#3/16: 21st Editions Silver Series is Born

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.

Image

Cante Jondo

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.

-John Wood

Image

The Duino Elegies

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.

Josephine Sacabo

Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble

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 . . .  

-Josephine Sacabo

gum-over-platinum triptych

gum-over-platinum triptych

 

 

#2/16 from the Publisher: Working with Joel-Peter Witkin

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen posts 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 it.

It was 2001 and we had just finished New York, our first Platinum Series title to great success. John Wood and I wanted to include Joel-Peter Witkin in our first anthology, The Journal of Contemporary Photography: Volume I, but he declined. On August 28, 2001, however, I sent Joel a fax proposing Songs of Experience. He faxed us within 15 minutes accepting our offer. Songs of Innocence followed in 2002.

Image

Many have asked: “What is Joel like?” Having worked with him over the past 13 years now and after having completed four titles with him, I have gotten to know him pretty well. Joel is a religious man, and at the same time very funny too. There were periods when working on our books together that Joel would call weekly just to tell me a joke or two. For example: “What did the 0 say to the 8?…..nice belt.”

What humors me is Joel’s conviction to his jokes and his delivery. He can also be very serious, which is reflected in much of his work. Because many people seem very curious about the man behind the work, I jumped at his offer to publish his journals culminating in The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin.

Image

A very interesting story relating to The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin, is a letter that he received from Christine Grant just weeks before sending me his materials. Joel agreed that the letter should be the introduction:

April 12, 2007

Dear Mr. Witkin,

I could not find your email address or I’d have cluttered that rather than your home mail. I happened upon your work, then read that you had been influenced by an accident you witnessed as a child in New York City in which a girl was decapitated. My father was there that day and saw the same accident and the vision of it did not leave him, either. It had to have been the same accident-I can’t imagine such a thing is a common occurrence. He spoke of seeing the head rolling in the street. He said he could not sleep or eat for weeks after and he had nightmares about it throughout his life.

Indirectly, my sister and I were also influenced by that event. His telling of it brought mortality into our lives much too early. We never had the comfort of believing that only the old died-that death was far away in some indeterminate future. Then and now, we have the weight of time’s limitations on our shoulders. Your work seems to have upset a fair number of people. I am glad for you that you have been able to forge your demons on the anvil of creation. I wish my father had been able to do the same.

Best regards,
Christine Grant

March 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen posts 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 it.

Our humble beginnings started in 1998 in my half garage (shown below), not enough room to put a car in, but enough room to start a press unique to the history of photography, that has since published 50 titles, including some 150 world-class contributors and artists. We didn’t have any capital, whatsoever, and many in the industry thought we wouldn’t last. I asked my wife Janet, and she said: “What have we got to loose?” So, we mortgaged the house. That was sixteen years ago.

The Garage, 1998

The Garage, 1998

It all got started in 1998 at a round-table at a Chelsea restaurant, just doors away from the Chelsea Hotel. Present were John Stevenson, John Wood, Denise Bethel, Duane Michals, Ernestine Ruben, A.D. Coleman, and I (Steven Albahari, Publisher). I made it clear that I wanted to pick up where Stieglitz left off, but go several steps further. We discussed names for the journal and the press. I think John Wood suggested 21st. John Stevenson hosted, Duane brought his trademark humor, John Wood was the exemplary Southern gentleman, Denise was delightful and smart, Ernestine charmed, and A.D. was like a proud father, since it was he who got me started in college giving me the job of bibliographer of his first ten years of photographic criticism.

And so began The Journal of Contemporary Photography.

Today and now, 2014

Today and now, 2014

In our next post: How we came to work with Joel-Peter Witkin, what transpired over the next decade, and the man behind the brilliance.

 

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with The Art of the Book at 21st Editions.