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Handpicked Books for Christmas: Distant Horizons

Handpicked Books for Christmas: Distant Horizons

Africa, India, the United States, and many other destinations: we take you on a photographic trip around the world via four books by Peter Beard, Harry Gruyaert, Franco Fontana, and a group of around 40 photographers.

For many photographers, photography is inextricably linked to travel, to faraway places and foreign lands. And this is not a new phenomenon: from its earliest days, photography established itself as the ideal means for bearing witness to the journeys of travelers and introducing viewers to remote, inaccessible regions. In the nineteenth century, photographers referred to as the Orientalists led real expeditions, accompanied by scientists, to explore Italy, Egypt and China, marking the beginning of a time honored tradition. The photographic gaze characterized by a sense of wonder and ethnographic curiosity that is so intrinsically linked to discovery has gradually given way to a deeper approach, a documentary point of view carried out over the long term that often comes with a political message and call to action. More than a century after the first explorers, mass tourism and the omnipresence of images in our daily lives have not tarnished the myth of the adventurer photographer.

Harry Gruyaert, India: Color as language

Manori, Maharashtra, 1986 © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos 

Whether he’s photographing Moscow, Berlin, Morocco, Egypt, the United States or his native Belgium, Harry Gruyaert’s work is marked by his distinctive style: an unparalleled use of color and light, a very personal way of sculpting reality and thus avoiding the trap of exoticism. It’s no wonder he feels that he’s in his element when in India, a country he’s been photographing on a regular basis since 1976. Over the course of 135 images, most of them previously unpublished, the book invites readers to explore this country of contrasts, from Jaipur to Calcutta via Bombay, Pondicherry and Kochi. Interspersed with excerpts taken from Jean-Claude Carrière’s Dictionnaire amoureux de l’Inde [A Loving Dictionary of India], the images stand out beautifully on pages that feature a clean, pared-down layout. 

Harry Gruyaert, India. Text by Jean-Claude Carrière. 135 color photographs, hardcover, 29 x 23.5 cm, 208 pages, 45 euros. Available here from EXB editions here and Thames & Hudson.

Jaipur, Rajasthan, 1976 © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos 

Peter Beard: Africa body and soul

© Peter Beard/Taschen

In this year marked by the passing of Peter Beard, Taschen editions are republishing two photography books as a tribute to this unique artist who devoted a large part of his work to Africa. The new edition of The End of the Game provides a look at his writings and work from his personal archives, giving readers insight into the devastation linked to human intervention in Africa. The second book shines the spotlight on the artist himself. Simply titled Peter Beard, it features his travel journals, mixing photographs, writings, drawings and collages. Initially published in two books whose initial print runs were quickly exhausted, the new edition of Peter Beard gathers both books in a single, 770-page volume: a thick, dense offering that promises long hours of enjoyment. 

Peter Beard. The End of the Game (text in English), hardcover, box cover, 27 x 30 cm, 304 pages, 75 euros. Peter Beard, hardcover, box cover, trilingual German, English, French, 25.8 x 37.4 cm, 770 pages, 100 euros. Available here.

© Peter Beard/Taschen

Franco Fontana, America: Another America

© Franco Fontana / Editions Contrejour

Readers expecting to find geometric landscapes made up of flat colors may be in for a surprise. On display here is not Franco Fontana the photographer known for his shots of fields, but the Franco Fontana who roamed the streets of American cities. But being who he is, he captured their geometry and color, of course: “I found what was already in me and I gathered what I had already been sowing for a long time,” he explains. New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles: a tour of America taken between 1979 and 2001. Playing with the different architectural styles, the movement of bodies in space and the saturation of colors, the Italian photographer transforms the city into a backdrop, giving a fresh new dimension to street photography in the process.

Preface by Muriel Adrien, French-English, 23 x 28 cm, 88 pages, Contrejour editions, 35 euros. Available here.

© Franco Fontana / Editions Contrejour

Paris, November 13, 2015. Du jour au lendemain [From One Day to the Next]: In remembrance and support

« VIVRE (LIVE), Graffiti on the wall », Drocourt, France, 1992 © Jane Evelyn Atwood

What were you doing on November 13, 2015 at the time of the Paris attacks? Dedicated to the victims, Du jour au lendemain is presented in the form of a diary in which some forty photographers and a few musicians tell their story in words and images, including one image that was taken that very day. This book project (as well as an outdoor exhibition in Paris) was initiated by a not-for-profit called 13onze15, which entrusted the art direction to Laura Serani. Whether they were in Paris or elsewhere, Antoine d’Agata, Bruno Boudjelal, Brian Griffin, Todd Hido, Evangelia Kranioti, Sabine Weiss and Hannah Whitaker all provide their moving testimony to the tragedy five years after it took place. Proceeds from book sales will go to 13onze15.

Buy it here.

 « The smile », 2008 © Carolle Benitah

By Sophie Bernard

Sophie Bernard is a journalist specializing in photography, a contributor to La Gazette de Drouot and Le Quotidien de l’Art, a curator and a teacher at EFET in Paris

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