BOOKS: Platon's Portrait Gallery

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Patriotic Pamela Anderson
New from Phaidon (www.phaidon.com) is Platon's Republic, a collection of more than 120 portraits taken by the noted one-named photographer over the past decade. The $59.95 coffee-table beauty features, of course, the well-known shot of kingly Bill Clinton with his knees wide apart, not to mention the picture of Dubya's dad, looking exactly like the kind of guy who gets consulted way after Jesus. In addition to a host of celebs from the sports, entertainment, media and music worlds, Platon includes shots of real people, like the mother of an assassin, North Carolina skinheads and demonstrators at a Texas execution, as well as "collective portraits of two cultures in grief" taken after 9/11 in New York and the funeral of Princess Diana in London. Trained as a graphic designer, Platon designed the book himself and he chose to organize it not by chronology or category but in a "rhythmic sequence," which he considers "channel surfing through contemporary culture." For instance, Marilyn Manson is juxtaposed with TV evangelist Robert Schuller, and Al Sharpton is followed by Jesse Helms. Platon also designed the cover, which is a collage of images that were accumulated over the course of a year, what he calls an "explosion of culture." The less recognizable celebs in the showcase seen here, by the way, are Leonard Cohen and Monica Bellucci.
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