Photographs copyright J Bennett Fitts courtesy Kopeikin Gallery
Recently I acquired the two latest exhibition catalogs for J. Bennett Fitts from his exhibitions at the Kopeikin Gallery. The earlier catalog was “no lifeguard on duty”, exhibited/published in 2006 and “Industrial Landscap[ing]” which was exhibited and concurrently published earlier this year (2009). Fitts landscape photographs seem to have a special appeal to me, and it is evident that he has been influenced by the earlier work of Lewis Baltz, especially with his Industrial Landscape[ing] series.
Both of these are nice catalogs, printed with softcovers in a size of 8″ x 10″, with off set printing printed and bound in Asia and reasonably priced. It seems that these gallery catalogs are evloving in a similar pattern as to the self-publishing fine art sector of Blurb, Apple and the twenty some other print on demand publishers. Big museums are know for their lavish hardcover exhibition catalogs, but it seems that the smaller galleries are creating a niche for their “self-published” catalogs as well.
With that in mind, I sent Paul a series of questions about his gallery exhibition catalogs.
DS Paul, first, about how long have you been publishing these exhibition catalogs?
PK I’m not exactly sure, but probably in the last five or six years
DS Typically, what is the decision process to determine if a catalog will be produced? Is this entirely your decision, the photographers request, or an outcome of a discussion. Does the photographer help fund the catalog?
PK Really it’s a financial one. If the artist has some resources and/or is willing to split the cost with me I will consider it.
DS At this time, how many different artists catalogs have you published?
PK A half dozen or so. We usually print about 1,500 copies of each exhibition catalog.
DS How involved is the photographer in designing and creating the catalogs?
PK As involved as they want to be, but usually very involved.
DS What life do you see for these catalogs? Do they then become a part of the photographers published body of work, morph into a larger mainstream published book?
PK Yes, I think they are a great way to present the work before, during and after it has come off the walls.
DS I note that you have these for sale on your web site, what has been the response?
PK The sales do trickle in.
DS There is a recent trend in collecting photobooks with some big price appreciations and increased traction in the secondary market, e.g. auctions. What do you think and see as the potential collectibility of these catalogs?
PK None, I make too many of them. Although Jill Greenberg’s first catalog has become a sort of collectable.
DS What additional changes and trends do you see in gallery published photobook catalogs?
PK Now that one can do much smaller runs locally I think you’ll see a lot more cataloges. Then people are bound to want to set them apart by making them special in some way, so they are more collectable. So they willl have the collectability in mind from the begining.
DS Paul, thank you for your time and consideration.
“no lifeguard on duty” copyright 2006
“Industrial Landscap[ing]” copyright 2009
by Douglas Stockdale