October 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
Over the years John Wood created many unexpected pairings. The resulting titles were interesting new interpretations of contemporary and classic text and photography.
Examples include Flor Garduno illustrating The Sonnets of Shakespeare, Brigitte Carnochan’s flowers and nudes with Raul Peschiera’s The Shining Path, and Imogen Cunningham paired with William Morris.
John Wood, from The Sonnets of Shakespeare
…The reason the sonnets were immediately seen as applicable to a women is because of their universality. They are about Love and its power. An artist’s intention is historically interesting to note, but it is by no means the sole meaning of a work of art. Art always speaks to us in ways its creators did not envision; that is its power; that is why it lasts. And it is only in the context of the narrative of the entire sequence that particular poems, with few exceptions, can be identified as having been written for the young man. No one reads sonnet sequences for their plots, since lyric poems do not really tell stories, and few people read them from start to finish. One picks and chooses and reads randomly for pleasure. And so these universal poems are finally monuments to the universal power of love and the finest such monuments in the English language.
I spoke of Shakespeare as a great psychologist, but so is Flor Garduno. She understands woman more universally, it appears to me, than any other visual artist. She sees woman in all her dimensions-as Siren, Eve, Medusa,Venus-sees her in the sweep of all her varied powers and attractions. Her work is finally a deeply moving tribute to woman, to all women, because, as I suggested earlier, her Venus is Everywoman.
Shakespeare’s genius, like Garduno’s, comes from his deep understanding of human nature. In play after play we see ourselves strutting about in all the cruelty, jealousy, meanness, bad temper, good humor, compassion, honor, and love we are capable of. He shows us our burden and our glory…
John Wood, from The Shining Path
…That is Carnochan’s shining path-beauty in perfect measure. But that is not The Shining Path of Raul Peschiera’s brilliant poem that accompanies these photographs. The shining path he refers to is Sendero Luminoso, a violent Peruvian revolutionary movement of the 1980’s that disrupted the country’s economy and caused perhaps as many as 25,000 deaths before its leader was captured in 1992.
Carnochan photographs and Peschiera poetry might then seem not merely a strange marriage but an impossible yoking of two dissimilar bodies of work having nothing in common. But a perusal of Peschiera’s poem makes it clear that his shining path and Carnochan’s are the same. He writes of the same intoxication with sensuality and beauty that Carnochan photographs. The central figure of his poem is ostensibly Abimael Guzmán, the leader of Sendero Luminoso, and the poem narrates several of Sendero Luminoso’s most violent acts, but The Shining Path is actually a love poem with both Guzmán’s wife, Augusta, and Peru at its center. In the eye of its turbulent violence slumber luxury, calm, and pleasure. And Peschiera invites us into the dream.
John Wood, from Symbolist
What influence, one might wonder, could William Morris, poet, Utopian Socialist, revolutionary, English Arts and Crafts movement leader, textile and furniture designer, Pre-Raphaelite, a founder of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and creator of the Kelmscott Press, have had on the work of the great Modernist American photographer Imogen Cunningham? Hardly any, one might assume. Yet she claimed him as an influence, and his influence was intellectual, social, and visual.
Cunningham, a radical herself, grew up in a radical and progressive household, and so her sensibilities were ripe for the influence of William Morris. Her father was “a humanist” she said. “There’s no question about that. And his…life was much motivated by theosophical beliefs. He never drove it into anybody, or tried to tell people what they ought to think,….”
October 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
Not only was John Wood our editor for more than 15 years, he is a brilliant and established poet
from Cracked: The Art of Charles Grogg
Though I am a photographic historian and critic, I am primarily a poet; however, except for writing a few Japanese waka in homage to my friend Masao Yamamoto, I have never written poems inspired by the work of any of the photographers whose work I have written essays about. The photographs, though wonderful, never suggested subjects to me-until I encountered Charles Grogg’s work. It would be improper of me to write about the poetic aspects of my own work, but I can say something about their content as it refers to Grogg’s art.
The fence-mender of the poem “Fence” is, of course, Grogg, and fence-mending is a metaphor for his art making. The poem makes clear that it is his “chosen profession” but also makes clear that he has not chosen it but that it chose him and that his re-shaping, re-forming art is to my eye a profound expression and act of love…
The fence mender’s dilemma is
how to proceed. There’s always
such hostility on either side.
Being in between contorted faces
is distracting, as is avoiding
the flying spittle, the occasional stone.
Rain coats and shields are useful,
especially when he becomes the target,
which is more often than not.
But who would give up a chosen profession?
And for what: becoming a snail driver,
a semaphore man, a town crier,
a berry buster? Certainly not for one
whose profession had chosen him.
There is no choice in spite of rocks and spit,
the cumbersome garb he must wear. And so
he continues buying the costliest needles,
gold-tipped, of course, and iron-strong thread
spun from the silk of golden orb weavers.
His hands dance along the sad shatters
with the confidence of a cosmetic surgeon
re-forming the destines of the unloved and ugly.
Such mending mastery as his is love’s
most profound, best, and final act.
from The Symmetry of Endeavor
When we look at images as radiant as his wide Calla 3, his tall lean Calla on Black, his Sunflower Rising, which looks like the sun itself aflame, the Nile Lily Bud or his Melinthus in the Rain, as perfect a wet leaf as I have ever seen in any photograph, we see exactly how a master artist manipulates craft to the higher service of his art, how he makes craft the vehicle and servant of his art. His Luminescent Datura seduced me from the first moment I saw it. Besides being a beautiful flower datura, of course, is also a powerful drug, a sexual stimulant, and has been associated with women called witches since the Middle Ages. However, without thinking of any of those things, when I first saw this amazing image, I did not see the flower at all. I saw a lady with a slim neck in an Art Deco gown, her face cropped from the photograph, a curl from her head falling on her shoulder, her right arm bent at the elbow and resting on a piece of furniture, obviously by Ruhlmann, and her hand, though out of sight, holding either a martini or a cigarette. I saw Paris in the Twenties when I would have loved to live there. Such imaginative leaps are the leaps that art graciously allowsand which inspired the poem that follows, even thoughI am certain my lady or thoughts of Mistinguett, the great chanteuse of that time, or the famous club Le Boeuf sur le Toit was nowhere in Rondal Partridge’s mind when he made this work. His thoughts were on capturing a flower. My thoughts were on sex. But great art always transcends the intentions of the artist. That is its blessing and occasionally the artist’s curse.
LADY IN A FLORAL DRESS
A curl cascades, reclines upon her neck.
She stands against a lacquered cabinet.
One hidden hand holds her drink,
the other, a Turkish cigarette.
This Deco dame is surely French
and probably knows Mistinguett.
Would she accept a little pinch,
then smile and say with no regret,
“Was it Le Boeuf sur le Toit where we met?
We danced. You held me in a clench
and called me mon petit pet.
Men like you I never forget.”
He wondered what could be her game.
His, of course, was exactly the same.
from The Imponderable Heart of Meaning
As we approached our sixteenth year of publication, Steve had the happy idea of our doing a book together-his photographs and poems of mine inspired by them. Though I have been writing poetry for over half a century, I cannot say I know where poetry comes from, but I know it is very hard to make a poem from a work of visual art. I said I’d try and with a great box of Steve’s prints before me, I was surprised to see how words quickly started to appear and shape themselves into lines and eventually poems. In every case it was his visual magic that inspired the poem. So these poems are a real monument to our years of friendship and work together.
I had hoped that this volume would be entitled In the Face of the Electron because that is the title of a poem I wrote for one of Steve’s most amazing and brilliant photographs-an abstract image of the most intense power, an image that allowed me to look into the face or heart of the electron… I’d hoped we would use the photograph because I love it but also because of the poem it led me to. My own work, though sometimes comic, tends to be dark, somber, occasionally even savage. But what Steve’s photograph allowed me see was something rich and affirmative…
IN THE FACE OF THE ELECTRON
In the unstopping spin and swirl
of matter’s uncertainty, it can
sometimes be caught unaware
and resting for a short fraction
just as the more common birds
are often caught, and so
the Nature artist must be quick
and snap it before it flies off
as the fastest light excels,
to snap it before the electron’s
huge and fluffy wings again
begin to beat, driving matter
mad in its motions, and before
its beak begins again to peck
at the atomic shell, and before
its maddening dance must begin
again to hold everything together,
secured in the electron’s hold,
its wide-wings’ generous, spinning embrace,
succoring with no knowledge of its doing so
the imponderable heart of meaning.
October 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
Michael Murray, an unknown, pioneering New York-based artist (originally from the home of Kodak, Rochester, NY) was selling his work at a kiosk on Poet’s Walk in Central Park when he was discovered by Gideon Bosker who then presented his work to 21st Editions.
In Worlds Apart, Gideon introduces us to Michael Murray’s presentation of the world, John Stauffer tells us more on the myriad places where he created his images, and John Wood completes the story with an eloquent poem.
GIDEON BOSKER from Worlds Apart
Long before I knew Michael Murray had photography wriggling in the helices of his DNA, or that as a young boy he spent family day each year feasting on Nathan’s Famous hot dogs with his father in the Eastman Kodak commissary on Lake Road in Rochester, New York; or that the dreamlike, elliptical beauty of such films as Thin Red Line by Terrance Mallick “changed everything” for him; or that the murky interface of quantum physics and spirituality is consistently in his mind’s eye as he conceives, pre-visualizes, and manufactures his photographs-long before I knew these and all the other things about Mr. Murray and his iconoclastic life, I knew the first time I glimpsed the photographs he was hawking from bins on Poet’s Walk on a frosty, skin blistering November day in Central Park, that the images this photographer had spent years perfecting were digging deep into unchartered territory…
It took only a few minutes of scouring through his images that day in the winter of 2012 for me to conclude that, in his lens, Mr. Murray had the whole wide world…
Under the influence of new technologies, from the first pinhole camera to the razzle-dazzle of digital photography, the camera has always been poised to enrich our engagement with the world. It is on this trajectory, that Murray’s ingenuity stakes its claim. His photographs are testimonials to the power of photography for introducing a new perceptual framework: one based on the melding of technology with the camera arts for the purpose of remaking the world so we might engage it; and so it might stir us and so we might dream about it in new ways.
Aside from the sheer density of information these photographs extract from a single coordinate of longitude and latitude, there is a seething undercurrent of spirituality in Murray’s work: a dimension-call it a portal to another world-that provokes what can only be described as reverential impulses. Perhaps, this is not surprising, since geometric configurations linked to centralized space have deep religious roots and have been used for evocative effect for centuries…
JOHN STAUFFER from Worlds Apart
Cathedral Gorge, a state park in Nevada, is in Lincoln County, about 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Standing a little less than mile above sea level, it looks primordial.
The gorge was created millions of years ago, when volcanoes erupted and deposited massive walls of ash. During the Pliocene epoch (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago), a freshwater lake filled the gorge. By the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million to 12,000 years ago) the lake had drained. The continual erosion of the soft volcanic ash made plant life difficult but created beautiful patterns on the walls of the gorge that resemble tessellations. Since it was not good farmland, scientists in the mid-nineteenth century began referring to it as “badlands.” Yet for hundreds of years it was also the home of the Fremont, Anasazi, and Southern Paiute tribes. Bison bones were recently discovered in the gorge that are between 400 and 850 years old.
In Murray’s dramatic rendering, turbulent chiaroscuro clouds surround the desolate gorge. There is no sign of plant or animal life. And yet the rocks themselves seem alive. The tessellating cliffs seem like gates of an elaborate kingdom, breathing hymns of the gorge’s history.
Wallace Stevens provides a poetic echo of Murray’s gorge in “Forms of the Rock in a Night-Hymn”:
The rock is the gray particular of man’s life,
The stone from which he rises, up-and-ho,
The step to the bleaker depths of his descents . . .
The rock is the stern particular of the air,
The mirror of the planets, one by one,
But through man’s eye, their silent rhapsodist.
Through Murray’s eye, we see Cathedral Gorge as a silent rhapsodist.
JOHN WOOD Bruegelesque:
A Seasonal Meditation on the Grace of Michael Murray’s Eye
Small black shafts rise
in the surrounding snows
and lean back into the past,
into forgotten dancing days
hard on the ice of ponds
swirling with skaters
in the cold afternoons
of painted near memories.
Smoke rises from the red house
beside the swirling shallows
of the river. There is no sound
but the quiet of silent cold.
Winter will still last longer.
Nothing is yet finished
until the bounding crocus agree
to arise into his eyes.
March 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
George Tice THE JANUS TURN Adam Johnson
This book unites the work of two American masters one might think were radically dissimilar. “However, in truth they share a similar emotionally ominous vision.” (John Wood)
George Tice has been photographing since 1953. His career has been primarily focused on the fine print and the photography book, so it is more than fitting that he now has a 21st Editions title. Tice’s trees are paired here with a short story by Adam Johnson, one of the great literary figures of our era. Johnson won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
12 bound, plus 2 loose platinum prints, each signed by Tice. 13×15 inches. Handmade.
TODD WEBB: NEW YORK, 1946
A remarkable story told through Todd Webb’s journal entries and with an introduction by 21st Editions new editor, John Stauffer. Webb’s association with Alfred Stieglitz was an intimate one, as his was with Berenice Abbott, Beaumont Newhall, Harry and Eleanor Callahan (housemates), Georgia O’Keeffe, and others. 1946 was an auspicious year that saw the deaths of Stieglitz, Gertrude Stein, Joseph Stella, Arthur Dove, and Moholy-Nagy. Todd Webb: New York, 1946 is a rare look into New York and the life of Webb and those in his circle that have defined the standard for a great photograph, then and now.
15 bound and 3 loose Estate platinum prints, plus 2 vintage silver prints that were printed and signed by Todd Webb. 13.5×13.5 inches. Handmade.
Michael Murray WORLDS APART
“The elemental to the engineered, an epic narrative told through a magically real photographic perspective that is timeless, original, and epiphanic.” (Gideon Bosker)
“Murray’s genius resides in the brilliance of his eye, in its weaving of the world’s disparate parts together into a cohesive and wondrous whole.” (John Wood)
“With Worlds Apart, Murray takes his place alongside some of the great visionaries of photography, who have also been inspired by the concepts of utopia and dystopia… Photography often functions as a powerful telescope, through which artists construct their visions of a new world, according the critic and curator Yasufumi Nakamori. Much like his visionary predecessors, Murray’s utopian vision depends upon his revolutionary aesthetic. His art creates his utopia.” (John Stauffer, Harvard University)
15 bound and 16 loose pigment ink prints, plus two images printed on anodized aluminum, presented as an A-frame sculpture, all 33 printed and signed by the artist. 15.5 x 15.5 inches. Handmade.
June 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Metzner’s devotion to beauty and to art has brought us back to the body, to Apollo, Berger, Modigliani, Paglia, and to Yeats. But more importantly it has brought us back to the greatest faith, the rapturous, life-changing “faith of love” through art.” (From the Introduction by John Wood)
Fashion, like each and every 21st Editions undertaking, is unique to the 21st Editions Collection of Word, Image and Artisan Bindings. A year in the planning stages and a year in the making, Fashion affords an alternative way of viewing, interacting, and sharing a classic and rare kind of photographic print (Fresson) and presentation. To encompass a career articulating fashion through the art of Sheila Metzner is not possible in five separate presentations, yet using some of those she is most famous for does pay homage to the importance of this artist in the history of fashion and of photography.
Early on, after seeing some of the prints that Theodore Fresson initially printed for Sheila she wrote him: “Thank you for the fine prints. It is as though you read my mind. They are perfect…” She continues today to work with the Fresson family exclusively for her color work.
“Color is the key. Since Steichen and Outerbridge, who worked in the carbon process, color printing became a dye process. Dyes were fugitive, only three colors, no black. It wasn’t until I searched for, and found Fresson, that I felt I could work in color. The proces de charbon, a carbon print, made with pigment colors, is the only truly archival printing process on earth. You have all the colors a painter has, as well as blacks and greys. It was invented by Theodore Henri Fresson in 1891, and remains with his grandson, and great-grandson today.” -Sheila Metzner
June 12, 2014 § 2 Comments
I had met Joshua Partridge and his father Rondal (Imogen Cunningham’s grandson and son), years ago at Photo San Francisco. Not only did we meet Joshua and Rondal there, but also Ruth Bernhard who was being escorted by her close friend, Michael Kenna. It seemed to be a star-filled show and it was, indeed, when photography was still a film-based medium for the most part.
In 2010, I received a call from Joshua Partridge. Joshua explained to me that he wanted very much to contribute to Imogen’s legacy, something he hadn’t yet done, before he closed his lab to then contemplate the idea of retiring to a monastery and living as a monk. He suggested that we do a project on Imogen Cunningham. Intrigued, I flew out to Berkeley, California to meet Joshua, his brother Aaron, and his sister Meg, Director of the Imogen Cunningham Trust. That was the beginning of the the trilogy of books we embarked on with the Imogen Cunningham Trust.
The first title in 2012, Imogen Cunningham Platinum and Palladium, must have been a great surprise to many because not only did it include ten platinum Imogen Cunningham Trust prints and three large palladium prints printed by Joshua of three iconic images, as well as a thirty year-old print printed by Rondal from her glass plates, but also, a vintage print printed by Imogen herself. Its success was immediate.
The next year, 2013, Imogen Cunningham: Symbolist, followed also to great success with a collection of ten platinum Trust prints of her early symbolist work plus three wonderfully colorful free-standing gum-over-platinum prints.
“What influence, one might wonder, could William Morris…have had on the work of the great Modernist American photographer Imogen Cunningham? Hardly any, one might assume. Yet she claimed him as an influence, and his influence was intellectual, social, and visual.” -John Wood
During a trip to Berkeley and while planning the next two titles with the Imogen Cunningham Trust, the first stop was Rondal Partridge’s home. I had a rare and thorough tour of Rondal’s personality, home and archive. I was so awestruck at his raw talent and that he spent his entire life as a working photographer, that I proposed at our 21st Editions summit in Saxton’s River (the home of 21st Editions co-founder John Wood) a project with Ron. In fact, what I did was lay out some one hundred photographs to our team without disclosing the artist, and it was a unanimous hands-down yes by all even before knowing who made them! At that moment The Symmetry of Endeavor was born.
After the experience of seeing Ron’s work John Wood wrote in his Introduction, “Rondal Partridge is one of the greatest and most visually exciting photographers of the twentieth century. His vision is thoroughly and completely his own, and that his name is not yet enshrined in the pantheon of the other greats is a tragic accident of photographic history, an omission which likely has more to do with his mother’s great fame than with a serious consideration of his art.”
Interesting to note and unusual, indeed, is the fact that Ron was such a prolific and unrelenting artist, that he would generally only print one or just a few prints of any one negative. He was always creatively driven to find the next image, something new, something not seen, something eclectic. As a result platinum prints printed by Ron are rare, while the number of subjects and variations on subjects are plentiful. Ron was kind enough to donate one vintage print of his own to each of the portfolios of twelve platinum prints created for The Symmetry of Endeavor. Today, Ron is in his 96th year and still in Berkeley, California.
June 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
Following our work with many well know artists, we thought it important to turn our focus to three new, very promising, and up-and-coming (at that time) California based artists, Mitch Dobrowner, Charles Grogg, and Ben Nixon.
While all of our titles are challenges unto themselves because the 21st Editions mandate is to start from scratch on all of our designs and never to repeat ourselves, Mitch Dobrowner’s The Prophecies of William Blake was a real test for us. Accommodating 11×17 inch platinum prints, the largest we have ever produced for a book, was just one of the many challenges. These are the only platinum prints Mitch has ever had printed of his work and he has stated they are likely the only ones he may ever make. The binding design, too, was something of a bear. It was created with handmade paper that was watercolored and molded and had an inset of palladium. The box was designed to open flat giving full access to the book and the three loose prints. The resulting 16×20 inch book was breathtaking. “Ambitious” might just be an understatement when it comes to this particular accomplishment.
The book was designed to mirror the storm and landscape photographs that Mitch is now so well known for. He travels with storm chasers to capture the very real and ever-changing landscapes. He was featured in National Geographic, won the Sony World Photographer Award, and Google even created a short film on his work.
Charles Grogg was selected by John Wood as the winner of the 2010 Clarence John Laughlin award. Charles had come to our attention before but it wasn’t until we actually saw his platinum prints on Japanese Gampi Torinoko paper that we saw how wonderful a match his work was with the 21st Editions aesthetic. Charles agreed to both print and construct the platinum prints for The Art of Charles Grogg, something that only he could do, given the solar exposure, many hand-sewn elements and “Reconstructions.” Additionally, John Wood (the only two-time Iowa Poetry Prize winner) agreed to write a poem for each and every image, so we knew this was going to be something special. His brilliant poetry was also read and recorded on an accompanying compact disc. Listening to John read, you will find him powerfully lyrical and convincing, drawing you into a world unknown and palpable. We knew this would be unlike anything we had ever done or will ever do again. And, it was. Each 20×22 inch book has a handmade lacquered eggshell cover panel. The Art of Charles Grogg, which particularly takes on the feel of interactive performance art, was in totality, the art of John Wood, Amy Borezo, Crissy Welzen, Pam Clark, Michael and Winifred Bixler, and Charles Grogg.
To the Wheatlight of June brings together the brilliant minds of Harvard poet Steven Brown and 21st Editions Editor John Wood (introduction) with the work of Ben Nixon who printed silver-gelatin prints of another world. Ben, like Charles Grogg, uses difficult traditional processes. His silver gelatin prints are hand printed from wet-collodian negatives and then toned with tea. Paste papers, another even older tradition, are patterned or textured papers, often made by applying paint with brushes or handmade tools, and are an integral part of 21st Editions productions. In some cases the papers themselves are hand-made. The emphasis on the paste papers in this case extends from the book itself to the ingeniously designed portfolio case that doubles as a display stand. This book and portfolio set broke new ground for us both in presentation and execution.
June 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Sunday, November 7, 2011:
John Wood and I left about 8AM for Amtrack in Providence to greet Yamamoto Masao, his wife Reiko, and his manager Seiko Uyeda. We corresponded with Masao and Reiko with the generous help of Seiko as translator, but this was our first meeting. The three appear at once together and seem to recognize something about us. They are instantly delightful.
On the way back to Cape Cod, Seiko shared a story that Masao told on the train coming in from New York to Providence. For some reason, he had had an encounter with a Master of sorts, a man whose Japanese sword–a Stradivarius of swords, a work of art–meant a great deal to him. He insisted that Masao take it home with him to photograph. Masao was nervous when he told him just to send it back via UPS! Upon his next visit with the Master, and to Masao’s surprise, he told him that the sword’s energy revealed that Masao had a difficult time photographing it. He was correct.
As soon as we crossed the Bourne Bridge, John suggested that we offer the front seat to Masao so he could photograph while we traveled toward Brewster on the old historic Route 6A. He reluctantly agreed and after a short time said that the road was “too beautiful to photograph” and that what he liked revealing in his work were imperfections.
I wanted to show everyone one of my favorite spots where a small bridge crossed an inlet with a strong tide. As I approached Keveney Lane to the left, I saw “Bridge Closed,” but I turned anyway. It was a cold day and on our way down this short road we passed a hooded young man on the left, walking slow and determined. He turned and nodded as if he expected us. Without having mentioned it to Masao, I was surprised that he later mentioned it to me.
I stopped the car in front of the gravel pile blocking the street and before the bridge, then opened my door to find a decomposing tree trunk hollowed on one side. In the center was a lovely ceramic vase with a partly broken rim at the narrowed top. I thought, imperfection! I looked at Masao and he jumped from the car with his camera like he was greeting an old friend. From the driveway on the other side of the car appeared a man who greeted us. He said that he had just placed the vase in the tree trunk, but at the time wasn’t sure why. Then, without missing a beat, the young hooded man we had passed on the way appeared on foot carrying a Japanese sword and explained he was studying Japanese martial arts and that he had been taking that precise walk for two years.
In those brief and lyrical moments, Masao, Reiko, Seiko, John, and I together were witnesses in unison to our own completely uninterrupted attention. Was this a gift brought by a Master? He would likely not have had intended it, because he was just being Yamamoto Masao.
The three Prism book and print sets (Yamamoto Masao, Mitch Dobrowner and Jack Spencer) are a hybrid between the finest offset printing by the Studley Press and a Pam Clark and Travis Becker (Twinrocker Paper) designed handmade paper for the cover. With three different sets of prints, 21st Editions has presented a spectrum of printing processes from offset to platinum (Yamamoto) to silver-contact (Dobrowner) to hand-varnished pigment ink (Spencer). These traditional style monographs are presented with the intention of showing a broad range of the artist’s work with from 65-110 images. Scholarly essays by John Wood (Yamamoto), Dafydd Wood (Dobrowner), and Steven Brown (Spencer) reinforce the importance of the marriage of the word and the image as a primary 21st Editions objective.
May 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
It was at the International Design Fair in New York that Jerry Uelsmann walked up and introduced himself. With white hair, horn-rim glasses, and accompanied by his well-known wife, artist Maggie Taylor, Jerry proposed that we do a project together. I explained to Jerry that because of the unique nature of how his images were made we would require that he personally print and sign each of the prints in order for us to produce a Silver Edition project with him. He immediately said he would. I then said that they would have to be 16×20 inches, not a common size for him. To that he said “yes” again.
During a trip to Jerry and Maggie’s home in Florida and after two days of looking at his life’s output, which totaled roughly 5000 prints, we selected ten images. Five prints were included in each of the two 20×24 inch volumes. The set was accompanied by an additional portfolio volume of 20 poems by Harvard’s Steven Brown, each inspired by one of Jerry’s photographs, as well as an introduction by John Wood which discusses Uelsmann’s and Brown’s work and their intersections.
With Jerry and all those who make up 21st Editions, we produced the most ambitious project in our 16 year history. The brilliant brushed aluminum bindings by Daniel Kelm and his bindery incorporated Kelm designed special hinges that allow for the aluminum pages to be removable so that the signed silver-gelatin photographs mounted to them could be exhibited individually. The final result was both architecturally and bibliographically stunning.
Jerry labored for four solid months over the prints to produce a small edition of only 25 numbered and two Publisher’s sets. Each week he would call me and tell me that it was the most difficult printing job he had ever done. He would then sometimes follow with an email that would contain a limerick. Jerry loves limericks and shared them with us so often that we got used to looking for them.
We announced Moth and Bonelight (Silver Edition, 2010) and it sold out in the course of 24 hours. We were astounded and pleased, since this was our most expensive production to date.
In addition to the Silver Edition, there was a smaller 14×18 inch Platinum Series portfolio of the same images that were printed by 21st Editions under the direction of Jerry Uelsmann. Each of the ten unbound prints were signed and dated by Jerry and in an edition of 55, plus 15 Artist’s sets. The set also includes the 20 poems by Steven Brown printed letterpress.
April 8, 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.
In 2002 we announced our inaugural Silver Series title, Cante Jondo, with hand-toned silver gelatin prints by Josephine Sacabo. The Silver Series allowed us to follow the trajectory of our Platinum Series monographs while giving us the opportunity to honor yet another important photographic technique, the silver-gelatin print.
I have heard more people than I can recall describe their first experience of seeing a Josephine Sacabo image. They say things like “I loved it”or “I just had to have it.” I remember my own experience on first seeing one of her works; it was like an electrical charge rising out of the image and directly striking me. I thought, “I want to be able to look at this image every day for the rest of my life.”
Our inarticulate attempts to describe the effect of her work is the result of having confronted Sacabo’s duende, having been brought close to the precipice, and having felt, in the words of Spain’s great poet Lorca, that “jet of blood worthy of her pain and her sincerity”that the duende inspired.
Over the years we continued to work with Josephine on The Duino Elegies and Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble, as well as a rare gum-over-platinum triptych from her Ophelia’s Garden series.
From the moment I made my first gravure, I realized I’ve been trying to do this for thirty years in the darkroom . . . jumping through every hoop I can think of to come up with this effect. This is what I’ve been looking for . . .