads at the loss of the apparent innocence of that age. This is now a very different world in which her photographs recall the ephemeral evenings at the drive-in, of the heart-breaking back row kisses, of the beer-topped coolers and popcorn, and the giant images of Monroe, Clift, and Gable bestriding the wilderness. Joan Liftin took these photographs over 20 years, some off-hand, some desultory, some with a startling, mesmeric evocation of what the drive-in was and meant to a generation of Americans.
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Title: Joan Liftin: Marseille
Author: Joan Liftin
Publisher: Damiani, 2015
ISBN: 8862084498, 978-8862084499
Length: 112 pages


Marseille is a love letter from an American to France’s oldest and second largest city. Joan Liftin’s photographs of Marseille, one of Europe’s most ethnically diverse cities, show us a place where much of life still unfolds on the street. The city’s spirit and raffish glamour resides in its people rather than in its monuments, and Liftin captures day and nighttime encounters, moments of quiet beauty, allusions to corrosive crime and poverty, and the diverse heartbeat of this soulful Mediterranean port city. Her photographs offer us an honest, intimate vision of Marseille, at once timeless and passionately alive. Joan Liftin’s photographs have appeared in New York Times Magazine, Aperture and Creative Photography. Her work is included in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Princeton University, and the Center for Creative Photography, Tuscon, among others.
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Joan Liftin

Joan Liftin has worked as a photographer, photo book editor and teacher for many years. She is the author of three photo books Drive-Ins (2004), Marseille (2015) and Water For Tears (2018). Liftin was Chair of the Documentary Program at the International Center of Photography (from l988 to 2000) and the Director of Magnum Photos library.
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