Tag Archives: Taschen

Portrait of a City: A Look at London

In the new photo book London: Portrait of a City, editor Reuel Golden says he wanted to use images to convey the history of the city and tell it in a compelling way that will sort of surprise people as well. That’s no easy feat when the city in question is one of the world’s oldest. But Golden says he found Londons photographic history was most compelling in three main eras: the Victorian period, the post-World War II era and the swinging ’60s. Images from those particular time periods, according to Golden, best displayed the character of the city, the soul of the city and the personality of the city.

Thats not to say the process was simple. To kick the project off, a few thousand photos were compiled, many of which were found buried in dusty drawers from places like the London Metropolitan Archive, which catalogs records of the city. Then came the task carried out by Golden, famed publisher Benedikt Taschen and art director Josh Bakerof whittling down the thousands of images into a manageable collection of photos that exemplified London. Though the book is the latest in a series of city-themed collections (past books have featured New York and Berlin), when it came to picking images of London, the team was especially critical in what they included. They were looking for photos that exuded fashion, a certain kind of cool,” says Golden. “And also you want to show ready identifiable icons.

Throughout the pageswhich also feature essays on the citythere are images of London life from the East end to the West end, all of which are invariably both familiar and fresh. Each image symbolizes a recognizable piece of Londons architecture, history, culture and of course, its iconic style, but often in a way that’s never been seen before.

The end result is a 552-page behemoth of a book with hundreds of images from anonymous and amateur photographers, as well as the big names of the business like Bill Brandt and David Bailey. article writing submission . Its important to get a good mix of big, important photographers, but also people who just documented London in a totally, totally different way, says Golden. Part of our mission behind these books is to sort of discover lesser known photographers and bring them out to the light of the world.

London: Portrait of a City was recently released byTASCHEN.

Cover story. New trade version of monograph celebrating the inventor of LP design

The first illustrated album cover – for ‘albums’ of 78rpm records – was designed in 1940 by Alex Steinweiss, art director at Columbia Records.

The 94-year-old Steinweiss rarely receives the recognition given to Paul Rand or Lester Beall, widely considered to be among the form-givers of American Modernism, but he was just as much a pioneer of corporate branding insofar as he gave a major recording company a distinctive identity.

You can now read the full text of Steven Heller’s Reputations interview with Steinweiss in Eye 76, the music design special issue.

In 2009, Taschen published the literally massive Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover (top) an exhaustive survey of his music work and other graphic design. At 422 pages, measuring 34cm by 28.3cm, it is possibly the largest design monograph ever published. Taschen has now made the previously limited-editionbook available in a more affordable trade version.

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It was Steinweiss who, in the early 1950s, after designing hundreds of packages, posters and catalogues for Columbia, created the paperboard LP cover to protect and market the latest revolution in music delivery. In the process, he defined the visual identity of recorded music for decades to come.

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Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover
Hardcover, 420pp. £44.99 (Taschen).

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’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues (including Eye 76 and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79 is out any moment.

– Book Review: “China, Portrait of a Country” edited by Liu Heung Shing

When thinking of China, what first comes to my mind is the semester I spent in Fujian Province as an English teacher in 2002 and the Olympics of 2008 when Chinese officials felt compelled to have a nine-year-old girl lip-synch "Ode to the Motherland" during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies because the seven-year-old girl who actually sang the song wasn’t considered cute enough. I had many discussions with students about the Asian concept of "face," which basically translates into "what your neighbor thinks of you is most important."

"China, Portrait of a Country" (Taschen 2008) is a huge and heavy tome that reveals China from 1949 to the present day. Editing was completed by photographer Liu Heung Shin who, with his AP Moscow colleagues, won the Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography in 1992 as a result of their reportage documenting the collapse of the Soviet Union. As I first glanced through, I was expecting a fair amount of propaganda-material on display (and I found it, but some of it was also documented as having been used as propaganda). Ultimately, there is much more to this book and it makes for an interesting reading of the last 60 years of Chinese history.

The variety of scenes displayed is impressive – from Mao relaxing on the beach at Beidaibe with his daugther in the company of other leaders’ children in 1954 to senior party leaders of Liaoning province being humiliated in a public denunciation rally in 1966; from peasants in rural Hebei province outside Beijing who power a manual water pump to Pu Jie to the younger brother of the last Qing emperor, Pu Yi, who sat for a portrait at his former residence in the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1980. Below this last photo one reads this formidable quote by the writer, philosopher, and inventor of the Chinese tywriter, Lin Yutang (1895-1976): "In China one does not have to learn to become a realist: here one is born as a realist."

Thankfully, the book comes with illuminating texts. In other words, this is not a picture book, but a good documentary of Chinese reality, explaining what we look at, providing historical context and helping us to put what we see into perspective.

Liu Heung Shing was born in 1951 in Hong Kong (then under British rule) and went to New York in 1970 to study. Says the editor of his education, "In the final year of my studies, I took a course in photography with famed Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili. This one semester was to shape the rest of my life: upon graduation, I followed Mili and took an internship at Life magazine. Wholesale Loose Diamonds . This put me in the right place, at the right time, for following the normalization of Sino-American diplomatic relations in 1979. Then I was given an assignment in China, which made me the first Chinese foreign correspondent to be sent to Beijing by Time magazine, and later joined the Associated Press." In other words, Liu has the dual perspective of a Chinese national who lived abroad.

Liu saw an opportunity to present China more precisely. "Since 1976, a number of photography books about the People’s Republic have been published by both foreign and domestic publishers. The paradoxes of China do not seem obvious in these books. China has been an elusive subject for editors in New York, London, or Paris. Editors well-versed in the language of photography nevertheless encountered a "Chinese wall" when dealing with official institutions in China, and with its myriad socialist doctrines," he explains.

By including the contributions of 88 different Chinese photographers, Liu more accurately reflected the depth of China in his collection. This in itself is remarkable and likewise are the pictures. I personally look forward to a book showing photos of China taken by both Chinese and non-Chinese photographers.

Spending time with this book is a lesson in history and a learning experience. Here are some of the things that I found particularly interesting:

• Photography was introduced to China in the 19th century by European explorers. The first Chinese photographers were interested primarily in landscapes and portraits. Why? "For thousands of years the Chinese aesthetic was molded by Taoist principles of man in harmony with nature: an aesthetic that was honed in particular in brush paintings and landscapes," explains Liu.

• Mao himself acted as photo editor "in deciding which photographs of the historic handshake in 1972 between Nixon and Zhou were to be released to the press."

• "As the 1990s unfolded, a preference for investigative photography emerged." In other words, this was the beginning of Chinese documentary photography. "Jiang Jian portrayed ordinary people from small communities in rural areas or small towns. Wu Jialin looked at life in the provinces, in mountain regions, and outlying towns, and Yang Yankang traveled the length and breadth of the country seeking out religious communities in rural areas."

• "In the year 1996, photography found itself commandeered by the contemporary-art scene … By 1998, the art world had become obsessed with photography."

The photos in this book appear in chronological order; they show scenes from the spectacular to the mundane, from Shanghai’s famed Xiangyang market to victims of a traffic accident using their mobile phones ("to report the accident" the caption says, but who knows?). A very impressive shot shows the aftermath of a flood in the city of Wuzhou (most of the Chinese teachers in Fujian, where I taught, came from Wuzhou – it feels strange to look at a picture of their devasted city and to learn that such floods occur every year).

For most of the last 150 years (since photography came to China, that is), Western photographers, anthropologists, travelers etc. who took photos of China "tended to see China as an exotic, oriental Muse," writes Karen Smith, an art critic based in Beijing. Her statement is certainly true, for outsiders often see exoticism where locals do not. Anyway, is there something wrong with that?