Humanity – In Production

June 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

While driven by a passion for The Art of the Book, each of our titles in the soon to be complete 21st Editions Master Collection takes diligence, patience and intense focus. Humanity, our 57th collaboration involving 10 artisans, is no exception.


Here is what is involved in the making of Humanity: Conceptualizing and developing the content; designing the book; contact printing the platinum prints one at a time; selecting the paper; making or preparing the text paper to size; making and printing the letterpress plates; folding each signature to prepare for sewing; silk-screening the fabric for the box covers; cutting the separate pieces that will make up the box; constructing and lining the box; designing, printing, trimming and attaching the paste and flyleaf papers for each book; preparing the cloth for adhering to the cover boards and stamping them; trimming and tipping in nine platinum prints; making the folder for the three free-standing, signed platinum prints; attaching the finished cover boards to the sewn book block; marrying all fifty sets; and finally numbering each book before shipping to institutions and collectors at the end of the year.

Please call Pam or Steven (508 398 3000) regarding copies of Humanity that may still be available.

Announcing: Steve McCurry’s HUMANITY

February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

Twelve signed platinum prints, of which three are loose, illustrating Edward Fitzgerald’s complete first (1859) edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. This is the first time that Steve McCurry’s work has been presented in platinum.


“Steve McCurry is one of the best-known artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and one of the most influential. His images have helped connect us to parts of the world we have never been to, humanizing our perceptions of people throughout the world.

But there is one image of McCurry’s that almost everyone knows, even if they don’t know who made it. We are referring, of course, to Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl (1984). It is not too much to say that Afghan Girl has changed the world, “searing the heart” of viewers, owing to its power to inform our perception of humanity. For over thirty years, it has enabled millions of people to connect with another person across wide gulfs of cultural difference. It is this sense of connectedness, achieved through photography, that is McCurry’s great and rare gift to humanity.”

– from the introduction by John Stauffer

Sally Mann’s “Southern Landscape” is in production

December 5, 2013 § 2 Comments

Sally Mann’s “Southern Landscape” is in production. Hand-coated prints made with platinum, palladium, and gold exemplify the classic printing processes 21st Editions is known for publishing. Letterpress on handmade sheets and individually sewn and hand-crafted bindings all are a tribute to these time honored processes that together lead to exceptional offerings.


from John Wood’s introduction in “The Perfect World of David Halliday” with assorted texts

November 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

David Halliday, I am certain, is the greatest master of the still life that photography has yet produced. But more than that he is probably the great photographer of joy, as well. I am talking here of serious joy—not an armload of puppies, a kitten in a ladle of pasta, kissing children, or anything to which the word cute might be applied. Though joyful, his work has about it the seriousness of the spiritual. His imagery is constructed from many of life’s most perfect, simple, yet most elemental objects—the rose, the egg, the bottle of milk, the loaf of bread. « Read the rest of this entry »

from John Wood’s introduction in “The Duino Elegies” with poems by Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Leslie Norris and Alan Keele

September 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

Sacabo’s photographs inspired by the Elegies, like all great Symbolist art, are not so much concerned with intellectual content as with emotional content. Their power, grace, and beauty are not lessened by saying they are built upon emotional knowledge rather than intellectual knowledge or to call them, like the Duino Elegies themselves, a product of an intuitive spirituality. Mysticism of any sort demands belief, not analytical reasoning, and great art does not need systems or mythologies to validate or infuse it with meaning.

Josephine Sacabo

From The Journal of Contemporary Photography Volume VI, 2003 “Boy Reading, Inspired by a photograph by Julio Pimentel” by Ann Patchett

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

“There are always too many books. I put them on the shelves alphabetically, their spines neatly aligned, but then more come, and I force someone new into the over-crowded neighborhood, books shoe-horned in so tightly I must remove half a shelf to pull one free. And when there is not enough room to squeeze in a single human hair, another book comes, the same first letter of the last name. This book must go in the exact spot as the last one and no amount of physical strength could make that possible. Regretfully, I lay the book on its side on top of the space where it belongs, a wait list for a place on the shelf. Maybe something will open up.”

From Prism Book #2 Mitch Dobrowner, 2011, by Dafydd Wood

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

“The fictive vision behind these sublime landscapes pivots around two seemingly contradictory artistic impulses: the classical and the modernist, particularly the technique of defamiliarization. While both of these styles seem mutually exclusive, there has been in fact a great deal of 20th century classicizing art. Though it often only united a Modernist style with a Classical subject, it was the most dominant style of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Furthermore, it might seem odd to label photographs of plateaus, storms, or mountain ranges “classical” or “modern,” but Dobrowner’s work quite clearly shrugs off the Romanticism of most landscape or nature artists and hones a neoclassical formalism that in turn transforms his subjects into something alien.”

From Prism Series Book #3 “Jack Spencer,” 2011, by Steven Brown

February 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

“To think of photography as captured fact is, in some ways, to think of it as the invention of coincidence rather than the intention of the artist. Journalism and documentary rely on serendipitous opportunities. And not surprisingly, many photographers claim the element of luck as a blessing on their process. But Spencer doesn’t buy into the idea of luck-as-process. In a statement linked to his website, he says:

‘I am forced to abandon serendipity to create an altogether new mood that did not exist before. These are constructions that are in gestation. I am moving in a direction where I believe that it is exciting to create something into existence, where before, there was nothing. I no longer have any interest in relying on circumstance to present itself at its convenience (emphasis Spencer’s).'”

Jack Spencer - Dream Figures

From Prism Series Book #1 “Yamamoto Masao,” 2010, by John Wood

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

“On suiseki: The appreciation of stones that suggested mountains, landscapes, animals, and other forms developed in China where they had been collected and revered by the literati since at least the T’ang dynasty. They were classified by varieties: elegant rocks, fantastic rocks, admirable rocks, and stubborn rocks. However, with the arrival in Japan of Zen, a new stone aesthetic developed. What came to be admired were simpler, less ostentatious, more austere, and quieter stones, stones that reflected inner awareness and spiritual refinement.”

Masao Yamamoto

John Wood on the Virus of Pomposity

April 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

From Steven Albahari, Publisher, 21st Editions:

21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography served a purpose far greater than most realized. Unfortunately, no one seems to have taken the baton and run with it. The state of photographic criticism today is a sad thing. 21ST Editions editor, John Wood, sent me the following essay. Some will agree with it and it will piss some people off. Read and decide what side of that aisle you are on. We’d love to hear back from you!

The Virus of Pomposity:
Why So Much Contemporary Photographic Criticism is Pretentious, Pompous, Boring, and Unreadable

In a forthcoming interview with me in The Asheville Poetry Review the distinguished poet, literary critic, and scholar Daniel Westover asked me about my work as a photographic critic.  “You treat photographs as works of art—works that, like all art forms, require emotional engagement in order to be understood. . . . Can you say a little about your rather atypical approach to photography criticism? Does your work as a poet and literary scholar lead you to approach the discipline in this unique way?”  This is part of what I said in response: « Read the rest of this entry »

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