This book features the powerful landscapes of photographer Mitch Dobrowner as illustrations for selected passages from William Blake’s prophetic books, often considered to be among his most important works. Blake’s series was completed in the 1790s and early 1800s and for each book in it Blake wrote the text, designed the illustrations, engraved both on copper engraving plates so they could be intertwined on the same page, printed the plates in color, bound the books, and sold them. To Walter Crane, a leading book designer and illustrator in Victorian England and the author of The Decorative Illustration of Books, “Blake is distinct, and stand alone . . . . [I]n him seemed to awake something of the old [medieval] illuminator. He became his own calligrapher, illuminator, and miniaturist while availing himself of the copper plate and the printing press for the production of his own designs.” Blake called his process “illuminated printing.”
The excerpts from Blake in this volume were selected by John Wood, the co-publisher of 21st Editions, who also wrote the introduction. Printed by John Marcy, the nine platinum prints of Dobrowner’s landscapes provide a fittingly dramatic accompaniment to the prophecies, which range from the ominous to the sublime. These nine prints are tipped in hors texte and interleaved with glassine. In addition, the book include an extra suite of three loose platinum prints.
This book also features a binding by Peter Geraty and Julia L. Rabin. It is quarter bound in brown leather and the boards feature textured paste papers. Referencing the horizon in a landscape, a debossed silver line runs across the length of both boards and continues as a tooled silver line on the spine. Handmade paste papers serve as the endpapers.
The book is housed in a brown cloth-covered, four-sided wraparound case secured with a magnetic flap shaped to allude to the landscapes within. The artist’s name and title of the book are stamped in silver on the spine of the case. The case has a built-in paper-covered box to store the three loose platinum prints. Each loose print is stored in a separate paper folio with a blind embossed 21st Editions logo. All twelve of the prints in this volume are signed by Mitch Dobrowner. This is copy number 18 out of 28 numbered copies with an additional 11 copies reserved for the collaborators. The book is signed by Mitch Dobrowner, John Wood, and the publisher of 21st Editions, Steven Albahari.
Featuring Michael Kenna’s haunting photographs of Huangshan, a mountain range in the east of China, this book presents over forty poems from the eighth century Tang Dynasty, an era regarded as the Golden Age of Chinese poetry. The mountain range has inspired artists and poets throughout Chinese history.
Translated by Stanton Hager, the poems in this book describe life in the mountains – traveling on mountain roads, the changing of the seasons, and the natural environment. Kenna’s evocative black and white photographs capture the elusive beauty of both the mountains and these poems. The text includes an introduction by John Wood and an afterword by the translator.
Kenna’s twelve platinum prints are tipped in the bound book hors texte. An additional platinum print is tipped onto a loose sheet of paper housed in a paper portfolio that is blind embossed. The platinum prints were printed by John Marcy, and each of the prints is signed by Kenna. The book and the portfolio are housed in a decorative silk-covered clamshell box with the artist’s name and the book’s title stamped in black on the spine.
This copy is number 18 out of 60 numbered copies and 15 lettered copies hors commerce. It is signed by Stanton Hager, John Wood, Michael Kenna, and publisher Steven Albahari.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a French islet on which stands an immense Benedictine abbey built, slowly, between the 11th and 16th centuries. This book portrays the Gothic beauty of Mont-Saint-Michel through Michael Kenna’s ethereal contemporary photography and Henry Adams’ stately turn-of-the-last-century prose. Adams, an historian and writer, originally printed Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres privately in 1904 and it was first published commercially in 1913. His essay discusses how cathedrals and abbeys such as Mont-Saint-Michel reflect the Medieval worldview. An abridged version is reprinted here.
Fourteen photographic platinum prints of Kenna’s work are tipped in to the book hors texte with an additional platinum print loose in a paper portfolio printed with the title and the artist’s name. The prints were made by John Marcy and are all signed by Michael Kenna. The book features an introduction by John Wood and a critical essay by Lance Speer.
This book is number 53 out of an edition of 60 numbered copies and 15 lettered copies hors commerce. It is signed by Michael Kenna, John Wood, Lance Speer, and publisher Steven Albahari.
One of the highly influential photographic books created by Ed Ruscha in the 1960s, Royal Road Test documents the wreckage of a typewriter thrown from a speeding car. The book is presented in the manner of a forensic investigation with numerous offset printed black and white photos and terse captions documenting the depicted aspect of the incident. The text details the date, time, place, weather, and speed of the test, and the photos show the Royal (Model “X”) Typewriter before and after the toss. The 1963 Buick Le Sabre used for the test is also shown.
This project was the result of a spontaneous action as Ruscha and his friends Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell drove along a highway near Las Vegas. Ruscha is credited as the driver, Williams as the thrower, and Blackwell as the photographer. Preceding the documentation is a cryptic statement: “It was too directly bound to its own anguish to be anything other than a cry of negation; carrying within itself, the seeds of its own destruction.” This is a quotation taken from an Encyclopedia Britannica entry on the Dada movement, and it accentuates the dry humor of the piece.
A slim volume, this book is spiral bound with white-coated metal wire. On the cover, the title is printed using the Royal Typewriter logo. The first edition of this book was printed in 1000 copies, and after that three more editions were produced. This copy is from the first edition and is one of the few signed by the artist on the title page. A distributor’s sticker is on the verso of last page.
In the 1960s, artist Ed Ruscha created a series of now-iconic photographic artist’s books using low cost means of production and distribution, and Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles is one of them. It is distinguished from its predecessors, however, in that it was the first to use photographs taken by a professional photographer, Art Alanis, rather than Ruscha himself. Ruscha and Alanis took off in a helicopter on a Sunday afternoon when the lots were empty, and Ruscha pointed out the spots he wanted photographed. To allow the detail of the photographs to be seen, Ruscha chose a larger size for this book than for his earlier books.
The resulting thirty-one photographs used in the book depict thirty-four parking lots accompanied by captions identifying the lot and its location. As with all of Ruscha’s photographically-based artist’s books, and despite the intervention of a professional photographer, these emotionally flat, documentary-style photographs present a stark contrast to the fine art photography of the time, an art form in which Ruscha had no interest.
Rather than celebrating the photographer’s personal aesthetic vision, therefore, the photographs here document a critical aspect of life in Los Angeles and of the behavior of the people who live there, showing by their size which parking lots were most used and by their oil stains which spaces within them were most favored. Published the same year as Sol LeWitt’s influential essay, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” – which used Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966) as an illustrating example – this book reinforces the link between Ruscha’s pioneering work and the Conceptual Art movement that was emerging at that time.
The cover of this sewn softcover book features the title printed in orange. The black-and-white photos are reproduced by offset lithography. The last photo extends out of its spread with a small foldout flap as called for with the first edition. Although usually unsigned and unnumbered, this particular copy is signed by the artist opposite the title page. There is a distributer’s stamp on the verso of the title page. This copy is in very good condition overall and is wrapped in its original glassine dust jacket.
An odd statement for the creator of This book that relies exclusively on what scholar Johanna Drucker calls a “non-narrative visual sequence.” The book depicts only what the title proclaims, viz., every building on the Sunset Strip, and uses words only to identify the intersecting streets and numbers only to identify the address of each building. It is a completely self-referential object placed into the context of a mass-produced commodity.
The photographs evince no aesthetic or artistic hand, and simply record in a somewhat monotonous low-contrast representational way the cityscape of the Sunset Strip in the mid sixties. The book is offset printed on standard paper. In the truest sense the artistic medium here is the book itself and not the photographs.
Looked at as an art object, it is an excellent example of what minimalism should achieve: the device of the unbound concertina fold, about twenty-seven feet long when unfolded, accommodates perfectly the physical requirements of displaying joined panoramic photographs a street that is itself several miles long. The visual sequence of the street provides a structure for the visual sequence of the book with no further need for elaboration.
A copy of this book was included in the recent exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago entitled Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph 1964 – 1977.
This copy is a first edition, first issue, limited to 1000 copies (although no limitation is stated in the book) in a silver foil slipcase complete with its original very scarce paper wraparound band.
This book features the photography of Josephine Sacabo accompanied by the poetry of Keagan LeJeune, a professor of English at McNeese State University in Louisiana. This work comprises both a small bound book with ten platinum prints and a separate large portfolio of ten loose photogravure prints. Sacabo’s refined contemporary pictorialist photographs evoke the work of earlier photo-secessionists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence H. White, and Gertrude Käsebier. Fittingly, her photographs in this book are presented in a format recalling Stieglitz’ Camera Work, with the ten small platinum prints tipped in next to the text and with the use of the photogravure process for the larger versions. The text includes fifteen poems by LeJeune inspired by Sacabo’s work as well as an introduction by John Wood.
The platinum prints were printed by John Marcy and the photogravures were printed by Sacabo herself using Sekishu Japanese tissue on Somerset Velvet paper. Each of the photogravures is signed by the artist on the verso and the paper is blind embossed with Sacabo’s initials. The two volumes are housed in a single cloth-covered clamshell box with two wooden sides and a magnetic closure.
This is copy number 18 out of 40 numbered copies, with 10 additional lettered copies for the artist and 2 copies for the publisher. It is signed by the artist, the poet, John Wood, and publisher Steven Albahari.
Paul Strand is best know for austere cityscapes, such as Wall Street (1915), and for abstractions, such as Abstraction, Twin Lakes, Connecticut (1916), but in 1926 he traveled to New Mexico to make portraits and in the early 1930s he traveled to Mexico to photograph its architecture, landscape, folk art, and people. These trips occurred in a transitional period for Strand. He was moving away from his more austere earlier work and was using portraiture to infuse a new humanism into photography.
The result of his Mexican trip was the seminal 1940 portfolio Photographs of Mexico containing twenty photogravures. That edition, published by Virginia Stevens with gravures pulled at the now defunct New York Photogravure and Color Company, was issued in a limited edition of 250 copies. A new edition under the title The Mexican Portfolio was published twenty-six years later by the Da Capo Press with gravures pulled at the Andersen Lamb Company by Albert DeLong under Strand’s direct supervision. Strand said of this version, which used the same steel gravure plates as the original: “[they] have been able to get even more out of these twenty beautiful plates in printing the second edition.” This second facsimile edition, of which this copy is one, is limited to 1000 copies each signed by Strand.
The acclaim accorded to Strand’s Mexican photographs has not waned and the importance of this renowned body of work continues today. It is currently the subject of a traveling exhibition organized by the Aperture Foundation in New York and can be seen at museums in New York, Texas, Florida, and Kentucky.
The images . . . are a celebration of the subjects’ pride, dignity, and endurance, and are a clear testament to Strand’s belief that the photogravure process is capable of yielding the finest results achievable in photographic printmaking.
The Aperture Foundation, 2012
Yamamoto Masao is a deluxe publication by 21st Editions celebrating the art of Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto. One of several books the photographer has created, this set includes two volumes and a portfolio of loose prints. The collection of Yamamoto’s work presented here highlights the Zen-like stillness of his photographs.
The first volume contains twelve original platinum prints, tipped-in to the book, which depict ordinary objects and scenes in a subjective, spiritual way. John Wood contributes a Japanese-influenced poem entitled "Five Whirling Head Waka for Yamamoto Masao." The second volume features over 100 of the artist’s photographs reproduced as tri-tone lithographs. The meditative images feature animals, landscapes, and the human body. This volume includes an introduction assembled by John Wood, "A Guide to the Art of Yamamoto Masao," which primarily comprises quotations from many works, including The Way of Zen by Alan Watts and “The Awakening of a New Consciousness in Zen” by D.T. Suzuki. In addition to these two books, three loose gelatin silver prints are included in a four-flap paper folder within a portfolio covered in blue silk. The books and the portfolio are housed in a cedar box.
This publication was issued in an edition of 40 copies numbered I-XL, with 2 additional books marked as publisher’s copies. This set is numbered XVIII. Both books are signed by the artist in black ink with a red seal. The platinum prints and the gelatin silver prints are each individually signed by the artist, and the gelatin silver prints are also numbered 18/40.