Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alla Helgons dag is All Saints' Day

Image courtesy of Anita Elgerot

In Sweden we don't have Thanksgiving, but lately I've been thinking that perhaps our holiday Alla helgona in a way has a similar function (even though of course not the same origin).

Alla helgona is All Saints' Day - a holiday a lot of my friends and family in the UK and US think of as a Catholic holiday. In Sweden however Alla helgona is not necessarily seen as religious, but rather as a day to remember those loved one's we've lost and as a celebration of your family and an occasion to gather everyone for a nice meal.

At dusk clusters of families - often with many small children - go to the cemetery bringing candles, flowers and arrangements made with pine cones and other local and seasonal plants. The graves are visited and tended, its owners' remembered. And the memorial garden overflows with candles and flowers. When you go through the cemetery the candles are so many they glow like stars guiding you. Back home you continue the remembrance, but also just enjoying being together. Stillness.

This post is from All Saints' Day last year, but it's of course as valid this year. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Boring Books.

Boring Books. A selection of book titles and covers so boring they're interesting.

"Scottish Nick Currie, more popularly known under the artist name Momus (after the Greek god of mockery), is a songwriter, blogger and former journalist for Wierd.

If you have 5 min, then sit back and enjoy a bit of book cover reading."

This video found via FILE very much brightened my morning!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009


Male. From the collection of Vince Aletti. Text by Collier Schorr. PPP Editions, 2008. Unpaged, 300 black & white and color illustrations, 10½x12".

" 'Male' features photographs and artifacts from the collection of the renowned photography critic, curator and collector, Vince Aletti.

Amassed over the last 30 years, the collection features a blend of anonymous and iconic imagery from the present back into the nineteenth century.

This visual cacophony distinguishes Aletti's taste and appetite as a collector. He surrounds himself with his collection in his apartment, but for the first time, in February, 2008, Aletti assembled a selection of images at White Columns in New York.

A sampling from this public display is featured in 'Male' along with a gatefold documenting the collection as it is installed in his home."

"Collier Schorr, contemporary artist and author, has contributed a 2500 word essay on the history of homosexual imagery and the impact viewing Aletti's collection had on her, as an image maker.

In 'A Male is a Male as well as being a Male,' she states, 'Aletti's collection - as seen in his book, in his home and in an exhibition space - creates a Cosmos: at once a microcosm of gay male life, a personal fantasy, and the infinite, enveloping World.

The collection is not concerned with the Unique. There is no sense of one-upmanship, each new picture is not there to be better than the last. There is no holy grail.' "

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski.

The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski. By Christian Boltanski and Catherine Grenier. MFA Publications, 2009. 256 pp., 3 color and 4 black & white illustrations, 5½x8".

"Christian Boltanski's votive installations, archives and objects, revolving around the fragile polarities of memory and amnesia, identity and anonymity, have made him one of the world's most renowned contemporary artists. And yet, despite the centrality of biography and testimony to his work, Boltanski's own story is little known and has never been fully told.

Published on the occasion of the artist's sixty-fifth birthday, 'The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski', written in the form of a book-length interview (which the artist likens to a 'psychoanalysis' or 'confession') with the art historian Catherine Grenier, is Boltanski's oral autobiography.

In it, he recounts his unusual wartime childhood ('my mother hid my father under the floorboards. He stayed there for a year and a half, between two floors in the house. He'd come out from time to time - I'm living proof of that!'), his career, friendships and marriage, successes and regrets, his approaches to art and teaching, how he created various installations, his relations with dealers and the public, and other matters that illuminate as never before his complex, enigmatic works.

Boltanski is refreshingly phlegmatic about the realities of the world (art and otherwise), and he relates his remarkable stories - some enormously amusing, others tragic - with a matter-of-factness and self-deprecating humor that highlight his capacity for humane responsiveness. As both the self-portrait of a major contemporary artist and a frank, fascinating memoir, this is a document of capital importance."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gustav Klucis

Gustav Klucis (K Special). Clip from a program about the Russian avantgarde artist and constructivist Gustav Klucis.

"Klucis worked in a variety of experimental media.

He liked to use propaganda as a sign or revolutionary background image. His first project of note, in 1922, was a series of semi-portable multimedia agitprop kiosks to be installed on the streets of Moscow, integrating 'radio-orators', film screens, and newsprint displays, all to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Revolution.

Like other Constructivists he worked in sculpture, produced exhibition installations, illustrations and ephemera.


[His poster's] dynamic compositions, distortions of scale and space, angled viewpoints and colliding perspectives make them perpetually modern.

In the later work the presence of Stalin, accepting the applause of a cut-and-paste cross-section of Soviet society, resonates with the falsity of Stalin's myth.

Klucis is one of four artists with a claim to having invented the sub-genre of political photo montage in 1918 (along with the German Dadaists Hannah Höch and Raoul Hausmann, and the Russian El Lissitzky)."

-- read further here.

I'm a huge fan of the European avantgarde art movements between the two world wars, such as dadaism, bauhaus and constructivism.

This clip from a documentary of Gustav Klucis gives you a snapshot of some of the wonderful poster art he made.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Robert Mapplethorpe

Clip from 'K-special: Fotografen Mapplethorpe och hans mecenat', which is a program about the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the curator Sam Wagstaff - in English with Swedish subtitles. See the entire program here.

"Mapplethorpe was born and grew up as a Roman Catholic of English and Irish heritage in Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Floral Park, Queens, New York. He studied for a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he majored in graphic arts, though he dropped out in 1969 before finishing his degree.

Mapplethorpe took his first photographs soon thereafter using a Polaroid camera. In the mid-1970s, he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began taking photographs of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, including artists, composers, and socialites.

In the 1980s he refined his aesthetic, photographing statuesque male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and highly formal portraits of artists and celebrities."
-- read further here.

We saw the fantastic exhibition Mapplethorpe: Polaroids when it was on at Modern Art Oxford, and thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed it.

This documentary about Mapplethorpe, the curator Sam Wagstaff, and their influence on the 1970s and 80s New York art scence is pretty great too. Watch the clip above or click for the full program.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winter Stories.

Winter Stories. Photographs by Paolo Ventura. Text by Eugenia Parry. Aperture, New York, 2009. 120 pp., 65 color illustrations, 11½x14".

"In this luxuriously produced limited edition, Paolo Ventura invents an imaginative series of photographs depicting scenes from the memory banks of an old circus performer as he looks back on his life.

What the performer revisits are not moments of great drama, but rather fleetingly recalled glimpses of an everyday life, 'images that he had thought to have never seen, quick moments he unknowingly observed as he raised his eyes to the clock hung at the corner of the block'.

Using his own childhood memories, beautiful miniature figures and sophisticated sets, Ventura re-envisions a simpler time in 1930s Italy, but his darker vision - with its shadowy backdrops and retreating figures - reminds us that this is not quite Eden. Skillfully crafted and hauntingly evocative, the work is filled with the sweet melancholy of an era, but remains timeless in its ability to resonate with contemporary audiences.

This monograph contains an engaging sequence of images, ephemera from Ventura’s working process and a selection of the artful drawings he creates as guides to his elaborate sets."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Witness No. 7.

Witness No. 7. Photographs by Todd Hido. Nazraeli Press, Portland, 2009. 96 pp., 76 illustrations., 9½x12".

"As guest editor of Witness Number 7, Todd Hido creates a relationship between his own photographs of vacant interiors of foreclosed homes - the first time this series has been published as a group - with portraits made by Leon Borensztein during the 1980s.

Hido’s images contain traces and impressions of lives previously having been lived in the now-empty homes. His potent and surreal photographs of empty spaces evoke a longing for the time when things were better in those homes. What went wrong? Who used to lived there?

Borensztein, an immigrant from Poland, visited homes and businesses in the suburbs of Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield, photographing his subjects in front of a generic backdrop to create a rich sociological document.

In Witness Number 7, Borensztein’s subjects stand in metaphorically for the families evicted from Hido’s foreclosed homes.

The book closes with what Hido describes as 'a slowly cooked stew of books' - a forty-page run of images documented off the pages of certain books in his library that have influenced Hido’s work during the past twenty years, curated into a narrative of echos and inspirations."

I've written about other books in the excellent witness series of curated artist books before - here and here for example.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Swallows.

Photograph by Tim Walker (found at coffre à trésors).

"Hurrying, arrowing swallows, on wings resting
high in the blue expanses,
wind-light in whistling gusts
scorning the earth's inertness -
like a laugh of ridicule,
clear, light, ringing,
with contempt your flight meets our hearts' weight,
like a jubilation,
leaping from heights,
tidings of space's own
power that plays, and light can penetrate...
Sun goes down,
but up there lingers all the day's grand state,
round about you,
high in a playfully won,
airy place, happy, fortunate."

The Swallows by Karin Boye. From 'Karin Boye: Complete Poems'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Harlem Black Angels.

Harlem Black Angels. Photographs by Ruiko Yoshida. Text by Hajime Kishida. Kodansha, Tokyo, 1974. Quarto. Black-and-white reproductions. Text in English and Japanese.

"Ruiko Yoshida's photographs of Harlem in the early 1970s brilliantly capture various aspects of the culture and the times, showing a side of the U.S. that she felt her Japanese contemporaries knew little about.

In the process she created a compelling work that offers an incisive critique of racial hierarchies in the U.S. that, despite its deeply felt humanism, is missing from Bruce Davidson's East 100th Street."

This book is almost impossible to get hold of. It's currently available through auction on photo-eye (auction finished on Sept 30th, but reserve was not met).

Description of this particular copy:

"First edition. Stiff photo-illustrated wrappers. Original acetate jacket and printed obi (belly band). An unusally fine copy of a scarce volume complete with scarce acetate and obi; some minor rippling to wrappers due to shrinking of acetate; almost impossible to find in this condition."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Take Me to the Water. Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950.

Take Me to the Water. Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950. Text by Luc Sante, Jim Linderman, Steven L. Ledbetter. Dust-to-Digital, 2009. 96 pp., 75 duotone illustrations, 8¾x6".

"Making the past vividly present once again, Grammy winners Dust-to-Digital unveil Take Me to the Water, a revelatory examination of baptismal rites and music.

Comprising a beautiful hardcover book and a CD featuring rare, vintage songs and sermons recorded between 1924-1940, Take Me to the Water draws on the collection of Jim Linderman, a scholar of American 'outsider' art, early American folk art and daguerreotype photography.

It reproduces 75 sepia photographs that depict amazing scenes of immersion baptisms - the likes of which are rarely seen today - with preacher and baptismal candidate shown immersed mid-river, while the congregation looks on from the riverbank.

The CD compiles rare gospel and folk recordings from original 78-RPM records, with artists such as Washington Phillips, Carter Family, Tennessee Mountaineers, the Belmont Silvertone Jubilee Singers and rare vocal recordings of baptismal sermons.

Renowned writer Luc Sante provides a history of baptismal rites in America, and writes of this volume:

'Whether you have ever actually experienced a baptism or not, whether you are a believer or not, these pictures and the music that accompanies them transmit all the emotional information: the excitement and the serenity, the fellowship and the warmth, the wind and the water… you would have to have a heart of tin not to recognize this as one of the happiest collections of archival photographs ever assembled.' "

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fashion at the Time of Fascism.

Fashion at the Time of Fascism. Italian Modernist Lifestyle Between 1922 and 1943. Edited by Mario Lupano, Alessandra Vaccari. Damiani, 2009. 320 pp., 700 color illustrations, 8x11½".

"The first visual history of Modernist Italian fashion during Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime, and the product of immense research, Fashion at the Time of Fascism charts the fashion industry’s ambivalent negotiation of international couture and the bizarre dictates of Fascism, and the legacy of this era in shaping today’s fashion industry.

Authors Mario Lupano and Alessandra Vaccari explore and compare a huge range of forgotten archival sources, such as women’s glossies, fashion, film and gossip magazines, photo archives, exhibition and commercial catalogues, books, manuals and magazines on tailoring, dressmaking, design and architecture, and corporate and government journals.

This abundance of materials is presented in a fluid sequence of image and text that charts the rhythms, rituals and lifestyles of the typical Italian day through the four basic themes of 'Measurements','Model', 'Brand' and 'Parade'. Each section includes texts that highlight the key figures and phases in Italian fashion, from the 1920s to the early 1940s, juxtaposing them with Modernism’s broader salient themes and emphasizing the conscious use of glamour in the regime’s super-choreographed portrayal of itself.

'Fashion at the Time of Fascism' is further enriched by a thorough iconographic index and a detailed reference list, making the volume a revelation for both general readers and scholars."

So fascinated with this book!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg).

"The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (original title: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is a musical film made in 1964.

It was directed by Jacques Demy, and stars Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The music was written by Michel Legrand.

The film dialogue is all sung as recitative, even the most casual conversation.

Umbrellas is the middle film in an informal 'romantic trilogy' of Demy films that share some of the same actors, characters and overall look; it comes after Lola (1961) and before The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)."
- continue reading here.

Also view the fantastic opening credits here.

Happy Saturday to all of you! Hope you enjoy these little treats.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Irving Penn - rest in peace

Photographs by Irving Penn.

"Irving Penn studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School from which he graduated 1938.

Penn's drawings were published by Harper's Bazaar and he also painted. As his career in photography blossomed, he became known for post World War II feminine chic and glamour photography.

Penn worked for many years doing fashion photography for Vogue magazine. He was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop and used this simplicity more effectively than other photographers.

Expanding his austere studio surroundings, Penn constructed a set of upright angled backdrops, to form a stark, acute corner. Posing his subjects within this tight, unorthodox space, Penn brought an unprecedented sense of drama to his portraits, driving the viewer's focus onto the person and their expression.

In many photos, the subjects appeared wedged into the corner. Subjects photographed with this technique included Martha Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O'Keeffe, W. H. Auden, Igor Stravinsky and Marlene Dietrich."
- continue reading here.

Further reading and photographs here, here and here for example.

Legendary photographer Irving Penn pasted away yesterday at the age of 92. His talent, eye and vision will be sadly missed.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Diary No 0. Things That Do Not Happen.

Diary No 0. Things That Do Not Happen. Photographs by Fabio Barile. 3/3, 2009. 48 pp., Color illustration throughout, 6¼x7½". Signed copies available from photo-eye.

"Flipping through Diary No. 0 was somewhat of a rejuvenating experience for me.

This catalog is modest, the tones are soft and delicate, and the light beautiful, but what has stuck with me is the simplicity of the work. There is the sense of an aimless wanderer in these photographs, a contemporary documentation of life's ordinary experiences.

The first time indulging in this book I was captured by the ongoing story of life's banality... as well as the simple beauty of Barile's photographs. Well over an hour had passed before this book made its way back to the shelf."
- Tony Dolezal (photo-eye bookstore)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Seven Sounds, Seven Circles.

Seven Sounds, Seven Circles. Photographs by Lothar Baumgarten. Edited by Kaira Cabanas. Text by Christian Rattemeyer, Thomas Bartscherer, John Curley. Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2009. 168 pp., Illustrated throughout, 6x9¼".

"This monograph is a compendium of Lothar Baumgarten’s work and artistic thinking.

The various essential aspects of his work, such as language, architecture, photography and history are highlighted in four essays.

A current interview with the artist, conducted by Christian Rattemeyer, a biography of his work and a well-informed introduction by co-editor Kaira Cabañas make this publication the first seminal book on Lothar Baumgarten. As with many of the artist’s previous book projects, the form and typograph of both these publications were conceived by Walter Nikkels for and with Lothar Baumgarten."

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Hiroshi Sugimoto. Photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Nohara, 2009. 112 pp., 10 black & white and 30 color illustrations, 8¼x11¾".

"This catalog, produced in conjunction with Sugimoto’s upcoming exhibition at the Izu Photo Museum in Japan, documents this important artist’s recent investigations on the science and the presentation of photography.

Documenting in detail Sugimoto’s architectural and landscape design of the new Izu Photo Museum, the book is at once a reinvention of the artist as architect, as it is an insightful guide to Sugimoto’s interest in the earliest beginnings of photography.

Instigated by the urging of his friend, Pop art icon Richard Hamilton, Sugimoto went to England to visit the museum of William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process.

Finding common ground with Talbots’ polymathic interests in art and science, this book details images from Sugimoto’s Photogenic Drawing - Talbot pieces, where Sugimoto reinterprets 15 unprinted negatives from Talbot’s early studies, as well as 15 images from the artist’s Lightning Field series. Includes text by critic Minoru Shimizu."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Autumnal mustard-like colours

Papelsonagem #85 . Paper doll #85. 40cm x 45cm / 15,7x17,7 inches [frame size] (sold).

"Estou à tua espera" . "Waiting for you" 23cm x 23cm / 9x9 inches [paper size] hand signed and numbered limited edition of 200.

"Ana Ventura graduated in Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts – University of Lisbon – in 2000, with 3 years of specialization in Engraving.

In 1999 she made a Internship in Engraving, Illustration and Painting, in the context of the Erasmus Programme, in the École Supérieure d'Art Visuel La Cambre, Brussels, Belgium.

Her work has been exhibited in solo and in group shows since 1996. She is represented in private art collections in Portugal and abroad. Ana Ventura is an illustrator for publications and books, especially children’s books.

She lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal."

I of course love Ana's work and have featured it several times before.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Romek Marber - book covers

Book covers by Romek Marber. Images from and found via Creative Review.

"In the first of two extracts from Penguin by Illustrators, a new book collecting together the transcripts of talks given by esteemed Penguin creatives, we have the full text of the presentation made by Romek Marber (b. 1925), best known for his "Penguin grid" and the Crime series covers from the 1960s...

The following is the introductory text to and transcript of the presentation Marber gave at the Penguin Collectors' Society event, Penguin by Illustrators in 2007, which has now been published in a new book of the same name.

Further details on Penguin by Illustrators follow the extract."
-- continue reading here.

Read more about Romek Marber here or here for example and see more of his book cover designs here for example.