About photobooks – old and new.
Title: New York
Authors: Daniel Wronecki (19 photographs and text); Henri Cartier-Bresson (64); J.J. Languepin (12); Fred Stein (5).
Published in 1949, by Fernand Nathan (Paris).
Softcover photographically illustrated, 190 pages, large 8vo
This is a collective book commissioned by the publishing house Fernand Nathan who launched a series of travel books in the aftermath of WW II. The publishing house decided to start the book series with NY – a vibrant city and a symbol of hope, during Europe’s reconstruction process.
F. Nathan invite Daniel Wronecki, a young filmaker, to lead this issue. Cartier-Bresson also collaborated with an important number of photos (64), which elevated the overall project with his photographic style. The social and humanistic angle present in his photos give to this photobook a true feeling of the life in NY city.
The series of black and white photos included in this book introduce the reader to NY street life, its modernity, and dynamism. However, this photobook contrasts with other publications of the same genre, especially from the 1920s and 1930s, which tended to glorify the city, by accentuating a glamorous and idealized perspective of NY.
In addition to the humanistic angle and authentic everyday life scenes, Wronecki put side by side images of imposing modern skyscrapers and images of industrial areas with smoke pouring from chimneys. The leading author and his collaborators went beyond the typical perspective of a modern and attractive city. They also documented a city working uninterruptedly to thrive and affirm its international reputation.