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The grand tour: travelling the world with an architect’s eye

Saturday 1 July 2006

In this pleasing and quirky book Harry Seidler lays out a col­lec­tion of his travel photographs. He has been an ardent traveller, photographer and observer of architecture since he was a student.

My photographer brother, Marcell (1919-1977) gave me simple advice when I started to record architectural sites “Only use Leica cameras and Kodachrome film, which is archival”. I have adhered to this in taking all images in this book, some over 50 years ago.

The book reflects Seidler’s interests, itineraries and influences. The pictures are gathered into country chapters, starting with Egypt, proceeding through Greece, Italy, Germany and France, and ending with Thailand, Cambodia and Australia. The chapter order seems random, and there is little text - a short intro to each country, and basic captions to identify each place or building.

The real value of the book is in the photographs. These are better than the usual holiday snaps. Seidler had a keen eye for ar­chi­tec­ture and a thorough grasp of photographic technique. Given the limitations of the hand-held 35mm camera he has done a fine job of recording the places he saw. The camera was his notebook for recording the character, form and detail of buildings, and this book lets us rummage in his slide collection.

Harry Seidler’s photograph of the Holocaust Memorial in Vienna, the city from which he fled, at the age of 15, in 1938.

The grand tour is a fat 700 pages, but is not too big to read in bed.

filed under Architecture + Photography + Reviews

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