Archive Style: Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850-1890


Kelsey, Robin. Archive Style: Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850-1890. University of California Press, 2007. Print.
Archive Style: Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850-1890


“A book of startlingly consistent quality.”—Alexander Nemerov CAA Reviews
“A watershed publication. It revolutionizes many theoretical ideas on the notions of style, archive, or subject.”—Leonardo Reviews
“Masterfully combines both contemporary art and social history debates regarding past and present interpretations of visual culture and the archive itself.”—Afterimage
“This imaginative study of American visual culture reveals how the political predicaments of a few small bureaucracies once fostered pictures of an extraordinary style. . . . Offers a fresh interpretation of canonical western expeditation photographs.”—Focus Magazine
“A well-written, thoroughly documented, and fascinating investigation.”—Journal Of American History

"Archive Style successfully and beautifully reconciles, or rather intertwines, two viewpoints hitherto considered incompatible—the logic of the archive and the issue of individual style. Robin Kelsey shows, with great historical rigor, how the styles of illustrators Schott, O'Sullivan, and Jones emerged from the very necessities of survey work and from personal resistance to the social and political structures framing such work. Archive Style, visual history at its best, is a landmark study of nineteenth-century American visual and scientific culture."—François Brunet, Professor of American Art and Literature, Université Paris-Diderot-Paris 7, France 

"In this stunningly original book Robin Kelsey takes a fresh look at nineteenth-century survey prints and photographs. Insisting that the distinctive pictorial style of these pictures emerged in response to particular historical needs, he makes the case for a truly interdisciplinary approach to images. He combines an art historian's attention to artistic innovation with a historian's concern for the larger ambitions of the government surveys, to argue that aesthetic style is the product of both individual talent and larger cultural constraints."—Martha A. Sandweiss, Professor of American Studies and History at Amherst College 

"Robin Kelsey's Archive Style is by far the most stimulating, imaginative, and far-reaching study of nineteenth-century American visual culture I have come across in recent years. Drawing upon a wealth of research as well as recent advances in critical theory, Kelsey persuasively reconstructs the historical conditions that in large measure determined the production and reception of survey imagery."—Alan Wallach, Professor of Art and Art History and Professor of American Studies, The College of William and Mary

Last updated on 10/01/2015