During the course of 2021 I’ve seen a good number of books, but only 4 or 5 have really startled me or pleased me in ways that made me want to go back to them for second and third looks and more for further consideration.
Brooklyn Brief by Gus Powell, Roman Nvmerals
Brooklyn Brief is a tight and tough collection of photographs of people doing their business in the streets around the Courthouse area in downtown Brooklyn. In every image we see people carrying their briefcases, portfolios, Manila Folders, document cases, etc, and all are shaped by their hurrying momentum into a slightly pitched forward gait, which pressure and urgency give shape to. These photographs are in turn, witty and blunt, prophetic and tragic, and at times painfully comical. They reveal life in a big city as so burdensome as to wear down everyone who has to make their way through it.
Spanish Color by the great Cristobal Hara is surprising and eloquent whether he is looking at small town Spanish architecture, celebrations, bullfighting, festivals, or just general street life. To all of these he brings his witty, graceful, balletic, but always invisible presence, and his compassionate sensibility. The works are astonishing, and keep opening up new considerations and visions the longer one stays with them.
Event is focused on the day that the New York Times published an article on the front page about Black Holes. The photograph of the black hole looked like a flaming donut, and stood out on the page in a strikingly visual way. My assumption is that Matthew Beck, on his way down into the Subway, saw that Black Hole photo and the Subway as having a common thread; and does he makes the most of that. From the look of the book; which is jammed with life below ground, some of it so bizarre as to be nearly unbelievable, I’d say he found a jolt of a vision in which life in the black hole of the subway, and the larger truth of the forces of physics, became their own darkly poetic equation. The book is richly punctuated with images of people reading the Times, pitted agains the riders in all their crazy dervish-like propulsion.
BOOK is a total surprise! the photographs; by turns humble observations and poetic surprises, nonetheless drew me in to every frame, and then, to top it off, there are commentaries and free ranging observations all set in type made on a vintage IBM Selectric Typewriter. These passages are unique works of typographic art that are, in terms of their form, purely visual, and yet equally significant to the photographs in what they have to say. Together with the photographs they make a duet that is compelling and engaging, and satisfyingly whole.
Joel Meyerowitz Is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. Celebrated as a pioneer of color photography, he is a two-time Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of both National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities awards, and a recipient of The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal. He has published over 40 books. Joel Meyerowitz is represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, Polka Galerie in Paris and Huxley-Parlour Gallery in London.
Spanish Colour 1985-2020 by Cristobal Hara, Plague Press
Event by Matthew Beck, J&L