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.

#5/16 Sally Mann

April 18, 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 one of the first conversations John Wood and I had about who he we would like to publish he asked me who I wanted to work with, above all others. I looked at him with my head tipped, as if he already knew, and we simultaneously announced to each other, “Sally Mann,” of course. It wasn’t until 2002, however, that Sally agreed to work with us, initially for Volume V of The Journal of Contemporary Photography. Then, in 2003, we started to hash out with Sally what proved to be one of the most successful Platinum Series monographs from 21st Editions, Sally Mann, winner of a 2005 Lucie Award.

What excited John (and me) was the possibility of publishing, with this early pre-family body of work, Sally’s poetry. John thought she was a very fine poet and it took some convincing. Her stance was modest and firm, but not completely unwavering. After all, Sally’s poetry had never been published and hasn’t been since, but she trusted John and I believe was happy she did.


Grateful and excited to follow up Sally Mann with Southern Landscape, we enlisted John Stauffer, one of Harvard University’s leading scholars to write the text to accompany 14 of Sally’s yet unpublished landscapes from her Deep South series. Stauffer, whose expertise as an abolitionist scholar, brought a deep understanding of the history of place in the South, and particularly the locations of Sally’s focus. One year prior to John writing his deeply poetic and elucidating text, he invited Sally to Harvard as the speaker and guest for the acclaimed Massey Lecture Series. John recounts that it was the first time in his history at Harvard that he witnessed a standing ovation for the speaker.   

#4/16: Tress, Halliday, and ParkeHarrison

April 14, 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.

2003 was a very busy year for 21st Editions. We published the second title in our Silver Series, The Perfect World of David Halliday and two Platinum Series titles: the surrealist work of Arthur Tress paired with Apollinaire in Memories; and the brilliant and highly acclaimed work of Robert ParkeHarrison in Listening to the Earth, with poems inspired by and composed specifically for this title. A companion title, The Book of Life, was also published in 2005. Morri Creech then went on to publish these poems separately and won the Anthony Hect Poetry Prize in 2005 for Field Knowledge.


Listening to the Earth is an early iconic image in Robert ParkeHarrison’s career that was the impetus for the Platinum Series title by the same name. Like most of the earlier work, this photographic panel (shown below) was made by hand with traditional analog processes, unlike the digital processes now being used by the ParkeHarrisons, as well as most photographic artists today. They created the scene using handmade props and found objects, and Robert is the subject. With a finished surface of encaustic wax, this panel is a pivotal piece and an important one to the history of photography. The George Eastman House originated the first major exhibition of this work, of which a panel from this edition was a part, that traveled the U.S. and Europe. Around the same time the work of Robert ParkeHarrison began to be credited to both Robert and his wife Shana who work as a team then and now. This unique artist proof was acquired directly from the artist(s) and was outside an edition of five panels, all of which sold out prior to the show it premiered in.


“…ordinary wonders of living…”

July 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Pontchartrain, from Southern Landscape

Pontchartrain, from Southern Landscape

“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.”

John Wood

The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin

July 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

“This is true of art
because the heart (and soul)
must grow in love and compassion.
The artist’s vocation is to purify
his heart & soul in order to develop a
personal vision,
to create
a sacred dimension.”

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 »

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