PHOTOGRAPHER MONOGRAPHS

PUBLISHER
Fundación Mapfre

BOOK FORMAT
Hardcover, 8.5 x 9.75 in. / 296 pgs / illustrated throughout.

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Pub Date
Active

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D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: SPRING 2015 p. 73   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9788498444988 TRADE
List Price: $65.00 CDN $87.00 GBP £57.00

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In stock

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

Rochester, NY
George Eastman House , 9/19/2015 - 1/24/2016

American Pictorialism meets British Vorticism in the work of the early modernist photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn

  

FUNDACIóN MAPFRE

Alvin Langdon Coburn

Text by Pamela Roberts, Anne Cartier-Bresson.

Inset photograph: Marius de Zayas (1880–1961) by Alvin Langdon Coburn, June 1914.A key American Pictorialist and a crucial innovator in abstract photography, Alvin Langdon Coburn is a fascinating but often neglected figure in the history of American modernism. As early as 1909, Coburn was making futuristic depictions of New York and Pittsburgh, anticipating modernist architectural photography's classic "bird's-eye" view. In 1912, in New York, working with the Cubist artist-poet Max Weber, he developed this idiom a step further, photographing New York from the pinnacles of skyscrapers. The following year he published Men of Mark, which featured portraits of authors, artists and statesmen, including Henri Matisse, Henry James, Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1914 Coburn relocated to London, participating in the British Vorticist movement, led by Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound; Coburn's series of multiple exposures and "Vortographs" were the first truly abstract photographs. So why is Coburn not better known today? After 1920 he deliberately withdrew from the photo world (though he never gave up photography) and retired to rural Wales, where he immersed himself in painting, music composition and Freemasonry. In the 1950s he was rediscovered and championed by Beaumont and Nancy Newhall of George Eastman House, to which he bequeathed almost 20,000 prints and negatives along with cameras, correspondence and ephemera. This beautiful volume, published to accompany a show at George Eastman House and drawing on a wide range of public and private collections, reveals his work and legacy for a new generation.

Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882–1966) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1882. He was given his first camera at the age of eight, and quickly developed a precocious talent for both visual composition and technical proficiency. He exhibited frequently in both America and Europe from early on in his career, and published several photobooks, including New York (1912), by which time his international reputation was at its peak (George Bernard Shaw even called him "the greatest photographer in the world"). He died in Wales in 1966.

Inset photograph: Marius de Zayas (1880–1961) by Alvin Langdon Coburn, June 1914.

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

British Photographic History

Michael Pritchard

This book is unique and beautifully crafted, rendered with a similar spirit of craft, passion, consideration and empathy for Coburn as he had for his photography. As a catalogue it is an amazing permanent record of a unique exhibition. As a book it is a beautifully rendered biography in words and deeds, and comes highly recommended.

Eye Magazine

Splendidly reproduced...

Alvin Langdon Coburn

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FROM THE BOOK
In June 1914, enthused by all things Modernist, Coburn attended Ballets Russes first London production of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe and Stravinsky's Petrushka at Drury Lane, as well as a performance of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's (1876–1944) and Luigi Russolo's (1883–1947) Futurist orchestra of "Roarers, Squeakers and Buzzers" at the London Coliseum. He also experimented with making multiple exposure photographs, first using Edith and Fannie Coburn as guinea pigs and then trying the technique on Mexican artist and caricaturist Marius de Zayas (1880–1961), who was visiting London. De Zayas wrote to Stieglitz that "Coburn showed me his latest work . . . most of which is very good. I believe he has moved quite a long way. I feel that he has realized that honesty in photography is one of the essential qualities. I hope that realization will not stop at photography." Coburn held the De Zayas photograph back for exhibition until 1916, showing it along with a similar multiple exposure of American poet, author and critic Ezra Pound, as "Vorticist portraits." He had first photographed Pound on 22 October 1913 in his dressing gown, convalescing after an attack of jaundice—a portrait later used for the frontispiece of Pound's book Lustra. Over the next three years, Coburn would be drawn into Pound’s Vorticist circle and both would work together on the Vortographs in late 1916.

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