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Leni Riefenstahl: Five Lives
Edited by Angelika Taschen

Connoisseurs of photography take note:Editor Angelika Taschen (Taschen Books) has teamed up with the famous and infamous German photographer Leni Riefenstahl to present an astounding collection of the master's work from both sides of the camera.

Ms. Riefenstahl is the dancer turned actress turned movie director and photographer, whose inspiring images brought a "face" to the rising Nazi party in Germany in the 1930s. (A well-known example includes her striking series of images from the Nuremberg rallies of rows upon rows of perfectly aligned Nazi soldiers marching within Albert Speer's architectural tribute to The Roman Empire.) Her movies Olympia and Triumph of the Will are considered two of the greatest achievements in filmmaking, and her distinctive style and use of low camera angles are still widely used in films today. Although her movies were co-opted as propaganda by the Nazis, the passion of the artist shines through. Riefenstahl's defining aesthetic continued with her later work into the jungles of Africa and deep under the ocean when she was well into her seventies.

Still going strong at 97, the artist presents several lifetimes' worth of images in Five Lives, a splendidly enormous coffee table book, heavy and beautifully printed in rich cepia tones and brilliant colors. Riefenstahl's story is actually told in a chronology in the back, which although interesting, reads more like a reference guide. There is also some obvious confusion as to which images were taken by Riefenstahl herself, and which were taken of her by other photographers. But those who appreciate good photography and the enduring passion of a true artist will definitely want to own this abundant collection.

—Jeffrey R. Griffith





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