Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott


So it’s September, and here in Paris the 6 month winter has apparently already begun. We’re virtually guaranteed the grey, pissing skies present today until April, unless Summer somehow effects a Lazarus like return from the dead.

It’s not all bad, though: September also marks the rentré, when all of France returns to work. That means lots and lots of stuff going on, as all of the work and events that would have happened in August are crammed into the first couple of weeks of the month of September.

Included in that are two special events I want to draw your attention to. First, Le Garage, the exhibition project I was involved in in Arles this year, will be showing again in Toulouse at the venerable Chateau d’Eau gallery, opening September 24th. If you’re around, be sure to check it out. The Le Garage site is due for an update with details of the show – when that happens, I’ll be sure to mention it here.

And here in Paris (or its environs), Laurence Vecten, of LOZ fame, has gotten together with Laurent Champoussin to present PIY / Publish It Yourself, ‘an exhibition of self-published photobooks.’

The show is next week-end, saturday 11th and sunday 12th, at Maison d’art Bernard Anthonioz, in Nogent sur Marne (16, rue Charles VII, Nogent sur Marne ; 12.00 am until 6.00 pm).

In our selection of books, you may find names you have already seen on LOZ.
Our idea is to show different range of books : monographs, posters, zines, boxes, different types of printing, and of course impulsive choices.

I’ll be checking it out on Sunday if anyone cares to join me…

NEXT UP: All of the links I’ve been saving for you and never had a chance to share.  I’m wading through the folder today, so I should have a nice round up in the next couple of days.

Print Sale

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott

Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine

I’ve been a bit busy lately, hence not alot of posting, but I’m collecting things to show you all, so rest assured that I haven’t given up.

In the meantime, though, check out the work of my friends Carly Steinbrunn, Véronique Besnard, and Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine. And, more importantly, visit the page of the Le Garage print sale on Grégoire’s site – it’s to support the running costs of the Le Garage project, which is really shaping up to be great, so don’t forget to submit your book dummies, due May 31st!

The Visual Telling of Stories

Sunday, February 21st, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott

From Fortune magazine, November 1947, art direction Will Burtin

So, I stumbled across this website because it popped up in a Google search for Ezra Stoller images.  It seems to be a storehouse of images related to it’s title, ‘The Visual Telling of Stories’, assembled by Chris Mullen, a former professor at the University of Brighton.  When entering via the URL, you get a limited advertising archive, but if you enter here, you get a massive archive of all kinds of visual stories, including some spreads of classic art direction from Fortune magazine (like this visual study of American advertising culture or this one on astrophysics) that I’ve recently developed an interest in through studying up on Walker Evans, whose work, conveniently, he has a decent archive of, available here

Seriously, this is well worth spending a couple hours rummaging through.

Check out ‘The Visual Telling of Stories’ here, with the bulk accessible through the back end here.

Web Design, etc…

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

A quick update on the previous post –

Things Magazine recently published a list taken from Blogs : Mad About Design of blogs with notable design.  Worth a look…

I’m not clicking through every link tonight, but I don’t see any of the photoblogs…  I wonder if that’s their omission, or would one really say that there aren’t any blogs dedicated to images worthy of inclusion in such a list?

UPDATE: Wait, except for Another Something, the new home of Joachim Baan’s Another Company…  Any others?

Looking at Pictures…

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Junior Bazaar
Junior Bazaar, January, 1947, with art direction from Alexei Brodovitch

Fred Ritchin writes frequently on how photography, and specifically concerned photojournalism, is and has changed on the web and in the era of digital.  A recent post caught my eye:

When one looks at great magazine design there is almost nothing like it on the Web. The era of mass picture magazines started with magazines like Vu in France where the covers were as graphic and stunning as posters. Inside pages for Vu and other early magazines like Regards and Picture Post were used to experiment with all kinds of juxtapositions of images, text and other graphic elements. But what we end up with in terms of design at the beginning of the Web era is much like what we have in desktop publishing — clean sites that look professional but are almost never transcendent.

Clearly, a lot of this has to do with the technology – In print, it’s one thing to, for example, overlay text and image, and in code it’s an entirely different and much more complicated thing.  Which is not to say the technology isn’t there, because it is, in Flash, which is an entirely different ballgame in terms of ease of use and loading times on a site.  As it is, Flash sites tend to be overdesigned, not underdesigned, frequently suffering from the seductiveness of whizzing, moving images and text, not an unwillingness to experiment with the medium.

Anyways, even within the limitations of technology, there are few people willing to push the limitations of text and image on the web.  I can think of one, off the top of my head – i heart photograph, with it’s seemingly endless list of photos of the day and willingness to ignore the conventions of blog interface in order to give the reader an endless way to explore it’s particular corner of the photography world.

Words Without Pictures site is one (recently back online with the publication of their book) even though it’s dialogue between text and photos is defined by a self-conscious absence of the latter. A commenter on Ritchin’s original post points to three other super-flashy sites:;; and the really, really excellent accompaniment to the book of the same name,

Who knows of any others that bear a special mention?

P.S. I wasn’t able to track down an decent images of Vu, but you can find a couple here and here and some more with a google search.


Monday, June 15th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Gilbert and George
Gilbert and George, 1974

A propos to the reports coming from Venice and Art Basel, check out this article on the professionalization of art that appeared in Frieze back in March:

Interviewed in Thornton’s book, the former Artforum editor Jack Bankowsky observes that ‘You have to understand the pieties […] Seriousness at Artforum and in the art world in general is a commodity. Certain kinds of gallerists may want the magazine to be serious even if they have no real co-ordinates for distinguishing a serious article from the empty signifier of seriousness abused.’ You have to understand the pieties: the weight of an artist’s monograph or how many times their name crops up on e-flux announcements; someone’s preference for reading October rather than frieze; the internationalism of the contemporary art world – some romantic residue of the idea that, if you travel regularly by plane, you must be high-powered because your business reaches far outside your locality; artist names exchanged as collateral by those jockeying for position in the marketplace of curating or criticism. These are the little curlicues that adorn the edifice of the professional arts establishment.

In many respects I appreciate being firmly wedged in the subculture that is the photo world as you encounter fewer self-important markers of seriousness, though as many people have pointed out, most recently Colin Pantall in his ‘How Not To Photograph‘ series, we have plenty of pieties of our own.

Photo Magazines

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Jacob Silberberg
Jacob Silberberg, from a portfolio featured in Blueeyes Magazine

The lack of posting means that I’ve been working on other projects – my job has taken up alot of time, but coming soon will be a redesign of the blog (and following that a re-debut of 12TH PRESS) and even sooner a slight change in the direction and type of posts you’ll find here. Nothing too serious, but I’d like to post less frequently and spend more time on individual posts, giving me the chance to think more deeply about the images I present to you guys.

At any rate, to tide you over, I’ve prepared the following list of online photo-art magazines. They’re all worth a look, and they’ll take you a little bit to get through… So, in no particular order:

1000 Words
Seesaw Magazine
Lens Culture
Flak Photo
Blueeyes Magazine
And, quite frankly, Humble‘s website is basically a magazine without text.

Update: Oh wait, here’s another one (courtesy of Hippolyte Bayard): Ahorn Magazine.

Let me know of any I’m forgetting.

Update 2: And thanks to commenter Yaniv Waissa for pointing to the following:

And I Still Miss You

Olga and Bettina

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Bettina Rheims
Bettina Rheims, from ‘The Book of Olga’

Still wondering, at this late date, what to get for Christmas? A whole host of men’s magazines suggest The Book Of Olga, by Bettina Rheims and published by Taschen, an extended nude photo shoot of Olga Rodionova commissioned by her husband, Sergey Rodionov, a Russian oligarch. Things Magazine explains the implications:

This object operates on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. As an opulent presentation of what is deemed quite literally a ‘trophy wife’, it’s the modern equivalent of Gainsborough or Reynolds, portraiture for the post-Madonna and post-Koons world.

But through Rheims’ involvement the portraits also claim to operate on the level of art, an expression not of love or taste (however misguided this might appear) but a statement of the role of portraiture and presentation within a relationship. The pornographic gaze has evolved from the blurred edges and frenzied brushstrokes of Giovanni Boldini, hinting at a hidden eroticism. Instead, everything is on display. Like Boldini or Gainsborough, these images are struck through with fantasy, and just as in the past, that fantasy doesn’t necessarily belong to the sitter, but to the person who paid for the picture.

Rheims’ participation in this has caused the French press to (typically) announce this project to be a major work of Art, another de Sade, and indeed they managed to pull in some serious high minded erotica cred in the form of Catherine Millet, who wrote the introduction. But you still can’t help but wonder at how high minded this project actually is, given that, despite all of the claims of art and echoes of history and literature, this book doesn’t really extend much farther than that initial ‘opulent presentation of a trophy wife.’

Which is really where this would end, if the scale of the entire project weren’t so magnified: The subject is a well known and extremely beautiful public personality; The patron is a member of a class well known for their no expenses barred lifestyle and frequent lack of morals in obtaining the means to fund that lifestyle; the photographer is a famous portraitist, and not one who just anyone can commission; and the publisher is internationally known for their beautifully made art books. Even the price ($450!) and limited edition status marks this an exemplary late capitalist product.

The kitchiness of the images and the cartoonish scale of all of this is supposed to imply a critique of the system that led to this, but it seems fairly intellectually dishonest that the very people who most benefit from this system (oligarchs and limited edition art book publishers) are the ones who are supposedly ($450!) critiquing it. Rheims, in my mind, doesn’t come off too terribly in this, mostly because her work historically has been wrapped in an ambiguous erotic gaze (see here, and keep in mind that it’s a woman who took these pictures), so this just seems part and parcel for her.

[An interesting post script to this whole affair is that this book is banned in the Rodionov’s native Russia, leading Olga to claim that this entire thing is a feminist act of rebellion. Heh.]

I guess it’s worth noting, that this entire thing could have been much more explicit, kitchy, and raunchy, as evidenced by a previous Olga Rodionova shoot for Russian Playboy by David Lachappelle [NSFW], which features, among other things, Rodionova being mounted by a Russian bear and fondled by Russian soldiers in front of a portrait of Khruschev.

For my part, I prefer my photography free, uncomplicated, and on the internet.

Paris Photo

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Onaka Koji, from ‘Slow Boat

At this point it was a week ago, but I promised a Paris Photo round up, so here it is:

I spent most of Paris Photo helping out at the booth, which was a good a view point as any. The usual crowd was hanging around – Olivier Cablat, S√©bastien Girard, Thekla Ehling, Oliver Sieber, and Katja Stuke all made appearances and there was quite a few signings there as well. Jeff Ladd, of 5b4 publicly debuted his ‘books on books‘ reprint of Sophie Ristelhueber‘s ‘Fait‘ (which I picked up a copy of and which is excellent) which she was on hand to sign, and Onaka Koji, Guy Tillim, and a bunch of others stopped by to sign many and sundry books. Besides helping with that, the secretive project I’ve been working on (and which I’ll publicize as soon as I’m able) had it’s debut for Paris Photo VIPs, so through it all I was kept pretty busy.

Which is not to say that I didn’t have time to walk around and get my own view of the fair. All in all, the general consensus of this year was that it was a pretty solid show – there was alot of great work up, both contemporary and historical, and well worth the time it took to see it all (I spread my visit out over two days – these fairs are fucking exhausting). Still, though, the consensus also seemed to be that there wasn’t alot of new and great work to see. For my part, I saw alot of repeats – great projects, but nothing I hadn’t seen elsewhere at other venues or at Paris Photo last year: For example, Versluis and Uyttenbroek’s ‘Exactitudes,’ tons and tons of Araki work, Polidori’s Versaille stuff, S√∏ndergaard and Howalt’s ‘Tree zone,’ and Asako Narahashi’s ‘Half Awake and Half Asleep in the Water,’ all played big parts in the fair, in some cases taking up entire gallery booths.

Attendance wise the fair seemed to be a big success – lines to buy tickets seemed to stretch the entire length of the Carousel du Louvre – but I wonder how things were selling? Certainly the fact that there was so much proven stuff up on the walls as opposed to new and emerging projects shows the fact that the galleries are buckling down for what they expect to be a rough market over the next few months/years.

Errata Editions

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Another book by Sophie Ristelhueber, from a gallery of illustrated books I randomly stumbled across

Jeffrey Ladd, of the well known photobook blog 5B4, has a new project in the works: It’s entitled Errata Editions and is a small publisher that will reproduce some of the greatest and hardest-to-find photobooks. Their first four titles are Eugene Atget‘s ‘Photographe de Paris,’ Walker Evans’ ‘American Photographs,’ Sophie Ristelhueber’s ‘Fait,’ and Chris Killip‘s ‘In Flagrante.’ A pretty good line up, no?

Even better, though, in terms of what you can look at now, Ladd spent the five days he was on press blogging about the experience, which is an interesting look at the process behind making a book. Days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all available on 5B4.