The Lines of My Hand and Flower Is.
(Tokyo): (Yugensha / Kazuhiko Motomura), 1972-1987.
The Lines of My Hand.
(Tokyo): (Yugensha / Kazuhiko Motomura), (1972).
Folio (341 × 253 mm), pp.[v], 119 (inc. 1 gatefold). Illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs, photographic collages, contact sheets, and film strips. Design by Kohei Sugiura and Syuhei Tsuji, layout by Sugiura and Ralph Gibson. Black endpapers. Black rough cloth-covered boards, spine and upper side lettered in white. Japanese text booklet, 32pp, grey lettering on black paper and rough reproductions of the images, laid in as issued. Publisher’s black fine cloth-covered board slipcase, spine lettered in white, black-and-white photographic reproduction affixed to embossed panel on front. Original shipping carton with title in pencil on one side. A fine copy with the original packaging.
First edition. The Lines of My Hand is Robert Frank’s photographic autobiography, dedicated to his two children, Pablo and Andrea, ‘who are trying to find a better way to live.’ The photographs represent every stage of his work to the time of publishing, presented in chronological order and selected less for their historic or aesthetic significance than for their personal meaning.
This is the first of three books that Frank made with Kazuhiko Motomura, the second being Flower Is (1987), the third is The Americans: 81 Contact Sheets (2009). The final pages show a photograph of a view taken from Frank’s Nova Scotia home pinned to a wall in his New York studio with a letter to Motomura attached. ‘Today I am happy to send you this photograph which I took two days ago and which is to be the final picture in the book. (Do you remember that wall in my house?) … I hope that you will like the way I put it together. It’s that way because I want you to know and to see – how it was – to become like I am. All my best wishes.’
Motomura was a civil servant who grew up watching Akira Kurosawa films which led to his developing an interest in visual art and more specifically black-and-white photography. He was an important collector of photographs and photobooks, and published five books over a 37 year period, three by Frank and one each by Jun Morinaga and Masao Mochizuki. This edition of The Lines of My Hand was issued in two variants, each in an edition of 500 with a black-and-white photograph tipped on to one side, the present copy with ‘Platte River, Tennessee’. On page 75 there is a photograph of a postcard sent to Frank by Jack Kerouac, referring to the photograph that is used on the cover he writes:
‘Dear Robert — That photo you sent me of a guy looking over his cow on the Platte River is to me a photo of a man recognizing his own mind’s essence, no matter what — Jean ton copain’.
Ralph Gibson assisted with the layout and later the same year published a revised American edition under his Lustrum Press imprint.
Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I p.261; Roth, A., The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present pp.286-7; Auer, M. and M., 802 photo books from the M + M Auer collection p.544.”
(Tokyo): (Yugensha / Kazuhiko Motomura), (1987).
Folio (342 × 251 mm), pp.. 81 black-and-white photographs. Design by Kohei Sugiura and Atsushi Sato. Tan endpapers. Grey silk-covered boards, spine and upper side lettered in dark grey. Publisher’s grey imitation cloth-covered board slipcase, spine lettered in dark grey, black-and-white photographic reproduction affixed to embossed panel on front. Original shipping carton with title in pencil on one side. A fine copy with the original packaging.
First edition of 500 copies. Flower Is consists of three bodies of work. It begins with photographs taken in Paris of flowers, flower sellers, and chance encounters on the street, continues in a car factory in Detroit and ends with polaroids made in Mabou Mines, Nova Scotia. Frank writes:
‘By 1949 I had lived in New York City for two years. When I returned to Paris, I was 26. The beauty of that city touched me... Every day I would go out to look at the way Parisians sold and loved their flowers. Returning to America I began to look at Americans... and began to photograph the city and factory which produced the American car. The summer of 1955 was hot and after two days at the River Rouge Plant in Detroit I was told to leave the factory. I travelled south and was astonished to see black people treated as inferiors. I experienced the suspicion against anything not “American”. I was learning about American determination to win. It was a society respecting Power and Money... Flowers of Paris is memory... After the publication of The Americans in 1959, a slow fade begins. Filmmaking replaces the single frame photograph.’
Flower Is was issued in two variants, the present copy has the ‘Metro Stalingrade’ photograph on the cover.
Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I p.264; Auer, M. and M., 802 photo books from the M + M Auer collection p.670.
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