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IN BRIEF

June 27, 1993|Susan Reynolds

INTIMATE VISIONS: The Photography of Dorothy Norman (Chronicle Books: $17.95) . These close, tightly cropped portraits of the writers, artists and politicians of the '30s '40s and '50s are surprisingly engaging and moving. Chronicle has produced a beautiful book, on heavy, luxurious paper, one image per page, simply centered with very little type. They are all black and white. The pictures of Norman's muse, mentor and lover (what a dangerous combination!) Alfred Stieglitz are unlike any other portraits one sees of him. They are especially different from pictures of Stieglitz and O'Keefe, in which he looks, for the most part, like an old codger curmudgeon. Most of these images (see above), even those of his hands, look as though sex was on the near horizon. Indeed, Norman's affection for most of her subjects, including Lewis Mumford, Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, Bertolt Brecht, Albert Einstein and Jawaharlal Nehru, to name a few, radiates from these pages. Photos of the inside of Stieglitz' gallery, An American Place, are also terribly intimate (that ache of empty rooms!), and one photograph of tall grasses in Woods Hole gives that same feeling of the lens as a telescope into the soul. Under this image, in Stieglitz's hand: "Lovely Lovely Lovely . . . You." The photographs are Norman's, but her muse is never very far.

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