Monday, June 14, 2010

Josef Koudelka: Piemonte.

Piemonte. Photographs by Josef Koudelka. Editions Xavier Barral, 2009. 160 pp., 76 black & white illustrations, 13x8¼". Images from the photo-eye blog.

The book 'Piemonte' by Czech photographer Josef Koudelka "features work from the area of Piemonte, a region in Italy that borders France and Switzerland. Turin is its capital.

The book opens with an essay by Giuseppe Culicchia that speaks not just of Koudelka's work there, but mentions both historical and cultural references associated with this region - Giovanni Verga's story La Malora, the actress Silvana Mangano, and Hannibal's trek with his war elephants en route to defeat the Roman army.

The design is similar to a couple of earlier Koudelka books, 'Reconnaissance Wales' and 'Camargue', in that it has bare boards with a black stamped front and back cover.

Unlike these earlier titles, it is bound in a landscape format which opens to the top so that the panoramas can be viewed without interruption from the gutter.

It features images of cairn markings high in the mountains, sites of construction and industrial decay, grand and closely-cropped landscapes, and ancient and modern architecture of this region. Each image page has a white border and is faced by a black page with small white titles stating the area in which the photo was taken.

This chromatic design only heightens Koudelka's use of black and white."

"Throughout his career, Koudelka has been praised for his ability to capture the presence of the human spirit amidst dark landscapes. Desolation, waste, departure, despair and alienation are common themes in his work.

His characters sometimes seem to come out of fairytales. Still, some see hope within his work - the endurance of human endeavor, in spite of its fragility.

His later work [such as the book 'Piemonte'] focuses on the landscape removed of human subjects."

I've previously written about Josef Koudelka excellent book 'Invasion 68'. You can read and see more about Josef Koudelka here, here and here for example.

First quote from the photo-eye blog (post by Melanie McWhorter) ; second quote from the wikipedia entry for Josef Koudelka.

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