The PhotoBook Journal

November 29, 2017

Interesting Photobooks of 2017 (plus a few from 2016)

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Interesting Photobooks of 2017, copyright Douglas Stockdale

As in years past, we have been providing a short list of photobooks we have found interesting, whether it was the photographic content, concept of the project, the book’s design or production qualities; and most interesting when it was a delightful combination of all of these book elements.

For our editorial team selection we limited ourselves to the photobooks we received with time to really evaluate the book object in its entirety. I have readily admitted in the past we do not have access to read and study every photobook that was published during the year, thus our list is not meant to be inclusive as there are a great many other interesting photobooks that were published this year. Our list may not be the “Best” photobooks of 2017, but rather we have selected some of the more interesting photobooks for your consideration. In a couple of cases, we have included books that were published in late 2016 that have come to our attention this year.

We have published commentaries for most of these, which are linked-up. It is our intent to publish commentaries for the remaining photobooks shortly. So in alphabetic order:

Roger Ballen, Ballenesque, Thames & Hudson, 2017, a really interesting retrospective of Ballen’s creative body of work, also The Theatre of Apparitions, Thames & Hudson, 2016 (we did not see this until early this year); An astute personal investigation of the mind against intercultural backgrounds.

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Roger Ballen

Paula Bronstein, Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, University of Texas Press, 2016; a long term photo-documentary project about the on-going social impact of war in Afghanistan.

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Paula Bronstein

Claire Felicie, Only the Sky Remains Untouched, Self-published, 2016; provides an intriguing layered visual design that creatively investigates the concepts of lingering trauma after warfare.

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Claire Felicie

Lea Habourdin, Survivalists, Fuego Books, 2017; an intriguing book design that investigates a concept about personal/cultural survival. (Review pending)

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Lea Habourdin

Ellen Korth, CHARKOW, Self-published, 2016; presenting difficult parts of a personal history using a very innovative set of books.

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Ellen Korth

Andrej Lamut, Nokturno, The Angry Bat, 2017; a dark and moody investigation which provides an interesting environment to explore a diverse range of metaphoric potentials.

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Andrej Lamut

Robert Lyons, Pictures From the Next Day, Zatara Press; An introspective project that explores aging, personal relationships and American culture. (Review pending)

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Robert Lyons

Tymon Markowski, Flow, Self-published, 2017; a great utilization of a book design that captures the essence of photo-documentary project’s investigation of a region.

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Tymon Markowski

Duane Michals, Portraits, Thames & Hudson, 2017; a retrospective of his portrait work in the context of his trademark, if not iconic, creative storytelling.

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Duane Michals

Nancy Rexroth, IOWA, University of Texas Press, 2017 (first edition, self-published, 1977); an updated and re-edited edition of this fine art photobook “classic”, which still maintains its artistic vitality. (Review pending)

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Nancy Rexroth

Douglas Stockdale, Bluewater Shore, self-published, 2017; (A little bit of personal bias) Exploring American culture and family as well in part for its production merit as it is the first photo book that was printed with a duotone (black & white) digital lithography printing process.

Bluewarter Shore artist book

Cheers!

Douglas & Gerhard

November 28, 2017

Duane Michals – Portraits

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:44 pm

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Photographer:  Duane Michals (born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania; resides in New York City)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY, © 2017

Essays and commentary:  Duane Michals

Text:  English

Hard cover with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color printing; 176 numbered pages; 178 captioned photographs with additional notes and commentary; 12×10 inches; printed and bound in China

Photobook designer:  Mark Melnick

Notes:

It seems Duane Michals has been a creative storyteller forever (more than half a century). He has a great mind that is always bubbling with new ideas, and the application of these ideas has found its way into our consciousness as the decades have gone by. He has not been afraid to forge ahead to tackle the problems that life generates by transforming them into some therapeutic sequences and mixed-media images. He even hand-writes text to go with his images or sequences so that we may share his trains of thought and insights. Best of all, he is one of the most honest and straight-forward people I have ever met, and he is an entertainer full of earthy humor on top of all that! Below there is a sequence of two photographs I took of him at the 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival, showing the master photographer as performer in a moment of self-awareness during a lecture:

 

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The Magic Theater: Duane Michals as Duane Michals – © 2014 Gerhard Clausing

 

This is the latest of his many books, and it is a fascinating collection of portraits with an emphasis on well-known personalities, including actors, musicians, artists, and writers, as well as some of his self-portraits and personal portraits, occasionally combining the two categories through an incorporation of his reflection. Included are many well-known people, such as Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Richard Gere, Barbara Streisand, Liza Minelli, Johnny Cash, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, to name just a few. There are also a number of personal photographs, such as the one of his grandmother (double page four below, right side), elevated to celebrity status through these juxtapositions.

Michals comments: “The photo is a document of when and where, not who and why. Is the emotion that I see in your glance authentic or is it just a simulacrum?” He posits four types of portraits:  1. Stand and stare  2. Prose portrait (tells the story of a person)  3. Annotated portrait  4. Imaginary portrait (his idea of what somebody might be). Naturally, almost all his portraits are in categories 2-4. He frequently uses reflections (mirrors, glass) to emphasize interconnectedness and multiplicity. Long exposures and multiple exposures are other methods by which Michals shows movement and action and interprets reality freely through his imagination. Occasionally painting on the image will add his extra interpretive touch (Marlene Dietrich, double page one, right side).

This volume is a compendium of surprise views of those who may otherwise seem familiar; this coffee-table size volume is highly recommended!

TPBJ previously featured a review of Duane Michals – 50

Gerhard Clausing

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