Wednesday, 12:10am
18 July 2018

Books received #33

Covers for The New Yorker, Dressed in Black, Female Photographers Now, Graham Rawle’s Overland, A History of Street Photography, Rebel Voices and Brian Eno’s Light Music

Here is a selection of books that caught our attention in recent months.

Covers for The New Yorker (Logos, €25) documents twenty years of Italian illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti’s work for the celebrated cultural journal. Covering a range of subjects, and detailing the various stages of his process, this publication illuminates the work of one of The New Yorker’s most frequent contributors in a format that mixes absorbing imagery with insightful text. Published in partnership with an exhibition that took place last spring at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York, the book is edited by art historian Melania Gazzotti and includes an introductory essay from The New Yorker’s art editor Françoise Mouly – with all texts published in Italian, English and French. 

Cover and spreads from Lorenzo Mattotti: Covers for The New Yorker, edited by Melania Gazzotti, 2018. Book design by Francesco Izzo. 

BR—25

BR—24

Book designers Wayne Daly and Adrien Vasquez stumbled upon Lothar Reher’s designs for Spektrum, a German paperback series published by Volk und Welt, in what they refer to as their constant search for the ‘other’: the pursuit of a piece of design or craft that ‘sets itself apart’. Reher’s covers, made in East Berlin between the late 1960s and the early 90s, speak directly to such an otherness: the images suggest a cabinet of curiosities. The beautifully uncanny works surveyed in Dressed in Black: Spektrum and Lothar Reher (Precinct, £12) highlight the practical limitations of production in the German Democratic Republic alongside the personal obsessions of Reher himself. Supported by perceptive texts on the themes of ‘Writing, Reading and Paperbacks’ and ‘the Art and Manner of Exhibiting Books’, this modestly priced overview is both visually and intellectually bracing. 

Cover and spreads from Dressed in Black: Spectrum and Lothar Reher, edited and designed by Wayne Daly and Adrien Vasquez, 2017. 

BR—26

Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now (Thames and Hudson, £29.95) aims to ‘redress the balance’ of an industry that employs thousands of women but celebrates mostly men. While similar projects, such as Charlotte Jansen’s Girl on Girl (2017), reviewed by Rick Poynor here, are growing in number, Firecrackers finds its own niche. Showcasing 33 photographers and many more images, this book celebrates the diverse and exciting work produced solely within the field of documentary photography. From Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases (2010) to Corinna Kern’s George’s Bath (2014), editors Fiona Rogers and Max Houghton bring together the female voices documenting the most pressing political, social and personal subjects. 

Cover and spreads from Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now, 2018, highlighting the book’s range of photographic projects. Book design by Sarah Boris. 

BR—20

Graham Rawle’s Overland (Chatto & Windus, £14.99) is a story on two levels, in which (fictional) Hollywood set designer George Godfrey is tasked with hiding an American aircraft factory below a fictional suburbia. Designed to deceive the Japanese aerial spies hovering above, ‘Overland’ employs an entire host of props and actors to create ‘the semblance of a suburban town’. Rawle’s novel is orientated sideways so that above-ground action is recounted on the upper half of each spread, while the underground factory narrative is on the lower – in a different typeface.

Cover and spread from Graham Rawle’s dual narrative: Overland, 2018.

BR—15

Bystander: A History of Street Photography (Laurence King, £45.00), an update to the 1994 first edition, is a chronicle of street photography through its most influential figures. Sections are pinned to individual photographers – Henri Cartier-Bresson for twentieth-century Europe, or Robert Frank for postwar America – to which less recognisable figures are allied, providing a more holistic survey of each period’s practitioners. Several essays provide a rich historical context, and the book’s full revision also enables curator Colin Westerbeck and photographer Joel Meyerowitz to extend their original study into the 21st century, assessing the impact of cultural and technological advances in contemporary street photography.

Cover and spreads from Bystander: A History of Street Photography, 2018, a collection of images and essays by curator Colin Westerbeck and photographer Joel Meyerowitz. 

From New Zealand’s 1893 trailblazers to recent victories in Saudi Arabia, Rebel Voices: The Rise of Votes for Women (Wren and Rook, £12.99) charts a global history of the struggle for women’s suffrage. National movements run chronologically throughout the book, with individual spreads defined by Eva Lloyd Knight’s compelling illustrations. Louise Kay Stewart’s concise yet illuminating texts balance the pages, and yield an engaging narrative. Rebel Voices is a well written, boldly illustrated introduction for a younger generation of feminists. 

Cover and spread from Rebel Voices: The Rise of Votes for Women, 2018, illustrating the advance of women’s suffrage. 

Brian Eno’s Light Music (Paul Stolper, £45.00), is the published accompaniment to an exhibition held at the Paul Stolper gallery in 2016. The artworks, which centre around Eno’s preoccupation with the formal qualities of light, are split into three kinds: etchings, lenticulars, and lightboxes. The majority of the book comprises high-gloss, full page reproductions of these works, but an introduction from
writer Michael Bracewell and a reflective essay from Eno illuminate the technical processes usually kept backstage. Light Music is a rare opportunity to experience Eno’s visual art, independent of the audio that so often accompanies and defines it.

Cover and spreads from Brian Eno’s Light Music, 2017. The book includes essays from both Eno and writer Michael Bracewell. Book design: Land Ahoy Design Ltd. 

Alex J. Todd, design writer, Eye editorial assistant, London

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.

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