Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Body Beautiful: Five Volumes New York 1930s

The contribution made by Americans to the bibliography on the body, its form and figure in photography, is almost non-existent until the 1930s when a number of small "art photography" publishers begin to explore the genre. Without precedent in the US, the Dodge Publishing Company in New York City, set an extremely high standard in 1935 with the first of its five volume series, THE BODY BEAUTIFUL. Above, the cover of volume one.

In retrospect, only a few American books on the subject of the nude would ever come close to the quality of this five volume set published from 1935 to 1939. These spiral bound collections of nudes were beautifully printed in fine gravure and rivaling the quality of production, typography and page design as well as compositional experimentation as some of the noteworthy European publications of this period.  Daniel Masclet’s NUS La Beaute de la Femme and the PHOTOGRAPHIE Annuals published by Arts et Metiers Graphique in Paris may have inspired the editor of the series, Heywood Campbell, and his designers.

 Solarized nude, homage to Man Ray?

Each volume with approx. 80 photographs. Contributions, many in an experimental or avant-garde style, including the photographs of William Rittase, Lejaren a Hiller, Frank Frapie, Ruth Bernhard, Alexander Allard, Remie Lohse, Forman Hanna, Pierre Boucher, Alexander Paal, Heinz Perckhammer, John Everard, Aaron Siskind, Lusha Nelson, Arnold Genthe, Bertram Park, Hajek-Halke and many others.

The overall size 8.75" x 11.75"; each volume published in a box with die-cut top revealing a portion of the cover photograph. These exceptional books are rarely seen, especially as a complete set and in such fine condition as those shown in this post.

Exceptional use of the two-page spread incorporating the spiral binding; photograph shifted to the left edge to create a white band on the right side as a design element. Note placement of the copy and the page number.

Double exposure/composite image by Lejaren a Hiller.

 Marvelous full-color photograph gracing the cover of volume three.

Literally tipping the photograph on edge, creating a dynamic of blacks on white  in contrast to the smaller image "forced" into the upper right corner with bleeds on two sides. Note the effectiveness of the spiral binding as part of the layout.

One of the few male nudes in the series.

Cover volume four. Wonderful camera/eye design: signed Hawkins.

 Simple, expansive image used as the title page for volume four with the typography centered over the nude figure. Letter and word spacing fits 
nicely with the volume of the photograph.

 Implying the motion of a dive. The black and white spaces and the sharp angles of the photo on the right create a brilliant spread. Once again the spiral binding is used as a design device.

 Nude dancers, flying. Inspired by Riebicke or Munkacsi or both.

 Photograph by Heinz Hajek-Halke. Superb montage of the same image: one reversed and placed over the other creating a "black" and a "white" image.

 Another exceptional cover design of montaged images by Hawkins.

Nude portrait, beautifully echoing the cover photograph of Sasha Stone's classic FEMMES published in Paris 1933.

Surreal photograph by Pierre Boucher, bleeding all four edges. 

Guy Bourdin: Bloomingdale's Lingerie Catalog 1976

Guy Bourdin, considered one of the greatest and most innovative fashion photographers of the 20th century was in his own way, disconnected from his work, refusing proposals for exhibitions and the publications of books. Within this context, standing alone, is the 1976 lingerie catalog, Sighs and Whispers, which Bourdin photographed for the New York City department store, Bloomingdale's. The mythical, highly sought after 32 page catalog contains 36 color photographs in a style that at the time (35 years ago) was considered both provocative and groundbreaking.

Above, the front cover; below, a few catalog pages, plus the back cover.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Tinted Beauties: Hand-Tinted Art Deco Postcard Nudes

At lunch with Alexandre Dupouy and his wife Jocelyne, in June 2009, he asked if I had any "tinted nudes". He was referring to hand-tinted, real photo postcard nudes published in Paris circa 1920 ~ 1930. He showed me a few he had in his pocket, just purchased hours before at Carte Expo, the Paris postcard show. "Yes" I said, I have a good selection of them in my inventory as well as an excellent collection in my reserves. He seemed at first skeptical, but when I assured him that I was not kidding, he said "I want to see them".

A few days later I returned to New York and emailed scans to Paris. Within days we agreed to do a book of "tinted nudes" the result of which is Beautes Teintees, published by Editions Astarte at the end of December, 2009. The book, filled with over 100 marvelous hand-tinted nudes, is the combination of both my and Alexandre's collections of these images, epitomizing the art-deco era in Paris.

The book includes a short text written by me in English, translated in Paris to French and edited with corrections here in New York with the assistance of friend and colleague, Jean-Noel Herlin. In brief each of the these images starts as a "standard" warm or sepia toned real photo postcard card (rppc). The coloring is then applied by hand, using brushes, air-brush and stencils (pochoirs) directly on the surface of the photographs, letting the original sepia flesh tones stand out against the stylized, art deco backgrounds.

A selection of hand-tinted nudes, most of which appear in the book, follows, without captions and in no particular order. Click here for a selection of hand-tinted nudes and other hand-tinted, real photo postcards available for sale in my eBay store.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Vasta Images/Books is me Joseph Vasta.

I have been in the rare book and photographs trade as an international buyer and seller since 1984. I travel between my home in New York City and Europe, primarily Paris, since converting, over 25 years ago, my collection into inventory of material for sale. Along the way I became eBay seller "roseros" and in the prior three years, eBay store seller Vasta Images/Books, the original name of my business, dating back to the first catalogue I published in 1985. There is a link above that will connect you directly to my eBay store's homepage filled with approx.1,500 items for sale.

Hand-tinted real photo post card (rppc) by Walery from his extensive series 
of music-hall performers, published in Paris circa 1925.

My rationale for this post is to share with you, the blogspot users in particular and the internet in general, rare and unusual images from my archives.

I promise I will NOT blog about and post endless pictures of my unbelievable Christmas decorations or my two adorable children or my faithful border collie or that amazing cruise to nowhere I just returned from with my third wife; I will never post my vacation photographs or my mother's recipe for the best fruit cake or link you up to that incredible pizza place in Florence, right on the other side of the....

I do promise to post rare and unusual images including books, photographs, periodicals, posters, postcards and other paper ephemera as well as three dimensional objects and original artworks in an attempt to share imagery to make your eyes very happy and possibly, show you material that you've not previously seen!

The material will be primarily from the areas mentioned in the mission statement on the right side of this page.  It will include items created from the mid-19th century to today.
The focus will be on European material from between the two world wars, circa 1915 to circa 1950. The posts will be thematic and will contain multiple images.

NB: click on any image and the enlarged version will open in the same window

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paris: Un Regard Moderne Book Shop

A must stop before leaving Paris is always the Un Regard Moderne book shop located in the quartier Latin, near Place St. Michel, at 10 rue Git-le-Couer (6th). Literally filled floor to ceiling with all types of books on the visual arts from the world over, a visit to Un Regard Moderne is a unique experience. The overstocked shelves and central pile obscure books from approx. 20 years ago when the shop moved to this location. Originally known as Les Yeux Fertile and located a few blocks away on the rue Danton, Un Regard Moderne has reached cult status among lovers of the strange, the unusual and the bizarre as well collectors of handmade and limited edition artist's books and bande-dessinee (comic books). Today there is very little room to move around the shop, however the engaging and extremely knowledgeable Jacques Noel is always on hand to point out the latest arrivals as well as a gem or two hidden in a pile. 

I love this place and urge anyone seriously interested in unusual contemporary books to make it a destination while in Paris. You will not be disappointed!

 Jacques at the entrance.

 Enter and straight ahead is one aisle to move around; to the left the "central pile" about as tall as Jacques.

 Bizarre creatures above the entrance to what used to be the 
gallery space, now almost filled to capacity.

 Jacques at his "spot" seen by holding the camera over my 6'4" head to get an unobstructed view above the "central pile".

 Views of piles and shelves.

 Details including two of the latest serigraphed, limited edition books from 
Le Dernier Cri in Marseille.

 Jacques at his spot.

 The former gallery space filled with books, magazines, comic books, erotic novels and more.

 Jacques at the entrance reaching into the window display/storage area.

 Title of this book sums up the Un Regard Moderne inventory.

Top shows the window to the gallery, completely covered with books 
and below, the store sign.