PRESSER, Beat. Coming Attractions. Basel: Inter Art Corporation, 1984. ASSOCIATION COPY

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Coming Attractions.
Basel: Inter Art Corporation, 1984.

4to (295 × 205 mm), pp.[104]. 72 black-and-white photographs. Foreword by Ernest Schmidt, text by Gerard Wirtz. Design by Ernest Schmidt and Beat Presser. Plain endpapers. Black-and-white photo-illustrated glazed paper-covered boards; lightly rubbed, light wear to extremities, very light toning to page edges and covers. Signed, dated and stamped by Presser and with Ralph Gibson’s ex libris stamp on front free endpaper, Gibson’s shelf mark on a small circular red sticker to spine. Near-fine.

First edition, signed in the year of publication, from the library of Ralph Gibson who published an American edition of this book. Beat Presser is a Swiss photographer who pursued a career in fashion and advertising after working for film production companies. In 1976, on the day before he returned home from a long trip to New York, Presser saw copies of Steve Lawrence and Miguel Sanchez’s The Picture Newspaper being sold in Times Square. He returned to Switzerland inspired and immediately began putting together his own illustrated newspaper called Palm Beach News. For the next issue the name was changed name to Village Cry and it was decided that each issue would be themed. In total he produced seven issues between November 1976 and winter 1977 (Palm Beach News and six issues of Village Cry, followed five years later by a one-off issue of Flitz Flying Magazine in 1982. A feature on Klaus Kinski in one of the issues led to Presser working on several projects with Kinski and Werner Herzog, including seven months spent in the Peruvian jungle photographing the making of Fitzcoraldo (1982).

In 1983 Presser travelled at short notice to Dallas, Texas to meet a collector who had asked to see a selection of his work. Presser produced some 90 prints in 4 days and nights but the quality was not as good as he would have liked as they had been rushed. Fortuitously, on the same street as his studio someone had recently acquired a Rank Xerox photocopier and was earning a living providing a copying service. The high contrast reproductions were fairly crude but the resulting images pleased Presser who copied his recently made prints and took them to a binder. Before leaving he showed this dummy to Ernesto Schmidt, his former gallerist, who was also very impressed with the quality given to the images by the photocopier and immediately offered to publish the work as it was. Whilst on his way to Dallas, Presser stopped off to meet Ralph Gibson who he had met some years earlier. After being shown the dummy Gibson offered to publish an American edition under his Lustrum Press imprint providing he could make a few changes to the sequence and issue it as a paperback, Gibson also suggested the title Coming Attractions. According to Presser the Lustrum Press edition sold very well, however the present edition did not, he estimates only around a third of the 1000 copies printed sold before the publisher went bankrupt.

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