Author/Photographer: Jill Greenberg
A Visual Book Review
My images seek to capture the awe that they inspire,” states Jill Greenberg in her human portraits of bears of every kind. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally anthropomorphic in my view of animals. Their greatness rests in their beauty, strength and total inability to lie. Creatures of survival, these bears span our past and our present – our loss and our need. The loss of the polar bear is imminent. Their environment collapses as we speak. Therefore, Ms. Greenberg’s renderings of the totality of the Bear are even more dear to me. This book is a visual portrait, with all that a portrait ensues: drama, ferocity, gentleness, and greatness. Each bear’s personality emanates from each portrait. Ms. Greenberg presents The Bear. And she goes beyond surface emotion to a deep place that I only visit through art.
From Amos, the four month old European Brown Bear cub that initiates all our motherly instincts, to Agee, a magnificent Polar Bear, to Koda, the Grizzly and a panorama of numerous other breeds of bears, these portraits capture our souls and show that we are not the only ones that have one. From adorable and cuddly to fierce and terrifying, all that we live and believe encapsulates itself in these portraits. Not only is Ms. Greenberg gifted, she has taken leave of photographing famous people to show herself in these tremendously diverse and primal photographs. She leaves a piece of herself on each page.
I was in total awe. Her skill is in the rendering: each photograph touches us in a different way, lifts us into a different emotion. I ran the gamut of emotions: sadness at the bear’s majestic beauty, fear at their strength and ferocity and intense love of their ability to show their own souls and personalities through the lens of Ms. Greenberg’s camera. This is not just a “coffee table” book to rest on your end table or in a suspect place where guests will glance at the beautiful cover. This is an intense study and an unequivocal work of respect and intensity that I will look at whenever I feel that there is just my little universe to walk through. Thankfully, “Bear Portraits” expands my ability to reach and appreciate that which I do not know, but can glance at in a rare moment of reality and genius.
If you love animals, if you fear for the extinction of our race, if you are compelled by beauty, this is a must for your library. Even better, give it to a beloved friend to let them know that we are NOT alone and that we need to see, really see, the beauty that we will only be able to stare at behind bars if we are not complicit in sharing our love of the awe and majesty of the creatures of our world. This book allowed me to really see.
Thank you, Ms. Greenberg.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Book Review by Broad “A” – Ava
Bear Portraits is available for purchase from Amazon.com for $14.57 or at your local bookseller for $26.99.
A big thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing us with a copy for this book review.