About photobooks – old and new.
Title: New York
Authors: Eva Fukova, Milon Novotny, Marie Sechtlova
Published in 1966 by Mlada Fronta (Prague), designed by Jaroslav Fiser
Hardcover with illustrated dust jacket, 4to, pp. 172, 10.000 copies
The three photographers, Eva Fukova (1927-2015), Milon Novotny (1930-1992), Marie Sechtlova (1928-2008) were part of a group of Czech artists that came to NYC in 1964 to visit the World’s Fair. The photos they took during that trip were assembled in this photobook, published in 1966 in Prague.
In most cases, the images in this book are simple snapshots of the city. Rather than privileging a specific angle of the city, the photographers preferred to offer a broad perspective of New York, covering iconic buildings, famous sites, street life in different neighborhoods, vernacular elements, and museums.
The photos are highly contrasted, drawing the attention of the reader less to the details and more to the atmosphere of the city. There are a lot of people walking and cars in the streets, conveying a sense of a frenetic city, always in constant movement.
The photobook itself was conceived by a graphic designer – Jaroslav Fiser – who elevated the book esthetically, despite its unflattering dust jacket. The hardcover was beautifully designed with engraved fonts and stars, using the American flag colors. The inclusion of color images throughout the pages breaks the monotony of black and white pictures, and transmits a sense of dynamism to the reader. The inclusion of movie tickets, newspaper clips, and drinks labels on some pages were also a design strategy to convey a sense of modernity and incessant flow of entertainment in NYC.
Interestingly, this photobook has similar features to the Lorinczy Gyorgy‘s book, published a few years later also in Eastern Europe (Hungary). In both cases, the sequence of the photos transmit a vibrant and kinetic sensation, while graphic design techniques are explored to transcend the limitations of the photographic language.