March 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen posts we are sharing with you a chronology of highlights, events and stories from the beginning of our unique publishing endeavor up until now. We hope you enjoy it.

Our humble beginnings started in 1998 in my half garage (shown below), not enough room to put a car in, but enough room to start a press unique to the history of photography, that has since published 50 titles, including some 150 world-class contributors and artists. We didn’t have any capital, whatsoever, and many in the industry thought we wouldn’t last. I asked my wife Janet, and she said: “What have we got to loose?” So, we mortgaged the house. That was sixteen years ago.

The Garage, 1998

The Garage, 1998

It all got started in 1998 at a round-table at a Chelsea restaurant, just doors away from the Chelsea Hotel. Present were John Stevenson, John Wood, Denise Bethel, Duane Michals, Ernestine Ruben, A.D. Coleman, and I (Steven Albahari, Publisher). I made it clear that I wanted to pick up where Stieglitz left off, but go several steps further. We discussed names for the journal and the press. I think John Wood suggested 21st. John Stevenson hosted, Duane brought his trademark humor, John Wood was the exemplary Southern gentleman, Denise was delightful and smart, Ernestine charmed, and A.D. was like a proud father, since it was he who got me started in college giving me the job of bibliographer of his first ten years of photographic criticism.

And so began The Journal of Contemporary Photography.

Today and now, 2014

Today and now, 2014

In our next post: How we came to work with Joel-Peter Witkin, what transpired over the next decade, and the man behind the brilliance.



“Southern Landscape” Shipping Soon

March 10, 2014 § Leave a comment



Living in the South means being both nourished and wounded by the experience. To identify a person as a Southerner is always to suggest not only that her history is inescapable and profoundly formative, but that it is also imperishably present. Southerners live at the nexus between myth and reality where that peculiar amalgam of sorrow, humility, honor, loyalty, graciousness and renegade defiance plays out against a backdrop of profligate physical beauty.

In this new age of finance, digital technology, and quick surface effects, Sally Mann’s photographs are our evangels of the eye, enabling us to walk more gladly and lightly. Confronting her work is like discovering a new, mysterious and beautiful world. It oµers a way to redeem a society that is in decline from greed and pettiness. For like other truly great and enduring artists, she has remained faithful to the love of craft, only using technology in the service of her eye and aesthetic, creating beauty and re-enchanting the world.

We let the remarkable, ordinary wonders of living slip into the oblivion of memory, but they are the very moments Sally Mann lovingly records, resurrects, and returns to us. I would not be surprised if at the moment of our deaths the last thoughts that flicker before our consciousness look like photographs by Sally Mann, and I will be disappointed if mine do not.

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