Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Miroslav Tichy.

Miroslav Tichy. Photographs by Miroslav Tichy. Centre Pompidou, 2008. Unpaged, Numerous black & white illustrations., 8x9¾".

"Miroslav Tichy created, in communist Czechoslovakia, from early 1960 to mid 1990, an obsessive photographic work around the female form, reinventing all parts of photography at the margins of any artistic current. His images, captured so instinctively or automatically with approximate optics and tinkered with devices made using scrap materials, propose an extraordinary reality, erotic and dreamlike: they reveal an artist outside the norm, marked by classical pictorial influences, but whose method sometimes resembles the practices of amateur or 'outsider' artists.

Shown for the first time in 2004, the photographs of Miroslav Tichy, unclassifiable and timeless, indicate a unique talent. This catalog constitutes the first work available on the artist in French."

I've written about Miroslav Tichy and another of his great photography books before.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Magical illustration

Paris-Moscou: Drawings by the model Sasha Pivovarova on the occasion of the [Chanel] fashion show in Moscow. Image from chanel.com

"My drawings were inspired by the joy of seeing fairytale characters coming to life in one of the main theaters of Moscow, the city where I was born."

I thought we'd start the week off with this magical illustration for Chanel. It's quite art deco in its' feel - something that I love.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Forest. Photographs by Stuart Rome. Nazraeli Press, Tucson, 2005. 52 pp., 36 duotone illustrations, 13x13". Signed copies available from photo-eye.

"Stuart Rome's clear-eyed meditations on the chaos of forest flora provide Nazraeli Press with excellent material for another of their characteristically appealing volumes. From its gratifyingly large plates to its silky green binding cloth, Forest exemplifies Nazraeli's commitment to the tactile pleasures of reading photo books.

It is the images, though, that carry the weight and justify our attention. Significantly, Rome has not captioned the plates in his book. This is not description of specific forest environments, but evocation of the spirits that loom and linger amidst all arboreal surroundings.

These black-and-white images are densely packed, with a quicksilver blend of fine gestural calligraphy, deep spaces of nearly impenetrable shadow, and dramatic splashes of sunlight penetrating the canopy and catching vines and leaves in a mesmerizing grisaille fashion.

These are images to get lost in, and we can be grateful to Rome for having made the journeys through what often seems like impenetrable greenery; it is, sometimes, extremely difficult to imagine where his feet were when he made an image, as his vantage point seems impossibly elevated.

Studying Rome's forests is an exercise in letting go; the circuits your vision takes into, around, and through his photographs are better and more rewarding the less they are forced."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Thunder, Perfect Mind.

Prada shortfilm, directed by Jordan Scott. Poem quoted: The Thunder, Perfect Mind. (part of the Gnostic manuscripts discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945).

"Thunder Perfect Mind (the title is, more accurately, The Thunder - Perfect Intellect), takes the form of an extended, riddling monologue, in which an immanent saviour speaks a series of paradoxical statements concerning the divine feminine nature.

These paradoxical utterances echo Greek identity riddles, a common poetic form in the Mediterranean. There are some translations to the right from the same section of the poem. Line numbering is different in different translations.


The work as a whole takes the form of a poem in parallel strophes, and the author, it may be surmised, has drawn on a tradition of such poems in both Egyptian and Jewish communities, in which a similarly female divinity (Isis and Sophia respectively) expounds her virtues unto an attentive audience, and exhorts them to strive to attain her. Examples of the genre abound in Old Testament literature.

The riddles of the poem may presuppose a classical Gnostic myth, such as the one found in the Reality of the Rulers, or in the Secret Book of John.

The original language of the poem was Greek, though only a Coptic version survives in the Nag Hammadi library; the manuscript resides in the Cairo Coptic museum."

There really should be more fashion and literature intertwining.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Faber Flickr Photostream - archive of book covers!

Images (end papers from the 'Poetry Series') from the Faber Flickr Photostream.

"We're gradually uploading some of our favourite covers, photos and various other ephemera from our archive. Our archivist uncovers new material every day - we hope you enjoy his discoveries as much as we do!"

The lovely people over at Faber alerted me to this great flickr project. They are uploading covers of Faber books from the start in 1929 to present day!

This is such an incredible treat for any book, illustration or design lover - it's especially wonderful to see different covers for the same title, and how they've changed over the years.

I've earlier written about the great series Faber is coming out with in celebration of its' 80th year, but when I discovered the endpapers to the 'Poetry Classics' series through the Faber flickr set I just couldn't help but using them in illustrating this post. The thought that's gone into producing these books is incredible and the extra little bonuses like these endpapers - pure wonderful!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

not book-related today

Illustration by Egon Schiele - image from rackk and ruin.

Not a book-related post today. I saw this great illustration over at rackk and ruin and it just felt right for today.

As there was no credit I'm not sure if she's drawn it or if there is someone else I should be giving props to - please enlighten me..

The illustration is by Egon Schiele (thank you very much rackk and ruin!), a protégé of Gustav Klimt's. Klimt's influence can be seen fairly clearly in this particular piece even if not perhaps in his other work.

"Egon Schiele (12 June 1890 – 31 October 1918) was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century.

Schiele's work is noted for its intensity, and the many self-portraits the artist produced. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism, although still strongly associated with the art nouveau movement (Jugendstil)."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cuba. Out of Time.

Cuba. Out of Time. Photographs by Jim Krantz. Text by Andy Blankenburg. Jim Krantz Studio, Chicago, 2008. Unpaged, Numerous color and black & white illustrations, 6¼x8¼". Signed copies available from photo-eye.

"'Out of Time' is a collection of photographs from five visits to Cuba by Jim Krantz. Designed by Jamie Koval and Nicole Dillon of award winning VSA Partners.

This signed, linen covered hardbound book features a debossed cover with an inset black & white reproduction. The book measures 8.25 x 6.25'' and contains 44 pages with 20 color, 38 b/w reproductions and 6 illustrations.

All photographs in book are available for sale through Photo Eye."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Fig. Photographs by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Foreword by Gordon McDonald. Text by Julian Stallabrass. Steidl / Photoworks, Gottingen, 2007. 144 pp., Illustrated throughout, 6½x8¼".

"Fig. features over 80 still lives, portraits and landscapes by London-based photographers Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.

Tracing connections between photography and British colonial acquisitiveness, they unearth and document weird arcana from Victorian collections in various public museums. As Broomberg and Chanarin themselves have observed: 'the history of photography is intimately bound up with the idea of colonial power. Documentary photographers today have a worrying amount in common with the collector/adventurers of past eras. As unreliable witnesses, we have gathered together 'evidence' of our experiences and present our findings here; a muddle of fact and fantasy.'

The items photographed range from bizarre objects found at the Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton, such as a merman's body and a unicorn's horn, to ancient waxworks and a dodo skeleton; or from floral arrangements found in the rooms of Hotel Rwanda to a single leaf blown from a tree in Tel Aviv by a bomb blast."

Monday, June 22, 2009


Findings. Photographs by Hiroshi Watanabe. Photolucida, Portland, 2007. Unpaged. Signed copies available from photo-eye. Limited edition available.

"Hiroshi Watanabe’s gorgeous monograph 'Findings' shows, in a subtle and elegant way, small stories of daily life in far-flung corners of the world such as Ecuador, Japan, Burma, Iceland, and Tahiti. In these images, seemingly simple, Watanabe’s wisdom emerges without visual complications.

These are honest and direct pictures; they bear a heavy silence, and are uncomplicated, singular ideas. These words invite a closer look uncompromised by time. They suggest a meditation that can bring to the surface what could otherwise have remained hidden — that opening in the sky beyond the child and his maze, and what it can mean.”

'Findings' is a 2005 'Critical Mass Book Award Winner'. To learn more about Hiroshi Watanabe or see more work go here.

Limited edition of 'Findings':
"The Deluxe Limited Edition of 'Findings' comes with a choice of one of three toned gelatin silver prints.

All prints are made by the artist from the original negatives and archivally processed on fiber base paper and toned. Each print is 6x6 in image size and matted in a 9x10 4-ply archival matte.

The prints are numbered, signed, and dated on verso. Book and print are cased together in a clothbound clamshell box. This edition is limited to 50 set per image - 150 in total."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the sun never sets

late night in stockholm. Image from here on flickr.

"A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is most inclined toward or away from the Sun, causing the Sun's apparent position in the sky to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme.

The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the apparent movement of the Sun's path north or south comes to a stop before reversing direction.

The term solstice can also be used in a wider sense, as the date (day) when this occurs. The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons."

On the summer solstice (June 21st) the sun never sets in Sweden. This doesn't mean the sun is blasting for 24 hours, but rather a more subtle event where night just doesn't occur - and instead day turns into day.

At the polar circle you can actually see (if you're lucky) the sun turning at the horizon - as if its' changed its' mind - and rising again. In Stockholm it's not that dramatic, but magical all the same.

Above is an image of the Stockholm sky at night in the summer (Stockholm in my heart!). If weather permits I'll see if I can take one tonight that will show this phenomena better...

UPDATE: I did indeed take some pictures, but couldn't bare to take down this one of Vasastan chimneys at night.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photo Sketch.

Photo Sketch. Photo Sketch, Digital Sketches 1995 – 2007. Photographs by Ruud van Empel.Ruud van Empel, Amsterdam, 2007. 64 pp., Numerous color and black & white illustrations., 6¾x9½".

"An artistic approach that uses trial and error in its creative process is bound to produce a number of works that don’t quite make the grade. Hundreds of attempts by Ruud van Empel to create the ultimate art work are collected here, from barely distinguishable assemblies to never-before-seen works and examples from the artist’s comprehensive digital archive.

Arranged more or less in chronological order, these photographic assemblies provide a fascinating insight into Van Empel’s evolution as a digital artist along with his working methods."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Glad midsommar - Happy midsummer!

Midsommarstång (maypole), illustrator unknown.

"In modern Sweden, Midsummer's Eve and Midsummer's Day (Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen) [...] is arguably the most important holiday of the year, and one of the most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated, even if it has been influenced by other countries long ago.

The main celebrations take place on the Friday, and the traditional events include raising and dancing around a huge maypole. One typical dance is the frog dance. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to cover the entire pole.

Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) is an activity that attracts families and many others. People dancing around the pole listen to traditional music and many wear traditional folk costumes. The year's first potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, and possibly the first strawberries of the season are on the menu. Drinking songs are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily.

Because Midsummer was thought to be one of the times of the year when magic was strongest, it was considered a good night to perform rituals to look into the future. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse. In the past it was believed that herbs picked at Midsummer were highly potent, and water from springs could bring good health. Greenery placed over houses and barns were supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues, even though most don't take it seriously."
-- read more here

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Namibia. Photographs by Richard Ehrlich. Nazraeli Press, Tucson, 2007. 56 pp., 51 four-color plates., 14x11".

"Namibia, on the south-west coast of Africa, is sandwiched between two vast deserts - to the east is the Kalahari and to the west, the Namib, which runs along the entire coastline of this large and sparsely populated country. It is a land of amazing primary sources of diamonds. Much of Namibia is desert, and the sand dunes, shaped by the winds, are colored by the prevailing light.

It is a photographer's dream of a place, so much so that it is hard to imagine a series of Namibian pictures that are as arrestingly fresh - and frankly interesting - as these by Richard Ehrlich. A renowned surgeon, he has taken many photographs in his working life, as a way of keeping records during surgery. The melding of his clinical precision with his artistic sensibilities has produced an incredible body of work.

Concentrating mostly on an abandoned diamond mine, and the deserted mining village that housed its workers, Ehrlich - who obtained special permission to enter the area - has captured not only the breathtaking landscape but also the insides of homes occupied now only by piles of drifting sand.

The colors, the shapes, the patterns, and the small signs of former inhabitants are meticulously and beautifully recorded in this gorgeous new book."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Josef Sudek.

Josef Sudek.Photographs by Josef Sudek. Torst, Prague, 2003. 154 pp., 80 duotone illustrations, 6x7".

"[...] Josef Sudek was one of the most important and celebrated of Czech photographers. Sudek produced his best work during his middle-aged years, having grown up and out of the rules of Modernism and into a style of his own. Whereas his photographs from the 1930s are mainly a reflection of the external world, by the 1940s he was returning to himself, finding his own unique creative path.

It was during this period that he made his most famous photograph, a view of the world seen through his studio window, the window ledge doubling as a stage for still life objects - a setup which he repeated to great effect. Not even the pressures of WWII and the difficult postwar years, including the demands of socialist realism in the arts, interrupted the continuity of his oeuvre."

I've previously written about the book 'Advertisements' that shows photographs Josef Sudek took in the 1940s especially to be used in advertisements. As a contrast to the dreamy, soft focus imagery above they are abstract, graphic and stark.

Both books of photographs are beautiful realisations of their subjects, and interesting looks at Josef Sudek's body of work.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Moment of Seeing.

The Moment of Seeing. Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts. Photographs and text by Minor White. Edited and with text by Stephanie Comer and Deborah Klochko. Essay by Jeff Gunderson. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2006. 208 pp., 200 b&w illustrations, 9¾x10".

"Founded by Ansel Adams, directed by Minor White, and staffed by such luminaries as Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Lisette Model, and Edward Weston, the first fine-art photography department in the United States was created in 1946 at the California School of Fine Arts (now known as the San Francisco Art Institute).

Under White's leadership and against a backdrop of revolutions in photography as an art form, this dynamic faculty developed the modern photography curriculum, bringing a new academic pedigree to the medium and establishing the future of photography education.

The Moment of Seeing is much more than a history of the program and those who comprised it. Including White's never-before-published writings on the teaching of photography, it is also a rich gallery of iconic images by both renowned faculty members and the dedicated students they taught."

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the end it all comes down to language.

Book page. Photograph by me.

"Language. Language, language, language. In the end it all comes down to language. I write to you today on this subject [...] because, well, it’s a subject worth thinking about at any time and because fewer things interest me quite so much.

There are so many questions and issues jostling, tumbling and colliding in my mind that I can barely list them. Is language the father of thought? There’s one. Somebody once said, “How can I tell you what I think until I’ve heard what I’m going to say?” Is language being degraded, is it not what it was? Is there a right way to express yourself and a wrong? Grammar, does that exist, or is it a pedantic imposition, a kind of unnatural mixture of strangulation and straightening, like pleaching, pollarding and training pear-trees against a wall? Can we translate from one tongue into another without irreparable loss? And many, many more.

“Language is the universal whore that I must make into a virgin,” wrote Karl Kraus or somebody so like him that it makes no odds. One of my favourite remarks. T. S. Eliot said much the same thing in a different way: “to purify the dialect of the tribe”. But is there a “higher language”, a purer language, a proper language, a right language? Is language a whore, used, bruised and abused by every john in the street … is the idea of purifying the dialect of the tribe a poetic ideal or nonsensical snobbery?"
-- continue reading here

I re-read this text recently (by Stephen Fry, from his blog - posted in Nov 2008) and thoroughly enjoyed it - perhaps more so than the first time I read it.

Nothing is indeed more worth thinking about at any time than language - and nothing is quite so interesting. Hopefully the text will intrigue you, interest you, but mostly just be as enjoyable to read and ponder over as I thought it was.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Magnolia Tree by Su Blackwell.

Magnolia Tree (2007). By Su Blackwell. 40x40x50cm. (top image). Unknown title, by Su Blackwell (bottom image).

"Paper has been used for communication since its invention; either between humans or in an attempt to communicate with the spirit world. I employ this delicate, accessible medium and use irreversible, destructive processes to reflect on the precariousness of the world we inhabit and the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions.

It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Interview with Paul Auster by Granta Magazine

Interview with Paul Auster by Granta magazine.

In this wonderful Paul Auster interview by Granta Magazine Auster talks about "the emotional intimacy and intertextual exercises of his fiction, the ‘intensity of youth’, the unsettling quality of narrative clarity and his writing process."

In Granta 106: ‘Fiction Special’ - the latest issue of Granta magazine - there's also an extract from Paul Auster's next novel ‘Invisible’, published later this year by Faber (UK) and Frances Coady (US).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Faber at 80 - Classic Books Revisited

Faber celebrating eighty years of publishing history. Selected images of new book series. Images from designsponge and faber. Found via designsponge.

"Faber and Faber was founded by Geoffrey Faber in 1929, with T. S. Eliot as editor, and scored an immediate bestseller with the (then anonymous) Siegfried Sassoon’s 'Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man'. And now we are looking back on eighty years of independence and celebrating with a special anniversary publishing programme.

We’re launching our celebrations this May with the Faber Firsts, a series of ten republished paperbacks of great Faber debut novels, including 'The Bell Jar', 'Lord of the Flies' and ' The New York Trilogy' styled by contemporary designers to match classic eras of our design history.

Also in May we’re issuing six beautiful hardback Poetry Classics by Auden, Eliot, Hughes, Plath, Betjeman and Yeats. The selections have been made by great writers, and each one has a stunning cover and matching endpapers by a contemporary printmaker.

A landmark publishing project comes to fruition in May too. For the first time, all of Samuel Beckett’s work will be published by Faber in newly edited editions, with introductions and notes from leading Beckett scholars. The first batch of Becketts includes two novels, 'Watt' and 'Murphy', and the last four prose fictions he wrote ('Company'/'Ill Seen Ill Said'/'Worstward Ho'/'Sitirrings Still'), a book which includes his famous injunction to ‘Try again, fail again. Fail better.’ These are published alongside a number of his best known plays, from 'Endgame' to 'Krapp’s Last Tape'."

Wow! I'm so impressed with these three new book series from Faber - the thought that has gone into them are wonderful, and the design is just absolutely fantastic (they really just got it right...).

That's how you celebrate you're 80th!