“ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY PHOTOGRAPHERS AND POWERFUL ARTISTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF THE BLACK TRIANGLE, SIGNED BY JOSEF KOUDELKA
KOUDELKA, Josef. The Black Triangle—The Foothills of the Ore Mountains. Fotograpfie 1990-1994. [Prague: Správa Pra?ského]/(Magnum, 1994). Oblong quarto, original stiff gray wrappers, black title label affixed to spine, triangle cutout to front panel, original gray slipcase with separate cardboard cover as issued. $2800.
First trade edition, Koudelka’s breathtaking vision of industrial devastation, boldly signed by him on the title page, above his characteristic asterisk, a distinctive volume of 76 leporello (accordion-fold) pages with 34 double-page panoramic duotone plates-“an exquisitely made book” (Parr & Badger II).
Josef Koudelka, widely considered “one of the most extraordinary photographers and powerful artists of the 20th century,” here returned to the medium-format panoramic camera he first used in the 1980s. In The Black Triangle, Koudelka has created a majestic sequence of 34 panoramic duotone plates, “a world that lies somewhere between Shakespeare’s King Lear and Alfred jarry’s Ubu Roi. It is a world of muted sound and obvious devastation seen and told by an extremely opinioned and almost obsessive eye whose fascinated and fascinating quest follows a manic spiral… Of his images of the Ore Mountains Koudelka said… ‘In that wounded landscape I find an untamed beauty. Strength. The struggle of survival… In that landscape you can see how strong Nature is. That it is stronger than Man. That it cannot be destroyed” (Afterimage). “This volume is a passionate plea for the environmental cause… these are rich, dark-toned and sumptuous photographs… an exquisitely made book” (Parr & Badger II:74-5). In 2001 Koudelka halted further gallery sale of his photographs, stating, “‘I’m still learning to see” (New York Times). Preface from a 1991 speech by Vaclav Havel given at the conference Environment for Europe; published in conjunction with an exhibit at Prague Castle in 1994. Introduction in Czech, English and French. Issued same year as limited folio edition with images printed on single pages, no priority established.
A fine copy, scarce signed.