Charles Harbutt, from Tim Mantoani's Behind Photographs series
If you happen to find yourself in Arizona USA:
The Center for Creative Photography is celebrating Charles Harbutt’s photographic work, and its relationship to the printed page. The exhibition will feature a complete set of prints from Harbutt’s newest publication, Departures and Arrivals, sequenced as they appear in the book, along with a short video in which Harbutt and Joan Liftin describe the book’s creative process.
Charles Harbutt, if you don't know the name, and you probably don't, is one of the great, though now largely forgotten, American art photographers of the 1960s. He's the photographic Hunter S. Thompson. If you noticed in the foregoing paragraph that mention of a new Charles Harbutt book, you might know, or you might need to be told, just what a rare event, what an exotic desert flower, that is; new Charles Harbutt books are very rare indeed, rarer than eclipses, and the publication of this one should be celebrated.
His 1973 book Travelog is a '60s icon and rare and famous. Never reprinted that I know of. (Non-humble brag: I own a prized signed copy.)
If you shoot street, you have to find out about this guy. A must. Take my word.
The show at the CCP runs through the end of May.
(Thanks to Pete)
P.S. The Tim Mantoani book linked in the caption is available for the Kindle and related devices, and despite the great gulf between the original technique and that method of presentation, might be a good book to look at that way. (I have a weakness for portraits of photographers, I guess for obvious reasons.)
UPDATE: John Krumm responds to this: "I can't recommend Behind Photographs in the Kindle/iPad version. It insists on staying in landscape mode, text is around a four point font with no re-size options (only the yellow box pop-out works to enlarge) and the captions under the photos are small and blurry, unreadable in most cases. Very surprising with a retina screen. I returned it for a refund. I'm sure the book is much better."
ADDENDUM: And in a not-entirely-unrelated news blip, Mickey Fischer wrote to tell me that Danny Lyon's 1968 classic The Bikeriders will soon be back in print again for the first time in ten years. I paid $150 for my Twelvetrees reprint of this one, so $24.92 is going to be a good opportunity for those who want this.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kenneth Tanaka: "Thanks so much for the heads-up on Charles Harbutt, Mike. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I knew virtually nothing about him despite his Magnum background, despite his Chicago connection, and even despite the Art Institute of Chicago having a dozen of his prints in the collection...which I may very well have seen. So I just clicked Buy on his new book.
"Thanks also for the tip on Behind Photographs which I also ordered today. (Thanks, also to John for the tip on it being a crappy e-read!) These mini-survey books tend to be rather insubstantial but I really want to see all of those big-ass Polaroid portraits. I get a (strange) kick from instant chemical photography."
Mike replies: Great! You can let us know if the new Harbutt book is good—you've been a dependable source of opinions about books for me.
Bill Pierce: "Harbutt, like many 'street photographers,' supported himself as a photojournalist. And he did it exceptionally well. He spent twenty years at Magnum, served twice as its president, took very good pictures and was a pleasure to work alongside if you ended up with the same assignment. Now he takes pictures and teaches. In a sense, he always did."
Mike replies: I've been chided for writing what I did about a two-time president of Magnum, but I was kinda talking tongue-in-cheek. Like Erich Hartmann, he didn't do enough pure artistic work over the years to suit me. I always looked up to him and admired his particular genius.
John: While visiting my son, a college student in Tucson, I attended the Harbutt show. One of the best I've seen. Gorgeous prints, large and small, and the show's organization on his three books, with the video analysis of their design, was engaging and inspiring. I bought Travelogue and would put it right up there with The Americans. I love it when photographers include essays in their books. Harbutt is new to me, but is the best discovery I've made in a long time."
Blake: "I posted a fairly lengthy interview with Mr. Harbutt recently. I think those interested to learn more about him may find it useful."