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Lesley A. Martin – Aperture Essentials

Two Experiments in Color and Process plus One Book I’m Currently Reading

1. Heinrich Kuehn and his American Circle: Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen

An original innovator in RGB; Kuehn became obsessed with making autochromes in the 1910s. The show includes an interesting short film that describes this early experimental color process and a portion of the show mimics an installation at Gallery 291 of Kuehn and other early Modernist work. (I’ve always wondered if that little skirt that runs along the bottom of the 291 walls would be distracting when viewing work. Answer: Yes, it is. But it’s good to finally have that question answered). Hurry up and catch this before it closes! – LAM

 On view @ Neue Galerie (through August 27)

2. Hired Hand (Vandret Publications/Narayana Press) –  June 2012

I’m not quite sure what this book is, but it arrived on my desk and it combines the work of Stuart Bailes, Bea Femderman, Ingo Mittelstaedt, and Athena Torri (along with some stock photography) in a beautifully designed and produced, puzzle-like book. Texture, graphic impact, and color pop are all emphasized in this work. Self-Publish Be Happy also profiled the book on their website. – LAM

3. The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz: Fire in the Belly by Cynthia Carr

If you don’t know much about David Wojnarowicz’s life and work, this book will draw you in and set you on a quest to see and know more about his work. (And you should know more. I encourage you to include Wojnarowicz’s own memoirs: Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration, available online, as part of your reading list; Aperture’s own Brushfires in the Social Landscape is another great visual companion to this book). If you are already familiar with his work and life, this is a hugely satisfying biography, albeit heartwrenching as well as enraging. Enraging because of the book’s ability to transport the reader back to the bad old days of the Culture Wars of the late 1980s and 90s (not as far away as you might think); heartwrenching thanks to the unbelievably clear-eyed portrayal of David Wojnarowicz as an artist, an author, and angry provocateur dying an untimely and needless death during the peak of the AIDS epidemic (also not as far away and gone as you might think). Author Cynthia Carr has done a fantastic job—the book is meticulously researched and anyway stems from her longtime immersion in the former Lower East Side art scene, and her friendship with David prior to his death. As Luc Sante writes in the summer issue of Bookforum, the book is “unimprovable with as a biography—thorough, measured, beautifully written, loving but not uncritical.” Highly highly recommended.


View The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz on Amazon


Lesley A. Martin is publisher of the Aperture book program and of The PhotoBook Review, a newsprint journal dedicated to the evolving conversation surrounding the photobook.

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