“THE ECSTASY AND ESSENCE OF THE DANCE”: EXCEEDINGLY SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF BRODOVITCH’S BALLET, ONE OF ONLY 500 COPIES, WITH 104 PHOTOGRAVURES OF THE BALLET RUSSES
BRODOVITCH, Alexey. Ballet. (New York: J.J. Augustin, 1945). Oblong quarto, original half gray cloth, original French wrappers over stiff paper boards. $6000.
First edition, an exceptionally scarce “photobook legend,” Brodovitch’s first and only authored work, one of only 500 copies, featuring 104 dynamic black-and-white photogravure plates with “a vibrancy and fluidity that perfectly captures the motion of dance” (Parr & Badger), in fragile original French wraps.
"One of the most cinematic and dynamic photobooks ever published… Ballet, published in 1945 by J.J. Augustin in New York, has become a photobook legend for two reasons. Firstly, only a few hundred copies were printed, so the book is more talked about than actually seen. Secondly, the volume was extremely radical… Alexey Brodovitch's pictures totally violated the accepted conventions… [creating] a vibrancy and a fluidity that perfectly captures the motion of the dance" (Parr & Badger I:240). During his 24 years at Harper's Bazaar, Brodovitch became "one of the most influential teachers in photography… [and] revolutionized fashion photography" by guiding the careers of Richard Avedon and countless others (New York Times). Yet his own work as a photographer remained unknown until this 1945 publication of Ballet, the first and only work authored by him. Here Brodovitch "reconnected with one of his enduring passions: the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo… Working with an extremely mobile 35mm camera, Brodovitch captured the ecstasy and essence of the dance in images that shift, dissolve, blue, darken impenetrably, or explode into light" (Roth, 110). One of only "500 copies, the entire edition" (Open Book, 136), with most "distributed to the artist's inner circle rather than to bookstores" (Roth, 110). Text by Edwin Denby; with various decorative typefaces on table of contents page.
Interior about fine, text block and original French wrappers with expert restoration.