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!

One Year of Books

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott

Michael Lundgren’s ‘Transfigurations
‘ from the ‘One Year of Books’ blog

Laurence Vecten, who writes the wonderful LOZ blog, began a project a couple of months ago keeping track of every photobook she and her husband acquire, called One Year of Books. It’s a nice little compliment to LOZ itself, which is really minimal on text, and instead shows a small selection of a different photographers work every day.

One Year of Books also recently announced a book swap, a sort of online I’ll-trade-you-this-for-that. So if any of you have any photobooks that you have doubles of, or ones that you decided you didn’t like after you bought them, visit One Year of Books book swap post for details and pop Laurence an e-mail…


Thursday, February 25th, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott

From the book ‘Entropie‘ from

I recently received a cryptic e-mail pointing me towards the website  On the site itself, there’s absolutely no context except for an address in Berlin and some links to ‘friends,’ of which only 2 ring a bell to me (Lina Scheynius and Yanniv Waissa).  Upon entering the site, though, you’re confronted with images of 17 books, arranged in a grid.  Each book is (it appears) handmade and browsable and contains tipped in photographs.

I must admit, I’m not a fan of every book in the grid (some I find a bit too sentimental for my taste), but some are really nice, and I must admit that I was exceedingly charmed by the presentation as a whole… Worth a browse.

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.

Old Books

Monday, December 21st, 2009 - admin

Alexey Brodovitch

I hate deadlines – keeps me from blogging.

Anyways, I disappear from the internet for just a couple of days and Larry Sultan goes and passes away.  I never had the fortune to meet him, but he was and will remain to be one of the few photographers who I like without condition.

Also, check out this Blake Andrews post regarding his publishing of the original show catalog for New Topographics.  George Eastman House contacted him about taking it down (in a respectful and sincere way, it must be said), which just highlights the problems to having some kind of online resources to look at alot of books like this.  I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a phenomenal photobook library (with a terrible, terrible website) accessible to all, but it’s a shame not to be able to share books long out of print that we’d all be dying to pass on and/or see.  In that spirit, you’ll find below all the spreads that I had the good fortune to photograph a few years ago from Alexey Brodovitch’s Ballet (note: it’s not the complete book – I didn’t shoot all the spreads).  It’ll be up indefinitely (I hope) as I can’t even seem to find who owns the copyright: the book was self-published (as I understood it), Brodovitch himself is long gone, and the estate, as it, is doesn’t really exist.  So why not?

Studyo Osep

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Tayfun Serttas
Studyo Osep

I was flipping through Artforum’s 2009 best-of issue when I came across an image that immediately stopped me – you can see it above.

A little research reveals that it’s from a show at Non Gallery, in Istanbul, of prints from a certain Studyo Osep.  Studyo Osep is Osep Minasoğlu, one of Istanbul’s oldest studio and set photographers.  The show is the result of work by Tayfun Serttas, a young social scientist and artist, who organized the show as a reflection on representation and history in Turkey over the course of Osep Minasoğlu’s career.

You can find further images of the show here and here (with installation shots), a biography of Osep Minasoğlu here, an image of him on Non Gallery’s facebook event, an interview (in french) here, and the catalog from the exhibition (which was the thing that made the best-of list) can be ordered here. I want.

Bertrand Fleuret

Thursday, July 30th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Landmasses and Railroads
Bertrand Fleuret, from ‘Landmasses and Railways’

One of the pleasures of going to Arles for the photofestival is not so much the exhibitions, which pretty consistently disappoint, but rather to hang out with a bunch of other photographers and talk about their work.  This year, among many other highlights, I had long conversations with Olivier Cablat, Thomas Manneke, Adam Etmanski, Ken Schles (with whom a conversation that began with a question about how New York was going these days ended half an hour later with an extended riff on the decline and fall of civilizations) and especially Bertrand Fleuret.

Bertrand Fleuret is a french photographer who lives in Berlin.  He creates beautiful black and white 35mm work, often quite abstract, dark, and enigmatic.  His latest book, Landmasses and Railways, has been published by J & L press – A long conversation with him one night led to an evocative description of the Tokyo scene of Solaris (which you can see in poor quality here), to which he replied “That’s exactly the same feeling I was trying to achieve in my book.”  I think he’s succeeded.

Also of note, given this blog’s focus on new pathways for photography, is the availability of every single one of his books in pdf form on Fleuret’s website.  He says that these don’t bother the respective publishers of the books as the audience who’s investing in a well printed photobook is not the same as the one that will download the same thing in lower resolution.  I think he’s right here, but it does raise interesting questions in light of the AFC-Concientious discussion recently – The pyramid seems to be set up thusly: If you have a ton of money and are interested in photography, you’ll buy a one off print to put up on your wall; if you have a bit of money and are interested in photo, you’ll buy the well printed book; so, if you have no money, you’ll download the pdf?

I’m not sure this is so clear, so the question is then “What is the audience that is downloading the pdf?”

Along the same lines, Fleuret also has a ‘zine project called Remora – a black and white photocopy ‘zine done once every couple of months and pasted up on the street.  It’s never in the same location, and the point of it is for the work to reach a random audience, one which may never understand or care about it’s provenance.  A sort of end-run around the inherently limited art photography audience.

Ways of Seeing

Monday, June 22nd, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Ways of Seeing

The only time I ever used my university library’s tremendous film library was once, for about 6 hours, to watch the entirety of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing tv series, which most of us are much more familiar with in book form.  Well, the book was based on the series, and, for once, the tv show is better than the book.  Smashing Telly, a non-photography-related-but-still-extraordinary-site dug up youtube videos of the first episode. Check it out.

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.