Catalogs of ‘classic’ photographers like Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson are dime a dozen, but recently I stumbled across a series of beautifully made books put out by the Kahitsukan Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art. That museum has for the past decade has published handsome catalogs from their photography exhibitions.
Most of the photographers stay within the well beaten path with Willy Ronis, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marc Riboud, Robert Doisnou and Sarah Moon (all French) but they also have a handful of Japanese artists available too with books by Nobuyoshi Araki, Ihei Kimura, Keiichi Tahara, Kanendo Watanabe, and Shinya Fujiwara.
At around 20 to 25 dollars (plus shipping from Japan) they are cheap considering their beauty. Made mostly with heavy weight matte paper and a dust jacket wrap-around that adds to the elegance, these soft cover books feel great as objects. The reproductions range from being very well done to fair. At over 100 pages each and with 50 to 60 images, they are substantial.
I haven’t seen the Japanese artsist’s titles (only the French) but all of the titles seem to stay within the same trim size (approximately 9X11.5) and quality of materials in the construction. Only the Robert Doisneau title varies with its full bleed image on the cover and heavier coated paper stock.
One of the Japanese titles is Nobuyoshi Araki’s Hana-Jinsei which is available as a regular edition at 3800 yen or $32.00 USD and as a limited edition with a Polaroid for 31,500 yen or approximately $250.00 USD.
There is also a regular edition of Sarah Moon’s Circus available at 6500 yen or approximately $55.00 USD and a limited edition for $700.00 USD but it is unclear on the website what that edition comes with for that price.
Oddly, from what I have seen, my favorite is the Willy Ronis catalog. Ronis is always someone who I attributed extreme sentimentality towards his visions of Paris. In this catalog that romantic view of Paris is present but other images belie such an easy generalization.
All in all it is the materials and quality of construction that raises the bar and might justify getting your money but if you are looking for different imagery, these are not worth your attention.
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