This is a cute book in which each photograph depicts either books or people reading. I think of it as a clever collection, testing the artist by limiting the subject matter so completely. What I found most interesting, though, is the appearance of several photos that I have not seen in some of the other monographs; an opportunity for those pictures to rise above the rest of Kertesz' more popular works.
This small book appears to have been released twice; once in a series called The Aperture History of Photography (1977), and once in The Aperture Masters of Photography (1993). The two books are identical in content, though the cover of the former reproduces Carrefour Blois, 1930, while the latter reproduces Collette, Paris, 1930. I own the 1993 one, and I like it for several reasons: For one thing, it is fairly inexpensive (US$14.95), and the photos are well-known and accessible. This makes it an ideal gift for people you wish to expose to Kertesz. The photographs are reproduced very well for such an inexpensive book, and it covers Kertesz' Hungarian, Parisian, and US periods.
First of all, I must make it clear that I am not a tremendous fan of Kertesz' series of distortions. Perhaps I'm not as art-savvy as I should be, but I cannot help looking at this body of work outside the erotic perspective. Certainly, Kertesz's distortions lend some authority to those who have championed photography as an artistic endeavor. This is satisfying to me as photography is often separated from what most people classify as 'Art' (with a capital 'A'). Also, I consider Kertesz' distortions to be somewhat representative of what photography is about. After all, isn't all photography a distortion of some sort?
In any case, this book is an outstanding collection of these distortions. They are reproduced well, and ordered in such a way that I did not tire of seeing one after another. This is really the only work available that features the distortion series completely.
This book is one of my favorites. At the time of its publication, it was the athoritative Kertesz book, detailing his entire career nicely. The photgraphs are reproduced in a matte finish, and are a true joy to look at. As with most of his books from the 1970's, expect to find this book around $120.00 from a collector.
This is another book from the 1970's, and along with the other collections from this period, is superb. Like Sixty Years, the quality of the reproductions is excellent, and is also edited by Nicholas Ducrot. No essays are included, which I find a relief; especially for those who are new to understanding photography (or art, for that matter), essays and critiques interfere with the formation of one's own understanding. (I'll get off my soapbox, now).
This book was released to coincide with a BBC television program Great Master Photographers. [If anyone knows where I can find these, please email me at the address below]. There is nothing new in the way of photographs from this 1985 book, but what is compelling is the accompanying descriptions of the photos by Kertesz. In many cases, his words bring out humor, wonder and horrible irony behind the images. Here is one of my favorite examples: I took a photo of four soldiers on a latrine. One of the soldiers got killed later. I wanted his wife to have the last picture of him, but the only one I had was this one. She understood and thanked me.
As far as I know, this is the only collection of Kertesz' color photos. He took all of them in his New York apartment, with a Poloroid camera. At first glance, I found most of these photos too simple, but this book has grown on me over the years. What I initially considered 'simple', I concluded was more like 'distilled'. That is, a subject pared down to it's artistic essence. Then again, it still does not thrill me. If you are looking for a complete collection, you need this book, but I don't consider it essential, nor at all representative of his vision.