New York In Photobooks

Ken Schles's Invisible City (1988), Weegee's Naked City (1945), William Klein's Life is Good & Good For You in New York (1956) and Anthony Aviles and Don Charles's Harlem Stirs (1966) are four of almost 50 quintessential volumes featured in New York in Photobooks. A must-have for any collector of photography books, this 240-page paperback is a treasure. Other photographers include Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt, Walker Evans, Daido Moriyama, Bruce Davidson and Robert Rauschenberg, to name just a few. "Every photobook is a forest proud of its individual trees," editor Horacio Fernandez writes, "a group of images that are neither autonomous nor obliged to be confined within a frame in order to gain a sense of their own identity or essence. On the contrary, in these books, photos are the subordinated clauses of a text with a beginning and an end: a mosaic that only acquires meaning when all the parts combine to make a coherent and legible work."

A Photo-Eye photobook of the year selected by Martin Parr (2016).

Excerpted from the introduction, New York in Photobooks, by Horacio Fernández:
The exploration and portrayal of the street is certainly the central theme of photobooks devoted to New York. The street is also present in almost all the books mentioned above in other contexts, especially those by Weegee, Levitt, Lörinczy, and Araki, and in many other variations. Sometimes it is the darkly impenetrable street of Mon Kuni New York (1974) by Daido Moriyama, and sometimes the setting of romantic nighttime adventures, as in Invisible City (1988) by Ken Schles, or of chance encounters in the wee hours, as in My Taxi (1991), by Ryan Weideman...

New York In Photobooks, Editorial RM and Centro José Guerrero, 2016, edited by Horacio Fernández. A "book on books" study of 48 classic photobooks focused on New York, capital of the twentieth century, the most photogenic and photographed city in history.

Not only do we see a city of skyscrapers, but also the life within. Books studied include Berenice Abbott's Changing New York, Weegee's Naked City, Roy Decarava and Langston Hughes' The Sweet Flypaper of Life, Helen Levitt's A Way of Seeing, East 100th Street and Subway by Bruce Davidson, Invisible City by Ken Schles and Here is New York: A democracy of photographs.

"Although many have tried, few have succeeded in creating a lasting and relevant book about one of the most hackneyed themes in the history of photography: street photography in New York City. One of these books is doubtless Invisible City, by the American photographer Ken Schles (b. 1960), and it succeeds on its own merits.
...In the late 1970s, a very young Schles settled in the conflictive neighborhood of the East Village with aspirations of becoming an artist. Years later under the influence of Larry Fink and then Lisette Model, he began to volve his own photographic language, becoming familiar, thanks to his mentors, with the finest tradition of American street photography and studying a wide spectrum of forerunners, from Jacob Riis and Berenice Abbott to William Klein and Lee Friedlander."

"The book is constructed in a simple, deliberate manner. The sequence of full page bleeds carries a strong symbolic charge: as in a well-crafted symphony, it takes us through the mental and emotional landscapes of the author."

Iñaki Domingo

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