Ralph Gibson's first three photobooks are collectively known as The Black Trilogy - and have been credited with re-imagining the modern photobook. Now over 150 images from them are going on show
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.
Born in 1939 in LA, at the height of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Gibson was inspired by the cinema – both the American movies he grew up with, and the avant-garde films made by later European auteurs such as Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais. Trained in photography while in the American Navy, from 1956-1959, Gibson went on to work for Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank, and moved to New York in 1966.
Gilles Mora, curator of the Pavillon Populaire exhibition, describes Gibson as one of “the last heroes of photography”, and credits him with having a lasting influence on photographers to this day. A number of Gibson’s images have also become known beyond the photography world, however – particularly Hand Through a Doorway, from The Somnambulist, which was used on the inner sleeve of Joy Division’s 1979 album Unknown Pleasures.
Ralph Gibson: The Black Trilogy, 1970-1974 is on show at the Pavillon Populaire de Montpellier, France, from 18 October 2017 until 08 January 2018. Free entry, Tuesday – Sunday.