About the Contributors #10

September 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

A rare look into personal reflections and thoughts through the pages of artists’ journals, sketchbooks and an interview.

The Maxims of Men Disclose Their Hearts
The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin

French Saying
“The maxims of men
describe their hearts.”
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.

I make photographs because it allows me to proclaim in the Light what I’ve perceived in the Darkness of my being. My faith and my photographs are the reasons I live!! I know I’m not going to change the world with what I make. But I want to make work that the viewer perceives as the reproduction of my Soul. That is my criteria and I believe is the reason all great art is made!

We live in a lost and dying world. A great deal of art produced now reflects this-an art of total emptiness, meaninglessness. This “Art” is a denial of the wisdom of the past presented in the unformed, immature
philosophy of “Post Modern” sound bites.

I want to penetrate rather than reproduce reality. Photograph (and print) as though that was the first photograph or print ever made.

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Sheila Metzner: Fashion

M. Fresson,
Thank you for the fine prints. It is as though you read my mind. They are perfect. I would like to continue to work with you in this way for a while. And I would like to continue to experiment…

The “soft-eye” is transforming. One minute you are “looking,” suddenly you are “seeing” everything changes, dimension, sensation of colors, a kind of objective discrimination begins. Thoughts are magnetized to the vision. Like clouds congregate at the horizon. Reality and vision are one. There is no separation. You are to believe in yourself and what you see. Enraptured until the other reality which you do neither inhabit nor own, outright, calls you back.

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Imogen Cunningham: Platinum and Palladium

I never photograph ugliness. I am afraid I am a little too aesthetic to be anything but old-fashioned. I agree to that. I let myself be old-fashioned, why shouldn’t I? I have a formula for how to make a good photograph; I think that in order to make a good photograph, you have to be enthusiastic. That is, you have to think about it, like a poet would.

I think everything you do is something of a contribution, unless it’s no good. Then you better hide it. What I like to see about a photograph, is everything smoothly in focus-or if it’s out of focus, for a purpose. And, the quality and gradations of value, rendered, more nearly and accurately in a smaller photograph. I don’t mean tiny, but I mean, not too big. I think still photography has more of an aesthetic appeal, that is the single photograph.

For some people history is a great adventure, for others a great bore. But for me it is overpowering. As far as the history of photography is concerned, I have lived more than half of it. But it still gives me pause.

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About the Contributors #8

August 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

John Wood in his introduction to The New City stated: “…Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg. Along with Hart Crane they were the great epic rhapsodists of America and the American experience, and MacLean Gander is one with them within that same tradition.” We were fortunate to publish two great epic poems: Hart Crane’s The Bridge, with Sheila Metzner, and MacLean Gander’s The New City, with Jefferson Hayman.

Coda: The New City
BY MACLEAN GANDER

This new city is so perfectly described it ends the past,
Not like a death but like the end of a story
That you remember always, in the fondest way, without regret.

This new city holds a lantern against the moon & illuminates it.

The walkways share a fragrance of undiscovered flowers,
Children carry balloons like talismans as they play their games,
Invented & forgotten each day, like rumors of forgiveness.

This new city is a firefly—one of the fireflies that return each summer
So that fireflies come back even though each one dies.

This new city is a place without you, a place where I knew you
But now you are gone. My hands hold a river. If you were water

I would drink you so deeply my thirst would be endless, to drink you.

In this new city we watch the sun rise & set, golden claims
On the sky, indifferent to anything but its endlessness & perfection.

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The Bridge
BY HART CRANE

As John Wood wrote in his introduction: We look at the gothic arch, that high window of the American cathedral, at those steel, harp-string cable wires, and we see the spiritual side of the vision that Crane addressed in “To Brooklyn Bridge,” the opening poem of his epic. Here the altar of heaven and the music of angels are conjoined:

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
. . . we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

TheBridge

About the Contributors #4

July 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our first monograph New York, with poems by Walt Whitman. We followed this classic with another, William Blake’s Songs of Experience & Songs of Innocence. And later on the interest in Blake continued with The Prophecies of William Blake, wonderfully paired with Mitch Dobrowner’s storms.


Broadway

BY WALT WHITMAN

WHAT hurrying human tides, or day or night!
What passions, winnings, losses, ardors, swim thy waters!
What whirls of evil, bliss and sorrow, stem thee!
What curious questioning glances-glints of love!
Leer, envy, scorn, contempt, hope, aspiration!
Thou portal-thou arena-thou of the myriad long-drawn lines and groups!
(Could but thy flagstones, curbs, faÇades, tell their inimitable tales;
Thy windows rich, and huge hotels-thy side-walks wide;)
Thou of the endless sliding, mincing, shuffling feet!
Thou, like the parti-colored world itself-like infinite, teeming, mocking life!
Thou visor’d, vast, unspeakable show and lesson!

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From the Introduction for
Songs of Innocence and Experience  
BY JOHN WOOD

The Songs of Innocence and of Experience are the most well-known works of William Blake, the greatest mystical writer in the English language. They were his only poems that had even a limited popularity in his lifetime because they were far more accessible than his “prophetic books,” several of which are epic, both in length and in the complexities of his unusual narratives. The majority of the individual Songs are, indeed, quite accessible. Many of them, especially in Innocence, are straightforward, simple even; however, Blake’s notions of innocence and experience are anything but simple…

There was certainly no other artist in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries like William Blake, and there has been no other artist in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries like Joel-Peter Witkin, whose prophetic claims are similar to Blake’s. “Christ is my life,” he has written. “I photograph the living and the dead. My work is a prayer. Photographing makes me the possessor of sanctified and secret wisdom. And for that, I will be judged, not by man-but by God.” Both Blake and Witkin are unique to their own times, yet there is a similarity within their visions because sacred knowledge such as theirs can only come from an intimate dialogue with the boundless, non-corporeal part of the soul.

IncExpTrade

The Little Boy Lost
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak, father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost,

The night was dark no father was there
The child was wet with dew.
The mire was deep, & the child did weep
And away the vapour flew.
The Little Boy Found

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand’ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh,
Appeared like his father in white.

He kissed the child & by the hand led
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro’ the lonely dale
Her little boy weeping sought.

MitchDobrowner_withCloseup

from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

Once meek, and in a perilous path,
The just man kept his course along
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow,
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:
And a river and a spring
On every cliff and tomb:
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth.

Till the villain left the paths of ease,
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.

Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility,
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

#16/16: Sheila Metzner Fashion

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)

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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.

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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

#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). 
 

Sheila Metzner FASHION

February 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sheila Matzner

Sheila Metzner’s Fashion, our first title of 2014, sets the stage for a new and unique presentation for the collectors of 21st Editions. Sheila’s fifty-year career is equally important in both art and fashion, and her most well-known images are included in this collection of five, presented in a unique and very limited edition. The Fresson prints will be mounted in five free-standing presentations, each covered in a different silk from designers such as Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Pucci, Valentino, and Roberto Cavalli. This Metzner collection is designed for display on a surface or stand, rather than a wall.

The Fresson print process used here was invented by Théodore-Henri Fresson around 1899 and continued to this day, first by his sons Pierre and Edmond, and now his grandson Jean-Francois. The addition of color into the original charcoal-based process was introduced in 1950. This process is proprietary and therefore extremely rare with each print being considered unique.

Each of these Fresson prints is hand-made by Theodore-Henri Fresson’s grandson, Jean-Francois, and made with T.H. Fresson’s original 1895 enlarger using pure color pigments and saw dust. The Fresson print has been the exclusive choice of Sheila Metzner throughout her career. The print surface itself is somewhat akin to the silks used in constructing these sets.

Specifications:
Fresson prints: 12 x 9 inches (signed and dated)
Print folders closed: 17 x 12 x 3/8 inches
Presentation box: approximately 18 x 13 x 3 inches
Accompanying book of Sheila’s sketches and letters: 11 x 8 1/2 inches
Edition: 19 numbered copies, 1 artist copy and 1 publishers copy
Handcrafted in New England

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