Spiegel mit Erinnerungen


Spiegel mit Erinnerungen
Künstlerhaus Bethanien
62 pp.

design by Christian Chruxin
Printed in Germany

Spiegel mit Erinnerungen translates to “Mirrors with Memories” (or so Google tells me). It features the daguerreotypes of artist Shinkichi Tajiris along with a history of the medium. Künstlerhaus Bethanien is the publisher, an institution that has released a number of adventurous book designs, particularly in the late 70s. The cover of this book immediately compelled me: austere and rigid, with its simple underlying grid revealing itself through a stark hairline stroke, carried throughout the entirety of the book. I've since come to learn this is somewhat of a trademark of the designer Christian Chruxin who has made some brilliant books that sadly don't seem to get the recognition that they deserve.

In many ways this catalog is a wonderful exercise in restraint with momentary, unexpected flourishes (such as the metallic ink used for the photo plates, giving off a luster reminiscent of the original daguerreotypes, or the single spread typeset in a beautiful blackletter) which create a pleasant rhythm of contrasts throughout.




Libro Port Publishing

design by Seiichi Suzuki
printed in Japan

This is probably my favorite photobook of Araki's hundreds that I've come across. In it, he crystallizes a life-long preoccupation with sex, love, passion, pain, and death. Araki asserts that these "poles" of emotion and experience aren't so different and in fact go hand-in-hand. Coming to terms with these complex and intertwined relationships of life and death, love and loss, will help us enjoy and cope with these enigmatic and integral experiences of the human condition.


To achieve these highly visceral images with clear influence stemming from the Provoke generation of Japanese photographers, Araki employs a ring flash and macro lens in order to photograph his subjects as intimately as possible. He frames the quotidian—fruit, flowers, plumbing fixtures—as provocative and suggestive motifs juxtaposed against the naked body. Traditional hierarchies are flattened in Araki's masterful pacing and arrangement of images. A spoiled fruit, blossoming flower, or running faucet is no uglier or more beautiful than an embracing couple or woman contorted in ecstasy. This book is a celebration of living life with  vivid intensity through an acute understanding of our own emotions and motivations.


Andy Warhol — Photographs


"The only show of Andy Warhol’s photographs ever exhibited during his lifetime closed three weeks before his death in February of 1987. It was not a showing of polaroids or photobooth pictures, it was an exhibition of 70 black and white prints sewn together in small grids of identical repeating photos. The grids ranged from four images to twelve with the strands of thread linking them hanging loosely in the center. 

The central motif of repetition in Warhol’s screen prints is obviously present here as are the subjects of celebrity and the mundane. In a few he directly references himself; one with a four image grid of a man opening his jacket to reveal a t-shirt with a portrait of James Dean rendered in the style of Warhol, and another where he has rephotographed a portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong.

The book’s order and facing pages are paired to link or contrast the immediate subject or to formally play off of one another; 

Andy Warhol Photographs
Robert Miller Gallery

design by John Cheim

stacks of photo prints are paired with shots of leaves, lines of cars in a parking lot faces a grid of venetian blinds, a grouping of skyscrapers and porn theater posters, ceramic plates and a muscular statue, clouds photographed out a plane window face a white fur coat, the modesty of a young Chinese soldier matched with a lingerie clad woman’s back.

The act of looking is challenged as our eyes fight to draw themselves from the middle of the grids to see the “whole” and at the same time the individual. The tug and pull of these images makes our focal point dart around the grids searching for a comfortable point to rest - which can be nearly impossible.

The book itself is cleanly designed and edited by John Cheim who ten years later would start the gallery Cheim & Read."



Japan: A Self-Portrait


Japan: A Self-Portrait
Shoji Yamagishi
International Center of Photography

design by Arnold Skolnick
printed in New York

This book is based on the exhibition at the International Center of Photography, New York in April/May 1979. It presents works by Japanese photographers of the seventies that depict the realities of postwar Japan and beyond from their unique perspectives. With introduction by Taeko Tomioka and foreword by Shoji Yamagishi. Photographers’ biographies are provided.

One fascinating element of this book’s design which is immediately apparent is the distribution of the photographic plates throughout the book. Unlike traditional organizational structures where the plates are grouped in one section and the literature another, the “exhibition” of the various photographer’s works begins literally on the recto of the very first page and their haphazard distribution continues throughout, even on the title page and back cover. 


The Shepherd


The Sheperd— A Documentary
from Paris 2002–2006
Yoshie Tominaga

design by Koichi Hachiman
printed in Japan

"Photographer Yoshie Tominaga has captured what happens backstage and behind the scenes from the very beginning of Jun Takahashi’s adventure with the fashion label Under Cover. Her insightful photographs, dating back to October 2002, not only reflect a strong and trusting relationship with the designer, but also document the dynamic development of an internationally celebrated fashion house. Alongside the fashion highlights found in this far-ranging collection of colour and black and white photographs is a series of written exchanges between Patti Smith and Tominaga."