After the fact, it is after the fact that people make an evaluation. So my preamble on the best books of 2016 is less actual than whatever overall impression my list makes, and I don’t want to
What I do appreciate is that the sighted can
Photo books are permanent records of sight, the regime of sight, the visible becomes artfully added to the archive, and the domain of photography, and becomes part of the discourse of photography, which has to do with everything else in the whole wide world. These are, in my estimate, the best books that we received, and tried to sell, this year.
10) Telling Time:
A volume from what
9) In Flagrante, Chris Killip, Steidl.
A reprint that I wrote about in August, along with a book by Angela Graurholz : “Chris Killip’s recently re-printed book In Flagrante Two, is necessarily anti-aesthetic. In fact, I’d argue that Graurholz is pre-occupied with the document; it has an archive fever, so to speak. While Killip’s work suddenly breaks free of the tacit social conditions of its creation (Margaret Thatcher’s working-class England) as his images become startling for their evocation, (take two of my favourite photos ever, “Cookie in the Snow, Lynemouth, Northumberland” or “Boo on a Horse, Lynemouth, Northumberland).” This book could easily go higher in the list, but I don’t think I am writing this in any particular order. I have great affection for an interview I watched this year with Killip, especially the story he relates regarding ideas about “history” vs. simply speaking about “what happened”.
8) Remembered Light, Sally Mann, Abrams/Gagosian Gallery New York.
A subtle, gentle act of evocation and remembrance of the painter Cy Twombly’s presence in the studio, Mann’s photographs have always exhibited affection, care, and memory for life. I’m left, in the end, with an absence, and a certain sadness, looking at this work. It seems to neglect
7) Inherit the Dust, Nick Brandt, Edwyn Houk Editions
We received this book late, as I think it is from last year. I am surprised I am putting it on this list in a way, it goes in many ways against things that I hold firm on in my heart and mind, and looking over what I have written so far, much of this work does. But seeing is something that I can separate as a particle of human affect, maybe separating from what I would call vision, which is an inner experience. Brandt’s anxious, nature-conscious imagery carries with it monumentality, and sentiment, characteristics that I think belie an over-arching allegory for our own age, where images, and messages, trump substance. Nevertheless, my critical manner has to first and foremost apply to the image itself. Many of these pictures are technically a tour-de-force. Made of scans of 6×7 negatives, the resultant panorama prints installed, and then re-photographed as in situ site-specific works, do not change how I am infinitely more impressed by the mystery of creation that belies the images, than by the appearances.
6) The Artist as Photographer, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Kehrer Verlag
These are photographs of an entire world within, a visionary section of images that include a swath of Kirchner’s contemporaries, like painter Robert Wehrlin, and, Alfred Döblin, master novelist and author of Berlin Alexanderplatz, and designer, painter, and architect Henry Van Der Velde (who has been called the inventor of modernism, by some). The theologian Eberhard Grisebach had an association with Kirchner, and it is the latter that is of the largest interest to me, in the context of photography, especially certain questions that he asked in his writing about what exists outside of perception, logical proof, and personal identity. Kirchner was an artist who was trying, in success and failure, to express his inner self, through every medium, including photography. This is a book that shows us the inner and outer world of the artist, how they redouble outside of an artist’s intentions. This is a remarkable book; I find some of the images beautiful, especially the scratchy, imperfectly printed portraits. This book as fits in at number one on what would be a wholly personal list,
5) Tender is the Light, David Julian Leonard, Kehrer Verlag
Leonard is a cinematographer who has worked as a grip and as a cameraman, and a director and editor. His friendship with William Eggleston makes him an heir apparent to a tradition of
4) The Blind Photographer, ed. Julian Rothenstein, and Mel Gooding, Princeton Architectural Press
In September I wrote about this wonderful book: “I am so proud that I was able to get behind this book long before I ever saw it. The Camera Store sells books, which is a bit of a marketing challenge, given our name, as you might imagine… When I order books, I read descriptions, and I become acquainted with presses, authors, editors, track records, details, but sometimes what finally comes to the shop is a little less, and sometimes, hopefully, a lot more than I expected. I’ve become familiar with the designer of The Blind Photographer, and Julian Rothenstein’s Redstone Press. I love the vibrant
3) Depth of Field, Walker Evans, Prestel
This is a
2) Paz Errazuriz, Aperture
In October I wrote a review for the store, saying “This book is an invaluable introduction to the work of a photographer, a survey of vision. That I would account for my experience as a viewer differently than an author of an essay is not meant to detract at all, I would only encourage you, dear reader, to see for yourself.”
1) Anthony Hernandez, SFMoMA, Distributed Art Publishers (D.A.P.)
Last month I wrote that this would likely top my list, and my view has not changed: “Photographs are then iconic, making memories of memories, concepts. Images remain; they are not simply consumed, negated, forgotten. I think Hernandez’ photographs are appreciable for their unbroken gaze. For me, this is the best photo book of 2016.”