dinsdag 29 december 2009

Something old, something new: the year's 2009 best photography books

Blackpool, 1982 by Chris Steele-Perkins, from his book England, My England. Photograph © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum

Something old, something new: the year's best photography books


From reissues of classic editions to an eye-opening collection of mobile-phone snaps, photography books in 2009 captured a medium in flux. Sean O'Hagan picks his favourites




In 2009, photography grappled more than ever with the notion that the mobile phone, rather than the cheap digital camera, may yet make photographers of us all. It seemed apposite, then, that it was also a year in which old masters reasserted their importance with books that reminded us that the truly visionary are few and far between.


In many ways, the year belonged to Robert Frank. Now 85, the Swiss-born photographer was garlanded with a major American touring show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of his classic work The Americans. The catalogue, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans (Steidl, £49.90), is, hands down, my photography book of the year. Complete with absorbing essays, personal letters – to the likes of Jack Kerouac and Walker Evans – and contact sheets that show off Frank's extraordinary eye for the telling vignette, it is a must for anyone with an interest in photography's past and present.


The other big American photography book of the year has just been published. Irving Penn's Small Trades (Getty, £34.99) is a valediction of sorts for the great man, who died in October. Though better known for his fashion photography, Penn started the Small Trades project in 1950, photographing everyday subjects – plumbers, cleaners, shop assistants – in their work clothes between style shoots for French Vogue in his rented Parisian studio. Shot in austere blacks, whites and greys, the portraits possess a cumulative power that is full of quiet dignity, and subtler than Richard Avedon's similar images of American workers. (Intriguingly, one of the scouts who went out on the streets of Paris to select and then persuade the workers to pose was a young Robert Doisneau.)


Closer to home, the English were the subjects of two intriguing books: Simon Roberts's We English (Chris Boot, £40) and Chris Steele-Perkins's England, My England (Nothumbria Press, £30). Roberts' book is a kind of gentle celebration, its images captured on a large-format 5x4-inch camera and owing as much to the English landscape painting tradition as any photographic precedent. It's a grower. Steele-Perkins, a Magnum veteran, opts for a more sweeping documentary approach that shows the English at work and at play over the last four decades. By turns gritty and evocative, it is a book one imagines that Orwell would have liked very much. Another Magnum name,Philip Jones Griffiths, who died in 2008, is celebrated in Recollections (Trolley Books, £39.95). Renowned for his photojournalism from the Vietnam war, Jones Griffiths also travelled around Britain from the 1950s onwards, and this book shows off the range of his vision, from the hysteria of Beatlemania to the dogged war of attrition that were Northern Ireland's Troubles. In the main, though, this presents a gentler side of a photographer best known for his work at the eye of storm of battle.

If I had to choose one book of political photojournalism published this year, though, it would have to be Howard Bingham's Black Panthers 1968 (Ammo, £29.95). Bingham spent a year recording the Panthers' brief ascendancy during the radical ferment of 1968, and his images of the likes of Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale and Eldridge and the incredibly stylish Kathleen Cleaver are a wonderful portrait of a revolutionary time that seems long gone. Also in the late 60s, Danny Lyons was also doing some of his best work, most notably as a documenter of, and participant in, the American Civil Rights movement, as well as a chronicler of outlaw motorcycle gangs. Memories of Myself (Phaidon, £45) is a retrospective of some of his lesser-known photo essays, including images from the time he spent recording the lives of women who worked in a Colombian brothel. A pioneer of the edgy style of insider reportage, who immersed himself in his subject matter, Lyon deserves to be more widely known. This is a good place to start.


Best collaboration of the year must go to Anders Petersen and JH Engstrom, for their book From Back Home (Max Ström, £45). Engstrom started out as Petersen's assistant in the early 1990s, and it turned out they both came from the same area of Sweden, the mostly rural Varmlands. Thirty years separates them, but both of them set out to evoke their sense of home and belonging. The book is an uneven but always intriguing exploration of family, landscape and identity. Even more personal, and quirkier still, is Adam Bartos's Yard Sale Photographs (Damiani, €39), which does exactly what it says on the cover. Bartos is a master of the poetic mundane, and his camera captures the yard sale – the American equivalent of the car-boot – in close-up, in all its tacky and oddly beautiful detail. Never before has a discarded tennis racket held such visual poetry.


Finally, a book that is utterly of the moment but oddly timeless: Joel Grey's 1.3: Images From my Phone (Powerhouse Books, £21.99). Having found himself wandering though a small museum in Florida without his camera, Grey – a former actor who won an Oscar in 1972 – resorted to his Nokia 133. The images were so surprising that he kept shooting on his phone for seven months. The result is this engaging book, a kind of vivid and gritty visual diary of his travels. "For me, taking pictures is like asking questions", he says on his website. The questions he asks with his Nokia don't differ that much from the ones he asks on his Nikon – and that, in itself, may be the biggest question of all regarding the future of photography.


Something old, something new: the year's 2009 best photography books

Blackpool, 1982 by Chris Steele-Perkins, from his book England, My England. Photograph © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum

Something old, something new: the year's best photography books


From reissues of classic editions to an eye-opening collection of mobile-phone snaps, photography books in 2009 captured a medium in flux. Sean O'Hagan picks his favourites




In 2009, photography grappled more than ever with the notion that the mobile phone, rather than the cheap digital camera, may yet make photographers of us all. It seemed apposite, then, that it was also a year in which old masters reasserted their importance with books that reminded us that the truly visionary are few and far between.


In many ways, the year belonged to Robert Frank. Now 85, the Swiss-born photographer was garlanded with a major American touring show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of his classic work The Americans. The catalogue, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans (Steidl, £49.90), is, hands down, my photography book of the year. Complete with absorbing essays, personal letters – to the likes of Jack Kerouac and Walker Evans – and contact sheets that show off Frank's extraordinary eye for the telling vignette, it is a must for anyone with an interest in photography's past and present.


The other big American photography book of the year has just been published. Irving Penn's Small Trades (Getty, £34.99) is a valediction of sorts for the great man, who died in October. Though better known for his fashion photography, Penn started the Small Trades project in 1950, photographing everyday subjects – plumbers, cleaners, shop assistants – in their work clothes between style shoots for French Vogue in his rented Parisian studio. Shot in austere blacks, whites and greys, the portraits possess a cumulative power that is full of quiet dignity, and subtler than Richard Avedon's similar images of American workers. (Intriguingly, one of the scouts who went out on the streets of Paris to select and then persuade the workers to pose was a young Robert Doisneau.)


Closer to home, the English were the subjects of two intriguing books: Simon Roberts's We English (Chris Boot, £40) and Chris Steele-Perkins's England, My England (Nothumbria Press, £30). Roberts' book is a kind of gentle celebration, its images captured on a large-format 5x4-inch camera and owing as much to the English landscape painting tradition as any photographic precedent. It's a grower. Steele-Perkins, a Magnum veteran, opts for a more sweeping documentary approach that shows the English at work and at play over the last four decades. By turns gritty and evocative, it is a book one imagines that Orwell would have liked very much. Another Magnum name,Philip Jones Griffiths, who died in 2008, is celebrated in Recollections (Trolley Books, £39.95). Renowned for his photojournalism from the Vietnam war, Jones Griffiths also travelled around Britain from the 1950s onwards, and this book shows off the range of his vision, from the hysteria of Beatlemania to the dogged war of attrition that were Northern Ireland's Troubles. In the main, though, this presents a gentler side of a photographer best known for his work at the eye of storm of battle.

If I had to choose one book of political photojournalism published this year, though, it would have to be Howard Bingham's Black Panthers 1968 (Ammo, £29.95). Bingham spent a year recording the Panthers' brief ascendancy during the radical ferment of 1968, and his images of the likes of Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale and Eldridge and the incredibly stylish Kathleen Cleaver are a wonderful portrait of a revolutionary time that seems long gone. Also in the late 60s, Danny Lyons was also doing some of his best work, most notably as a documenter of, and participant in, the American Civil Rights movement, as well as a chronicler of outlaw motorcycle gangs. Memories of Myself (Phaidon, £45) is a retrospective of some of his lesser-known photo essays, including images from the time he spent recording the lives of women who worked in a Colombian brothel. A pioneer of the edgy style of insider reportage, who immersed himself in his subject matter, Lyon deserves to be more widely known. This is a good place to start.


Best collaboration of the year must go to Anders Petersen and JH Engstrom, for their book From Back Home (Max Ström, £45). Engstrom started out as Petersen's assistant in the early 1990s, and it turned out they both came from the same area of Sweden, the mostly rural Varmlands. Thirty years separates them, but both of them set out to evoke their sense of home and belonging. The book is an uneven but always intriguing exploration of family, landscape and identity. Even more personal, and quirkier still, is Adam Bartos's Yard Sale Photographs (Damiani, €39), which does exactly what it says on the cover. Bartos is a master of the poetic mundane, and his camera captures the yard sale – the American equivalent of the car-boot – in close-up, in all its tacky and oddly beautiful detail. Never before has a discarded tennis racket held such visual poetry.


Finally, a book that is utterly of the moment but oddly timeless: Joel Grey's 1.3: Images From my Phone (Powerhouse Books, £21.99). Having found himself wandering though a small museum in Florida without his camera, Grey – a former actor who won an Oscar in 1972 – resorted to his Nokia 133. The images were so surprising that he kept shooting on his phone for seven months. The result is this engaging book, a kind of vivid and gritty visual diary of his travels. "For me, taking pictures is like asking questions", he says on his website. The questions he asks with his Nokia don't differ that much from the ones he asks on his Nikon – and that, in itself, may be the biggest question of all regarding the future of photography.


zaterdag 26 december 2009

Schiphol Company Photography Graphic Design Fré Cohen

Schiphol
Maker:
Trefwoord:
Verv.jaar:1932/1933
Bron:Bro 1991/22 fol [brochure] (ReclameArsenaal [IISG])





Fré Cohen (Amsterdam 1903 - Hengelo 1943) grew up in a jewish social democratic environment. She had office jobs at publishing houses of the workers' movement and studied typography in the evenings. Actively involved in the Arbeiders Jeugd Centrale (AJC, Workers' Youth Central), she designed many of its brochures and periodicals. In 1927 she was among the founders of the Socialistische Kunstenaars Kring (SKK, Socialist Artists' Circle), together with Jan W. Jacobs. The works donated are from this period. In these same years, Cohen designed many publications for the municipality of Amsterdam. In 1943 she was betrayed and arrested by the Germans, and subsequently committed suicide.








Schiphol Company Photography Graphic Design Fré Cohen

Schiphol
Maker:
Trefwoord:
Verv.jaar:1932/1933
Bron:Bro 1991/22 fol [brochure] (ReclameArsenaal [IISG])





Fré Cohen (Amsterdam 1903 - Hengelo 1943) grew up in a jewish social democratic environment. She had office jobs at publishing houses of the workers' movement and studied typography in the evenings. Actively involved in the Arbeiders Jeugd Centrale (AJC, Workers' Youth Central), she designed many of its brochures and periodicals. In 1927 she was among the founders of the Socialistische Kunstenaars Kring (SKK, Socialist Artists' Circle), together with Jan W. Jacobs. The works donated are from this period. In these same years, Cohen designed many publications for the municipality of Amsterdam. In 1943 she was betrayed and arrested by the Germans, and subsequently committed suicide.








donderdag 24 december 2009

the Art of the Year 2009 Photography Rosan Hollak Eddie Marsman

Kunst van het jaar: Fotografie

NRC artikel | Woensdag 23-12-2009 | Sectie: Overig | Pagina: 09 | Rosan Hollak


1. Sally Mann: The Family and The Land (Fotomuseum Den Haag). Op haar geboortegrond Virginia vangt Mann schoonheid en vergankelijkheid in alledaagse beelden. Geweldig.


2. Leonie Purchas: In the Shadow of Things (Foam). Brits talent Purchas legt de obsessieve-compulsieve stoornis van haar moeder vast. Indrukwekkend.


3. Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946-2004 (Foam). Knallende overzichtstentoonstelling van Amerikas beroemdste portretfotograaf.


4. Duane Michals: Overzichtstentoonstelling (Fotografiefestival Arles). Michals onderzoekt met humoristische series het wezen van de fotografie.


5. Otto Snoek: Why Not (Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam). Feestend Nederland haarscherp en trefzeker door de camera gevangen.

Foto-onderschrift: Sally Mann: Family and Land



NRC artikel | Woensdag 23-12-2009 | Sectie: Overig | Pagina: 09 | Eddie Marsman


1. Otto Snoek: Why Not. Vlijmscherpe, bijna ranzige fotos van Hollands feestgebeuren: dansen, graaien, eten, drinken, flirten.


2. Elliot Erwitt: Retrospective. Groots overzicht van Magnum-fotograaf Erwitt (1928) dat laat zien hoe moeilijk het is een humoristische foto te maken - en hoe goed hij daar soms toch in slaagt.


3. Edward Burtynsky: Oil. Beklemmend beeldverhaal in kleur over de rol van olie in de samenleving, van winning en distributie tot gebruik en bovenal: gevolgen.


4. Arjan de Nooy: De facto. (Uitgeverij IJzer). Scheikundige De Nooy verzamelt vergeten fotografenoeuvres en morrelt daarmee lekker aan de canon van het vak.


5. Stefan Vanfleteren: Portret 1989 - 2009. Muzikanten, kunstenaars en politici, gezien door een van de beste portretfotografen van dit moment. Ook het (zeer) lijvige boekwerk is imposant.

Foto-onderschrift: Otto Snoek: Why Not
Trefwoord:
Fotografie

Op dit artikel rust auteursrecht van NRC Handelsblad BV, respectievelijk van de oorspronkelijke auteurs.


the Notable PhotoBooks of 2009 by Dutch Photographers ...

School by Raimond Wouda (Nazraeli) A Technicolor teenage riot .. by Alec Soth and 5B4

In this Dark Wood by Elisabeth Tonnard. One of my favorite discoveries of the year. I need to get her other books now... by 5B4

The Dutch nominees PhotoEspaña 2009 are :

WHY NOT - Otto Snoek

So Blue So Blue – Ad van Denderen

Korrie Besems – A Contrived Past

Erik Kessels – In Almost Every Picture

Edwin Zwakman – Benthem Crouwel

At first sight, the photos of artist Edwin Zwakman seem documentary: a backyard, a kitchen or breakfast table photographed in a traditional manner. A second look reveals certain details or a perspective that does not quite fit. Zwakman confuses the viewer by photographing a scale model as if it is the real building. Fascinated by this procedure, Benthem Crouwel asked Zwakman for a photo project featuring the three buildings by this architectural office that are included in the Dutch miniature city of Madurodam: the High Speed Train Bridge over Hollandsch Diep, Schiphol Airport, and the future Utrecht Central Station. The scale models are simplified, subjected to weather and populated by merry, slanting dolls. Here, Zwakman meticulously sought out typical Benthem Crouwel qualities such as transparency, visible construction and harmonious interaction between large-scale and the individual.



the Art of the Year 2009 Photography Rosan Hollak Eddie Marsman

Kunst van het jaar: Fotografie

NRC artikel | Woensdag 23-12-2009 | Sectie: Overig | Pagina: 09 | Rosan Hollak


1. Sally Mann: The Family and The Land (Fotomuseum Den Haag). Op haar geboortegrond Virginia vangt Mann schoonheid en vergankelijkheid in alledaagse beelden. Geweldig.


2. Leonie Purchas: In the Shadow of Things (Foam). Brits talent Purchas legt de obsessieve-compulsieve stoornis van haar moeder vast. Indrukwekkend.


3. Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946-2004 (Foam). Knallende overzichtstentoonstelling van Amerikas beroemdste portretfotograaf.


4. Duane Michals: Overzichtstentoonstelling (Fotografiefestival Arles). Michals onderzoekt met humoristische series het wezen van de fotografie.


5. Otto Snoek: Why Not (Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam). Feestend Nederland haarscherp en trefzeker door de camera gevangen.

Foto-onderschrift: Sally Mann: Family and Land



NRC artikel | Woensdag 23-12-2009 | Sectie: Overig | Pagina: 09 | Eddie Marsman


1. Otto Snoek: Why Not. Vlijmscherpe, bijna ranzige fotos van Hollands feestgebeuren: dansen, graaien, eten, drinken, flirten.


2. Elliot Erwitt: Retrospective. Groots overzicht van Magnum-fotograaf Erwitt (1928) dat laat zien hoe moeilijk het is een humoristische foto te maken - en hoe goed hij daar soms toch in slaagt.


3. Edward Burtynsky: Oil. Beklemmend beeldverhaal in kleur over de rol van olie in de samenleving, van winning en distributie tot gebruik en bovenal: gevolgen.


4. Arjan de Nooy: De facto. (Uitgeverij IJzer). Scheikundige De Nooy verzamelt vergeten fotografenoeuvres en morrelt daarmee lekker aan de canon van het vak.


5. Stefan Vanfleteren: Portret 1989 - 2009. Muzikanten, kunstenaars en politici, gezien door een van de beste portretfotografen van dit moment. Ook het (zeer) lijvige boekwerk is imposant.

Foto-onderschrift: Otto Snoek: Why Not
Trefwoord:
Fotografie

Op dit artikel rust auteursrecht van NRC Handelsblad BV, respectievelijk van de oorspronkelijke auteurs.


the Notable PhotoBooks of 2009 by Dutch Photographers ...

School by Raimond Wouda (Nazraeli) A Technicolor teenage riot .. by Alec Soth and 5B4

In this Dark Wood by Elisabeth Tonnard. One of my favorite discoveries of the year. I need to get her other books now... by 5B4

The Dutch nominees PhotoEspaña 2009 are :

WHY NOT - Otto Snoek

So Blue So Blue – Ad van Denderen

Korrie Besems – A Contrived Past

Erik Kessels – In Almost Every Picture

Edwin Zwakman – Benthem Crouwel

At first sight, the photos of artist Edwin Zwakman seem documentary: a backyard, a kitchen or breakfast table photographed in a traditional manner. A second look reveals certain details or a perspective that does not quite fit. Zwakman confuses the viewer by photographing a scale model as if it is the real building. Fascinated by this procedure, Benthem Crouwel asked Zwakman for a photo project featuring the three buildings by this architectural office that are included in the Dutch miniature city of Madurodam: the High Speed Train Bridge over Hollandsch Diep, Schiphol Airport, and the future Utrecht Central Station. The scale models are simplified, subjected to weather and populated by merry, slanting dolls. Here, Zwakman meticulously sought out typical Benthem Crouwel qualities such as transparency, visible construction and harmonious interaction between large-scale and the individual.



maandag 21 december 2009

Objects of Desire the best Photobooks of the decade Martin Parr Gerry Badger Photography

What were the best photobooks of the decade? We asked Martin Parr, who's probably done more than anyone else to promote the photobook, to explain why the Noughties are their golden age ... read for more ...

1. THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Ryan McGinley, self-published, 2000
2. PRETEND YOUREACTUALLY ALIVE
Leigh Ladare, ppp Editions, 2008
3. BERLIN: IN THE TIME OFTHE WALL
John Gossage, Loosestrife, 2004
4. FLAMBOYA
Viviane Sassen, Contrasto, 2008
Sassen was brought up in Mozambique and has returned to Africa to shoot these strange and graphic portraits. Sometimes posed and sometimes caught, these photographs are combined with a stunning design, in which many of the pages are cut, to produce a strange and compelling book. Her portraits are so original it is difficult to place them.
5. UTATANE
Rinko Kawauchi, Little More, 2001
6. SLIME THE BOOGIE
Dash Snow, Peres Projects, 2007
See for Saatchi Online DASH SNOW'S POLAROIDS ...
7. CHECKED BAGGAGE
Christien Meindertsma, Soeps Uitgevererij, 2004
This remarkable conceptual project documents 3624 objects Meindertsma bought at auction for EUR200. All of them had been confiscated at Schipol airport during the stringent security checks initiated after 9/11. The book was published in an edition of roughly 1000, and one of the featured objects was given away free with each copy.
8. HACKNEY WICK
Stephen Gill, Nobody, 2005
9. WHY MISTER WHY
Geert van Kesteren, Artimo, 2004
This is the most compelling new book to deal with war in the last ten years, and has a feel of a magazine, with thin paper and serrated edges that all add to its immediacy. The title comes from the phrase that van Kesteren heard shouted at him many times as moved round Iraq.
10. A SHIMMER OFPOSSIBILITY
Paul Graham, Steidl/Mack, 2007

Gerry Badger co-authored The Photobook: A History with Martin Parr. So we asked him for his take on the decade's top 10 ... read for more ...

1. MOTHER’S
Miyako Ishiuchi, Sokyu-sha, 2002
2. THE ROMANCEINDUSTRY
John Gossage, Nazraeli Press, 2002
3. PRENEZ SOIN DE VOUS
Sophie Calle, Actes Sud, 2007
4. UTATANE
Rinko Kawauchi, Little More, 2002
5. IN HISTORY
Susan Meiselas, Steidl, 2008
6. A SHIMMER OFPOSSIBILITY
Paul Graham, Steidl, 200
7. BAGHDAD CALLING
Geert van Kesteren, Episode Books, 2008
The new photojournalism - a professional photographer using cellphone and 'citizen reporter' images to tell us the truth about post-Saddam life in Baghdad.
8. TRYING TO DANCE
JH Engstrom, Journal, 2003
9. PARRJECTIV: JEANSHUNTING IN ISTANBUL
Martin Parr, Mavi Jeans, 2006
10. TEMPORARYDISCOMFORT : CHAPTERSI-IV
Jules Spinatsch, Lars Muller, 2005v