Decades Of The 20th Century



Yapp, Nick (c. 1986 onwards) several volumes inc. ISBN 3829005229

Getty Images publish a remarkable series of photobooks called Decades of the 20th Century. Besides the usual shots of counterrevolutionaries storming Cuban beaches, the Beatles and parading Nazis, we see Castro batting a baseball out of the ballpark and Emperor Hirohito meeting Mickey Mouse. We see a guerrillero in El Salvador’s Popular Revolutionary Bloc making fun of the government in a Star Wars mask. We see Elton John with a soccer ball leading his team out on to the field and an orthodox priest carrying a rifle down the sunbaked streets of Nicosia. We see a helicopter delivering an imposing house from the factory to its new owners in a single piece and an inventor hanging his body out the side as he drives an enormous rotating wheel down a beach in Somerset. We see detectives testing a bulletproof vest by firing handguns into its wearer at a distance of fifty centimetres and a senescent Batman teaching London schoolchildren about road safety.

In almost every case, the photographers have photographed their subjects with exceptional skill. Consider this exquisite photograph of Richard Nixon:


Or this one of a little girl flying down the street on a Spacehopper:


The subjects themselves range from the extraordinary to the banal; from a one-in-a-million shot of a petrol bomb in flight at the Battle of the Bogside to various photographs of Cary Grant with no shirt on. The editor, Nick Yapp, has selected hundreds of amazing photographs. He has also decided to pollute his noble series with at least a dozen photographs from the early century’s fascination with dogs and cats wearing bonnets or wigs (or propped up behind the wheel of a touring car in motorist’s goggles). This photograph of a dog behind a typewriter provides a typical example:


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