“BURYING THE MYTH OF ROMANTIC, TIMELESS, IMMORTAL PARIS”: FIRST EDITION OF VAN DER KEUKEN’S PARIS MORTEL, 1963
VAN DER KEUKEN, Joan. Paris mortel. (Hilversum.), Netherlands: [C. de Boer Jr., 1963]. Quarto, original gray cloth, original blue cloth-effect dust jacket. $4200.
First edition, the third photobook by award-winning photographer/filmmaker van der Keuken, with 65 finely screened black-and-white photogravures of Paris, strikingly printed on French-fold leaves, scarce in original unrestored dust jacket.
“Arguably Europe’s most important documentary filmmaker” (New York Times) Joan van der Keuken (1938-2001) began his career in still photography, producing two groundbreaking photobooks-Wij zijn 17 (1955) and Achter Glas (1957)—before the age of 20. While studying film in Paris, van der Keuken took “thousands of photographs on the streets… combining the American energy of William Klein with an undertone of loneliness and desolation that was typically European… Van der Keuken’s Paris mortel (Mortal Paris) can be added to the long list of classic photobooks about the French capital… Van der Keuken’s book is not simply cinematic in pace and layout-most stream-of-consciousness books were-it also concentrates on Paris as a complex web of sociopolitical relationships.” The book’s innovative layout by Marinus van Raalte was supervised by van der Keuken, who “was experimenting with William Klein’s ‘random’ way of sequencing pictures, throwing them down and letting relationships form spontaneously.” This approach was considered “too radical in design by the publishers, the Hilversum company of C. de Boer Jr., who finally brought out the work in 1963 as a promotional vehicle, and therefore not in any great numbers” (Parr & Badger I:248). First edition, containing 65 photographs of Paris taken from 1956-8, extremely scarce in original dust jacket. Bookseller ticket. Owner inscription in Dutch on half title.
Images quite fresh, one signature separated (plates 30-32) without affecting image; light edge-wear to original unrestored dust jacket. A classic European photobook in near-fine condition.