If you’ve read any of my travelogue/art criticism articles on APE, you’re aware of my willingness to speak frankly and critically about photography on the wall. This feature, though, is a little different. Our goal is to highlight some cool and interesting books that have been recently released out into the wild. So consider anything you see below to be recommended for purchase.
Ed Panar’s “Same Difference” was recently released by Gottlund Verlag, in an edition of 100. It’s an orange and brown colored hardcover monograph, and the color scheme evokes a fall day in the Pocono mountains. (I believe the publisher and artist both have ties to PA.) I probably have a soft spot for this work, given that I shot many a similar image when I lived in San Francisco, back in the day. (Cracked sidewalks, geometric patterns on a Mission St Victorian.) It’s a long collection of seemingly random moments, shot in the seemingly random travels of the 21st Century hipster artist. Individually, they give the sense that anyone could have grabbed a shot here or there after a long night of boozing, or a long day of wandering around the neighborhood. (When you don’t have a real job.) Collectively, they draw one’s attention to the infinite varieties of abstraction and emotion embedded in the every day, and resonate that endorphin-rich feeling we all get, occasionally, when we feel like we’re living in a Wim Wenders movie. Each double-paged spread becomes a diptych, and the juxtapositions are thoughtful. “Same Difference” is a great example of why the book can become the work of art, as opposed to the individual image.
Bottom line: Well-seen
Rinko Kawauchi’s “Illuminance” is a hardcover monograph, by Aperture, that manages to glow in a manner suggested by the title. The spine is separated from the book, which is a little quirky, but the inside of the cover is more easily seen this way, and it introduces the trippy, day-glow, space-age palette that one finds within the plates. Nice touch. Not unlike Mr. Panar’s aforementioned book, “Illuminance” is a collection of seemingly disconnected images. But it differs distinctly, as these images are anything but random and dry. Page after page, the photographs scream “art,” with light, and color, dynamic compositions, and the impact of surprise. The kaleidoscopic pinks and purples, black cats and costume jewelry, desert wanderers and dead bugs, and of course the requisite light cascading through cherry blossoms. Ultimately, she builds a cohesive vision through the narrative. Symbols begin to repeat, and colors emphasize their meaning. The folks at photo-eye told me that Ms. Kawauchi has a huge following and her books always sell well. I can understand why.
Bottom line: Gorgeous.
Like the fall bible of a fashion magazine, “Der Rote Bulli”, published by NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, takes its time getting to the good stuff. Plates begin on page 93, and many of you will probably not bother reading the voluminous text that precedes it. I believe the gist is that the wave of German photography that took over the photo world found it’s inspiration in the work of Stephen Shore and his fellow “New Topo” colleagues. I’m guessing we already knew that. But what the sturdy hardcover offering lacks in innovation, it more than makes up with a terrific collection of high-level reproductions of so much important work. All the usual suspects are well-represented (Shore, the Bechers, Ruff, Struth, Gursky, Höfer, Esser), but there are some nice discoveries as well. Andi Brenner’s portraits of package-hugging, speedo-wearing swimmers set against the tackiest 70’s wallpaper you’ve ever seen…awesome. I’d say this is a must-have for anyone who loves the German aesthetic, (replete with ironic representations of the American West.)
Bottom line: Classic photographs, well-constructed
Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase. Please support Photo-Eye if you find this new feature useful.