If you’re in need of a reading recommendation for the winter break, you’ve come to the right place! Check out our latest staff selection. Happy holidays — and happy reading!
Generation Wealth by Lauren Greenfield; photographs edited with Trudy Wilner Stack; text edited with Susan Lynley Welsh
Reviewed by James Gardner, Art and Architecture Library Assistant
One of the best parts of my job is seeing new books when they come in, and Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth (Phaidon, 2017) is one of the most memorable we’ve received recently. Not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, the gold cloth and stunning images reflect the gaudy materialism found inside. Published to accompany a retrospective exhibition and film of the same name, Generation Wealth examines the themes photographer Greenfield has addressed throughout her career relating to the exhilarating, addictive, and frequently destructive effects of the never-ending pursuit of material wealth and status.
I found Greenfield’s pairing of interviews alongside the photographs particularly powerful. It’s a longstanding part of her artistic practice that gives her subjects agency and voice beyond the image. Also noteworthy are the counterpoints provided by authors and researchers who have examined these topics and by individuals who found themselves in similar situations and felt driven to change.
In Generation Wealth, Greenfield masterfully highlights the excesses and consequences of unbridled consumption while giving a window to the thoughts, foibles, and humanity of those she portrays. The images might be garish and occasionally difficult, but there’s something of us all reflected in this golden mirror.