Sleeping by the Mississippi has been ranked with the great representations of the United States, including Walker Evans’ pictures of the depression, Robert Frank’s harsh vision of the 1950s and, more recently, the colour work of Joel Sternfeld. As Alec Soth’s seminal work goes on show in London and is given a handsome reprint by MACK, we revisit an interview with him from back in 2004 – when the series first came out.
“I have always wanted my photobook collection to go to a public institution in the UK and with the recent commitment to photography from Tate, this was a very easy decision to make. I’m also very happy that thanks to Maja and LUMA, the city of Arles will embrace the photobook phenomenon,” says Martin Parr. Well-known as an avid photobook collector, co-author of the seminal three-volume anthology The Photobook: A History, and a respected photographer, the Magnum Photos member has given his entire collection to Tate. Built up over 25 years and including 12,000 photobooks, it is a world-class library which includes a broad geographical scope and many different approaches to photography, and includes self-published amateur work and mass-produced books alongside iconic publications by artists such as Hans Bellmer, Nobuyoshi Araki and Robert Frank.
The camera is like a divining rod and I have lived my life letting instinct show me what I am interested in, says Joel Meyerowitz, who quit his job in advertising in 1962, after seeing Robert Frank at work. A native New Yorker, he became known for his early colour work on the city streets
In 1973 Ralph Gibson published his first photobook, The Somnambulist; he followed up with Déjà Vu in 1973, and Days at Sea in 1974. Together the books form a trilogy which has been credited with re-imagining the modern photobook; all three were published by Lustrum Press, an organisation formed by Gibson to retain creative control of his work. Now more than 150 images from the trilogy – aka The Black Trilogy – will be shown at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier, South France.
Pace London’s new exhibition features key works by iconic postwar American photographers, to give an insight into both the country at that time and the image-makers’ vision of it