28 October 2015
To accompany Harry Gruyaert's retrospective exhibition, at the Magnum Print Room in London, Thames & Hudson have produced a beautiful book which covers the photographer’s work from the early 1970s to 2012 but most of the work is from the 1980’s-90’s. This is a wonderful collection of images and if you are unfamiliar with his work and interested in colour street photography, it is worth seeking out to have a look.
Harry Gruyaert was born in 1941 in Antwerp, Belgium. He began freelance work in Paris, while working as a director of photography for Flemish television. Cinema was a big influence on him especially the work of the Italian director Antonioni. In 1981 he joined Magnum Photos and became a full member in 1986.
Gruyaert style is somewhat formal which combined with his colour palette gives his photos a somewhat contemplative feel, a quiet detachment.
The book is beautifully produced and well printed. Most of the photos were taken with Kodachrome film. As can be seen from the book photos, layout is very clean, one image to a page without any text and no photos span the gutter. Printing quality is very good, as good as Gruyaert has ever received.
I compared some photos from the retrospective to the reproduction in his 1986 monograph Lumieres Blanches (top photo) and happy to see that files have been revisited and reaccessed.
Reds in general have slightly reduced luminance applied thus reducing clipping resulting in greater detail. In his photo above, Belgique, Waterloo, 1980,The area around the car, sky and gable have greater contrast and detail is easier to read.
Along with thumbnails there is a full list of caption and dates in the appendix.
As a single volume, this is great to have. Also worth mentioning at this point is his excellent book Edges, a visual essay on where land and sea meet. Some photos from this are in the retrospective but seen as a whole it is a great experience. Published by Mets & Schilt, Amsterdam it is a beautifully designed book with one photo every second page in a large landscape format.
This may be difficult to get now but if you like the retrospective, then you not be disappointed in this wonderful lyrical book.
Interview on vimeo here