Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The master of mature color

The original 2011 Hatje Cantz book about Herzog.

I reviewed the first Hatje Cantz book on Herzog published in 2011 and I said it was a shame the book wasn't bigger, this gorgeous, large book of his photos solves that problem. I also said:
It's the color in these photos that fascinated me. Herzog used Kodachrome slide film and the colors have a warmth and maturity that definitely adds to their beauty, especially the incredibly vibrant reds and oranges. The only other photo book I've seen with pictures from the past, that has this richness of color is Bound for Glory: America in Color 1939-43 with images from the well known FSA/OWI photographers.

Herzog was experimenting with color long before it became accepted, in the mid-seventies, as a serious photographic form. The Vancouver color photos are all street scenes showing everyday life with traffic, shoppers, sides of buildings, and lots of signs. He says that the work of Walker Evans influenced him especially the American photographs book and of course Robert Frank. There are many shots that are saturated with signage typography and Vancouver did a nice line in gigantic upright neon signs spelling out the name of movie houses, a sort of electronic DayGlo.

I believe the 230 photos includes the ninety-two in the 2011 book and there are some black and whites also. David Campany makes an interesting point in his essay: 'With great consistency he averaged two films a week. That amounts to well over 100,000 exposures'. I'm hoping that means more books of Herzog's photos. My only very minor criticism is that I would have preferred to have all the Vancouver shots as one chapter and the work from other cities and countries as another.

I think it's worth commenting on how inexpensive this thick book is, printed on a good matt art with a 175 screen, from other art book publishers it would cost a lot more, even at full price it's a bargain.

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