1954 4- Page Letter Signed By Paul Strand: Production and Design of 'Un Paese,' Photo-Book Collaboration with Cesare Zavattini, (with) a Very Detailed 1955 3-Page Follow-up Letter on that Project & Other Topics
(Americana - 20th Century - Photography - Paul Strand - Manuscript)

Orgeval France: Not Published, 1954. F The letters give much background to the creative process of Strand and were written to the designer-artist couple William Golden & Cipe Pineles, (here addressed as 'Bill & Cipe') who were friends and professional colleagues, extending back to their collaborations as participants in the Group Theater in New York, in the 1930s. Paul Strand (1890 -1976) American photo-artist Strand and his fellow-photographer wife Hazel (Kingsbury) took up residence in Orgeval France, after moving to Europe in 1950, "…driven into self-exile, Strand later would suggest, by the repressive anti-Communist climate in America… (after publishing) La France de Profil (1952), a portrait of postwar, small-town French life…Strand would spend the rest of his life assembling and completing similar book portraits celebrating primarily rural cultures…" (as Un Paese & others) "…Many established photographers, from Walker Evans to Eliot Porter have admitted to having been strongly influenced by Strand's impeccably rich and detailed prints, concern for formal relationships, respect for his subjects, and ability to distill the essence of his subjects. However, through much of the 1950s and 1960s his reputation fell into eclipse. His dedication to view cameras and fine printing, his largely frontal compositions, and his devotion to creating politically motivated celebrations of traditional, largely rural cultures did not fit an artistic world fascinated with the hand camera and the constant change of contemporary life. By the late 1960s, however, Strand received renewed acclaim first through European exhibitions and then by means of a retrospective exhibition sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1971)." (John B. Rohrbach in the ANB) Cipe Pineles (1908 - 1991) Austrian-born American graphic designer & art director, associated with Conde Nast Vogue & others; William Golden (1911 - 1959) American graphic designer, especially noted for his work at CBS. Letter 1: Four handwritten pages with very good content throughout; dated May 10, 1954, just prior to the publishing of "Un Paese," the Italian-produced photograph & text collaboration between photographer Paul Strand and neo-realist screenwriter Cesare Zavattini. Written in blue ink on airmail paper: "…just back from Milan with very good news. The book is finished and accepted by Einaudi, one of the best and biggest publishers in Italy. Zavattini has written a fine and moving text, very direct, very simple…this outcome after months of nothing happening made us both feel pretty good. Printing is going to be done by Pizzi in Milan…one of the best around for gravure. We had one conference and find that the nephew of the boss speaks English and seems both intelligent and cooperative. Won't be any problem of putting my finger in the pie, I think. We have to be back in Milan on the 20th with the negatives and Pizzi offered to make a few quick tests for us to see. Einaudi is being very flexible as to size and format, cover etc. They seem to want to do a good job and one that doesn't look like the present rash of photo book. I mentioned that my good friend Golden might take a crack at the cover and they were only too pleased. We decided on a slightly larger page size than La France de Profil, both to get away from the standard thinking and also to give more space for text. Size we chose was 23 x 29 cms. Naturally the cover will be a little larger. I would say add about 3mm for the cover size, length & width. The title so far chosen is "Un Paese." In Italian this has the double meaning of a village and the whole country. This is Zavattini's title and we think it is good - Simple and excites curiosity by not being too explicit. As for other printing on the cover - Cesare Zavattini and Paul Strand. He is a big name in Italy and I have the feeling that both names can be larger and more effective than in "La France de Profil." Lastly this publisher usually puts his own name, Einaudi, on the cover, not too conspicuously. Now as to the photographs for the cover. The publishers are favorable to one of people and there are two which attracts them. One you have. It is the photograph of a family, the mother in the doorway and five sons. For me it is one of the most important photographs and one that many people respond to. That is a horizontal. The other is a vertical portrait of a little girl which I will print this week and mail to you before we go back to Milan. I have the feeling that the impact of the cover should not rely entirely on the photograph itself, but rather on a total layout in which the whole page is eye compelling. In short not like the French book. What do you think? Last of all we thought the photograph of the white wall with all the iron things- sides, etc. might do well for the back cover - no type. The photograph you mentioned of the people in front of the café is good, but perhaps too sad - for most of those folks are from the old people's home across the street. Einaudi are not interested in bleed pages. If I wanted some they would agree. If you were around, maybe there would be some. On my own I think to have none, at least at this stage. But that doesn't mean I guess that the cover photos can't be bled if you see it that way, on one or more sides. Guess that about covers the news. I think we will go to Scotland in June at least to have a look around and perhaps work if it looks good. It's awfully damn kind of you think about the cover of the new book and to let us have your ideas...As always, (signed) Paul." The cover photograph discussed was used as planned on the finished "Un Paese" photo-volume; the Scotland trip mentioned eventually led to the publication of Strand's "Tir a'mhurain, Outer Hebrides." Letter 2: Dated June 13, 1955; three pages, handwritten and also sent to Cipe, Bill and Tom (their son) Golden. Strand inquires as to Bill Golden's opinion on the final version of 'Un Paese': "…for I just received the first letters from America from very enthusiastic people. Everyone comments on the beauty of the cover, such words as 'superb.' We think it is swell and a real 'Golden' job…. The general feeling is that although the Swiss printing is a bit better, that as a whole this is a better book, more warm and human. I think that is so because it was much more planned and concentrated…hoping there may be an edition in French and one American publisher has expressed interest. If this develops I may have to call on you Bill again, for we must keep the cover intact…" Also, about half the letter is concerned with the purchase, redesign and descriptions of the property & gardens of their home in Orgeval, France which was eventually a subject of another Strand photo-book and was the haven from which much work originated. The letter signed by Paul and Hazel. The letter-sheets approx. 8 1/4" x 10 1/4" size; old fold lines, little bit of edge-wrinkling; in very good condition. Very Good Paperback (Item ID: 24812)


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