“LIFE BEYOND THE HEADLINES”: PAUL GRAHAM’S A1-THE GREAT NORTH ROAD, 1983
GRAHAM, Paul. A1-The Great North Road. (Bristol, England): Grey, (1983). Oblong quarto, original stiff laminated photographic wrappers. $2000.
First trade edition of Graham’s breakthrough photobook, a signal work in the emergence of New European photography, featuring 40 brilliant color plates printed with laser-scanned separations made directly from original photographic prints.
With A1-The Great North Road, British photographer Paul Graham became recognized as a leading figure of New European photography, where images move beyond photojournalism’s traditional focus on “the idea of significant events… [to] tell another story bearing on life beyond the headlines” (Photobook, 184). By “beginning with local interest, then gradually broadening his horizons, Graham took an approach that is exemplary of the current trend, which has created a genuinely international photographic community… [and led to] the success of the photobook in the late 20th century” (Parr & Badger I:55). For two years, from 1981-82, Graham traveled along The Great North Road that runs the entire length of England. As Rupert Martin notes within, Graham’s photographs present a striking evolutionary turn to a perspective shared by Walker Evans and others in the 1930s and reconfigured by Robert Frank in Les Américains (1958)-a way of seeing the “road as a part of history… observing society from outside its bounds” (“On the Verge”). Scarce first trade edition, issued in wrappers only and without dust jacket; published same year as a signed limited edition of 75 copies, no priority established.
A fine copy, quite scarce.