The New Year’s resolution I made to myself was to reign in my obsession and be much more selective as to what books I bring into the house. Well…that lasted less than a month and I place the blame entirely on the shoulders of the ICP library sale this past weekend. Even though a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, wound up buying four full boxes worth at a grand total of $1,200 - I escaped with 16 good/great finds that set me back a mere $350. As I mentioned in my announcement of the sale, the books were mostly priced to sell so the temptation was too strong for the desperately weak willed to put up much of a fight. Here is what comprises my foot tall stack of spoils.
The most exciting find was a copy of August Sander Men Without Masks: Faces of Germany 1910-1938 published by the New York Graphic Society in 1973. I have several other Sander titles but none in my collection have the lush tonality of this edition’s gravure printing. This is a thick book of 275 images divided into chapters of “types” of Germans as was Sander’s modus operandi. This is the American edition of a book published in
I found a copy of Lars Tunbjork’s first book Landet Utom Sig: Country Beside Itself published in 1993 by Journal. This is Lars’ first take on looking at consumer culture and leisure activity in his native
Dare I say that Andre Kertesz has always seemed dull and more or less ignorable for me and risking sacrilege, I do not own a single book of his work. From what I have seen, most of his later books that I could afford seem cheaply produced, poorly edited or fall into that tired category of The Monograph which for Kertesz means too many images. He is an artist whose work I think dilutes itself from poor editing, especially with the later work. I finally relented and picked up Andre Kertesz: Sixty Years of Photography 1912-1972 published by Grossman in 1972. I still think it is too thick with photographs but the gravure printing makes all of the difference for me in enjoying these photographs. The book starts off with a bit of a jumbled design mess but once the images start flowing, I can now see what all of you have been talking about.
The next very interesting find, a world away from Kertesz, was a copy of Sol Lewitt’s PhotoGrids published by Paul David Press/Rizzoli in 1977. This is 46 pages of nine-photo grids of architectural details from fencing, doors, windows, hopscotch grids, street grating, man-hole covers, floor titles, and other found material. Part archive, part minimalist and conceptual, this is the only book in my stack that stands out as an “artist book” in the truest sense of the term.
The next book was a curious find for me as I haven’t been bitten by the Japanese photobook bug like most other collectors but I did find Seiji Kurata’s 80’s Family: Street Photo Random Japan published by JICC in 1991. He is the same photographer who is now famously known for his book Flash Up which was featured in Parr/Badger Vol 2. This is 54 photographs shot on the street with his signature flash. Most are in black and white but there is an odd little selection of 24 color pages in the middle of the book that for me, spoils the mood. Maybe this is just because I want to see more of the black and white by owning Flash Up and cannot afford a copy. If anyone wants to send me one out of the goodness of their heart or to score karma points with the higher powers I’d even be willing to take a copy that is lacking the acetate jacket and the bellyband. I will now thank you in advance and be waiting for the UPS guy in-between bouts of smoking crack.
The next book is a fascinating example of what can be found and ignore at sales like this, Carleton Beals and Walker Evans The Crime of Cuba published by J.B. Lippincott in 1933. This gem was marked for one dollar and the surprising thing is that it was within the boxes of unsold items from last year’s sale. For photographers, this book is interesting because it may mark the first example of a photographer insisting on design, editing, sequencing and placement of their portfolio of photographs within a book of mostly text. Evans insisted on this editorial control and the result is 31 ‘aquatone’ photos appearing as a group in the back of the book instead of interspersed within the body of the text.
I have wanted to own a copy of Paul Strand’s
Buying the next book cost me dearly with the respect of a friend; a hardcover copy Mary Ellen Mark’s Ward 81 in excellent condition. Inspired by an assignment to shoot on the set of Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and published in 1979 by Simon and Schuster, this book represents Mark’s best work before her decision to gloss over her documentary work with commercial appeal. I may risk comparing apples to oranges but for all of the discussion of this book’s frank portrayal of confinement and mental illness it pales in comparison to Forman’s film or Wiseman’s Titicut Follies.
A signed copy of Jane Evelyn Atwood’s Nachtlicher Alltag (Daily Nightlife) published by Materialien Zur Fotografie in 1980 ripped three dollars out of my pocket. This small paperback contains a series of photos of prostitutes and dominatrix in
I find it hard to resist books on Bill Brandt although rarely do the more modern editions satisfy. A first edition of Bill Brandt Portraits by the University of Texas Press in 1982 has found a new home (next to a set of folded and gathered sheets that served as an unbound review copy of NYGS’s Bill Brandt Nudes: 1945-1980). Even though a publisher’s note states that this book’s printing was supervised by Brandt himself, I think it is of spotty quality. This may be due to the consistent use of the cheap glossy paper common with these books.
In the cheap bins I found a small six inch square catalog of Maxime Penson whose name I can’t recall ever hearing before. The photographs are from the Soviet Union in the mid-twenties to the early forties and are fine examples of documentary work from
I also found Russian Avant-Garde Books 1917-34 by Susan Compton published by The British Library in 1992. This is a book that you actually read. It has lots of - you know - words. It does have many illustrations but few are in color mostly they are sooty textbook quality black and white.
The other ‘read-em’ I found is the account of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s life written by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy called Experiment in Totality. Published as a second edition in 1969 by MIT Press (1st Ed 1950, Harper & Brothers) this will be on deck after I finish the other MIT Press book I bought last year, El Lissitzky’s An Architecture for World Revolution.
Those are the major finds from which I will draw much happiness but I also did bring in a few small but mentionable items.
The first is issue Aperture 16:1 which was purchased solely for the 20 great pages of John Cohen’s early
Lastly, I found two issues of Camera magazine. One dedicated to the subject of
With that connection I have come full circle so I will now figure out how to jockey another twelve inches of space out of my bookcases to accommodate these new arrivals.Anyone else find anything good at the sale?