Robert Polidori (born 1951) has been making books at Steidl for over 18 years now, and for many of his visits he lodged in an apartment adjacent to the publishing house. To the left of this, at Düstere Straße 6, stands a small humble house, not only the oldest dwelling in Göttingen but, dating back to 1310, one of the oldest half-timbered houses in all of Germany. Miraculously never demolished over the centuries (just altered, repaired and patched up), it has now been restored by Gerhard Steidl and today houses the Günter Grass Archive, part of the University of Göttingen. Topographical Histories presents Polidori’s 2016 photos of the interior walls of the building, whose glorious crumbling layers—14th-century structures of wattle and daub, clay bricks and plaster, and remnants of paint and wallpaper from different centuries—bear witness to living history. Polidori focuses on the subtle colorations, depth and complexity of these surfaces, creating an unconventional, painterly architectural portrait.
Published by Steidl. Text by David Dorenbaum, Amanda Maddox, Robert Polidori.
This book presents 35 photos of the Getty Center taken shortly before the 1997 opening of its new multipurpose complex designed by Richard Maier. Published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the center, the book reveals behind-the-scenes views of the building as objects from J. Paul Getty’s painting, sculpture and decorative arts collections were being installed inside it.
In September 1997 the New Yorker commissioned Robert Polidori (born 1951) to photograph Maier’s building. Within 48 hours he had made images of its exterior but was dissatisfied. Polidori wanted to document the museum’s interior, and proceeded to photograph the rooms in which artworks were either freshly installed or still being so. The resulting photos show the museum in the process of taking shape, expose the mechanics of curatorship.
In his new book, Robert Polidori presents us with a large-format photograph of a city block in an improvisational, auto-constructed settlement in Mumbai, India. In an almost seamless progression that appears to expand like an accordion or folding-screen, the photograph is composed of multiple images imperceptibly overlaid and welded together in a complex process to form a panoramic view. Applying remote sensing techniques that are normally used in space cartography to street photography, Polidori ventures a photographic attempt to come to terms with the phenomena of adjacencies, observing and beholding what’s next to what. In this way he minutely scans the urban landscape, recording the precarious and temporary nature of the provisional and yet psychologically rich and in fact highly individualized dwellings. Robert Polidori was born in Montreal in 1951 and today lives in Los Angeles. His work has been the subject of exhibitions in New York, London, Brazil and Montreal, among others. He received the World Press Photo Award in 1997, the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography in 1999 and 2000 and Communication Arts awards in 2007 and 2008. In 2006, Polidori’s series of photographs of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His bestselling books Havana (2003), Zones of Exclusion—Pripyat and Chernobyl (2003), After the Flood (2006), Parcours Muséologique Revisité (2009), Some Points in Between … Up Till Now (2010) and Eye and I (2014) were published by Steidl.
This book is Robert Polidori’s portrait of the interiors of the now demolished Hotel Petra in Beirut, a grand icon of the city’s prewar history. The Hotel Petra was once one of the most popular hotels in Beirut, conveniently located in the city center adjacent to the Grand Theatre. After the Lebanese Civil War of 1975–90, Rafiq al-Hariri founded a holding company, Solidere, whose goal was the selective demolition and reconstruction of downtown Beirut’s urban fabric. In 1992 the Hotel Petra was set aside for later restoration, and from that moment essentially cut off from any human intervention. Polidori gained access to this site in 2010, and was transfixed by what he discovered: “It’s truly rare to find examples of such undisturbed decomposition,” he explains. “Usually the normal wear and tear of human traffic would violate and destroy the surfaces of such a delicate ecosystem of layered paint. I came to view these walls as a living process of slow decay whose end effect closely resembled the concerns of many contemporary abstract painters … only in this case their genesis was not fixed or intentional, but the gradual summation of several painters and workmen modifying the wall surfaces at different points in time ... I was quite taken by their beauty and was moved to photograph them for posterity.”
Published by Steidl. Edited by Sergio Burgi, Mariana Newlands. Text by Shelley Rice, Angela Alonso, Ana Luiza Nobre, Robert Polidori, Sergio Burgi.
Housed in a slipcase, Rio contains the work of two photographers who portray Rio de Janeiro in a visual dialogue spanning the centuries. Book One showcases nineteenth-century photographer Marc Ferrez's classical work on the city where he spent his five-decade career, from the mid-1860s to the early 1910s, while Book Two presents a project of Robert Polidori's from the past five years, in which he photographed Rio, emphasizing its contemporary dynamic and dense urban configuration. Polidori contextualizes today's Rio within the natural settings from which the city grew, and which have defined its iconic international profile throughout history. This tension between the natural and built environments, also significant in Ferrez's work, is a defining reference for Rio's inhabitants and is here beautifully documented in its historic and present variations. Marc Ferrez (1843–1923) is the most important Brazilian photographer of the nineteenth century. Ferrez produced a vast documentation of Rio and its surroundings using specialized cameras and large-format negatives, including a rotating panoramic camera. His last large-scale project was the Avenida Central album (1905), a unique architectural photography series on urban renewal in Rio in the early 1900s. Robert Polidori (born 1951) was born in Montreal and today lives in Los Angeles. Polidori received the World Press Photo Award in 1997, the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography in 1999 and 2000 and Communication Arts awards in 2007 and 2008. In 2006 Polidori's controversial photographs of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath were exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Published by Steidl. Text by David Dorenbaum, Robert Polidori.
From his images of the Chateau of Versailles under restoration to the faded grandeur of Havana, to scenes of devastation from Chernobyl after the nuclear explosion and a New Orleans ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Robert Polidori is drawn to detritus, shattered worlds and elegant ruin. Often considered an architectural photographer, Polidori captures more than buildings: his highly detailed views of interiors evoke both the intimate and the mysterious, wherein the humanity of these photos is felt in its very absence, in the traces left behind in vacant spaces once inhabited. Chronophagia is an affordable sampling of Polidori's many famous projects. This handsome clothbound volume contains the artist's own selection of more than 100 photographs, from the classics to several rarely seen images. The result is a beautifully edited compendium of Polidori's 28-year career and a stunning visual exploration of the liminal space between past and present, of worlds on the brink of disappearance. Robert Polidori was born in Montreal in 1951 and lives in Los Angeles. His work has been the subject of exhibitions in New York, London, Brazil and Montreal, among others. He received the World Press Photo Award in 1997, the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography in 1999 and 2000, and Communication Arts awards in 2007 and 2008. In 2006 Polidori's series of photographs of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Robert Polidori is known for his large format photographs of habitats and rooms saturated with the traces of human intervention. In Eye and I, he turns the lens around to reveal the portraits of people he has encountered in his work of more than years photographing around the world, particularly in the Middle East and India. These instantaneous portraits of mutual recognition reveal the photographed subject and the photographer intersecting with each other in a fleeting moment of mutual regard.
An archaeologist of haunted walls and loaded spaces, Robert Polidori (born 1951) photographs the inside and the outside of private and public dwellings as they transition from one state to another, whether from humble household to horrific disaster zone, or dilapidated grandeur to hygienic modernity. Polidori possesses an amazing ability to suggestively record the accumulation of meanings in any given habitat, and to convey human presence—paradoxically, often in spaces that have been abandoned or are devoid of visible human subjects. A passage from one of Polidori's decisive early reading encounters, Gaston Bachelard's 1957 The Poetics of Space, seems aptly addressed to his photography: “Through the brilliance of an image,” writes Bachelard, “the distant past resounds with echoes... In experiencing the reverberation of a poetic image, we find the real measure of its being.” Some Points in Between assembles, for the first time, each of Robert Polidori's major photographic series in one affordably priced volume: Beirut (on post-civil-war Lebanon), Versailles (on the restoration of the palace), Havana (on Castro's Cuba), After the Flood (on post-Katrina New Orleans) and Zones of Exclusion (on the nuclear disasters at Pripyat and Chernobyl). Some Points in Between allows us to survey the consistency and clarity of Polidori's themes and concerns across three decades.Robert Polidori was born in Montréal in 1951 and lives in New York City. His work has been shown in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, at prestigious venues such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musée d'art contemporain in Montréal. A staff photographer of The New Yorker, Polidori has received numerous honors, including a World Press Award for his coverage of the building of the Getty Museum and two Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards for his work in Havana and Brazil.
In Parcours Muséologique Revisité Robert Polidori delivers a sublime photographic tract on architectural revisionism by charting the decades-long conservation project at Versailles. One of the world's largest palaces, and a symbol of absolute monarchy in France, Versailles is a supremely apropos building through which to address matters of revisionism, having been subjected to four building campaigns (between 1664 and 1697) by Louis XIV alone, and several modifications since. So what does restoring a room really entail? Does restoration intend the precise recreation of what once was? And if so, how much "creativity" goes into determining a room's original condition? The curatorial decisions steering this project inevitably betray political and aesthetic affiliations that have morphed over the course of the restoration, and Polidori has been in attendance to record them. Photographed over a period of 25 years, the ever-evolving phases of Versaille's grandeur are here laid bare for the reader to decode and admire. Robert Polidori was born in Montreal in 1951 and lives in New York City. His work has been shown in Paris, Brasília, New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis among many other places. A staff photographer for the New Yorker, Polidori has received numerous honors, including a World Press Award for his coverage of the construction of the Getty Museum and two Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards for his work in Havana and Brasilia. His bestselling books Havana, Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl and After the Flood are published by Steidl.
Published by Steidl. Introduction by Jeff L. Rosenheim.
In late September 2005, Robert Polidori traveled to New Orleans to record the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and by the city's broken levees. He found the streets deserted, and, without electricity, eerily dark. The next day he began to photograph, house by house: "All the places I went in, the doors were just open. They had been opened by what I collectively call Îthe army,' of maybe 20 National Guards from New Hampshire, 15 policemen from Minneapolis, 20 firefighters from New York... On maybe half of them or a third of them that I went in, I think that the occupants had been there prior. And some of them did leave certain funeral-like mementos before they left. Maybe right after the waters receded they had the chance to just--to go back to their place and just see, and realize there's nothing worth saving." Amidst all this, Polidori has found something worth saving, has created mementos for those who could not return, documenting the paradoxically beautiful wreckage. In classical terms, he has found ruins. The abandoned houses he recorded were still waterlogged as he entered and as he learned (by trial and error, a process that including finding a dead body) the language of signs and codes in which rescue workers had spray-painted each house's siding. He sees the resulting photographs as the work of a psychological witness, mapping the lives of the absent and deceased through what remains of their belongings and their homes.
Published by Metropolis Books. With Martin C. Pedersen and Criswell Lappin.
Not only is he one of the world's preeminent architecture photographers, Robert Polidori is also--as his popular book Havana proved--a master of urban portraiture. The Montreal-born photographer has made haunting studies of bombed-out buildings in Beirut, decaying New York tenements, Versailles rooms in dusty disarray, Brasilia's paean to spare 1950s modernism, and, most recently, the abandoned, contaminated cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat. Taken together, they add to his ongoing project: the interpretation of the interrupted urban landscape. This new monograph combines the eye of a celebrated photographer with the distinctive voice of an artist and adventurer. Each breathtaking image--meticulously selected by the photographer from his own personal archive--is accompanied by a compelling first person account, based on interviews conducted by Martin C. Pedersen, executive editor of Metropolis magazine. Polidori tells behind-the-scene stories about the making of his photographs, takes us to war-torn Beirut and Brasilia and other world capitals, talks about what makes a building photogenic, how he shoots buildings he doesn't like, his favorite architects, and his love of mosques. A look at the world's great cities as seen through the eyes of a sharp social observer--and a great photographer.