Sacred Ground is a sumptuous photographic portrait of New Orleans's legendary cemeteries. Robert S. Brantley celebrates the otherworldly landscapes, intricate ironwork, evocative memorials, and stately monuments as vibrant sites of remembrance. New Orleans history is further revealed through biographies of twenty individuals whose grave sites are among those featured, including entrepreneurs, celebrated musicians, a world-class violin maker, an ex-slave turned minister, a ship's captain, and a young soldier felled by Spanish flu while in basic training for World War I. The rich duotone photographs, organized by cemetery, are followed by an index identifying the tombs and their iconography; an introduction by S. Frederick Starr provides background on New Orleans cemetery history, culture, and burial customs. Sacred Ground provides a stunning exploration of the traditions born of New Orleans's unique religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity.
Sandra L. Stokes, former president of the Louisiana Landmarks Society
Robert Brantley's images resonate within, compelling us to contemplate love, family, purpose, loss, profound sadness, beauty, decay, connection, continuity, and maybe--ultimately--the marker we will leave in this world.
Hilary Somerville Irvin, Architectural Historian
A master photographer and knowledgeable student of architectural history, Robert Brantley beautifully achieves his goal of bringing life into the subject called death.
Christopher E. Cenac Sr. MD, FACS, author of Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume 1: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
Sacred Ground combines a historical record of New Orleans burial customs, outstanding black and white architectural photography, and well-researched, poignant stories of love, loss, and expressions of grief.
W. Brian Piper, PhD, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Photography, New Orleans Museum of Art
Robert Brantley is one of the foremost architectural photographers in the South; his attention to form and function give the viewer a distinct impression of what it is like to move in and around these 'small cities.'
Times Picayune/ New Orleans Advocate
'Darkness exists because light gives it permission to exist,' photographer Robert S. Brantley said. 'Shadows make everything cohesive in my photographs. Light dances when it meets darkness. It's always a matter of light dancing. I want my photos to have an ethereal quality.' That's what makes the images in his new book, Sacred Ground: The Cemeteries of New Orleans so special. Brantley said his goal was to show the rigidity of stone against the sky, the clouds, the grass, the trees, and that's what he has done; his photos have motion and energy, shadow and beauty.
The Art Newspaper (UK)
This book of black and white photographs not only records the appearance of some of the more extraordinary tombs, but also includes 21 short biographies of some of the dead. Although the sculpture is not as finished or expressive as that in Italian cemeteries, some of the architectural constructions are as fantastic and lively in all manner of historical styles.
A focused visual celebration of New Orleans's tomb architecture.
The Architect's Newspaper
Architectural photographer Robert S. Brantley has surveyed New Orleans's most notorious cemeteries for more than 40 years. Sacred Ground presents his sublime duotone photographs of the gravesites of 20 notable individuals (comprehensively detailed in each chapter index), organized by cemetery.
I have a lot of cemetery books. I even have a lot of books about the cemeteries of New Orleans. This one is a worthy addition to my library because it goes off in a direction none of the others do. The photographer allowed himself to become obsessed by some of the grave monuments he photographed to the point that he wanted to know who these people were....If you don't have any books on the cemeteries of New Orleans, this is a good place to start. If you do, this will be a nice addition to your collection.
Correspondence Magazine (France)
The publication, released by Princeton Architectural Press, has an introduction signed by S. Frederick Starr and features a selection of images from the tombs of New Orleans's most visited cemeteries, including St. Louis, there are two, one in the French Quarter and another in the Garden District, Lafayette, which is one of the most visited in the city, as well as the Metairie and Canal Street cemeteries to name but a few of the forty or so that the city houses.