donderdag 31 mei 2012

The Future is Ours | Classroom Portraits 2004- 2012 Julian Germain Photography

The Future is Ours | Classroom Portraits 2004- 2012
For his Classroom Portraits series, British photographer Julian Germain photographed classes all over the world. The detailed colour photographs tell the story of the schools, the pupils and their environment. Germain began the series in 2004 in North-East England before extending it to schools in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

Despite the diverse locations, the subject matter is universally recognisable and evokes memories of the viewer's own childhood, classmates and a desire to know what happened to them. Germain takes the teacher’s place at the front of the class, and the children – it is a challenge for them to sit still – look intently into the lens. Caught by their gaze, the viewer is confronted with the idea of the future. What does it hold for these children? The Future is Oursis a summer exhibition for all ages and will have its world premiere from 2 June to 2 September 2012 in the Nederlands Fotomuseum, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. A comprehensive photo book will be published to coincide with the exhibition.
Rhodesway School, Bradford, UK © Julian Germain

A child's gaze
Julian Germain's work ranks among the best in contemporary British documentary photography. The theme of The Future is Ours – Classroom Portraits 2004-2012 is as simple as it is rich: group portraits of children in their classroom. In this series, Germain reinterprets the traditional class photo in his own, perceptive way. He enters a classroom while a lesson is in progress, the pupils sit in their usual places and he only moves a child here and there to ensure no one is obscured by anyone else. He sets up his camera on the spot where the teacher usually stands, at 'child height'. In some cases he also shoots a short video from this angle, for which the children have to sit completely still. They are thus aware of the photographer and look directly into the camera. As a viewer, you look at the photo and 10, 15 or 30 pairs of young eyes gaze back at you.

By photographing in colour with a large-format camera, Germain captures even the smallest details. The children's intent faces and the objects in the classrooms tell the story of the pupils and their environment. Germain also asked the children to complete surveys that asked both serious and playful questions. He converted the results into infographics, providing the viewer with more information about the children’s daily lives as well as their music preferences, aspirations and so on. Germain thus gives us a glimpse of how the children experience the world.

The future is ours
The power of the images lies in their direct connection to us as viewers. We all think back to our own class photos and wonder what happened to our classmates. Germain's photographs invite us to imagine what the future holds for these pupils; what their dreams, hopes and opportunities are. By presenting different countries, schools and age groups, he creates a picture of the similarities and differences in contemporary education across countries, cultures and social classes.

On display
The exhibition will comprise class photos of varying formats from countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Great Britain, Bangladesh, USA, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Japan and Taiwan. Accompanying the photographs is information that Germain gathered about the children during shooting. Short films will also be shown alongside a selection of the most recent class photos that Germain took in March at a number of primary and secondary schools in Rotterdam. These Rotterdam schools will be invited to visit the museum and meet Germain during a special school day.

Classroom Portraits | Julian Germain | ENG | Prestel Verlag

Julian Germain
Julian Germain achieved broad recognition with Steel Works (1990). For this, his first book, he utilised a combination of his own photographs, amateur photographs and (local) press images. Placing one's own work in a historical-photographical context has now become commonplace but at the time it was revolutionary. It is evidence of how Germain, as a young photographer, was already looking for alternative ways to use photography to tell stories – stories that did more justice to the people who were part of them and gave them a voice. This approach makes his collaboration with children from Brazil's favelas all the more understandable. Instead of taking photos himself, he gave the children cameras so that they could capture their own daily lives (No Olho da Rua, 2000). In For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness (2005), Germain follows Charlie, an old man with a beautifully simple life philosophy. The publication combines portraits with interior photos and close-ups of objects in the house and garden. This respectful, affectionate approach to photographic documentation has also been much imitated internationally. Germain’s work ranks among the best in contemporary British documentary photography. He is the only foreign editor of Useful Photography.

See also 

 England, Seaham, Reception and Year 1, Structured Play

 Wales, Felindre, Reception and Years 1 & 2, Numeracy

 England, Keighley, Year 6, History

 England, Bradford, Year 7, Art

 England, Washington, Year 7 (first day), Registration

 England, Erith, Year 10, English

 England, Wolsingham, Year 12, English

Holland, Drouwenermond, Primary Year 5, 6, 7 & 8, History

zaterdag 26 mei 2012

As a Dog through the Big City Journey for Something Daido Moriyama Street Photography

Today a solo exhibition of one of Japan’s foremost photographers is opened at the Reflex Art  gallery in Amsterdam. For Journey to Something, Daido Moriyama has pulled shots from his archive as well as new images. We were very honoured to do a short interview with the man himself. 
BLEND\: You started out as a graphic designer. What made you want to become a photographer?Moriyama: When I was very young, I was a graphic designer.  When I was working as a graphic designer, it was very related to the work of photographers. I would go to the studios and see the photographers working. It looked as if the job was very active and very fashionable. I didn’t like  sitting in the office that much, I wanted to change my lifestyle. That’s one of the reasons  I wanted to turn away from graphic design.  For graphic design the visual is very important, so when I was very young I loved to draw, I was always drawing. Photography is a very important visual in graphic design, that is another reason.
You tend to shoot a lot of snapshots. Do you think, as a photographer, it is important to have your camera with you at all times? Do you always look around you for the possibility of a good shot?I will make sure I have a camera that is very small and very light, and I will always carry a camera in the pocket of my pants or my coat, and take photographs everywhere.
A lot of your images are very gritty, shot analogue. What do you think of the analog revival nowadays? How do you feel about digital photography?
Since three years I am using either film or digital. So I am not much concerned about the ways of the digital camera. Depending on the theme of what I would shoot.. if I feel like I want to shoot in film, I shoot in film. If I want to shoot digitally, I will do that. It just has to be transferred to a screen. It is not so much about the medium, as it is about the message.
So the exhibition with William Klein is coming up soon. He is one of your biggest influences. What is it like for you to do a dual exhibition in Tate later this year?The encounter with William Klein’s work was when I was still working as a graphic designer, and I was just changing into photography. For me, William Klein’s work has been an inspiration. So from the beginning, I would do these street snapshots I have been doing. So I am really happy that I can do a show together with him.
Obviously you started shooting in Japan, and then you went to New York like Klein did. When you shoot outside of Japan, do you look differently at the world around you? Or do you tend to look for similarities? How is shooting in other parts of the world different from shooting in Japan?Shooting in Japan and shooting in Europe is basically the same. Of course there are different cities, but the way I shoot or the way I approach it is the same. Even though I go to Buenos Aires, San Paolo, Hawaii, New York, I will shoot with my five senses, so it’s the same.
You tend to speak a lot of the importance of a certain desire that is displayed in good photography. Why is that? Is desire parallel to life, you believe?Of course my way of living and the human life have a close relationship. Every human being has a different way, a different level of desire. All the photographers, and all the people that are active in making something, all the artists, they have a very strong desire, a passion. It’s like being at the core of desire.
When speaking of your influences, you state the names of several photographers very clearly. Are you influenced by any other artists (other than photographers) at all?I have been influenced by many different artists from different media, but the artists that have had the biggest impact on me are Andy Warhol and Peter Brueghel.
Since you have been shooting for a very long time now, and the world around you changes, Japan has changed a lot. Do you feel like your way of approaching, or your style, has gradually changed over the years?Definitely my style has not changed, even though the streets have changed over the years. I think the outside world has changed, but I have remained the same. The photographs I take are my daily life. The way I am walking, the way I stand, the way I approach things are all very personal.
You still look very you and vibrant. Obviously you are very passionate about your work. Do you think you will ever retire, and be able to put your camera down?As long as my legs, my back and my stomach are well, I will take photographs in the street forever. I do not have the intention to leave the camera.
Thank you very much!
A Journey to Something is on display until July 28 2012 at Reflex Art.
William Klein/Daido Moriyama is on display from October 10 2012 to January 13 2013 at Tate Modern.
images Daido Moriyama, courtesy Reflex Gallery

Als een hond door de grote stad

Tracy Metz
artikel artikel | Vrijdag 25-05-2012 | Sectie: Overig | Pagina: NH_NL01_014 | Tracy Metz

Daido Moriyama, een van de belangrijkste naoorlogse Japanse fotografen, exposeert in Amsterdam. De man die beroemd werd met grofkorrelige zwart-witfoto's, zwerft het liefst door de stad. Hij werkt nu ook met een digitale camera en zelfs met kleur. Mijn manier van werken is niet veranderd, de stad wel.

De Japanse fotograaf Daido Moriyama was al boven de zeventig toen hij voor het eerst met een digitale camera ging werken. Een fabrikant bood hem er een aan toen hij drie jaar geleden aan een nieuw project begon, een diepgaand portret van Tokio in twee delen. Twee weken geleden verscheen het eerste deel en het is niet minder dan een revolutie in het werk van deze invloedrijke en productieve fotograaf. Niet alleen is het digitaal, maar ook nog in kleur. Kleur! Terwijl Moriyama, een van de bekendste naoorlogse fotografen van Japan, juist de grove, grafische zwart-witkorrel tot zijn handelsmerk heeft gemaakt.
De 74-jarige Moriyama was onlangs kort in Nederland voor de opening van zijn expositie Journey for something bij de Amsterdamse Reflex Gallery en de presentatie van het gelijknamige boek.
Snel en intuïtief grijpt Moriyama taferelen vast uit het dagelijks leven zoals dat toevallig aan zijn ogen voorbij rolt. Zijn onderwerp is vaak het grotestadsgevoel - energiek, anoniem, raadselachtig, vaak met een verscholen belofte erin alsof er iets staat te gebeuren. Een rennend, dus onscherp kind op straat; nat plaveisel met de weerspiegeling van koplampen; een straathond; mooie billen en benen in netkousen; een meute overstekende voetgangers op het brede zebrapad in de uitgaanswijk Shinjuku in Tokio, een foto die met zijn sterke diagonale zwarte en witte lijnen wat weg heeft van een houtsnede.
Dit najaar brengt Tate Modern in Londen het werk van Moriyama samen met dat van de tien jaar oudere Amerikaans-Franse fotograaf William Klein, eveneens chroniqueur van het straatleven. Wij kennen elkaar niet, zegt Moriyama via een tolk, maar hij is voor mij altijd een bron van inspiratie geweest. Amerika is sinds de oorlog ook altijd prominent aanwezig geweest in het dagelijks leven in Japan.
Hij was 33 en maakte al in Japan furore toen hij voor het eerst naar Amerika ging. Hij sprak geen woord Engels en liep een maand lang met zijn camera in de hand door New York. Als een hond, zegt hij mijn neus achterna (een van de ruim 75 boeken die hij door de jaren heen heeft gepubliceerd, heet 'Memories of a Dog'). New York maakte diepe indruk en de foto's die hij toen maakten keren telkens terug in zijn boeken en tentoonstellingen, nu ook bij Reflex.
Een paar jaar daarna heb ik er een performance in Tokio meegedaan. Ik wilde als fotograaf iets nieuws doen, niet weer gewoon wat afdrukken aan de muur hangen. Dus heb ik foto's van New York onder het kopieerapparaat gelegd en twee verschillende omslagen gezeefdrukt. Bezoekers konden hun eigen fotoboek samenstellen en ook het omslag kiezen. Die performance heeft hij vorig jaar in de New Yorkse fotogalerie Aperture herhaald en dat doet hij dit najaar ook in de Tate Modern.
Reflex heeft één wand gevuld met grote afdrukken van een aantal belangrijke beelden uit het reusachtige oeuvre van de Japanner. Natuurlijk zijn daar de stadsbeelden bij, zoals een schitterende nachtfoto van de verlichte gebouwen van New York en het interieur van een theater in Buenos Aires, maar één is totaal anders. Het is een foetus, op de rug gezien, liggend op tapijt. In het boek is er nog een opgenomen, nu in het gezicht gezien. Dit was mijn eerste werk als zelfstandige fotograaf, uit 1964, vertelt Moriyama. Als kind had ik gelezen hoe de mens zich voor de geboorte ontwikkelt en dat wilde ik graag in het echt zien. Het heeft moeite gekost om een ziekenhuis te vinden dat bereid was de foetussen te laten fotograferen die ze op sterk water hebben staan, maar uiteindelijk is het gelukt. Deze serie was de enige keer dat ik als een studiofotograaf te werken ging, met een achtergronddoek en uitgekiende verlichting. Nu weet ik; dit is het begin, die is de essentie van de mens. En daarna ben ik de straat opgegaan.
Moriyama loopt nog steeds het liefst op straat. Met zijn nieuwe digitale camera maakte hij 30.000 beelden van zijn woonplaats. Mijn manier van werken is niet veranderd, zegt hij, maar de stad wel. Hier in Europa waar alles heel lang hetzelfde blijft is het misschien moeilijk je voor te stellen hoe snel Tokio verandert. Zo zijn er bijvoorbeeld geen zwerfhonden meer.
Deel één van het nieuwe boek heet Color. Maar Moriyama verloochent zijn geliefde medium niet: voor het tweede deel heeft hij uit dezelfde 30.000 beelden een andere selectie gemaakt die in zwart-wit is afgedrukt. Dat boek verschijnt later dit jaar en heet simpelweg Monochrome.
Tracy Metz
Info: Journey for something, t/m 28 juli in Reflex Gallery, Amsterdam, Gelijknamig boek William Klein/Daido Moriyama, 10 okt-13 jan. in Tate Modern, Londen. 
Foto-onderschrift: 'Tights' 'Daido Hysteric' 'Tokyo 1982' 'Shinjuku'
Op dit artikel rust auteursrecht van NRC Handelsblad BV, respectievelijk van de oorspronkelijke auteur.
Daido Moriyama's Verlangen

VOGUE sprak de beroemde Japanse fotograaf over zijn werk en muze.

Daido Moriyama is allang de pensioengerechtigde leeftijd gepasseerd, maar aan stoppen met fotograferen denkt hij voorlopig nog niet. In de Reflex Galerie in Amsterdam exposeert Moriyama tot 28 juli nieuw en iconisch werk tijdens zijn solo-expositie, Journey for Something.VOGUE sprak de vooraanstaande Japanse fotograaf over zijn werk.

Straight snaps.” Dat is hoe Moriyama zijn oeuvre omschrijft. “Mijn foto’s zijn een registratie van mijn leven. Als ik fotografeer, leg ik mijn persoonlijke geschiedenis vast.”

 Moriyama werd 73 jaar geleden geboren in Ideka, een stad in het zuiden van Japan. Hij leerde het vak bij fotograaf Takeji Iwamiya. In 1961 vertrok hij naar Tokio om als assistent-fotograaf te gaan werken. Een paar jaar later begon Moriyama zijn carrière als freelance fotograaf.
Wandelend door Shinjuku, de wijk in Tokio waar hij woont, neemt Moriyama foto’s van alles wat hem intrigeert. Het is volgens hem de perfecte plek om te fotograferen: “Shinjuku is een enorm museum, een theater. Het is grappig, energiek. Door te fotograferen reageer ik op haar verschillende gezichten.”

Vanaf het moment dat Moriyama zich in Shinjuku vestigde, ruim veertig jaar geleden, is de wijk zijn muze geweest. Bijna iedere dag loopt hij er door de straten, op zoek naar mooie beelden.Shinjuku is het zakelijke en politieke hart van Japan, maar je vindt er ook gangsters, bordelen en stripclubs. “Shinjuku bestaat uit verschillende lagen”, vertelt Moriyama over zijn wijk. “Het is een extract, getrokken uit menselijke begeertes.”
Begeerte is het terugkerende thema in Moriyama’s werk. “Het is het menselijke vlees, iets erotisch. In Shinjuku leeft een mix van mensen, met allemaal verschillende verlangens. Zelf voel ik die verlangens ook. Daarom is dit thema zo interessant. Ik kan de begeerte voelen terwijl ik mijn foto’s maak."
Menselijke begeerte is volgens Moriyama realiteit, het echte leven. Die werkelijkheid probeert hij over te brengen met zijn foto’s. Daarom fotografeert hij vooral in achteraf steegjes, in plaats van in de grote straten. “De main streets hebben een heleboel make-up op, het ziet er mooier uit dan het eigenlijk is. Het aroma van de mensen is verdoezeld. In de back streets zie je het echte karakter, daar ruik je de echte geur.”

Om die echtheid nog meer naar voren te brengen maakt Moriyama bijna uitsluitend zwart-wit foto’s in hoog contrast. Zo ontstaat er rauw beeld van het dagelijks leven in de straten vanShinjuku. “Ik wil dat mijn foto’s edgy zijn”, vertelt hij. “Een hoog contrast is de beste manier om dat te bereiken.”

Naast foto’s gemaakt in Shinjuku zijn er ook beelden uit andere steden (waaronder New York) tijdens de expositie te bewonderen.

 De expositie in Reflex Galerie is een voorproefje voor een grotere expositie van Moriyama in het Tate Modern  in Londen, later dit jaar. Tegelijk met de expositie is het gelijknamige boek Journey for Something uitgebracht, met nieuw en iconisch werk van Moriyama en te koop bij Reflex Galerie.

Daido Moriyama – Journey for Something 

donderdag 24 mei 2012

LIFE Magazine Gordon Parks Black Muslims Malcolm X Photojournalism Photography

Life magazine didn’t know whether they could trust me to cover the Black Panthers or the Muslims fairly in the 1960s. The Panthers and the Muslims felt the same way. The first thing Elijah Muhammad asked me when I went with Malcolm X to visit him in Arizona was “Why you working for the white devils?”
I gave him sort of a Trojan horse bit: I’d be more helpful inside. He didn’t really buy that, and the conversation lasted at most 15 minutes, even though Malcolm and I had flown all the way from New York. But when I left, Malcolm said, “I think he likes you.” Sure enough, a week later he offered me a half a million dollars to do a book and motion picture on the Muslims.
I told him that I was very flattered, but I was afraid he would try to have an influence over me. “You bet,” he said. “If I gave you a half million dollars, I would try to influence you.” Just like that. So I went to the car again and was ready to get in—again, I hadn’t been there 20 minutes—and he said, “I like the fact that you just turned down half a million dollars because of principles. I think I can trust you. Brother Malcolm is going to be your guide. I’m going to allow you to go through the world of Islam. If we like your pictures and what you say, we’re going to send you a box of cigars. If we don’t like it, we’ll be out to visit you.” That was the way I entered that story.
You weren’t intimidated?
No, I wasn’t intimidated. They did come out to visit me after I wrote the story on the death of Malcolm. That’s when the FBI notified Life magazine that I was supposed to be assassinated. Life put my whole family, including me and my kids and grandsons, on a jet out of the country.
They stayed away for about two months, but I felt if I was going to be assassinated, I didn’t want to be around my children and grandchildren, so I came back to New York. Life wouldn't allow me to stay in my apartment, so they got me a suite at the Plaza Hotel. Two detectives were stationed at each end of my suite, and a third, roaming detective was the head of the squad. I lived that way for a month until I was just sort of sick of it. People would come up to shake my hand, and these guys had their hands on their guns. They’re all Dick Tracys, you know. One particular night the detectives were sitting around the dining room, and suddenly they jumped up and ran into the lobby. There were two young boys out there. They were dressed in black, and they looked like Muslims. They suddenly found themselves faced with three detectives with guns in their faces. It turned out to be kids who washed dishes in the Plaza, and this one night they wanted to come up and see what the lobby was like. And they almost got shot. I realized that if someone could kill Kennedy and kill Martin Luther King—people like that—they could certainly get me, no matter if I’ve got a couple of detectives around me. I slipped away from them, drove up to Harlem, walked into Shabazz’s restaurant and asked for Brother Joseph, who was the head of the goon squad. They said, “He’s not here.”
I said, “I just saw him walk through the door.” Sure enough, Brother Joseph was peeping out the kitchen door, and I said, “Brother Joseph just looked out.” So he came out and I said. “Let’s have some tea.”
We sat down. We didn’t talk about Malcolm being killed, and we didn’t talk about anything that had to do with Muslims. We just talked about the weather and our families, and I got up and left. I came back and asked Life magazine to take away the detectives, and they did.
(Interviewed on May 18, 1993. Excerpted from: John Loengard, LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, Boston, A Bullfinch Press Book, 1998)
[The photographs are courtesy the LIFE Gallery of Photography, © 1963 Gordon Parks]

zaterdag 19 mei 2012

Paris Mortel the Classic Photobooks of Paris from the 1950s to Today Photography

Two pages from Moï Ver’s Paris (1931, deluxe facsimile by Steidl in 2009).

The front cover of Moï Ver’s Paris (1931, deluxe facsimile by Steidl in 2009).
A significant cluster of the photobooks focus the camera-eye on the city of Paris as their subject. Moï Ver’s extraordinary book of 80 black and white photographs simply entitled Paris, published in an edition of 1000 copies in 1931 and in a deluxe facsimile by Steidl in 2009 (acquired by the Library of the new Photographic Books Collection at the Department of Special Collections OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS), is exemplary of this exhilarating trend: the front cover alone juxtaposes the smokestacks of factories vertiginously looming against a classical stone façade. Ver (born Moshé Raviv-Vorobeichic in Lithuania) unhesitatingly and cinematically blends the ancient with the modern, art and industry in his full-page montages, where the dynamic modern city takes shape before our very eyes. Ver’s book fulfils the lauding of photomontage by Raoul Hausmann in 1931, where the Dada impresario observed how the “material of photography” was used “to combine heterogeneous, often contradictory elements, figurative and spatial, into a new whole […] as new to the eye as it was to the mind.” Pointing to the significance of ideological positions in interwar modernism where photography had to be held to account for its education of the eye and the mind, Ver’s montages are a stark contrast to the snapshot-style, blunt-edged documents of a less glamorous, impoverished Parisian street life taken with a hand-held Leica camera by the Soviet writer and photographer Ilya Ehrenburg and compiled into a photobook entitled My Paris (1933), with book design and two montages by El Lissitzky and layout by Alexander Brodsky. The Steidl facsimile edition (2005) of this small-format, little-noticed photobook is one of a growing number of new editions available at more affordable prices which now accompany the unique first editions and facilitate access by students to such objects.

Dustjacekt of Robert Doisneau’s La Banlieue de Paris (1949).
A different kind of montage provides the photographically illustrated dustjacket for Robert Doisneau’s La Banlieue de Paris, acquired from the first edition run of 1949. Several separate images – a row of forbidding high-rise apartment blocks, a long line of people spread out along a hillside spectating an unseen event, and the Eiffel Tower rising up against a cloudy sky – combine to bewilder the viewer, as does the name of Blaise Cendrars – the renowned avant-garde writer and adventurer – in large bold type on the front cover. Now more famous than his friend and author of the introduction, Doisneau’s bittersweet observations of Parisian streetlife and local events such as the bicycle race through a quarry in his home suburb of Gentilly which features in a double-page spread within (when we see it, we realise that this was one element of the cover montage), inaugurate a new epoch of photobook creativity. A modern-day reincarnation of the roving urban wanderer, the photographer as flâneur searches out the signs of the collision between old and new in the city streets and back alleys, the revelations of the hidden and secretive lives of its anonymous inhabitants, as well as moments of everyday life seized out of time’s continuum, with a tender empathy.

Four of the new books acquired for the Photographic Book Collection: Willy Ronis's Belleville-Menilmontant (1954), and Doisneau's La Banlieue de Paris (1949), Les parisennes tels qu'ils sont (1954) and Instantanés de Paris (1955).

Front cover of Pierre Tarcali's A Fleur de Seine, with an introduction by René Clair (1954).
Doisneau was just one of a whole host of postwar photographers working in France who made the photobook a top priority. Enabling an examination of Doisneau’s career as a photobook creator, La Banlieue de Paris was followed up by Les parisens tels qu’ils sont (1954, acquired in a first edition), with a preface by the journalist of the Parisian streets, Robert Giraud and writer Michel Ragon. A year later Instantanés de Paris (1955, acquired in a large-size first edition with an intact acetate cover and a peface by Cendrars) presented 148  black and white photographs organised, as Doisneau preferred, into groups or smaller photo-essays, entitled thematically: Love, Work, Children, Gazes … . These three books are joined by the key photobook by his French colleague in the Rapho agency and the Groupe des XVWilly Ronis, whose photobook Belleville-Menilmontant is seen in its first edition of 1954 with preface by the photo-critic who coined the idea of the ‘social fantastic’ to describe many of the photographs in these books conjoining the real with the surreal and poetic, Pierre MacOrlan, 1954. The Library has also bought this book in its fourth, “definitive” edition of 1999 with a different selection of images by Ronis and a text by the detective writer, Didier Daeninckx. The significance of the writers and poets whose texts frame the photobooks is further emphasised in the collaborative photobook overseen by screenwriter Pierre Tarcali and introduced by René Clair, the sweetly-titledA Fleur de Seine (1954); and the preface by the Surrealist associate, poet and scriptwriter for Marcel Carné’s great classic film, Les Enfants du Paradis (1945), Jacques Prévert, for Peter Cornelius’s Couleur de Paris (1961).

Slipcase and front cover of Kishin Shinoyama’s Paris (1977).
Slipping between the protected library archive of ‘rare books’, piled into the open shelves of art and photography books, or simply going unperceived as photographic illustration within a miscellaneous variety of scientific, artistic and periodical publications, the University Library has recently and seriously turned its attention to what is increasingly seen as an independent category – photographic publications – and even a medium in its own right, the photobook. Slowly, over the course of the twentieth century, the photobook has been validated as an object, or even a medium, meriting its own special attention from photographers, designers and collectors, and now, from historians.

The front covers of the three Robert Delpire published books: Robert Doisneau’s Les parisennes tels qu’ils sont (1954), Henri Cartier-Bresson’sLes danses à Bali (1954) and George Rodger’s Le Village des noubas (1955).
Amongst the  French “humanist” photographers was, of course, Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose photobooks Images à la sauvette (1952, translated as ‘The Decisive Moment’) and Les Européens (1955) never cease to impress. Cartier-Bresson’s Les danses à Bali (Dances at Bali, 1954) photobook, together with George Rodger’s Le Village des noubas (the Village of the Nubas, 1955) and Doisneau’s  Les parisens tels qu’ils sont (see previous post) are a trilogy of small-format photobooks published by a newcomer to the Parisian world of editions,Robert Delpire (for more on these three books, seeElisabeth Dearden’s Highlight post from last year). With encyclopedic ambitions, Delpire took the initiative and founded a publishing house in 1951 with Pierre Faucheaux which specialised in the expensive but passionate production of photobooks; Delpire is perhaps best known today for taking on Robert Frank’s now-famous photobook, Les Américains (1958).

A plate from Kishin Shinoyama’s Paris (1977).

The front cover of Krass Clement’sParis: carnet de recherche (2010).
Paris is newly hectic, blurred and cinematic in the highly personal photographic visions of two Dutch photographers, Ed van der Elsken and Johan van der Keuken, and in the saturated colour work of the Japanese photographer Kishin Shinoyama (Paris, 1977, pictured above) and the gathering-together by Danish photographer in Krass Clement of his images from the ‘60s and 70’s in Paris: carnet de recherche (2010); not to forget William Klein, who after an amazing photobook debut with New York (published by Editions du Seuil in Paris in 1956) had his Parisian images collated for the first U.S. edition of Paris + Klein in 2002. Turning the photobook towards a self-reflective, “stream-of-consciousness” narrative style, and serialised in Picture Post (whose archive is held as a recently acquired electronic resource) prior to its book publication, Ed van der Elsken’s Een Liefdesgeschiedenis in Saint Germain des Prés (1956; in English as Love on the Left Bank and held by the Library in a recent reprint) diaristically documents the bohemian life of his friends and loves amongst the postwar youth in the “existentialist” Left Bank neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des Prés.

Plate 21 from Johan Van der Keuken’s Paris mortel (1963).
Paris mortel by Van der Keuken, held by the Library in a rare and under-studied first edition from 1963, equally portrays the city and its denizens with an off-hand, jazz-like perspective. The recent exhibition displaying all of the hitherto unseen prints leading up to one of Paris mortel’s most iconic single-images, Quartorze juillet (Amsterdam, 2010), and rated equally as a significant photobook, has also been added to the collection. In both books, we see how much Keuken’s film-making studies in Paris between 1956 and 1958, as well as William Klein’s work, impacted upon his radical aesthetic in both political and artistic ways to present a vision of Paris intended to disabuse us from our romanticism.

Pages 8 and 9 from Peter Cornelius’s Couleur de Paris (1962).
As recent scholars such as Shelley Rice, Michel Frizot, Gerry Badger and the photographer and collector Martin Parr, have noted, the book is seemingly a ‘natural’ format or ‘housing’ for the photograph; within it images are sequenced into narratives with which we become involved in an intimate encounter. But when we look more closely at Ed van der Elsken’s Love on the Left Bank, we observe a visual dynamic contrasting full-page bleeds with small pictures, where the designer Jurriaan Schrofer paced images in a filmic rush and with a flashback narrative. In Johan van der Keuken’s Paris mortel, a method of chance-driven, ‘random’ sequencing permitted new image conjunctions to emerge; as Parr notes, the photographer made no less than three maquettes before the publisher (C de Boer Jr., Hilversum) agreed to go to press. In Couleur de Paris, Peter Cornelius’s use of a new colour film, Agfa CN17, revolutionises our previously monochrome vision, while Shinoyama deepens the colour dramatically to re-envision Atget as never before. The medium-specificity of photography as a reproducible visual technology, dependent on the printer’s ability to replicate by gravure and paper quality; the invisible skills of the photo-editor who selects and sequences the images; the designer who thinks about the perfect mis-en-page layout, scale, bindings, fonts and typefaces, jacket design and reproduction quality; the collaboration of the writer, who may be famous and a selling-point, whose text might be integrated with the images or segregated; all add up to a publishing history of a fundamentally hybrid medium whose elements cannot be separated from the content of the images – itself endlessly re-interpretable according to the viewer’s historicised gaze.

See also 

Ah ... Les Parisiennes Juliette Gréco Brigitte Bardot Gare du Nord Dutch photographers in Paris 1900-1968 Photography ...

Eyes on Paris shows how artists engaged in photography (French and immigrants alike) saw, experienced and captured Paris with the camera. The artists’ gaze oscillates between documentary interest and subjective perception, a chronicler’s duty and the projection of personal feelings. Around 400 photographic works by important representatives of 20th-century photography enter into a dialog with epoch-making books, portfolios or rare portfolio works. After all, no other city in the world has been the subject of as many outstanding publications as has Paris: from Atget to Ed van der Elsken, from Robert Doisneau to William Klein.

With works by Eugène Atget, Laure Albin Guillot, Jane Evelyn Atwood, Stefania Beretta, Emmanuel Boudot-Lamotte, Brassaï, Mario von Bucovich, René Burri, Peter Cornelius, Robert Doisneau, Ed van der Elsken, Ilja Ehrenburg, Marc Foucault, Shinzo Fukuhara, Jean Claude Gautrand, René Groebli, Andreas Gursky, Ernst Hahn, Fritz Henle, Lucien Hervé, Roger Henrard, Candida Höfer, Birgit Hvidkjær, Pierre Jahan, Tore Johnson, Günes Karabuda, André Kertész, Johan van der Keuken, Ihei Kimura, William Klein, Germaine Krull, Andréas Lang, René Maltête, André Martin, Moï Ver, Patrice Molinard, Nicolas Moulin, Albert Monier, Jeanine Niepce, Pierre Peissi, René-Jacques, Bettina Rheims, Willy Ronis, Sanford H. Roth, Roger Schall, Jarret Schecter, Kishin Shinoyama, Otto Steinert, Louis Stettner, Christer Strömholm, Bettina Rheims, Emmanuel Sougez, Romain Urhausen, Yvon, Thomas Zacharias.

Plate 6 from Johan Van der Keuken’s Paris mortel (1963).
Natalie Adamson is a scholar of twentieth-century culture in France. She is Senior Lecturer in the School of Art History, where she teaches Honours and postgraduate classes on interwar modernist photography in Europe and postwar art and politics in France