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Todd Webb in Africa

Outside The Frame

Aimée Bessire, Erin Hyde Nolan, Ali Jimale Ahmed, James Barnor, Rehema Chachage, Betsy Evans Hunt, Christraud M. Geary, Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Emmanuel Iduma, Casey Riley, Gary van Wyk


Join one of the 20th century’s great photographers on a journey through eight African countries on the cusp of independence post World War II

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In 1958, American photographer Todd Webb was commissioned by the United Nations to photograph industrial progress in Africa. As Webb’s first large-scale colour photographs, these images present complex constructions of race and cultural identity during the transitional moment between colonialism and independence on the African continent. The nearly 2000 images from the trip have never been exhibited or published in their original format.

Rediscovered by the Todd Webb Archive in 2017, over 200 of these striking photographs are published here alongside contributions by both African and American scholars that engage the images in their historic and photographic moment.

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'A fascinating photographic journey by one of the twentieth century’s great photographers'
Creative Boom

The Eye of Photography

'A gem of a book. It is a stunning collection of never-before seen photographs, beautifully produced and sensitively contextualized'
The Article

World of Interiors

Amateur Photographer

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback without Jacket

Size: 29.8 x 24.8 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 203

Publication date: 21 January 2021

ISBN: 9780500545393

Contents List

Introduction: Aimée Bessire and Erin Hyde Nolan
'Lost and Found: Rediscovering Todd Webb’s Photographs of Africa', Betsy Evans Hunt
'Todd Webb’s African Itinerary: Historical Synopsis of the African Countries Visited by Todd Webb in 1958', Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers

Plate Section: Togo
A Snapshot of the Togoland (Togo) Election, 1958, Aimée Bessire
The Myth of Africa, Aimée Bessire
Eyewitnesses to History: African Photographers in Togo and Ghana (1880–1960), Christraud M. Geary

Plate Section: Ghana
James Barnor on Photography in Ghana in the 1950s, James Barnor in conversation with Aimée Bessire
Seeing in Color: Todd Webb’s Color Photography and the United Nations Commission, Aimée Bessire

Plate Section: Sudan
Land/scaping: Todd Webb’s Representations of the Changing Topography of Africa, Erin Hyde Nolan

Plate Section: Somalia
Todd Webb’s Excursions into Somalia, Ali Jimale Ahmed

(Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe)
Plate Section: Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
Yesterday Today Tomorrow Bush—Shooting in the Federation, Gary van Wyk
Of Color: Todd Webb’s Images of Africa in the American Civil Rights Era, Casey Riley

Plate Section: Tanganikya, Zanzibar, and Kenya
Listening to Todd Webb’s Images of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Rehema Chachage
Mileage from Here: Nine Narratives, Emmanuel Iduma

Endnotes • United Nations Images with Captions • United Nations Brochure • Bibliography • Author Biographies

About the Author

Todd Webb (1905–2000) was an American photographer active from the late 1930s to the 1980s whose work has attained an important place in the annals of American
photographic history. Previous books on Todd Webb include I See A City, also published by Thames & Hudson.

Aimée Bessire is Professor of African art history and cultural studies at Bates College in Maine. She has co-curated exhibitions including ‘The Art of Identity: African Sculpture from the Teel Collection’ (Fogg Museum, Harvard 1996) and ‘Convulsive Beauty:
The Impact of Surrealism on American Art’ (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 1988).

Erin Hyde Nolan is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Maine College of Art, where she teaches the history of photography and visual culture. She was the manager of the Todd
Webb Archive from 2010 to 2015.