Pedro Meyer is one of the pioneers of contemporary photography and was an early leader in its digital revolution. In "A Kind of Touching Beauty" his lens is focused on the American city, capturing its growth and transition through the 1980s and '90s. Alongside Meyer's striking images that distill the spirit of the city, the book presents essays by Jean-Paul Sartre. Originally published as part of "The Aftermath of War" and based upon Sartre's extended visit to America in 1945, the essays create a parallel journey with Meyer's photographs - the same cities are seen at a different time, through a different cultural lens. Marked by a philosopher's vision and a writer's sensitivity, Sartre's meditations on America are at once poetic and incisive. As he travels the length and breadth of the country, Sartre discovers the soul of American cities, so distinct from the spirit of urban Europe: "Everyone is free here...The cities are open. They are open to the world and to the future. That is what gives them all an air of adventure; and...a kind of touching beauty".
Together, the photographs and essays articulate the enduring essence of American urban existence - its relationship with time, with labor and humanity, and with the open spaces that are emblematic of America.
Pedro Meyer's photographs can be found in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) was a novelist, playwright, and biographer, and he is widely considered one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Chris Turner is a writer and translator who lives in Birmingham, England.