About the Contributors #5

August 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

Night Wind

Oh! The tops of pines crack in colliding
And one hears so much of their lamenting
And from the river a voice thick and loud
Elves laugh at the wind or at gusts blare out
Attys Attys Attys disheveled with charm
It is the elves at night that mock your name
One of your pines falls to the gothic wind
The forest flees like an ancient army
Whose lances Oh pines are stirred in turning
The faded villages are now planning
Like the virgins the old men and poets
And wake to the feet of no one coming
Even when vultures descend on pigeons


From the Introduction for Flowers of Evil

After reading Les Fleurs du mal Victor Hugo wrote Charles Baudelaire, “Vous dotez le ciel de l’art d’un rayon macabre, vous créez un frisson nouveau” (You endow the sky of art with a macabre gleam, you create a new shiver). Some Victor Hugo of photography could easily have written those same words to Eikoh Hosoe a little over a century later when he began publishing his equally radical books of photographs, especially since frisson also implies both shudder and thrill.

The Death of Artists
(Translated by John Wood)

How often must I play the sad jester
And kiss the low, dull brow of travesty?
Or spend arrows in wasted archery
To strike the mystic mark of Nature?

We’ll break or crack our heavy armature
And wear our souls out in conspiracies
Before we gaze upon that grand Creature
Whose hell-made desires are our misery.

But some have never known their Idol:
The cursed artist branded with disgrace
Who beats his chest and tears his face

Has but one hope, O strange, dark Capitol,
That Death rising like a new star
Will flame his mind into flower.


The Odes of Pindar

Olympic fame gleams from far away,
when swiftness of foot and strength’s vigor
boldly strive in the races of Pelops.
The victor finds surrounding him
honey-sweet peace all of his days-
at least as much as victory can bring.
But man’s best blessing is daily fortune.

Now I must crown him with Aeolian song,
as the horseman is honored.
There is no better host, I’m sure,
no one more worthy to adorn
with glorious song, intricate hymns,
no king more worthy of power,
more familiar with beauty. . . .


#7/16: An International Year

April 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen emails 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 them.


Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil)

John Wood suggested to Eikoh Hosoe that we pair his work with the poet, Charles Baudelaire, and Eikoh told John that Baudelaire was his favorite poet. They each initially selected 11 poems–9 of them matched! Eikoh, John, and I spent a full day, as John Stevenson hosted us at his then Platinum Gallery in Chelsea, for the signing ritual of the platinum prints and the colophon pages. Eikoh was methodical in signing all of his prints. He would sign for an hour and then close his eyes for 15 minutes or so. It was a real dance and an honor to watch. I admire him and his demeanor, which is not unlike what I would expect if I were to meet the Buddha. In fact, I believe I did.


The Sonnets of Shakespeare

Flor Garduño does not speak English. I do not speak Spanish. So working with each other was a new challenge, even though we had a translator. This edition was three years in the making and contains many of Flor’s greatest images.


Crowd and Shadows of the Dream

This set of books further challenged our standards of production. After printing all of the books letterpress with metal type and spending three days with Misha Gordin at the Hotel Northampton signing the mounts for the silver prints he made, the binder contacted us with a concern about very faint yellow fibers in the European made 100% cotton paper noticeable only if held up to the sunlight. While it seemed insignificant at the time, we had no way of knowing if whatever this was could migrate further. After meeting with a representative from the paper mill and bringing our own chemist in, and then months of further deliberation, we realized that we could not determine whether it was a problem or not. So, I decided that we had no choice but to start over again. And, even though it cost us tens of thousands of dollars, we have been able to sleep at night ever since.  


The Shining Path

John Wood’s pairing of Brigitte Carnochan and Raúl Peschiera embellished our diverse offerings. Brigitte Carnochan’s personally printed silver gelatin prints and Raúl Peschiera’s epic poem of love, revolution, and violence in recent Peruvian history blends the life and loves of failed revolutionary Abimael Guzmán, the founder of Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path. Peschiera depicts him as both the passionate revolutionary and the passionate lover. Carnochan, one of the greatest photographers of both flowers and women, takes on beauty as her subject and theme. The result is a book of intense beauty–one that interweaves the floral and the feminine within the context of love and political passion. The book comes with one of Carnochan’s original, classic hand-colored prints.

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