Photobooks to Read this Fall
Chilli Power takes a look at the 10 latest photobooks published by Magnum photographers, from Trent Parke's much-anticipated 'Monument' to a unique collaboration between Cristina de Middel and Lorenzo Meloni.
Burt Glinn was one of the first photographers to join Magnum, just four years after the agency was established in 1947. His latest book Burt Glinn: Half a Century as a Magnum Photographer, edited by Sarah Stacke and published by Kehrer, demonstrates his considerable importance in photographic history, as one iconic image follows another.
Rather than sequenced chronologically, the book is split into five sections: ‘Dressed,’ ‘Nightlife,’ ‘Great & Small’ (which focuses on ‘creatures’), ‘Revolution’ and ‘Due West.’ Within each category, Glinn demonstrates his extensive skills as a photographer, with images ranging from public figures — including Martin Luther King Jr, Liza Minnelli, and Queen Elizabeth II — to the Cuban Revolution, parties and events, Little Rock High School, and numerous magazine assignments.
The book begins with an essay, titled ‘Notes from Family,’ written by Burt’s wife Elena and his son Sam and ends with ‘Notes from Colleagues,’ including contributions from Gilles Peress, Martin Parr, Larry Towell, Alex Webb and an interview with Susan Meiselas. Collectively, their words reveal much about the man behind the images; we learn, for instance, that Burt was “incredibly generous in time, concern, and money,” a “terrific cook,” and a “great father.”
Coming and Going is split into two parts with a list of contents at the start of each section. Phrases like ‘The Cancer has Spread,’ ‘Lost Love,’ ‘Sorry,’ and ‘Still Going’ are used at the beginning of each part as a contents page, then scribbled on mirrors, polaroids and collages on later pages, allowing the reader moments to pause, as if at a chapter break. Amongst the family photos, personal notes and ephemera are references to his previous work, including Raised by Wolves and Open See, and elements from The Last Son. Variations of the silhouette on the cover of Raised by Wolves appear as a recurring motif in the book, reminding us of the autobiographical nature of the work.
Coming and Going is a huge book weighing over 7 pounds and measuring over 13 inches tall. The printing is exceptional; the polaroids look almost real and the collaged pages appear three-dimensional. This, paired with the book’s use of layflat binding, makes for a profound and powerful viewing experience.
I love photography power couples (think Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, Trent Parke and Narelle Autio, Jim Goldberg and Alessandra Sanguinetti, and so on). Jacob and Sara Aue Sobol are yet another example of this, and Hunting Heart, published by Dewi Lewis, is their first joint publication.
The book consists of unbound images, closer to prints than postcards. Each of the 24 double-sided cards feature Jacob’s image on one side and Sara’s on the other, and are housed in a beautiful black box with gold foil text and a satisfying magnetic fastening.
The distinction between their work is pretty clear. Jacob’s photographs are shot in his trademark high-contrast black and white, this time focusing on family in and around their home in Denmark. Sara’s, predominantly in color, are taken on her travels across three continents.
As the cards are loose there is no specified sequence, so it’s an interesting exercise to take each one and try to figure out what links the images together. The work is accompanied by fewer than one hundred words of text, which begins: “We meet through photography. We see each other as we see the world.” Perhaps this is enough to link it all together.
This unique book is available in limited quantities in three different languages, Danish (Sobol Books), English (Dewi Lewis), and French (Polka Galerie).
Thomas Hoepker’s latest publication, Italia, is a small, blue, clothbound book published by Buchkunst Berlin. The production values are high, using three different papers. The stock the images are printed on is a true, bright white allowing for high contrast, crisp black-and-white reproductions, which is what the work deserves.
Upon graduating from high school, the young Hoepker began to make regular trips to Italy armed with his trusty Leica MP camera. Between 1956 and 1959 he amassed a collection of over 10,000 negatives, from which 124 were chosen to create Italia.
During his time in Italy, Thomas approached the streets as an explorer rather than a tourist, crafting cinematic compositions that captured social interactions and daily rituals, reminiscent of the neorealist cinema popular at that time. As Chilean director, Raúl Morales Barcia, says in his accompanying essay: “Everyone is a protagonist or spectator, inhabiting their own being and playing their part.” His ‘Letters to an artist friend whom I do not know’ is written as an ode to Hoepker’s photographs, and together they transport us back to a much-changed Italy.
The Kabuler is a magazine-style publication by Lorenzo Meloni and Cristina de Middel, published by This Book is True. It is a cumulation of essays, interviews conducted, and photographs taken by the pair during a trip they took together to Afghanistan in 2022.
The two photographers typically approach their work very differently. The playful design mirrors De Middel’s previous publications such as Party, whilst the choice of location, Afghanistan, plays to Meloni’s strengths. Working alongside each other, the two challenge their own roles, styles and perspectives.
Employing humor as a method of critique (something we have seen from De Middel before), The Kabuler urges the reader to question historical narratives, the mainstream media, and the meaning of war. It bypasses the “often simplistic and biased” approach of traditional media and, instead, seeks to produce a nuanced portrayal of Afghanistan, often adopting a playful approach. Contrasting gritty subject matter with otherwise lighthearted fare such as crosswords, fake adverts, and recipes, The Kabuler raises questions about what a photographic publication can be.
Martin Parr’s latest book Malaga Express was produced by the Martin Parr Foundation (in association with DMB Represents) to coincide with an exhibition of Martin’s work which is showing at La Aduana Museum in Málaga until mid-October. Parr was commissioned to make work about southern Spain in his distinctive social documentary style.
Malaga Express, designed by Nathan Vidler, consists of three colorful softback books, ‘Gente/People,’ Comida/Food,’ and ‘Ocio/Leisure,’ housed in an unusual, equally colorful slipcase with a Hawaiian shirt-esque graphic on the front. The pages of each booklet are a different color (’Comida/Food,’ for example, is red) and the overall design of the book is original and immediately grabs your attention.
It seems impossible for Trent Parke to produce a book that doesn’t sell out almost immediately (see Crimson Line and Cue the Sun, both published by Stanley/Barker, for reference). Monument is the most recent example of this, which was gone within days of its release.
If you’re familiar with Parke’s work, you’ll recognize several pictures from Dream/Life and Minutes to Midnight. However, since these titles sold out years ago, very few of us are lucky enough to own a copy of either.
Monument is a flexibound book with an embossed black leather cover, blind stamped endpapers, black sprayed page edges, and a loose metal plate. The design is conceptually driven, the cover borrowing from the Voyager Golden Records, identical discs included aboard the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The back cover has an embossed rectangle near the top, the same size as the metal plate.
Without the plaque (which only states the title, photographer, publisher, and year of publication) the book is without language, just like the Golden Record. Though the book contains no written text, the end pages are blind-stamped with a mixture of Morse code and Braille.
If you missed out on the first edition, a second printing will be available this winter.
One Night Only is the second book Bruce Gilden has published with Setanta, following Black Country, released last year. As the title suggests, the contents were shot in a single night, while also perhaps referring to the voice of a promoter blaring out from a megaphone ‘Step right up folks! For one night only… *insert drumroll* …’
It is rare to come across a photobook of images shot across one single day. Notable examples may be Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road by Tim Carpenter, shot on one winter morning, and Drum by Krass Clement, made from just three rolls of film taken in a single evening. Gilden’s One Night Only, shot over the course of one boxing match, is another to add to the list.
The book, designed by Tom Booth-Woodger, contains a number of interesting elements. For instance, the book’s title and the colophon are printed on the endpapers. A small piece of paper has been stuck to the reverse side of one of the endpapers which outlines the five rules for watching the bout, the fourth ironically stating that ‘taking pictures is forbidden’. This is paired with the first image in the book of two men in a changing room. The photographs don’t disappoint, and you sense that Gilden was in his element at the boxing match.
The book ends with a six-page essay (on a different paper stock) by Mick Brown titled ‘Rough Diamonds’ which describes the evening in detail, although there are less than two paragraphs about the fight itself. Gilden’s images likewise reveal very little of the bout, primarily focusing on the events before and after, the raucous crowd and the atmosphere of the venue. Regardless, a sense of violence dominates throughout.
Taking its name from David Hurn’s first monograph David Hurn: Photographs 1956–1976, published by the Art’s Council of Great Britain, his latest book (this time published by RRB Photobooks) gives us an additional 47 years of iconic images.
The book brings together photographs taken from Hurn’s entire career, including his early photographs made in London, his projects in Wales such as Wales: Land of my Father, and work made in the US (including Arizona Trips and California). The sequencing, incidentally, is entirely chronological, producing random pairings that add another layer to an already rich offering from one of the UK’s most influential documentary photographers.
In July we celebrated the launch of David Hurn: Photographs 1955–2022 at Magnum’s London Gallery. Hurn gave a wonderful talk which, like the book, covered his entire career, from his first camera to the quiet life he leads now in the Welsh town of Tintern.
Alessandra Sanguinetti’s latest publication On the Sixth Day (published by MACK) is the rerelease of a book originally published by Nazraeli Press in 2005. It has always been something of a cult book, and thankfully, this new publication means that we can all finally own a copy.
There are clear similarities between the two editions. The cover designs are similar, with the same choice of image, the same gold debossed font (although, in the new edition, without the photographer’s name) but this time green cloth has been used, rather than the black of the original. Though there are, of course, most (if not all) of the same images as before, there are a number of new pictures added to this expanded version.
On the Sixth Day is a hauntingly beautiful tale of man and beast, with the promise of new life — and inevitable death — present in every image. Sanguinetti ends the book by thanking all of the animals she photographed, referring to many by name — a moving and appropriate finale.
Browse the full bookshop, which includes a selection of rare and signed publications, in the Magnum Shop.