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Martin Parr and his 12,000 Books

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Collecting with the FT: Martin Parr

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March 14, 2014 1:23 pm

By Liz Jobey

“Just look a little bit . . . happier.” It’s hard not to be amused by the hopeful upturn at the end of the sentence. Eva Vermandel is trying to take a portrait of Martin Parr, at home in Bristol, surrounded by his book collection. It’s not easy: partly because he looks so sceptical; partly because he keeps opening books up on the floor to show us, and so she has to keep asking him to stand up. After David Bailey, Parr is probably the best-known living photographer in Britain. His reputation derives from his candid pictures of others but he is also a dedicated exponent of the selfie – he may even have invented the term. His collection of self-portraits, taken in photo booths and studios all around the world, began long before the mobile phone camera was invented.

“You probably have to be an obsessive person to collect,” he concedes, “if you are going to do it seriously and thoroughly, which I attempt to do.”

We are here to talk about his books but Parr collects pretty much everything, from Chinese Mao-era tea caddies to miniature televisions, commemorative plates to cigarette cases decorated with Soviet space-dogs: “Yes, Laika, Strelka and Belka, they’re the three most famous . . .” That’s before you get to his print collection, some of which is in evidence on the walls as he leads us downstairs to the basement.

“China and Latin America down here,” he says, “well, some of China . . .” We go into a small room stacked with boxes and lined with shelves of books. “There’s Japan, but just propaganda, here . . . and Latin America overspill.” It’s too tight for three, so we go next door, where a cabinet holds some of his novelty watch collection. He points to a watch-face decorated with portraits of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his father Hafez. “Very rare, the Assad material.”

“Where did you get it?”

“eBay.”

Parr is in his early sixties and, alongside his reputation as a photographer, his most enduring legacy is likely to be the 12,000 photography books he has collected over the past 35 years. What began as a hobby has developed into a mission to change the way the history of photography is defined and understood.

Parr began collecting photobooks as a student at Manchester Polytechnic. As a collector, he has discovered, documented and promoted previously unknown areas of photographic bookmaking. Japan is a good example: until the 1980s, the Japanese photobook was a specialist area, reserved for a few maverick enthusiasts, historians and collectors. Parr is quick to acknowledge them but, once he discovered what was there, it was his own proseletysing that brought the Japanese books to the fore. “The main thing I’ve learnt,” he says, “is how lazy and narrow-minded our histories of photography have been, and how, with some investment and some application, there is so much to discover.”

His collection is not comprehensive. “I get sent a lot of books – I get sent a lot of bad books,” he says. “If I don’t want a book, I’ll give it away. But I also get sent some fantastic things.”

He has bought books ever since he was a student at Manchester Polytechnic in the early 1970s but he dates the beginning of his serious collecting to the late 1980s, “when I bought the original Robert Frank Les Américains, and The English at Home by Bill Brandt – some of the classics. As I started to earn more money, I got more hooked and, having cash from my relatively successful magazine and commercial career . . . You know, this is an expensive business.” A look on AbeBooks.com gives an idea of current prices: Les Américains (1958) at between $3,000 and $5,000 – a signed copy is $10,000. A first edition of The English at Home (1936) is around £300 to £400.

When I ask if he has estimated the value of the collection, he says, “I haven’t. But I know it would be substantial.” His critics are quick to point out that, in being one of its generators, he has also been one of the chief beneficiaries of the growing interest in photography books and the steep rise in prices. Isn’t he now competing in a bull market he has helped to create?

“Yes,” he says, “but, remember, I’m looking for things before anyone else is looking for them. That’s what’s happened in China. When people see what we’ve dug up from China, they are absolutely bog-eyed.”

In 2004, he published the first of two, soon to be three, volumes of The Photobook: A History, an edited selection of his collection, illustrated with layouts from each volume, written by his friend and collaborator, the photo-historian Gerry Badger. Initially pored over by photography fans, dealers and collectors, the volumes quickly became the handbook for auction houses, which often had little else to quote by way of provenance for a photographer’s work. Since then, the selective listing by Parr and Badger has encouraged an insider market among collectors, publishers and photographers, since inclusion in the history brings kudos to both publisher and photographer’s reputation and almost guarantees an eventual hike in the resale value.

In his study, a large print by his friend Chris Killip hangs over his desk. This is where he keeps his most recent acquisitions. He has “correspondents” in various countries who help find books, and a range of dealers who offer him things he might want. He believes that China is the last country with a true hidden history of photographic publishing. “The other candidate in Europe is Italy. I’ve just come back from a trip and I’ve got many books from the Italian fascist period.

“Now, let me show you . . .” He hands me a stapled pamphlet, badly printed in black and white. “Emmett Till – this is the first civil rights book ever . . . look, price $1, the first, and a factual photo story.” It covers the trial of two white racists from Mississippi who murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till, a black boy from Chicago, for flirting with a white girl. “Took me a long time to find that,” he says. “I had to spend £7,000 on it. And I’ve never seen one since.”

What does he want to happen to the collection? Where does he want it to end up? “Eventually I want it to go into a public collection, to be looked after and be used as a research tool. That’s the whole point really. There is no particularly good photographic book collection in the public domain in the UK.”

So if a private individual were to offer you a great deal of money? “I would decline,” he says immediately. “It’s not about the money.”

Of the possible venues – the V&A, the British Library, the Tate – he nods at the last one. “Well yes, it’s my preferred venue,” he says. “I’m in discussion with them, but nothing has been determined.”

Simon Baker, the Tate’s curator of photography, says: “Clearly, Tate is supportive. The photobook is absolutely at the heart of the history of photography. In our exhibitions, we place books in the gallery alongside prints. We’ve already put our marker down.” And anyway, he adds: “Whichever institution gets it, they will have the greatest photobook collection in the world.”

“The Photobook: A History Volume III” by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger is published by Phaidon on March 17. The authors will be speaking at Photobook Bristol, June 6-8. www.photobookbristol.com

 Click here to read the article in its entirety click here.

Mark Cohen's 'Dark Knees' Best Photobook of 2013 by Lensculture

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This photobook, Dark Knees, and the accompanying exhibition in Paris at Le Bal, opened my eyes to one of my new favorite photographers, Mark Cohen — a new discovery for me of a man who has been making photographs since the 1960s!

I love the obsessive, cinematic nature of these tightly cropped images that seem too close for comfort, but endlessly fascinating all the same. These are compulsive images, rather than compassionate. But they have the intensity of actually seeing through someone else’s eyes — you see what he notices, you notice what he repeatedly sees — and there is consistency of vision and subject matter decade after decade after decade. There is a celebration of abstract shape and form here, as well as the love of luck and chance. There’s also a strong sense of voyeurism, perhaps a little too strong, but that is a significant factor in the success of these images, too, I think.

The book is beautifully edited by Diane Dufour of Le Bal, and the pairings of images seem perfect and add to the appreciation of the work. The simple titles are printed by hand, making it feel like a very personal photo album of stunningly unique images.

Here is the excellent introduction that accompanied the exhibition:

Mark Cohen was born in 1943 in Wilkes-Barre, a small Pennsylvania mining town. A figure of the street photography genre which dominated American photography in the early 1970s, he is also the inventor of a distinctive photographic language, marked by a fleeting arrangement of lines and, at the same time, an instinctive grasp of the organic, sculptural quality of forms. Two photographs hang opposite each other in his studio: one from Henri Cartier-Bresson's surrealist period and another by Aaron Siskind. The elegant geometry of one and the dry plenitude of the other transpire in the work of Mark Cohen, which John Szarkowski showed at the MoMA as of 1973.

Over the past 40 years Mark Cohen has walked the length and breadth of the streets in and around his hometown, seizing - or rather extracting - fragments of gestures, postures and bodies. In his photos we see headless torsos, smiling children, willing subjects yet still frighteningly vulnerable, thinly sketched limbs and coats worn like protective cloaks. Thus Mark Cohen slices and sculpts the very thick of the world to impose, in successive touches, a Kafkaesque vision, ruthless and poetic, of an environment that encompasses him. A vision from within.

This remarkable body of work - Cohen rarely uses the viewfinder, holding the camera at arm's length - is rooted in impulsions that last just fractions of a second. A disconcerting strangeness emanates from his subjects, some caught in the dazzle of the flash. Bodies seem uncomfortable, threatened, lost, grinning too wildly or reduced to their erotic dimension. Ordinary objects appear isolated, mysterious, sinister. The decline of this small mining town is right there, in its yards, at its bus stops, on its porches, but Mark Cohen's intentions are anything but documentary. Repetitive to the verge of obsession, he has no idea what brought him there or what he hopes to find. Rather he is driven by the beauty of a chance encounter, by the torments or delights he detects in another's substance.

There is, in the brutality of his gaze, a rawness and a nervous energy, an ambivalence and a grace through which the making of a photo becomes the expression of a revelation.

If you treat yourself to just one photobook this season, this is my personal recommendation.

— Jim Casper

To view Casper's other selections please click here.

Wayne Lawrence's 'Orchard Beach: Bronx Riviera' Reviewed in ASX

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Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera By Peter Baker, for ASX, November 2013

In Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic The Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York (Vintage Books 1974) he describes Orchard Beach, a 1.1 mile stretch of sand that Moses himself had imported to the Bronx from Sandy Hook and Rockaway, as resting “here, in New York’s northeastern corner, so far from any built-up areas in 1934 that visitors could hardly believe they were still within the borders of America’s largest city.” Eighty years later we’ve seen the Bronx built-up, burnt down, abandoned, and later reclaimed, by an array of immigrants and a new generation born in the only borough on the American mainland. And yet, as a native Bronxite myself, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of New Yorkers, certainly those living in Manhattan or Brooklyn today, would have the same reaction as those who visited Orchard Beach in 1934: We’re still in New York City?

Earlier this month, in what was the least suspenseful election in recent memory, Bill de Blasio was named the next mayor of Gotham. Suddenly his campaign slogan, which pleads that this is “A Tale of Two Cities,” the rich and everyone else, has become populist sentiment. Rest assured, the rich are always safe in their unambiguous category. It’s the everyone else that gets complicated, embodying a thousand shades of color and a multiplex of micro economies. As the city changes and gentrification implodes, its no secret that the habitable space of the city is shrinking for average families. One thing is certain for now: The Bronx belongs to the working people of New York. And for the 1.3 million who call the borough home, they take the Bx12 bus across the Pelham Parkway, or drive to the sprawling 8,000 car parking lot, and arrive at their cramped yet beloved Riviera at Orchard Beach.

The Bronx is now considered the most diverse area in the United States and the only borough of the city with a Latino majority. The beach’s popularity should come as no surprise considering the thousands of Bronxites who come from the islands and shores of the Caribbean. In his new book Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera, photographer Wayne Lawrence points his lens toward New Yorkers who flee the grid of sweltering streets for this modest but sacred summer haven on the Long Island Sound. Lawrence, who migrated to New York from the West Indies island of Saint Kitts, was drawn to the underdog status of the Bronx and sees the people at Orchard Beach as “children of survivors who went through that period in the Bronx and somehow made it.” Lawrence’s book serves as a kind of high quality, all-inclusive yearbook, representing the various denizens of Orchard. The subjects participate in the making of the portrait, in a straightforward style that brings to mind Avedon or Arbus. As for the pictures themselves, they succeed or fall flat based on the level of individuality expressed by the particular subject. The inevitable problem with this process of portrait making, i.e. asking a person to stand in front of a large format camera at eye length and stare into the lens, is an apparent passivity from the subject, as a result of simply doing what the photographer has asked them to do, which isn’t much. The hope is that somehow something profound will transmit from this exchange. The least effective pictures, however, merely look like the person is thinking about having their picture taken.

In such projects we hear about the photographer’s desire to convey the dignity of a people, an admirable gesture no doubt, and a familiar note in the history of photography. But, more often than not such amicable attempts wind up being reductive or sentimental. As Geoff Dyer writes of Dorothea Lange “[She] was all the time keen to discover and represent people’s dignity. As became the case with Paul Strand, the danger of this approach is that people can be reduced to their dignity.” In the strongest pictures, and there are many in Lawrence’s book, there is a kind of resistance and attitude from the individual, who while consenting to the photographer, still pushes back with a sense of self that overwhelms the process. In this case the most engaging pictures by far happen to be of women. We see the women of Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach represented with more distinctiveness and intrigue. The beach of course prompts sexuality, but it’s the combination of toughness and vulnerability that makes the pictures of women memorable. Gestures and stances vary, and the viewer is invited to eye the details of the body, the fierce assortment of swimsuits and jewelry, tattoos that read like proverbs, and the multifarious shades of skin basking in the mixed light.

To read the article at ASX, please click here.

William Eggleston Book Signing Featured in W Magazine Online

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William Eggleston At Zenith Signing at Gagosian NY

Although he is a man of remarkably few words, William Eggleston most resembles the gallant Southern rascal of his reputation when he is reclining, his legs scissored, a rapt audience before him—in other words, when it looks as if he is about to spin a great yarn. So the Memphis photographer sat, last week, before an expectant huddle of family members and advisors, in the private library of Gagosian Gallery’s Madison Avenue offices in New York. Upstairs in the gallery, “At Zenith,” a show of Eggleston’s photographs of the cerulean sky first taken during the late ’70s, but little seen since, had just been installed. (The exhibition opened on Saturday, October 25.) Easing into a sofa, Eggleston, 74, noted his pleasure at the way the pictures looked on the walls, but otherwise appeared very comfortable saying very little. A photographer of the everyday epiphany, Eggleston is also a master of the excruciatingly grand pause. At last, he announced, “I’ll see my great friend Ed Ruscha tonight.” Later that evening, Ruscha was to be honored at the Whitney Museum’s annual gala, where he singled out Eggleston for an unofficial “suave man award.” For Eggleston, that was something of a life achievement honor. His persona as a rakish Southern gentleman of enormous persuasion—on the art world, on photographers and filmmakers, on women throughout his life—was formed early on.

William Eggleston in Memphis.  CLICK HERE to view a video from the Eggleston opening at the Whitney Museum. William Eggleston in Memphis.

On this afternoon, Eggleston was dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt, gleaming black loafers, and an extra-wide striped prep tie that he’d flipped about his neck with nonchalant élan, like a scarf. His silvery hair was neatly slicked back. “If I was as dramatic-looking as Bill Eggleston,” Ruscha once remarked, “I’d probably do nothing but photograph myself.” Eggleston first turned his camera heaven-wards while driving under the big Southern sky, on a 1978 road trip from Georgia to Memphis with the music writer Stanley Booth. “I just looked out the window,” Eggleston said, pointing his index finger towards the ceiling, “and there it was!” Initially, he shot the passing clouds from the car with a Polaroid camera. “They looked like frescoes,” he said. The overhead shots he subsequently took with his Kodak while prone on the ground have the same painterly quality that made Eggleston’s color photography so pioneering early on. These cloud pictures were first collected in 1979 in Wedgwood Blue; the series has now been collected into a new volume from SteidlWilliam Eggleston: At Zenith. (Eggleston will be signing copies tonight at the Gagosian Shop.) The book is dedicated to John Szarkowski—the late MOMA curator who first exposed Eggleston’s radical work to an art world that had previously regarded color photography as a commercial vulgarity—and opens with a W.B. Yeats poem. Eggleston’s son Wlliam, arriving with a galley of the book, implored his father to read the passage aloud for his audience. “You have such a great voice, Dad.” Eggleston made a brief show of protest—his eyes are not so great, and he did not have his reading glasses on hand—but soon he picked up the book. He cleared his throat, and began: “‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths/Enwrought with golden and silver light …’” As he continued on, Eggleston’s previously matter-of-fact voice took on a roguish warmth, as if he were regaling an entire Memphis bar with a story he knew was bound to kill. “‘… I have spread my dreams under your feet/Tread softly because you tread on my dreams,’” he finished, his eyes crinkling, and the room broke into applause. To read the feature on W online, please click here.

Mark Cohen 'Dark Knees' in The Guardian

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Mark Cohen: The Photographer Who Literally Shoots from the Hip

"If you have your camera up to your eye, you can't keep track of what's going on," says photographer Mark Cohen. "By holding my camera down here" – he gestures to his waist – "I can suddenly take pictures." Cohen has a peculiar style of shooting: he does it secretly, and always at hip level. Working like a sniper, he gets close, snaps low, then moves away before anyone has the chance to bristle. "There's no conversation," he says. "I'm not interested in having to explain myself. I'm just using people on the street in the most transitory way."

Cohen has been pursuing scrappy street photography in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for 55 years, ever since he received a plastic camera at the age of 13. "I don't take my camera everywhere," he says. "I go for designated walks where I'm just taking pictures." A selection of images, culled from his years of walking around the industrial town, is now on display with Dark Knees, an exhibition at LE BAL in Paris, and available as a photobook.

Cohen likes to keep his wits about him while he walks, and finds that holding the camera low allows him to be extra watchful for antagonists. But his furtive shooting technique has always been laced with danger. One of his images is of a man, angered by the invasion of his personal space, swinging a punch at Cohen (Man Flinching, 1969). "That type of interaction took a psychological toll over the years," he says. "I made a lot of nifty pictures by being that close to people. But after a while, I went to a wider lens. 28mm. Then 35mm. Now I'm at 50mm, so I feel very safe."

But isn't getting audaciously close, almost predatory, integral to his work? "The trespass makes it happen, yes," he says. "When you're trying to make a new object, you've got to make something happen. And you learn to read people's reactions quickly." After all these years, honing in on details to find images has become automatic. "Here's a wonderful button – I love to see the buttons come out," he says, examining his silver print of a lady's coat. Or, of Seedpod in the Snow (1978), he comments that the orderly row of kernels "look like they're on a bus". The titles of the images – Wisp of Hair, Red Bow/Bare Back,Shirtless Boy with Chain – emphasise his powerful fixations.

For years, Cohen's approach was to shoot three rolls of film over a two-hour walk, develop the rolls directly, have dinner, then go back to the darkroom, develop eight to nine prints directly from the negatives, and cast aside the rest. Cohen did this several times a week for decades. He estimates he has 600,000-800,000 images that he's never seen or developed, not even on contact sheets.

"It's something I've never encountered before," marvels Diane Dufour, the curator of the LE BAL show. "And it's something I have trouble understanding. It's almost vertiginous to think of the number of photos we could have selected just from the negatives Mark has never seen." Cohen has recently revisited some of his overlooked images. He's even compiled a dummy book of rediscovered pictures, tentatively called No Contact No Print, which is how he classifies the forsaken negatives.

The 1970s were a notable era for Cohen. His photos were showcased in an expo at MoMA in 1973 under John Szarkowski, and he regularly showed new work at galleries, though he always retreated back to Wilkes-Barre. Removing himself from the New York scene gave him a "purity", he says, by virtue of "not having a personality so involved in the dissemination of work". But by his own admission, he "dropped out" in the late 80s.

"Gallerists couldn't sell my stuff," he says matter-of-factly. "My work's not the most optimistic. It's not like Yosemite." The framing is unexpected and the subjects sometimes gritty. Cohen often photographed the poorer neighbourhoods in his area because they were "more exposed": children playing outside, people lingering in the streets. "This guy's teeth are so terrible," he says, looking at the craggy, not-so-pearly-whites inLaughing Man's Teeth (1976). "This", he says,"is not right for someone's living room". Though gallery interest waned, it didn't put a dint in his productivity.

He moved to Philadelphia six months ago, and is still acclimatising to living in a metropolitan space for the first time. But he still operates in exactly the same way, going on single-minded photographic missions: "I get on a trolley and go to a specific intersection. I like to go to the same one 10 times, so I understand the texture of the neighbourhood," he says. As for Wilkes-Barre, he sees no need to dwell on it any more: "The slice of America I've been looking at is everywhere."

To visit The Guardian website and read the article in its entirety, please click here.

ROSEGALLERY will be exhibiting classic works by Mark Cohen in Booth C9 at Paris Photo 2013.

Martin Parr 'The Non-Conformists' on TIME LightBox

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We are pleased to announce that we will be showing selections from 'The Non-Conformists' at Paris Photo this year. We hope you can join us and see this fantastic work in person! Not going to be in Paris? Visit TIME LightBox to view some a slideshow of selected works from this series. To purchase a copy of The Non-Conformists, click here.

“In the 70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white,” master photographer Martin Parr tells TIME. “Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.”

“It’s only late in the decade that we began to see color photographers being shown in museums — like Eggleston and Stephen Shore,” he adds. “I took note of that and got excited.”

A few years later, in 1982, Parr made the switch from monochrome and never went back. To the many fans who have come to know his work over the last three decades in color, it may come as a surprise encountering Parr’s first major project in black-and-white. The Non-Conformists finally finds closure over 35 years after it was started with the publication this month of his latest monograph from Aperture.

It was 1975, and two years out of art school, Parr moved from the gritty, bustling city of Manchester to a picturesque mill town in the English countryside called Hebden Bridge. There, he found a traditional way of life in decline. Factories were closing, industry was leaving and the town was gentrifying. A new community was emerging made up of  “incomers — youthful artistic refugees… in search of alternative lifestyles and cheap housing,” Parr’s wife Susie writes in her introduction to the book.

With four other artists, he opened up a storefront workshop and darkroom in the middle of town. Equipped with a Leica and a single lens, he took to the streets and began one of his earliest extended photographic studies.

“Places change all the time and the type of people who live there change. I was not so much looking at the new incomers,” of which he was a part, “but at the traditional lifestyle there.”

He would wander around, attend events listed in the local paper, and on Sundays, go to services at the Non-Conformist churches which were all over town. In these chapels, which had historically distanced themselves from the rules of the Church of England, he and his wife, who had been working on an accompanying text for his pictures, found the focus for the body of work.

“There’s a certain independent spirit these Non-Conformists have, which not only gave the chapels their names,” — like the Mount Zion Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel — “but was also very emblematic of the fading attitude of the whole place,” he says.

Parr’s photographs in which he aimed to capture that attitude reveal a greatly skilled young documentary photographer with a keen eye for British quirk, anticipating the tremendously poignant sense of humor for which he has become known. There is great wit in these images, but it’s more subtle and less sardonic than his later saturated color work; it seems above all, affectionate.

“Black-and-white is certainly more nostalgic, by nature,” he says. “My black-and-white work is more of a celebration and the color work became more of a critique of society.”

Parr and his wife, whom he had married in Hebden Bridge, became very active in the community during their documentation, if at first only to gain trust and access. Some church members mistook their interest as one in keeping the chapel life going in the future.  The documentation came to an end, however, and the Parrs moved on. By the late 90s, most of the chapels had closed and the communities disappeared. Hebden Bridge today, “sandblasted and quaint,” his wife writes, “is a lesbian stronghold and a lively commuter town to professionals working in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.”

“We did this photographic documentation and that’s all that’s left,” Parr says. “Virtually everyone in the photographs is dead now. It was just another era. But that’s the great thing about photographs; they’re there forever.”


Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. The Non-Conformists is available through Aperture from October 2013. The work will also be on view at Media Space in London through March 16, 2014. Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2013/10/21/the-non-conformists-martin-parrs-early-work-in-black-and-white/#ixzz2iUBJNHSX

Spring 2013 Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program Lecture: Rinko Kawauchi

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steinmetz Rinko Kawauchi Untitled, from the series of Ametsuchi 2012

Lecture by Rinko Kawauchi Tuesday, September 24, 2013 / 7PM Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts 1111 Eighth Street San Francisco, CA 94107

Pier 24 Photography is pleased to announce the Spring 2013 Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Free and open to the public No RSVP - Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis

Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi has gained international recognition for her nuanced, lushly colored images that offer closely observed fragments of everyday life. In 2001, Kawauchi launched her career with the simultaneous publication of three astonishing photobooks –Utatane, Hanabi and Hanako – firmly establishing herself as one of the most innovative newcomers to contemporary photography.

Kawauchi sees her work as a vast archive of images with never-ending potential. She photographs her everyday life, however it is through her selection and composition that she creates a magical feeling from her environment. Pictures of a baby being born, portraits of wounded or sick people, instantaneous and magical moments like fireworks, are all components of her visual poetry.

In her most recent body of work, Ametsuchi, Kawauchi unites images of distant constellations, tiny figures lost within landscapes, with photographs of a traditional controlled burn farming method (yakihata), in which the cycles of cultivation and recovery span decades and generations. Punctuating the series are images of Buddhist rituals and other religious ceremonies – a suggestion of other means by which humankind has traditionally attempted to transcend time and memory. Selected works from Ametsuchi are currently on view in the exhibition, A Sense of Place, at Pier 24 Photography.

Kawauchi is recognized for masterful editing and sequencing of her images to generate a rich body of photobooks. Her monographs include Aila (2004), The Eyes, the Ear (2005) and Semear (2007). In 2010, Aperture publishedIlluminance, the first book of the artist’s work published outside of Japan; she was short-listed for the 2012 Deutsche Börse Prize for this publication.

Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr Photographing the English

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Photographers Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr were united by their gently satirical documentation of our national characteristics.

Excerpted from: Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr: Photographing the English by Lucy Davies.

Martin Parr on the influence of Tony Ray-Jones on his photography: [In] 1970 [at] a lecture theatre at Manchester Polytechnic, where an 18-year-old Martin Parr was studying photography. Enter Bill Jay, on a mission to infuse the country’s fledgling photo­graphers with the same energy and outlook that he had seen in the work Ray-Jones had shown him. Parr, now 61, remembers hearing Jay talking about Ray-Jones. 'That [visual] language that [Ray-Jones] caught, that he encapsulated, was able to portray the atmosphere and the feeling of the time in a way that hadn’t yet been achieved. Even though there had been lots of photographs of Britain, such as the images in Picture Post, his just felt different. They brought something else… a sort of street theatre, or in this case beach theatre.’

Portobello Road Market, 1966, by Tony Ray-Jones PHOTO: Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum Next month visitors to Media Space, the new home for the National Photography Collection at the Science Museum, London, will be treated to a display of these vintage Ray-Jones prints, alongside 'The Non-conformists’, the work Parr produced when he moved, in 1972, with a group of other Manchester graduates, to Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, and set up the Albert Street Workshop. It is a study of the local community, in chapel, at tea, queuing for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Parr has always acknowledged that this work was fundamentally inspired by Ray-Jones. 'He learnt the way that people made their own world, generated their own world, from, in this case, the streets of America. He applied that idea to the UK. That’s what inspired me.’

Silver Jubliee street party, 1977, Todmorden, by Martin Parr. PHOTO: MARTIN PARR. MAGNUM PHOTOS

Ray-Jones died of leukaemia in 1972, aged 31, but his experiments were everything for the generation of photographers that followed. 'There’s a certain benefit of hindsight,’ Parr says. 'You can think differently 40 years on, and we’ll never know if Ray-Jones would have approved. But his best shots from back then still stand very well, they’re still brilliant images. The Beachy Head boat trip, and the shots of Margate and Glyndebourne. Those pictures are icons of documentary photography in the UK; they’re difficult to better.’

  • Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr, at the Media Space, Science Museum, London SW7, from September 21 (sciencemuseum.org.uk/onlyinengland); National Media Museum, Bradford, through March 16 (nationalmediamuseum.org.uk). Martin Parr: The Non-conformists (Aperture, £30), out October 7, can be ordered for £24 plus £1.35 p&p from Telegraph Books (0844-871 1514; books.telegraph.co.uk)

Announcing William Eggleston's New Steidl Title 'At Zenith'

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At Zenith. Photographs by William Eggleston. Steidl, 2014. 88 pp., 40 color illustrations, 13½x10¼".

Publisher's Description In April 1979, a book of fifteen colour photographs by William Eggleston was published in a limited edition of twenty. The photographs were taken from the second chapter of an unpublished larger work entitled Wedgewood Blue. Amidst his publications Chromes (2011), Los Alamos Revisited (2012), and the upcoming Democratic Forest (2014) and Election Eve (2016), all documenting his lifetime work, At Zenith constitutes a calm and experimental intermezzo from Eggleston's familiar loudness and intensity of colours. The photographer pointed his camera at the sky to focus on the clouds rolling by.

The book is scheduled for release on March 2014. It can be pre-ordered here.

Rinko Kawauchi 'Ametsuchi' on ASX

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Review: Rinko Kawauchi Ametsuchi (2013)

By Sören Schuhmacher for ASX, September 2013

Rinko Kawauchi’s new book Ametsuchi (Heaven and Earth) published by Aperture, reads like a Haruki Murakami novel. Kawauchi merges reality with the spiritual world and reveals an invisible but tangent point of connection between apparently unrelated events. Even the concept of Ametsuchioriginates from a dream, Rinko Kawauchi had years ago.

“I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain – a place called Aso.”

Rinko Kawauchi entered a new territory with Ametsuchi. This time she worked with a 4×5 large format camera instead her Rolleiflex, which led her to break out from the self-imposed pattern of the square format. Also the typical soft tones in her images disappear. They became darker and reveal an almost mystical atmosphere.

Aso, where most of the photographs were taken, is a region famous for it’s 1,300-year-old farming ritual, in which fields are burned on an annual basis in advance of planting new crops. The agricultural burning and the cyclical nature of life, functions as the central theme in the book.

Kawauchi is known for her exceptional editing of her books and the manner to tell a story on a page by juxtaposition of two images. Although her previous books were always pursuing a certain concept, they could be considered more like a collection of short stories than a novel without an ongoing storyline. Ametsuchi on the other side, is sequenced with single images on a double page, which invites the viewer to follow the story through the entire book, from beginning to end.

The book starts with a smoke darkened sky, caused by the flames of the agriculture burning, that turn the dry fields into an apocalyptic landscape. In the further course, burning fields, green meadows and in snow covered landscapes alternate to illustrate a recurring cycle and and the elapse of time.

At about the middle of the book, images of a theatrical Shinto dance ceremony, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the starry sky in a planetarium were interspersed. Different from the agricultural burnings, the images of the Wailing Wall and the Shinto dance ceremony are blurred and overexposed. The sudden appearing and disappearing of these interspersed images, are like zapping through TV channels, where different events, at different locations, take place at the same time.

At first glance this events seem unrelated, but under a closer look, they all representing a certain resistance in a time that rapidly changes. Rituals – Spiritual remains of the beginning of mankind, formed a circle by passing on from generation to generation. Ametsuchi is a veneration of the invisible world that has continued since the distant past. Rinko Kawauchi uses these rituals as a juncture between past and present, spiritual world and reality, heaven and earth.

The award-winning Dutch designer, Hans Gremmen, translated the concept of Ametsuchi into the book design, and managed even to enlarge Kawauchi’s work by pushing the photobook to the next level. Questioning the medium of the book, and how people tend to use them, Ametsuchi is bound in a variation of a Japanese binding. The upper sides of the pages are closed and the bottoms open, which generates a space between the actual pages that can only be seen by lifting the pages bottom corners up. In this almost hidden space, the images are the inverted color version from the outer surface, visualizing a parallel world, where darkness turns into light, fire into water and vice versa. As a nice extra the dust jacket of the book is also a double-sided poster with a inverted image of the cover on the back. Nothing was left to chance and is perfectly integrated into the main concept, from the beginning to the end.

This leads to the last image in the book, which shows the actual scene of people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain. The scene, Rinko Kawauchi dreamt about and which later reappeared on television – a recurring cycle.

“On the ground of one of the stars among the immense universe, I think of the beginning, The Earth is a mirror to project heaven. Photography captures the mirror. It connects the Earth and heaven. When the darkness reaches at the bottom, the light will arrive.”

- Rinko Kawauchi

ASX CHANNEL: RINKO KAWAUCHI

(All rights reserved. Text @ Sören Schuhmacher and ASX, Images @ Rinko Kawauchi)

Martin Parr's 'The Non-Conformists' set for October release

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"The Non-Conformists features Martin Parr’s first major body of work from the mid-1970s, published here for the first time in book form. A wonderful and charming surprise for Parr enthusiasts and fans of traditional reportage, this body of black-and-white imagery predates the cutting color work that earned him his fame in the 1980s. In 1975, fresh out of art school, Martin Parr found poor footing in the London photography scene, so he moved to the picturesque Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Hebden Bridge. Over a period of five years, he documented the town in photographs, showing in particular the aspects of traditional life that were beginning to decline. Susie Parr, whom he had met in Manchester, joined him in documenting a year in the life of a small Methodist chapel, together with its farming community.

In words and pictures, the Parrs vividly and affectionately document cobbled streets, flat-capped mill workers, hardy gamekeepers, henpecked husbands, and jovial shop owners. The best Parr photographs are interleaved with Susie Parr’s detailed background descriptions of the society they observed."

Click here to read more about the book and to pre-order your copy of The Non-Conformists.

Aperture: New Graciela Iturbide Limited Edition Monograph With Print

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Vevey, Switzerland, 2009

Graciela Iturbide

Edition of 15 and no artist's proofs

Gelatin Silver Print

Image Size: 10-1/16 x 9-15/16

Paper Size: 14 x 11

Signed in ink on recto, signed and captioned in pencil on verso

Graciela Iturbide began to work as a photographer in the early 1960s, and was for a time Manual Álvarez Bravo’s pupil and assistant. One of the most important and prolific figures in Mexican photography, Iturbide is best known for her photographs of the country’s indigenous peoples living in small villages. Her portraits emphasize Mexicans’ connection to pre-Hispanic culture, and tell the story of a country and a culture in constant transition—from premodern to modern ways of working and socializing, and from rural to urban life. At the same time, however, she has made stunning pictures of the landscape in Mexico and beyond. This photograph, made in Switzerland in 2009, is evidence that Iturbide’s talent for capturing striking aspects of her environment transcends her initial focus on Mexico. Two gnarled branches sprout a fretwork of thinner stems that slash the pale-gray sky. Iturbide’s talent for black-and-white printing is emphasized by the leaves clinging intermittently to them: some are dark silhouettes, while others are picked out in detail by the light.

Graciela Iturbide’s work is included in museum collections the world over. She has won the W. Eugene Smith award, Grand Prize at Le Mois de la Photo, the Recontres d’Arles Award, and the Hasselblad Award and has been featured in numerous photobooks, including Mexican Portraits(Aperture, 2013).

Text courtesy of Aperture.

Martin Parr: "Life's a Beach" Available from Aperture

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Life's a Beach

Photographs by Martin Parravailability: limited quantities

$300.00
Click here to order

11 x 9 inches

Signed and numbered limited-edition of 1,000, 98 four-color images

Slipcased hardcover

978-1-59711-224-6

Fall 2012

Designed by Xavier Barral

In the United Kingdom, one is never more than seventy-five miles away from the coast. With this much shoreline, it’s not surprising that there is a strong British tradition of photography by the seaside. American photographers may have given birth to street photography, but according to photographer Martin Parr, “in the UK, we have the beach!” Here, he asserts, people can relax, be themselves, and show off all those traces of mildly eccentric British behavior. Parr has been photographing this subject for many decades, documenting all aspects of the tradition. His international career, in fact, could well be traced to the launch of The Last Resort, a 1986 book depicting the seaside resort of New Brighton, near Liverpool. What may be less known is that this obsession has led Parr to photograph beaches across the world. This compilation, his first on the topic, presents photos of beachgoers on far-flung shores, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Japan, the United States, Mexico, Thailand, and of course, the UK, among others. This book shows Parr at his best, startling us with the moments of captured absurdity and immersing us in the rituals and traditions associated with beach life the world over.

Life’s a Beach, the exhibition, opens in Lyon, France in September 2012 (traveling internationally thereafter).

Martin Parr (born in Epsom, England, 1952) is a key figure in the world of photography, recognized as a brilliant satirist of contemporary life. Author of over thirty photography books, including Common SenseOur True Intent Is All for Your Delight, and Boring Postcards, his photographs have been collected by museums worldwide, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate Modern, London. A retrospective of his work continues to tour major museums around the world since opening at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, in 2002, and he was featured in Cruel and Tender, the Tate Modern’s major survey of photography in 2003. Parr is a member of Magnum Photos.

For more information, images and video, click here.

Text and image courtesy of Aperture

Todd Hido Book Signing at Arcana THIS WEDNESDAY

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PLEASE JOIN US AT ARCANA: BOOKS ON THE ARTS WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24th, 5:00 - 6:30 PM FOR A BOOK SIGNING WITH ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHERS AND HIS HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW BOOK FROM NAZRAELI PRESS

TODD HIDO: EXCERPTS FROM SILVER MEADOWS

Mark your calendars for an exciting event this coming week as we celebrate the publication of Todd Hido's hot-off-the-press "Excerpts From Silver Meadows". Todd is one of the most widely recognized and influential photographic artists of our time, and we're so happy to have him back at Arcana signing his latest book. Silver Meadows is the name of a street that runs through the neighborhood in Kent, Ohio where the artist grew up. The setting of Hido’s childhood, it also became the creative wellspring for his work. Here, it serves as a point of departure for Hido’s re-examination of a Midwestern suburban upbringing; ‘a trip through the innocence of childhood and adolescence and into the darker aspects of life beyond.’ We think it's some of his finest work yet!

Please note that we will be receiving only a limited supply of advance first printing copies airfreighted directly from the bindery for the event, and are likely to sell out! We are offering one per customer - first come, first served.

If you cannot attend and would like to purchase a signed copy ofTODD HIDO: EXCERPTS FROM SILVER MEADOWS,
please click here.

text and images courtesy of Arcana Books

New Book Release—Our Face: Asia by Ken Kitano

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Art Director: Satoshi Machiguchi
Editor: Hisako Motoo
Collaboration: Katsuya Ishida (MEM, Tokyo)
Text: Yu Hidaka All text are translate in japanese, English, and Chinese.
Published by Seigensha Art Publishing, Inc.
304pages
134 photographs
hard cover
price:TBD
Special limited edition accompanied with one original gelatin silver print: edition 100
Print: 30 Geiko and Maiko performers for the Kyo-Odori of Miyagawa-cho April 4 and 5, 2003 Performance Studio in Miyagawa-cho, Kyoto, Japan (8x10 inches, each signed, numbered)
Limited edition price:700USD

Lise Sarfati: Elizabeth Avedon's 2012 Favorite Books

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Lise Sarfati: "She" Text Quentin Bajac. Twin Palms Publisher, 2012
The women in "She" have a vaporous relationship with their surrounding, their house, their streets, and their landscapes. They are shut in their neurotic attitude from where it is difficult to perceive the outside world. Read more in my Interview with Lise Sarfati...
Click here to read the full post.

Lise Sarfati—The Guardian's Top Photo Books of 2012

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The best photography books of 2012: an alternative selection

From an album of candid shots by Dennis Hopper to a study of the short-lived Zambian 60s space programme, here are 10 more of the year's top picture publications

Lise Sarfati: She, Twin Palms, £51 I interviewed Sarfati back in February for her exhibition She at Brancolini Grimmaldi in London, and found her an engaging and eccentric spirit with a fully formed, slightly leftfield vision. Now comes the book of the same name, featuring Sarfati's cinematic images of two sisters, Christine and Gina, and Christine's daughters, Sloane and Sasha. "I like doubles, like mothers and daughters, or sisters or reflections," says Sarfati. "This represents my research into women's identities ... I am interested in fixing that instability." Like all her work, the end result is both intriguing and elusive.

Click here to read full article.