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.

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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.

HUMANITY & The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

March 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

McCurry’s work presented in platinum for the first time.

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Although Steve McCurry is best known as a color photographer, we have printed these images in platinum. There are two reasons for doing this. The first is to highlight the degree to which McCurry’s work needs to be appreciated not only in the tradition of documentary, but also as a fine-art photographer. Critics typically refer to him as a documentarian. And yet the subtle tonal ranges and luminescence of these prints, coupled with the artistry of their compositions, reveals that they are at least as much “pictorial” as documentary. They explode the lingering and largely false dichotomy between fine-art and documentary photography.

…these platinum prints showcase new forms of McCurry’s humanity, as compelling as their color counterparts. One might say that in different ways, each format highlights connections: between photographer, subject, and viewer; and/or among the people in the images. In both formats, it is as though McCurry penetrates beneath the surface into the heart and spirit, giving us a unique intimacy with his subjects. In doing so, he enlists his subjects as evangelists as few artists have done, bringing people together from around the world.

– from the introduction by John Stauffer

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.

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“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

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. . . .

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Three Outstanding Projects for 2015

March 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Goerge Tice

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

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

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.

#15/16: Imogen Cunningham and Rondal Partridge

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

“Southern Landscape” Shipping Soon

March 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

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FROM THE CONTRIBUTORS:

Living in the South means being both nourished and wounded by the experience. To identify a person as a Southerner is always to suggest not only that her history is inescapable and profoundly formative, but that it is also imperishably present. Southerners live at the nexus between myth and reality where that peculiar amalgam of sorrow, humility, honor, loyalty, graciousness and renegade defiance plays out against a backdrop of profligate physical beauty.
SALLY MANN

In this new age of finance, digital technology, and quick surface effects, Sally Mann’s photographs are our evangels of the eye, enabling us to walk more gladly and lightly. Confronting her work is like discovering a new, mysterious and beautiful world. It oµers a way to redeem a society that is in decline from greed and pettiness. For like other truly great and enduring artists, she has remained faithful to the love of craft, only using technology in the service of her eye and aesthetic, creating beauty and re-enchanting the world.
JOHN STAUFFER

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

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.

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Sally Mann, Southern Landscape

July 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

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“Lake Charles,” one of three loose prints that accompany Sally Mann’s upcoming “Southern Landscape”

“Living in the South means being both nourished and wounded by the experience. To identify a person as a Southerner is always to suggest not only that her history is inescapable and profoundly formative, but that it is also imperishably present. Southerners live at the nexus between myth and reality where that peculiar amalgam of sorrow, humility, honor, loyalty, graciousness and renegade defiance plays out against a backdrop of profligate physical beauty.”

 -Sally Mann

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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