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Georg Jensen: Silver  and  Design
Georg Jensen: Silver and Design
by Thomas C. Thulstrup
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Decades of simplicity and elegance, July 30, 2014
A lovely book published in 2004 to celebrate a hundred years of the Georg Jensen Silversmithy. Not generally available except in the Jensen stores around the world, even now, though it is possible to find copies on the net as I did with my copy.

Author Thomas Thulstrup presents a very readable story of the company and the leading personalities (actually, surely some thanks should go to Gaye Kynoch who did an excellent job translating the original Danish into English) but this is not just the high points but reveals the difficulties of operating during the Second World War, how the increasing price of silver meant that alternative materials needed to found and changing lifestyles, especially in the last few decades, which made Georg Jensen into luxury quality brand worldwide.

As well as the easy to read text there are plenty of quite stunning photos of jewellery, hollowware and flatware in color and mono, frequently whole page and with detailed captions (this book puts to shame the dreary, amateurish looking 1997 Schiffer book on Georg Jensen). On page 169 there is photo of a Fusion ring designed in 2000 by Nina Koppel and on the previous page a photo of Regitze Overgaard's clever Magic ring, designed in 2001, both are steady sellers and good examples of how the company explores and markets creativity with timeless designs. Henning Koppel, perhaps the most famous Jensen designer, died in 1981 yet his beautiful designs are still being produced.

Anyone who follows Danish and modern design or collects Jensen products will enjoy reading and looking through these pages.

Travel Duffle Bag - This Foldable 85L Large DUFFEL Is Durable, Packable, SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT 0.9 pound with Removable Shoulder Strap - Folds Into Itself - Best As Luggage, Sports Gear or Gym - (BLACK)
Travel Duffle Bag - This Foldable 85L Large DUFFEL Is Durable, Packable, SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT 0.9 pound with Removable Shoulder Strap - Folds Into Itself - Best As Luggage, Sports Gear or Gym - (BLACK)
Offered by BigyCom
Price: $74.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Bags more space, July 18, 2014
This is a seriously big bag and the really nice thing is that it folds out of a much smaller bag. Unzip this smaller bag (roughly thirty by thirty-two centimetres) to create a jumbo-size container. Two zip pockets on one side, a carrying handle or use it with a strap over the shoulder, see the photos at the top of the page. The material is sturdy and waterproof, reasonable zips and strap though with any bag in this style there could be tendency to put just too much heavy stuff in it. This is not an industrial strength product for use in a work environment.

Very lightweight and I think it would be useful if you travel somewhere knowing that you need to bring something back on the return journey, the smaller Bago will not take up too much space or perhaps more importantly weight in your luggage. Ideal for sportsmen who have to carry plenty of kit with them.

A clever product that does what it's supposed to.

Walker Evans  The Magazine Work
Walker Evans The Magazine Work
by David Campany
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $43.36
13 used & new from $43.36

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Printed page pictures, June 27, 2014
The first seventy-three pages have a highly illustrated essay about Evans' magazine work. A few of the spreads here are repeated much larger in the Plates section. Incidentally the seventy-three pages includes seven pages of very detailed notes to the essay. The main section of the book are reproductions of pages and spreads, presented chronologically, from 1929 to 1965. Photos used in various magazines precede the first Fortune assignment in 1934 to photograph the Communist Party at their retreat in Beacon, New York, five pages of the article are shown, followed by four pages of a cruise to Havana in the September 1937 issue. An unpublished Fortune magazine assignment from 1935 became the 'Let us now praise famous men' book.

In 1945 Evans was appointed as the only staff photographer for the magazine and in 1948 he was named as Special Photographic Editor. This seems to have been a unique position with the publication because it allowed him to determine his own assignments, write the copy and get closely involved with the layout of his photos. There are pages of Fortune spreads reproduced here that show elegant designs with beautiful pictures on subjects that seem far removed from the business and finance aspect of the magazine, for example: the rural train depot; the architecture of the Brooklyn waterfront; American masonry; railroad logos painted on freight cars; the mills of New England. They all, of course, reflect Walker Evans interest in the vernacular landscape and other highly visual subjects. Magazine work is featured from Vogue, Flair, Harper's Bazaar, Life and other titles. There is an Appendix with seven published essays written by him between 1931 and 1960, all relate to photography.

A lovely book though I was slightly disappointed with the production (so four stars). It is unfortunate that the magazine pages with the photos, originally white paper, have been reproduced as a light ochre which gives the mono and color photos a rather subdued appearance. There are alternatives to this printing style, in 'Walker Evans at work' (Hill and Thompson, 1982) with about twelve spreads from Fortune they just have a thin black line to define the page areas with the photos and text printed in position as the original. Another way would be to print each page in the book with a light color and leave white spaces to define the original spreads then print the photos in this white space. Also the type on the essay pages is rather sloppy, the lines of the two columns per page don't line up horizontally because there is a line and half space between the paragraphs and several columns fall short (easily solved by making the images within the text slightly bigger).

Despite my production comments above there is much to enjoy in this book because Walker Evans took such wonderful photos and this is the first time so much of his magazine work has been revealed.

Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis
Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis
by Julius Shulman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.12
58 used & new from $32.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Sun-kist city, June 23, 2014
What a surprising book! I'm familiar with Julius Schulman's work having bought the comprehensive Taschen Julius Shulman, Modernism Rediscovered and I've seen some other books of his photos but all of them are essentially concerned with architectural photos from his long career. The nice thing about this book is that it looks at the human face Los Angeles, of course there are plenty of building photos in the architectural style of having no people present and the Houses chapter probably has the most of this photo-type but in the rest of the book it's everyday LA in the forties to the seventies.

The five chapters: City; Development; Houses; Living; Work cover an amazing collection of photo opportunities and it seems that Schulman could never turn down an assignment. Page 178 has a 1965 photo from Farm Profit magazine showing a family round the dining table just about to eat a Thanksgiving meal, page 182 has a photo of a Newport Beach car wash from 1954, page 191 features a 1951 home economics class at the Portola High School, El Cerrito, page 223 shows a conveyer belt full of potato chips in the Bell Brand Foods plant in 1954. All of these are examples of Schulman's work I never expected to see and that's why I think the book is rather special. Nicely, throughout the pages, there are a few of the old favorites: the night scene of LA from Koenig's Case Study House 22; the evening shot of Neutra's Kaufman House with the fading sunset on the horizon; the May Company store on Wilshire Boulevard.

The landscape format works well, LA is more a horizontal city than upright (for decades there was a building height restriction of only thirteen floors which was eased in 1956 though it is only in recent years with developments like Century City that the city has started to be more vertical). This is essentially a photo book, there are only nine text pages in the first pages, the rest is captioned photos, which are printed with a 200 screen to bring out the detail. An Index would have been useful.

The book is the prefect complement to Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990 a title that looks at how LA became a powerhouse of creativity in architecture and the commercial arts.

Shelf Space: Modern Package Design 1945-1965
Shelf Space: Modern Package Design 1945-1965
by Jerry Jankowski
Edition: Paperback
53 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Frequently more interesting than contents of the pack, June 20, 2014
Jankowski's previous book 'Shelf life' visually looked at packaging from 1920 to 1945, 'Shelf space' brings the packaging story up to 1965. The packs in both books are from the author's personal collection so don't expect a comprehensive look at the boxes, bottles and cans found in most homes over the decades.

The pages are divided into eight chapters, though the last one 'Canned laughter' over three spreads, is really just an excuse for the author to reveal some cheap fun stuff from the fifties. All the other pages are basically pack shots with captions.

Like the previous book this one doesn't have enough material in it but as it can be picked for virtually nothing it could interest design students or nostalgia buffs.

The Unknown Berenice Abbott
The Unknown Berenice Abbott
by Ron Kurtz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $233.45
15 used & new from $233.45

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lifetime of photos, June 17, 2014
A beautiful box set of five books with 699 whole page tritone and four color photos. Like other Steidl books, for example Bruce Davidson or Gordon Parks, this set on Berenice Abbott reveals a photo life of seventy years before your eyes (though it doesn't include any of her science photos).

The contents of the five volumes:
Book ONE: New York: 1929 to 1931. 100 photos (plus eleven pages of her photo album used as a photographic reference guide to the city).
Includes the city from above and below, construction, the waterfront, El, the sidewalks of the city.
Book TWO: American Scene: 1930 to 1935. 87 photos.
New Jersey and Connecticut, 1931; American cities before the Civil War, 1934; architecture of HH Richardson, 1934; Southern trip, 1935.
Book THREE: Deep woods. 107 logging photos.
California, 1943; Maine, 1966--1967.
Book FOUR: Greenwich Village, 1935--1950. 99 photos.
Book FIVE: U.S.1 USA. 153 photos including some color (plus eighteen smaller shots over two pages of signs along the highway).

Books three and five I found the most fascinating. The lengthy photo essay of logging in California and Maine shows BA not just covering the mechanics of how the men work but including several portraits of the workers giving the industry a human face. The Maine photos also have added interest because many of them were taken in wintertime with plenty of snow.

Book five, the thickest with the most photos gives a glimpse of a Berenice Abbott project that is least known about though some of the photos have been published. She wanted to document the way the auto was changing the landscape and creating a uniformity of appearance. Hank O'Neal in this book's essay says that an American placed in a typical shopping mall would be unable to pinpoint their location because of the retail and architectural sameness of the surroundings. In 1954 BA wanted to capture this encroaching sameness by photographing US 1 from the start at Fort Kent, Maine to the end at Key West, Florida, 2369 miles. The project created 1451 photos (including fifty or so color shots) and I think it is comparable to the work Steven Shore or Robert Frank and their highway work. These amazing photos are presented in a geographic format and you can feel yourself slowly travelling south as the architecture of cities and towns change and especially the weather creates different life styles.

This Berenice Abbott box set is another plus for Steild, a publisher who sets the gold standard for photography monographs.

Arts & Architecture, 1945-54: The Complete Reprint, 10 Volumes in 2 boxes
Arts & Architecture, 1945-54: The Complete Reprint, 10 Volumes in 2 boxes
by David Travers
Edition: Paperback
Price: $546.54
23 used & new from $458.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small mag, big influence, June 13, 2014
David Travers writes in his essay, in the eighty page supplement that comes with the 1945--1954 issues, that A&A was best known and almost exclusively so for the twenty year Case Study Program. In fact Taschen have had various bites of the program cherry over the years: initially in 2002 a huge, beautiful, visual book; reprinted with slightly reduced pages in 2009; a slim paperback of pictures in 2006 and reprinted in 2009; this year a 632 page facsimile book of all the relevant pages that appeared in A&A about the program.

So, apart from the CSP, what else is of interest in the ten boxes of magazine reprints? For me it's the dozens of family houses and small developments from the forties and fifties by West Coast architects who are now world famous names. Many of them were projects but the photos of the built ones show that wonderful feeling of exterior and interior space blending together because of the California climate, these houses and their rooms just look so inviting and livable. Another interesting editorial feature that appears in many issues is, what could loosely be called, good product design: ceramics and glassware; living-room furniture; kitchen utensils; fabrics; tables and chairs or anything that could be brought through the front door and feel right at home in a contemporary designed house.

It's unfortunate that with so much wonderful material in A&A the editorial budget was so small and the design of the pages so amateurish. The ads appeared in the front and back pages so if there was a half-page upright ad it had a half-page column of text and amazingly with the columnists writing about art, music, books, movies they were writing paragraphs with hundreds of words without any thought about readability (A&A obviously had no sub-editors to knock all this copy into readable chunks). The design style for the ad-free middle feature section of the magazine was to have no design style. There seems not to have been any two,three or four column per page format typical of any other professionally produced magazine. Even the outer margins varied from page to page. Luckily the graphic designers who did the A&A pages avoided the old standby: the angled picture or photo. In many issues a significant number of feature pages didn't even have page numbers.

The 120 same-size reprints of the magazine come loose in a sturdy box for each year. Unlike the East coast architectural magazines A&A had very little advertising so issues were mostly thirty-eight to fifty pages and during the sixties each issue got thinner and thinner. Considering everything is copied from an existing printed page I thought the reproduction reasonable. Not much color was used but where it was it's repeated as used in the original issues.

Because the newsstand sales were negligible (paid subscribers, when the title folded in September 1967, were only 12,500) the magazine developed its very unique cover design style with just a masthead, date and price on an abstract modern graphic...a designer's visual heaven every month! Another unique feature, least in my opinion, was John Entenza's monthly editorial, always on the right-hand page kicking off the features section and he never seems to have written directly about architecture, everything but. Politics in Europe, the UN, the Declaration of Human Rights, UNESCO, mankind, philosophy and more for issue after issue.

Will Taschen publish the issues from 1955 to 1967 in boxes? My bet is no, I doubt that this first reprint sold too many of the 5,000 limited print run.

How You Look At It: Photographs of the 20th Century
How You Look At It: Photographs of the 20th Century
by Heinz Liesbrock
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $54.87

5.0 out of 5 stars How you look at it isn't always how you see it at first, June 11, 2014
The book's sub-deck makes rather a bold claim: Photographs of the twentieth century. I think it comes off because the 404 photos (104 in color) take a different perspective from the usual historical survey. Here the thirty-seven photographers are grouped according to theme chapters and each also includes an artist. Why Charles Sheeler, Franz Kline, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Karl Blossfeldt, Odilon and Ellsworth Kelly are all included in one theme is not immediately obvious but this is why the book is so thought provoking.

I'm not entirely convinced, though that the artist additions were really needed. The medium of photography, least looking through the photos here, is wide ranging enough without the added extra of painting and sculpture Thomas Weski, one of the book's editors makes an interesting point in his essay: 'Because pictures like those of Walker Evans do not function as attractive in the first instance, but require viewers to work at understanding them, they reverberate longer and effect enduring changes in our perception of the world'. The five essays (over the first 111pages) are the predictable mixed bag. I thought those by Weski and Gerry Badger the most informative. One by Peter Waterhouse: 'The roads' seemed rather out of place, more a stream-of-consciousness meander about personal transport with the first paragraph stretching over almost four pages.

It's the photos that count of course and I thought the selection particularly impressive. The photographers are well known, mostly American but several Germans as well because the book was based on an exhibition in Germany during 2000. Excellent production using a 200 screen on matt art paper. The back pages have biographies and an exhibition listing.

I've always thought this was an unusual book because of its fresh visual approach to photography.

Prestige Records: The Album Cover Collection
Prestige Records: The Album Cover Collection
by Geoff Gans
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from $5.46

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very little prestige design here but get a FREE CD with the book, June 10, 2014
I recently reviewed Graham Marsh's book 'East coasting' where he shows the LP cover art from the three jazz labels: Riverside; Atlantic; Prestige (he had already covered the leader in the field Blue Note with two previous cover art books). I thought in Marsh's book that Prestige had the worst covers and this dreary book confirms it. With 122 covers (reproduced 8.5 inches square) it seems using well designed cover art as a marketing tool to sell the product was the last thing on Prestige owner Bob Weinstock's mind.

Nearly all of them look so amateurish with uninspiring photography or graphics and dreadful typography. The best are by Reid Miles (who did the brilliant Blue Note covers) because he had a feel for graphics and how to handle type in a fresh way. Even a bit of decent lettering could have redeemed some of the silly graphics used on these covers but instead it seems that the style was to use as many different types as possible on cover after cover.

There are some oddities here. Mad's maddest artist Don Martin is credited for the drawings and design of three covers, a photo of Miles Davis in a street has a steam-roller in the background, one of his covers has a blue photo of a river with just the word MILES in white across the middle, one cover with a photo of some hands on piano keys doesn't even have any lettering on it all...I think it might be a Monk album. These covers are bad enough but fortunately none of the backs are shown, they must have looked hopeless. Actually the backs of LP covers throughout the industry always looked like a local typesetter did the layouts. It was only Capitol Records who consistently took the trouble to give the record buyer something worthwhile to look on the back.

The book's production, though well printed on gloss paper, seems to reflect the poor covers inside. The four intro pages to the book have messy colored backgrounds which are overprinted with text. Wait, there's more! You would never know it but the book has a CD of some Prestige artists, just over forty-three minutes of some pretty reasonable jazz (apart from Moondog, who in my opinion wasn't really a jazz player). Concord Editions are so amateurish that they forgot to put some eye-catching graphic on the cover saying FREE CD INSIDE to grab the book buyer and increase sales. It isn't even mentioned on the back cover either.

So, look for the cheapest copy you can find, basically just to get the CD. If you are buying a pre-used copy check with the seller that the CD is in the back.

East Coasting: Cover Art of Prestige, Atlantic Riverside Records
East Coasting: Cover Art of Prestige, Atlantic Riverside Records
by Graham Marsh
Edition: Paperback
2 used & new from $227.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Eastern covers, June 8, 2014
The best covers from three East Coast jazz labels. Blue Note, though, was clearly number one for cover design of this musical genre and Graham Marsh has two books to prove it (also available in one chunky paperback). Reid Miles designs for Blue Note, from 1956, more or less set the style for punchy, gritty graphic design and a lot of the covers in 'East coasting' seem also-rans in comparison to the work of Miles.

Too many covers in the book use the same formulae of a big photo and then the album title and artists name just dropped on top. Even the type only designs are unimaginative though Riverside and Atlantic did make an effort sometimes. The Prestige covers are quite inferior to the other two companies. Bob Weinstock, the label's owner took the photos and designed several covers in the book and he is clearly no designer or photographer, pages thirty-six and seven has five of his covers, looking no better than something student work produced at design college. Reid Miles did a few covers for Prestige and they are clearly the best of the label's work shown the book.

The last few pages show forty-three covers from other record companies including four on the Impulse label who had the benefit of designs by Robert Flynn of the Viceroy design studio and it's interesting to see five covers from Columbia who could afford to hire photographers like Jay Maisel, Eugene Smith, Roy De Carava and Dennis Stock to take excellent pictures of Monk and Davis.

I think the book is worth getting as a bit of nostalgia and reminder of the great jazz that came out of the East coast in the fifties and sixties.

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