donderdag 22 februari 2018

The History of One of the most magnificent Collections of Photography Books in the World Une Bibliothèque Irène Attinger Photography

Since the Maison Européenne de la Photographie opened in Paris in 1996, Irène Attinger has been its head librarian. The library possesses over 32,000 books, published between 1950 and the present, which are freely available to the public. Irène Attinger looks back in her book at the origins and the evolution of this library, and shares her passion with The Eye of Photography.

Created in 1996, the library of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie is a veritable treasury of international fine photography publishing, covering the decades between 1950 and the present; it currently holds over 32,000 volumes. Among the works of photographers representative of the past sixty years, I have selected a hundred books that illustrate the wonderful editorial adventure in photobook publishing, from photogravure to digital printing. Initially dominated by exhibitions (the catalog) or built around literary texts, the photobook has become increasingly autonomous and won the status of a work of art in its own right. This is underscored, starting in the 2000s, by the proliferation of works about photobooks.

The selection featured in this volume does not aspire to be a “hit parade” of the most important publications or to a presentation of the most beautiful books. While a book’s scarcity and its market value may arouse a collector’s interest, they have no bearing on its merits from the perspective of the development of the art of photography. While the publication of a “coffee table book” may signal the artist’s status, it is clear that the majority of seminal books do not belong to this category. My intention in making my selection in Une Bibliothèque was to show the richness and the diversity of photobooks published in different countries and representing various cultures, and thus to contribute to a historical survey of the photobook and, by extension, to a history of the development of the art of photography.

My selection emphasizes monographs built around a distinct theme, whether social or political, rather than exhibition catalogs or comprehensive publications devoted to a single artist. Une Bibliothèque starts off with two books featuring photographic works designed specifically for the format: William Klein’s Life Is Good & Good for You in New York (Paris: Seuil, 1956) and Robert Frank’s The Americans (Paris: Delpire, 1958), both of which are milestones in the history of photography. Each in its own way invents a new form of photographic writing. Far from being simple carriers of images, these books propose, through their layouts, a veritable reevaluation of images, arranged in sequences or in pairs.

The impact of every photograph depends on how it relates to other photographs through its format and as part of a succession of images. As in cinematic montage, an inter-image comes to the fore. In the early 1960s, the deployment of a sequence or several sequences of photographs, whose meaning crystallizes through images alone or with the aid of text and captions, became the paradigm for many photography books.

Each of the books selected here presents an artist’s point of view, a personal universe, but also attests to a presence in the world anchored in time and space. The subjects covered may be of historical importance or reflect social phenomena in a given place and period, or yet reveal a space within, singular and intimate. Nevertheless, every work featured in this volume has a relationship with the universal, since they all bear witness to the collective and individual consequences of the way of the world on human consciousness, as well as to the photographer’s capacity to change our perception of the world. This relationship finds an expression in different cultural areas, in Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Africa.

I wanted to showcase French publishing, which is very vibrant and, at least as far the 1960s are concerned, often overlooked in scholarly publications released in the United Kingdom and the United States. The volume thus deliberately concludes with Bernard Plossu’s Voyages italiens (Xavier Barral, 2015).

Finally, I wanted to focus on the presence of women, so often left behind in a world of photography, which very much remains a masculine domain. Across the different publications featured in this volume, the reader will encounter statements made by photographers, underscoring how important the photobook is to them (Ralph Gibson, Nobuyoshi Araki, Luigi Ghirri, Bernard Plossu, Jeanloup Sieff, as well as David Goldblatt). In order to approach these unique works through a singular prism, I wrote brief presentations of the selected books, paying ample attention to the protagonists of book creation: photographers, writers, editors.

Jean-Luc Monterosso, the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, formulated the institution’s mission: to bring together, in a single place, exhibition-quality prints, the printed page, and film. He has given me the opportunity to develop one of the largest photographic libraries in Europe. I would like to thank him for his support in the preparation and publication of Une Bibliothèque.

Irène Attinger

Irène Attinger is head of the library and bookstore at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

Une Bibliothèque: Maison Européenne de la Photographie
Published by Actes Sud

The Dutch Photobooks : 

Joan van der Keuken. Paris mortel. Mortal Paris. 1963. With dustjacket.
C de Boer Jr. Hilversum, 1963. First edition, first printing. Martin Parr, The Photobook, vol 1, page 248/249. Scarce photobook title! With the extrem scarce original dustjacket! Hardback with full off-white linen and dustjacket. 285 x 220 mm (11 x 8 1/2 in). 68 pages. 65 photographs in excellent photogravure printing. Text in dutch, english, french, german. Photos: Joan van der Keuken, Layout: Marinus H. van Raalte, printing: DEBO, Hilversum. One of the most important photobooks ever published! Japanese binding! Breath-taking photogravure printing!

Ed van der Elsken: Sweet Life. 1966. First american edition with dustjacket.
Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1966. First american edition, first printing. With the original dustjacket! Scarce! Martin Parr, The Photobook, vol 1, page 254/255. Frits Gierstberg, Rik Suermondt, The Dutch Photobook, page 120/121. Published in the same year (1966) and with the same content and layout regarding the book like the two german editions, the first spanish and first dutch edition. Two years later the french and the japanese editons were published (1968). So wordwide there were published in the sixties 7 different editions; with the identical content and layout regarding the book, but with different covers, dustjackets and slipcases. Hardback with dustjacket. 290 x 290 mm (11 1/2 x 11 1/2 in), 208 pages. 153 black&white photographs. Text and design by Ed van der Elsken.

Rineke Dijkstra: Beaches
DIJKSTRA, Rineke, UCCIA, Birgid
ISBN 10: 395212270X / ISBN 13: 9783952122709
Published by Codax Publisher, Zürich (Zurich), 1996
First edition, first printing. Hardcover. Silver paper-covered boards with tipped-in plate and title stamped in orange and black on cover; no dust jacket as issued. Photographs by Rineke Dijkstra. Essay (in German and English) by Birgid Uccia. Includes a list of plates, a biography, exhibition history, bibliography and awards. Designed by Weiersmüller Bosshard Grüninger. 56 pp., with 18 four-color plates finely printed on heavy matte paper. 13-5/8 x 9-5/8 inches.[Cited in Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, The Photobook: A History, Volume II. (London and New York: Phaidon, 2006).]. Near Fine (moderate surface wear, some smudging on the blank page opposite one plate [not affecting plate], else Fine). Rineke Dijkstra might be the most important photographer of portraits alive today. She channels August Sander through her own poet-soul photographing youth with brutal, unyielding generosity. Her people emerge from beaches, hospital rooms, indefinable space, to haunt us with their imperfect beauty and their fierce necessity of existence. These photographs heroicize individuals in a brazen way. Dijkstra isn't content with confirming that banality is truth. She gives us the truth of fiction, the theatrics of the psychological complexity. She lets us way, way inside. The smudged blood on the collar of a bullfighter is in dialogue with the thin stream of blood running down a new mother's leg as she clutches her hours-old infant with an uncertainty that is astonishing.From Rineke Dijkstra: "In the end, it's the individual that I'm after."From Parr and Badger: "When they first appeared in the 1990s, the portraits by the Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra caused more of a stir than any comparable imagery since Diane Arbus. Her first collection in particular, published as Beaches in this important photobook, resonated with her audience in a number of ways. The images related to the work of both Arbus and August Sander, two impeccable precedents, yet displayed an authoritative voice of their own. Their subject matter, adolescents in bathing suits, was edgy, but was handled by Dijkstra with sensitivity. Furthermore, the rigor of her presentation demonstrated an intellectual clarity and ambition that was enough to announce a major new voice in portraiture, possibly the trickiest of photographic genres to bring off successfully.".

Geert van Kesteren: Why Mister, Why?
Artimo, Amsterdam, 2004. First edition, first printing. At PhotoIreland Festival 2011 Martin Parr selected this title as one of the most important 30 photobook titles of the decade. The title was mentioned also in: Martin Parr, The Photobook, vol 2, page 258/259. Frits Gierstberg, Rik Suermondt, The Dutch Photobook, page 136/137. 802 photo books from the M.+M. Auer collection, page 790. Mint, unread, new condition. Stiff pictorial wrappers (as issued). 215 x 170 mm, throughout illustrated in colour, unpaginated, text in English and Arabic. Preface Jan Gruiters. Introduction Michael Hirsh. The first edition was simultaneously published in English/ Arab and in Dutch/ Arab. Both editions are long-time out of print. For the most part of 2003 and into 2004, van Kesteren made these images in a struggling Iraq, intertwining them with his personal experience of the situation in diary-like notes. In that way, this body of work resonates with an honesty found only when the narrator and photographer of a story are one and the same. The situation in Iraq, following the declaration of "mission accomplished," represented a culture clash of rare proportions, and van Kesteren was witness to what went wrong. He saw clouds of sadness coming from the mass graves created by the Saddam regime, while Shi`ites enjoyed their awakening freedom. Embedded within the ranks of US troops, he witnessed disgraceful raids on Iraqi citizens. And these accounts are presented here for the reader to see, feel, and try to understand. In a clear photojournalistic way, van Kesteren outlines why it will take a long time before the Iraqi people can enjoy the semblance of peace. Accompanying the images is an introduction by Newsweek senior editor Michael Hirsh, with whom Van Kesteren shared several tense moments in Iraq.

Viviane Sassen. Flamboya.
Contrasto, Rome. 2009. First edition, first printing. One of the best photobooks in 2010 (Photoeye, Santa Fe), selected by Alexa Becker (acquisitions editor) and Rinko Kawauchi (photographer). Hardcover (as issued). 240 x 300 mm (9.5 x 12 inch). 96 pages. 49 color illustrations. Essay: Edo Dijksterhuis and Moses Isegawa. Translation: Michael Gibbs. Layout: SYB. Condition: Outside with slightest trace of use, but with no defects. Inside excellent, flawless. Overall near mint condition! Collector`s copy! Flamboya includes photographs taken across Africa—from Cape Town to Kenya to Zambia—that disregard traditional boundaries of genres and tackle the problematic bond between photography, imperialism, and the colonial imagination. Viviane Sassen’s aesthetic vocabulary suggestively recalls documentary as much as staged photography and relies on a visual economy that invites the formulation of multiple interpretations. Seen through Sassen’s lens, the ethnic Other interrogates the traditional nexus laid between vision, knowledge, and power, which lies at the heart of the history and ideology of photography. "Viviane Sassen`s Flamboya brings together photographs from her recent visits to Africa. Though predominantly raised in the Netherlands, from the ages of two to five Sassen lived in a Kenyan village with her father, a doctor who worked at a neighboring polio clinic. The memories from the photographer`s early childhood are, as Edo Dijksterhuis describes in the book`s essay, "tinged with black." In 2001 at the age of 29, Sassen returned to Africa with a camera and began taking the gestural pictures that reflect her complex and loving relationship to the place. For some, her photographs may call to mind the work of Araki, Nan Goldin or even Wolfgang Tillmans, and yet Sassen has a way of seeing that remains her own.Flamboya includes primarily portraits that Sassen made collaboratively with her subjects, some spontaneous and others performative. Red clay, fabrics, concrete and the ocean provide the surreal backdrops to her collection of images. The portraits are unusual in that they emphasize the contours of the body, its movement, physicality and skin, rather than the facial features of the subjects, which are often obscured by harsh shadow or paint. The shadow and the paint, which appear throughout the book, seem to reference Sassen`s symbolic experience or memory of the ethnic `Other` - more certainly, it continually provokes questions in the viewer.The format of the book is atypical in its playful utilization of smaller pages, which aid to construct the intricate relationships between the sequenced images. These pages also make certain photographs feel secretive or hidden until they are unveiled by the reader, perhaps a considered parallel to the notion of the shadow in her photographs. Though a recent discovery, I`ve returned to Flamboya many times already for its recurring beauty and mystery - likely a book that I will not forget to open again." (Shane Lavalette) Shane Lavalette (born 1987, Burlington, VT) is a photographer currently living and working in Somerville, MA. In 2009, he received his BFA from Tufts University in partnership with The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His photographs have been published and exhibited internationally. In addition, Lavalette is the founding editor of Lay Flat, a publication of contemporary photography and writing on the medium.

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