Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Photobook Vols. I & II by Parr and Badger

The Photobook Vols. I & II by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. These two books are a must for any photography book compulsive

Vol I came out a couple of years or so ago, Vol II came out last year (there may be more to come?)

Each takes a thematic but eclectic survey across the history of the photo book

Volume I takes overview of the development of the photobook, from the first by Fox Talbot et al the dawn of photography to Japanese photobooks of the 1960s and 70s, via the modernist and propaganda books of the 1930s and 40s

Volume II has the following chapters:

1 Explosion - The American Photobook since the 1980s

2 Common Market - The European Photobooks since the 1980s

3 Without Frontiers - The Worldwide Photobook

4 Appropriating the Photograph - The Artist's Photobook

5 Point of Sale - The Company Book

6 Looking at Photographs - The Picture Editor as Auteur

7 The Camera as Witness - The 'Concerned' Photobook since World War II

8 Straight no Chaser - The New 'New Objectivity'

9 Home and Away - The Photobook and Modern Life

Epilogue - The Ultimate Photoboook

The are some fairly obvious choices listed - The Decisive Moment, American Photographs, The Americans (and in volume II, books by Shore, Gursky, the Bechers) But there are also some listed and described which may send you scurrying to , as well as some books you would probably never imagine had ever been printed and published - e.g. 10 Years of Uzbekistan, The Book of Bread and Waterfall Rapture - Postcards of Falling Water: My Addiction My Collection.

Parr is an obsessive photo book collector (by all accounts they fill his house almost from floor to ceiling). Badger provides the historical detail and context for each book.

Asked about their favourites, here are some of Badger's choices:

"The Pond (1985) by John Gossage – "Adams, Shore, Baltz – all the New Topographic photographers made great books, but none are better than The Pond.

"Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness (1946) by Zdenek Tmej – "Extraordinarily rough, lyrical book made clandestinely during the war by a 'guest worker' of the Nazis.

and here some of Parr's:

"Checked Baggage (2004) by Christien Meindertsma – "This book has almost more resonance now than when it was originally published. A brilliant and simple idea that hits you directly between the eyes.

"Industriia sotsializma (1935) by El Lissitsky – "The design and imagery are so bold that opening and viewing this takes your breath away.

It's also fun to check through your own library and see how the books on your shelves match up, as well as reading their comments about any of your favourites

Though I must say one unfortunate side effect of the two volumes has been to drive up the price of certain books, especially those long out of print. Try finding a decent priced copy of the brilliant (but at one time "just another" aperture monograph) The Pond by John Gossage. In fact, try finding a copy at all now.

All in all a great way to while away the winter afternoons. (Oh and one book I think they should have included - Passing Times by Peter Korniss)

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