About the Contributors #5

August 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

Night Wind
BY GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE

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

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From the Introduction for Flowers of Evil
BY JOHN WOOD

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
BY CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
(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.

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The Odes of Pindar
from OLYMPIAN 1

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. . . .

Gorman11

#8/16: New York

May 7, 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.

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New York was an obvious theme that John Wood, 21st Editions Editor and co-founder, gravitated toward. Our previous collaborations with Sheila Metzner in The Journal of Contemporary Photography, Volumes II and V, helped us to understand the life-long and very close connection that Sheila had with Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, and New York, not unlike Walt Whitman and Hart Crane, poets of the two greatest epic poems on America ever composed. It was with Sheila’s great enthusiasm and excitement that she accepted John’s  proposal to be paired with both in New York (2000) and The Bridge (2007). New York was the very first Platinum Series title for 21st Editions and became even more significant a year later, since many of the images were taken from the top of the World Trade Center. After 9/11 and out of respect, we chose not to show the book publicly for quite some time. Now a very rare and hard to find title, it set the stage for New York as a reoccurring theme for the press.
 
John Wood calls MacLean Gander’s The New City (2008) the greatest epic poem on America since those by Whitman and Crane. In his introduction, John writes that “Hayman’s images and Gander’s words are a perfect pairing, not that the photographs illustrate the poems or that the poems describe the pictures. In fact, neither of these artists knew each other prior to this book, but they both create a sensuous, beautiful, yet realistic and contemporary meditation on New York and on the larger American experience that New York suggests…”

We met Jefferson when he was an aspiring artist and frame maker in New York at one of his earlier showings in the middle of an antique car gallery. We were immediately sold and knew we wanted to work with him at some point in the future. Jefferson Hayman’s images of New York in The New City not only capture the spirit of the city but they bring us back in time and revisit the New York of Coburn, Steichen, and Stieglitz. Hayman’s photographic style is synonymous with the artist himself – refined and respectful, creating economical compositions that leave the viewer completely satisfied.

 
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Greg Gorman first approached us in 2000 at Photo LA when we first were showing a prototype of New York. In 2003 Greg worked with us on creating a set of large gum-over-platinum prints of two of his iconic images, Rex and Gregory and Tony. It wasn’t until 2007 that the timing seemed to be just right for a Platinum Series book/print set, at which point John Wood saw the perfect match with The Odes of Pindar. Greg’s persistence and enthusiasm led us to this book and for that we are eternally grateful. Mac Holbert of Nash Editions was part of the proofing process with Greg for the 11 platinum prints that would be included. After Mac saw Greg’s book and loved it, he suggested to Graham Nash that we work together, which then led to Love, Graham Nash (4 years in the making). 
 

from John Wood’s introduction in “The Odes of Pindar” translated by Scott Goins

March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Gorman’s greatness—and he is as genuinely great as any living photographer—derives from his amazing ability to catch the essence of his model. The pictures of Tony and Rex and Gregory in this volume; his well-known nude torso of Iman, a portrait of the essence of feminine allure; Elton John, his eyes closed as if in a moment of ecstasy; Brigitte Nielsen nude and looking like an Amazon colossal in her power; or the closely cropped, full face portrait of Leonardo Di Caprio exuding the most intense sexualityare iconic images that people will still be looking at a hundred years from now, looking at when they no longer can recall who these people were or why there were important to us. These pictures will still speak because others will continue to recognize in them what they are actually about—not celebrity, fame, or even the particular individual but something fundamental about the human species regardless of the century. These are portraits of allure, ecstasy, power, and sexuality because Gorman’s portraiture extracts something essential from the individual. His portraits may be of the famous and the beautiful, but his art, like the art of the great portrait painters, is rooted in our humanity.

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