REAS, Paul. I Can Help. (Manchester): (Cornerhouse), (1988).

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REAS, Paul.
I Can Help...
(Manchester): (Cornerhouse), (1988).

Oblong 4to (212 × 263 mm), pp.[80]. 35 colour photographs. Introduction by Rod Jones, text by Stuart Cosgrove. Design by Alan Ward; light offsetting from text to half-title. Colour photo-illustrated and pictorial perfect bound wrappers, white, text in black, printed in red, brown, grey, and pink. Paul Reas’s presentation inscription in blue ink on half-title. Fine.

First edition, an association copy inscribed to Peter Fraser: ‘To Peter / Thanks for putting me / through “The Mill” / [signed] Paul Reas’. Paul Reas is a member of the second wave of British colour photographers who took their cue from developments by American photographers such as William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, and Joel Meyerowitz. In I Can Help he offers a view of the mid to late-1980s consumer boom in Britain fuelled by the free-market economics of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. In his introduction Rod Jones writes: ’Part of the success of this series lies in Reas’ grasp of its wider implications — the development of the out-of-town supermarket and the new housing estates with quick access to the motorways make us aware of the new patterns of consumption, urban development and transportation as a series of inter-locking initiatives.’

David Chandler describes I Can Help as one of a small group of books that could be said to define the ‘post-documentary’ photography in Britain in the 1980s. The others being: Paul Graham’s A1: The Great North Road (1983), Beyond Caring (1986), and Troubled Land (1987); Martin Parr’s The Last Resort (1986), and Cost of Living (1989); John Davies’ A Green And Pleasant Land (1987); Tom Wood’s Looking for Love (1989); Jem Southam’s The Red River (1989); Anna Fox’s Workstations (1988); Julian Germain’s Steelworks (1990); and Chris Killip’s In Flagrante (1988).


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