donderdag 19 oktober 2017

Views & Reviews Someday Somewhere Yasuhiro ISHIMOTO The Japanese Photobook 1912–1990 Photography


Aruhi Arutokoro. (Someday, Somewhere).
ISHIMOTO, Yasuhiro.
Published by Geibi Shuppan., Tokyo., 1958
4to. (285 x 233 mm). pp. 168. With 7 colour & 178 black-and-white photographs including various gatefolds and fold-outs. Publisher's black cloth, yellow spine and printed dust-jacket. Ishimoto was born in San Francisco, then moved to Japan with his parents in 1924 before returning to the States in 1939. Following internment in the war, during which he learned photography, he studied under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Chicago Institute of Design, graduating in 1952. He returned to Japan in 1953, but continued to travel between the two countries. Thus his work is an interesting and distinctive blend of cultural influences, neither wholly Japanese nor wholly American in style. In 1958 he had the distinction of producing the first major postwar Japanese photobook, the elegant Aruhi Arutokoro (Someday, Somewhere), shot in both Tokyo and Chicago. 'Aruhi Arutokoro is a photobook of truly international stature, providing Japanese photographers with a model of expression that transcended both the parochial and the purely documentary tendency dominating Japanese photography of the time.' (Martin Parr). [Parr & Badger, The Photobook I, pp. 272-273; Kaneko & Vartanian - Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and '70s, pp.


"From pictorialism to Provoke: the most extensive history of Japanese photobooks ever published" Among others the over 500 pages counting book features such renowned photographers as Yoshio Watanabe, Akira Hoshi, Hayao Yoshikawa, Shinichi Kato, Yasuo Wakuda, Tetsuo Kitahara, Moriyama Daido, Koji Taki, Takuma Nakahira, Yutaka Takanashi, Kimura Ihei, Hamaya, Katura, Kazano, Kikuti, Mituzumi, Watanabe, Yamahata, Sozo Okada and Kazano Karuo, among many others. -- "'The Japanese Photobook, 1912–1980' illustrates the development of photography as seen in photo publications in Japan—from the time of influence by European and American pictorialism, the German Bauhaus and Imperial military propaganda, to the complete collapse and destruction of the country in 1945. Then followed a new beginning: with the unique self-determination of a young generation of photographers and visual artists highlighted by the “Provoke” style as well as protest and war documentation of the late 1950s to the early ’70s, the signature Japanese photobook, as we have come to know it, was born.

With detailed information and illustrations of over 400 photo publications, an introduction by Kaneko Ryuichi and essays by Fujimura Satomi, Duncan Forbes, Manfred Heiting, Mitsuda Yuri, Lizawa Kotaro, Shirayama Mari and Matthew S. Witkovsky, this is the first extensive English-language survey of Japanese photobooks of this period." (publisher's note)

About the main author:
Ryuichi Kaneko is a critic, historian, and collector of photobooks. He has authored or contributed to numerous publications, including 'Independent Photographers in Japan 1976–83' (Tokyo Shoseki, 1989), 'The History of Japanese Photography' (Yale University Press and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2003), 'Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s' (Aperture, 2009), and 'Japan’s Modern Divide' (J. Paul Getty Museum)

See also 

Five Aspects of Japanese Photobooks Ryuichi Kaneko Photobook Phenomenon


Yasuhiro Ishimoto (1921-2012): The “ Visual Bilinguist” in Japanese and American Postwar Photography
Posted on March 7, 2012 by Russet Lederman

On February 6, 2012, it was announced primarily through blogs, Facebook and Tumblr that Japanese photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto died at the age of 90. The only mainstream US news organization to run a story on Ishimoto was CNN via its photography blog. As an important link in the postwar dialogue between Japan and America, Ishimoto was, according to Minor White, “a visual bilinguist” – a photographer who was uniquely positioned due to his birth and education to act as the cultural liaison between two highly distinctive photography cultures. Despite his crucial role as both an advisor to and photographer in numerous exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago, Ishimoto’s death was largely ignored in the American press and sadly unnoticed by most in the western photographic community. This is a shame because Ishimoto was a remarkably talented photographer whose work merged a western formalist approach, learned under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Chicago Institute of Design, with a Japanese attention to subtle beauty. He was a “photographer’s photographer” — a friend who selflessly supported his colleagues in both the east and west as he acted as an aesthetic and cultural translator in an exchange that still continues today.


When over a year ago I undertook to explore the Japanese photobook collection at the International Center of Photography Library, the very first book I pulled out of the stacks was Ishimoto’s Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro (1958). The copy that I held in my hands that day was not a pristine edition that would be found in a photobook collector’s bookshelf. It was a well-worn book whose pages had been repeatedly turned and scrutinized over years by ICP staff members, students and teachers. It simultaneously spoke to Ishimoto’s role as a “photographer’s photographer” and the mission of the ICP Library as a resource for “information and inspiration to anyone interested in the medium [of photography].” The last time I had held this book was at a bookseller’s tiny shop in Osaka, Japan. To see it in New York and so readily available was a nice affirmation that, despite diminished visibility in recent years, students, teachers and scholars still regularly sought out his work.


Ishimoto’s life continually moved back and forth between the U.S. and Japan. (A February 2012 post by Richard Pare in the blog La Lettre de la Photographie provides a wonderful and detailed biographical overview.) Born in San Francisco in 1921, while his father was employed in the U.S., Ishimoto returned to Japan in 1924 and spent the rest of his childhood in the Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. In 1939 his family sent him back to the U.S. to study agriculture in California. Two years later, America entered WWII and Ishimoto was relocated to the Amache Internment camp in Colorado, where he first developed an interest in photography. Upon his release, he enrolled in Northwestern University’s School of Architecture, but quickly realized that his central focus was photography, not architecture. Ishimoto transferred to the Chicago Institute of Design (New Bauhaus), which was led by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Advocating a new photography of “seeing while moving,” Moholy-Nagy’s curriculum emphasized the formal aspects of the pictorial space and had a profound influence on Ishimoto’s distinctive east-west aesthetic that reinterpreted traditional Japanese culture through the lens of modernism.


It is this visual sensibility that unifies the seemingly diverse subjects in Ishimoto photography, a range which includes: architecturally focused images of an early 17th century imperial villa in Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture (1960); identity as explored in the provocatively posed precocious Lolitas and the urban scenes of African Americans in his Chicago, Chicago (1969); graphic and textural studies of signage, defaced facades and nature in his Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro  (1958); and a confrontation of the transitory in the formal abstractions and blurred Tokyo street scenes of Moment / Toki (2004). Ishimoto’s ability to take both eastern and western subjects and recontexualize them through his unique bilingual aesthetic vision, made him the perfect Japan-America photography ambassador-at-large.

While still a student at the Institute of Design in the early 1950s, Ishimoto’s teacher Harry Callahan introduced his work to The Museum of Modern Art photography curator Edward Steichen, who would exhibit it in the seminal 1955 Family of Man group show and a later solo show in 1961. Impressed by Ishimoto’s ability to easily navigate both the Japanese and American photographic communities, Steichen asked the young photographer after his return to Japan in 1953 to host the museum’s architectural curator Arthur Drexel, in addition to gathering Japanese submissions for the Family of Man show. More than 20 years later in 1974, MoMA’s John Szarkowski and his Japanese co-curator Shoji Yamagishi would include Ishimoto’s work and acknowledge his help “as a selfless liaison with the other [Japanese] photographers and, as a translator who [understood] the photographer’s special language” in the museum’s New Japanese Photography exhibition catalog. In his role as a photographic bilinguist, Ishimoto was also largely responsible for introducing a formal modernism imbued with a distinctly western sense of individuality to a new generation of Japanese photographers through his 1954 solo show in Tokyo, and his widely published architectural images of Katsura. This exposure contributed to the emergence of the more expressive “image school” generation, whose members included Ikko Narahara, Shomei Tomatsu and Eikoh Hosoe.


Although he became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1969, Ishimoto continued to visit the U.S. to work on a variety of photographic projects – many of them resulting in photobooks. Within the ICP Library collection there are 5 Yasuhiro Ishimoto photobooks, published over a period from 1958 to 2009. When viewed together, they show the different sides of Ishimoto’s multi-tiered photographic vision, while also confirming a unity in what on first glance seems to be a disparate body of work. The earliest is Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro (1958), the well-read book I pulled from the stacks on my first visit to the library. It is organized into three sections and includes images taken in both Chicago and Tokyo. The book, often cited as one of the first important postwar Japanese photobooks, begins with a selection of black-and-white and color offset images that highlight a formal modernist exploration of signage, graffiti and urban abstractions. Towards the end of this section, the prints become rich high contrast gravures, some with vertical gatefolds that showcase a repetition of flat Warhol-like graphic car images. “The Beach” section that follows continues his focus on the formal, as it shows the cropped sandy legs and torsos of beach visitors along with groups of bathers lounging or standing in the abstracted patterns of the sand. “The Beach” gives way to the last section called “The Little Ones,” which allows Ishimoto to shift gears and explore identity and race with photographs of masked children that bring to mind later images by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Shot in both the U.S. and Japan, Ishimoto’s photos of white, Asian and African American children progress in a formal manner, grouping together like-image of girls with glasses or boys with guns. Often the children stare at the viewer with a knowing edge that suggests the weight of an adult world.



With Ishimoto’s relationship to Chicago as their starting point, 2 later books in the collection present distinctly different historical studies of his work. Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities (1999), the comprehensive catalog for a traveling retrospective exhibition organized by Colin Westerbeck at the Art Institute of Chicago, does a thorough job of covering the different themes found in Ishimoto’s photography up to1999. Although the images included overlap with several of those found in other more narrowly focused Ishimoto books at the library, the context and the wonderful essay are extremely valuable in confirming Ishimoto’s role as a “visual bilingulist.” On the opposite end of the spectrum is the slim Stephen Daiter Gallery (Chicago) catalog Newman & Ishimoto – Reunion in Chicago: Photographs 1949-52 (1999) on the friendship between Ishimoto and the American photographer Marvin E. Newman. The two photographers met while both students at the Chicago Institute of Design and cemented their friendship during long hours spent together in the darkroom of the Fort Dearborn Camera Club. The Daiter Gallery catalog, which presents familiar Chicago street scenes by Ishimoto, is particularly beneficial for elucidating the common thread of an underlying formalism rooted in modernism that shaped both photographers’ work.



This strong sense of form and composition is always present in Ishimoto’s work and photobooks. Whether the street scenes of his Shibuya, Shibuya (2007) that sequence images in groups based on the patterns and logos worn by fashionable Tokyoites or the abstractions of leaves and clouds interspersed by blurred urbanites in his Moment / Toki (2004), these two later books in the ICP Library are further affirmation of a vision that consistently merges a western modernist education grounded in the teachings of the Bauhaus with an eastern attention to a subtle and often fleeting beauty. Completed when Ishimoto was already in his 80s, Moment /Toki (2004) calmly confronts time, a time that is changing and ultimately fading.  Shibuya, Shibuya (2007) is more rhythmic and patterns its sequences to the beat of the urban environment. Both books speak to Ishimoto’s role as a bilingual guide in a photographic journey that conflates an abstraction centered on form and texture with a social exploration bound to western individuality. The mementos of this bi-directional east-west passage are deceptively quiet images that emerge from a refined visual sensibility that “[writes] haikus with a camera” (Westerbeck). As James N. Wood, the Director and President of The Art Institute of Chicago commented in the foreword to Ishimoto’s retrospective catalog, A Tale of Two Cities, “…Ishimoto’s photographs build a bridge that spans a hemisphere. The magnitude of Ishimoto’s accomplishment was recognized… in his homeland when he was made a ‘Person of Cultural Merit,’ an honor that entails a fellowship for life… Now it is our turn to celebrate Ishimoto’s lifetime achievement…”











Yasuhiro Ishimoto books at the ICP Library:
Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro. Tokyo: Geibi Shuppansha, Showa 33, 1958. TR681.C5 .I84 1958 -R

Westerbeck, Colin. Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities. Chicago, IL: Art Institute of Chicago, 1999. TR647.I83 .W47 1999

Newman and Ishimoto – Reunion in Chicago: Photographs from 1949-52. Chicago: Stephen Daiter Gallery, 1999.  TR647.N489 1999

 Moment / Toki. Tokyo: Heibonsha Ltd., 2004. Signed. TR655 .I38 2004

Shibuya, Shibuya. Tokyo: Heibonsha Ltd., 2007. Signed. TR659.8 .I83 2007


dinsdag 17 oktober 2017

Foto/Industria third edition Bologna 2017 Friedlander Koudelka and Rodchenko Company Photography

Boston, 1986 © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Francois Hébel’s Foto/Industria opens tomorrow
written by Diane Smyth

See also
Industrial Worlds David Goldblatt Henri Cartier-Bresson Robert Doisneau Elliott Erwitt Industria Bologna 2013 Company Photography

Bologna : Foto/Industria 2015 From Albums to (Company) Photobooks Photography


Best-known for making Arles the most important photography festival in the world, Francois Hébel is bringing stars such as Friedlander, Koudelka and Rodchenko to the Foto/Industria in Bologna

Foto/Industria Biennial returns to Bologna, with 14 exhibitions centring around identity and illusion in photographs of work by image-makers such as Thomas Ruff, Josef Koudelka, Lee Friedlander, Joan Fontcuberta, Alexander Rodchenko, Mitch Epstein, Yukichi Watabe, John Myers and Michele Borzoni. The Biennial, which is back for its third edition, is produced by the MAST Foundation, a cultural centre established in 2013, and the festival is curated by Francois Hébel – the man best known for resurrecting Les Rencontres d’Arles, which he directed from 1986-87, and from 2002-14. First time around at Arles, Hébel showed photographers such as Nan Goldin and Martin Parr and was greeted with outrage; second time, he took an event on the verge of bankruptcy, €450,000 in debt and attracting just 9000 visitors per season, and transformed it the world’s most important photography festival. BJP caught up with Hébel to ask about the third edition of Foto/Industria; read our 2015 interview with him here.

BJP: The festival is now in its third edition – what’s different, and what’s the same this year?

Francois Hébel: Foto/Industria improved its audience a lot with the second edition, and hopefully will confirm with the third. [Last time] the big surprise was to see people travelling from other Italian cities and abroad for the weekend, taking advantage of the numerous connections to this university and industrial city. We also got to know the magnificent venues of this Renaissance city better.

1030, 2003 © Thomas Ruff, by SIAE 2017

BJP: The Thomas Ruff show is about machines, rather than about industry per se. Similarly, the Yukichi Watabe series Stakeout Diary is tangentially related to industry. How free do you feel to interpret the ‘industrial’ theme?

FH: Absolutely free as long as it relates to work or production. This is a very broad approach, and in previous years the festival has gone from mining to office work, from corporate assignments to fictional projects and independent, critical ones. This is a great freedom agreed with Isabella Seràgnoli, who is the founder of MAST and who asked me to create this extension to her foundation – Foto/Industria.

One of the consequences is that the festival also extends to all genres of photography, all styles and periods. The relationship with work and production is an incredibly rich one, which is why from a one-off event for the opening of MAST in 2011, Isabella Seràgnoli asked me to turn Foto/Industria into a Biennial.

France, 1987 © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

BJP: Some of the artists you feature are very well known, others are emerging or all but forgotten. How do you choose the projects you want to show?

FH: You name it [I do it]. A festival is a global experience, if you show famous artists you have to revisit their work. This is the case here with Koudelka, as his industrial work was never exhibited [the show is titled 30 Years of Industrial Landscapes and will include 40 images shot on commission for organisations such as the Lhoist mining group]. Similarly, Friedlander isn’t that famous for his corporate assignments [his show, At Work, gathers images made over 16 years in the US in spaces such as factories, offices and telemarketing centres].

These important characters and the festival form encourage people to dedicate more time than they would to just seeing a show – instead of spending a couple of hours at a galley then spend a whole day or a weekend, and let themselves be surprised by work they didn’t expect.

I balance the program in total freedom, taking advantage of 36 years of working with photographers [who are as well-established as Hebel]. But I am also very attentive to emerging styles and artists, and there is a “hot” dimension to a festival that is different to an institution, which may work for three years on a show.

BJP: Some of the work is archival, other images are very contemporary. What does this mix help to do?

FH: It helps the audience enjoy photography, and to show how it sometimes evolves on similar themes.

New Industrial Estate, Lye, 1981 © John Myers

BJP: It’s great to see John Myers’ work included in the festival – how did you come across it? [Myers is a little-known British photographer currently undergoing a critical reassessment, and is showing an exhibition titled The End of Manufacturing, featuring images shot between 1981 and 1988 in the Black Country]

FH: I do my job in order to learn everyday, and often do so thanks to friends. In John’s case, Brian Griffin mentioned that I should look at these pictures for Foto/Industria. To be honest, John had sent me a catalogue with this series a long time ago, but at the time it didn’t fit in the programmes I was preparing and I forgot them. Good work always come out.

BJP: I notice there are no female photographers in the festival this year. Why do you think that is?

FH: Because I do not try to put this as a criteria, but if you look back to the probably more than 1000 shows I have produced in my career, especially in 15 editions of Arles, Beijing Photo Spring, or the recent month of photography of the Grand Paris, there are always many female photographers – especially in recent photography, there were not as many before.

Chinese textile workshop seized from Prato Municipal Police © Michele Borzoni/TerraProject

BJP: Some of the series on show this year were made on commission from the companies they depict; others are taken from ‘outside’ the companies, independently. What are the pros and cons of each approach?

FH: Access and freedom are obviously the key issues. But in the selection we made this year, you will see that it didn’t make much of a difference.

BJP: The MAST Foundation is run by the Coesia Group [a group of companies that makes industrial and packaging solutions]. Are there limits to how much Foto/Industria can critique big business when it’s underpinned by a company?

FH: I never face such a situation. Before taking over the company from her parents, Isabella Seràgnoli was more into social science, and she has always been a social philanthropist. This is probably why she wouldn’t see any reason to force the program into political correctness – nor would I accept it.

BJP: What are your future plans for the festival? Is there a limit to how long a festival of industrial photography can run?

FH: I am sure this broad approach can run and run, as the photographic approach is as important as the theme; we also have an extensive public programme. Growing in size is not a necessity, we just want to keep on producing original and quality shows, in amazingly beautiful venues. Increasing the visitors is our first goal for this young festival.

Foto/Industria is open from 12 October  19 November in venues throughout Bologna city centre; Thomas Ruff’s solo show at MAST is open until 07 January 2018. www.fotoindustria.it/en/

1183, 2004 © Thomas Ruff, by SIAE 2017

The Lingotto rooftop test track (Fiat). Italy, 2004 © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

AMO Factory. Moscow, 1929 by Alexander Rodchenko. AMO Factory. Moscow, 1929
Collection of Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography Museum

Wood factory “Vakhtan.” Nijny Novgorod region, 1930 by Alexander Rodchenko. Collection of Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography Museum

Portrait of colonel Ivan Istochnikov © Joan Fontcuberta

Ivan and Kloka in his historical EVA (extra-vehicular activity) © Joan Fontcuberta

Cray, 1986 © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Festival dell’Unità, Napoli, 1976
Unity Festival, Naples, 1976 © Mimmo Jodice Archivio

Open competitive exhamination for recruitment of 40 historians at the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural activities. 1550 people applied for the exam which took place in the new Fiera di Roma © Michele Borzoni/TerraProject

Ergol #12, S1B clean room, Arianespace, Guiana Space Center [CGS], Kourou, French Guiana, 2011 © Vincent Fournier

Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond, West Virginia, from “American Power,” 2004 © Mitch Epstein, courtesy the artist and The Walther Collection

BP Carson Refinery, California, from “American Power,” 2007 © Mitch Epstein, courtesy the artist and The Walther Collection

Yukichi Watabe © Yukichi Watabe
in)(between gallery Paris & roshin books Tokyo

# 01000 Crespellano, Bologna, IT, 2016 © Carlo Valsecchi

07-8-18-3, from the series “Machina”, 2007 © Mårten Lange

Circle of men, from the series “The Mechanism”, 2017 © Mårten Lange

Seuil (Kembs), from the Transform: Power series, 2015 © Mathieu Bernard-Reymond


Transformation (Turbine 144, Marckolsheim), from the Transform: Power series, 2015 © Mathieu Bernard-

maandag 16 oktober 2017

NEDERLANDSE POSTZEGELS 1987/88: 2 Volume Set Dutch PTT Books designed by Irma Boom


NEDERLANDSE POSTZEGELS 1987/88: 2 Volume Set

Dutch PTT Books designed by Irma Boom

A Highlight of Modern Dutch Graphic and Book Design

Irma Boom [Design], Paul Hefting [introduction/compilition]: NEDERLANDSE POSTZEGELS 1987/88 [POSTSTEMPELS, ACHTERGRONDEN, EMISSIEGEGEVENS EN VORMGEVING]. The Hague: Staatsbedrijf der PTT, 1988. First editions in 2 volumes. Text in Dutch. Quartos. Blue and chipboard printed thick wrappers with foil stamping. 116 + 112 pp. Translucent vellum signatures  printed in 4-color recto and black versos, and perfect-bound in the Japanese-style. Multiple paper stocks. Elaborated design and typography throughout by Irma Boom. Former owner inkstamp and small glue stain to front endpapers of each volume. Wrappers lightly worn with trivial wear to edges, but a very good or better set.

This 2 volume set represents Irma Boom’s first published book designs, her first award-winnng book design and an enticing glimpse of her future career as “Queen of Books.” A copy of this set is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art [item 892.2007.1-2].

  [2] 9.75 x 7.33 softcover books with 228 total pages elaborately designed and printed in the Netherlands.  The two-volume celebrates the special edition stamp designs commissioned by the Dutch PTT during 1987 and 1988, and also features an index of the different postal cancellations used during those years. Each designer and their commission is given a thoughtful and almost dreamlike presentation via Irma Boom’s mind-blowing mise-en-page.

  “I compare my work to architecture. I don’t build villas, I build social housing. The books are industrially made and they need to be made very well. I am all for industrial production. I hate one-offs. On one book you can do anything, but if you do a print run, that is a challenge. It’s never art. Never, never, never.”

Irma Boom designed the interior pages using  4-color offset lithography for the front pages and black for the versos, then binding them japanese-style for a ghostly effect with the images of the past represented by faint blacks glowing through the color pages. An amazing, early example of Boom's groundbreaking book design, and another classic example of the forward thinking standards set by the Netherlands Post, Telegram and Telephone Services [PTT].

“Since 1920, the PTT Art & Design Department had commissioned artists, architects and designers to design its services and products. To me, the whole idea of Dutch design comes from the design policy of PTT, especially in the 1970s and 80s when Ootje Oxenaar was head of the department. “

“Working at the Staatsdrukkerij meant enormous creative freedom. Those were the heydays of art-book publishing. If you made a book cover, they would encourage you to use foil or special printing techniques. The department was a springboard for young designers who would work there for one or two years and go on to something more exciting. After my internship, I went to Dumbar and the Dutch television (NOS) design department. After I graduated I went back to the Staatsdrukkerij, and ended up staying for five-and-a-half years. I learned a lot. In retrospect, it was a very productive and super-creative time.”

“I did jobs nobody else wanted, like the advertisements for the publishing department, which was – thinking of it now – a smart thing to do because I could experiment. Those assignments were completely under the radar but they were seen by Oxenaar. He invited the designer of the ‘crazy ads’ to do one of the most prestigious book jobs: the annual Dutch postage-stamp books.”

  “Places like the Staatsdrukkerij don’t exist any more. When I started working there after graduation, I was immediately a designer (not a junior), and I quickly became a team leader. At that time I was very naive and fearless. I was not aware of an audience, and certainly not a critical audience! This vacuum is no longer possible for designers starting out today. I only became aware of the outside world after the prestigious postage-stamp yearbooks were published: hate mail from stamp collectors and design colleagues started to come in. But there was also fan mail.

“The books polarised the design community. They won all the awards and a Best Book Award, my first one. In the jury report they mentioned ‘a brilliant failure’. Suddenly people knew who I was. I realised negative publicity has an enormous impact, more than positive publicity.” — Irma Boom, 2014 [Eye no. 88 vol. 22]

Jean van Royen’s early adherence to typographic and design excellence set a standard for the PTT for years to come. In the early 1930s, he commissioned Piet Zwart to transform PTT’s in-house design style. This beautiful chapter in the history of graphic design came to "a brutal conclusion" when van Royen died in 1941 because of his opposition to fascism. Fortunately, van Royen’s design legacy was revived after the war and continues to this day.

Includes work by Piet Zwart, Karl Martens, Studio Dunbar, Tom van den Haspel, Walter Nikkels, Gerrit Noordzij, Anton Beeke, Win Crouwel, Jan van Toorn, Hans Kruit, Willem Sandberg, Cees de Jong, Helen Howard, Victor Levie, Matt van Santvoord, Max Kisman, Reynoud Homan, Rudo Hartman, Rik Comello, Pieter Brattinga, Kees Nieuwenhuijzen, Vincent Mentzel, Charlotte Mutsaers, Henk Cornelissen, Rick Vermeulen, Tessa van der Waals, Kees Ruyter, Arthur Meyer, Frans van Mourik, Jan Bons, Dick Elffers, Johan Lots, Dennis Jaket, Frans van Lieshout, and others whom I’m sure were overlooked.

Irma Boom [b. 1960] is an Amsterdam-based graphic designer specializing in book design. Her use of unfamiliar formats, materials, colors, structures, and typography make her books into visual and tactile experiences.

Boom studied graphic design at the AKI Art Academy in Enschede. After graduating she worked for five years at the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office in The Hague. In 1991 she founded Irma Boom Office, which works nationally and internationally in both the cultural and commercial sectors. Clients include the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Paul Fentener van Vlissingen (1941-2006), Inside Outside, Museum, Boijmans Van Beuningen, Zumtobel, Ferrari, Vitra International, NAi Publishers, United Nations and OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Koninklijke Tichelaar, and Camper.

Since 1992 Boom has been a critic at Yale University in the US and gives lectures and workshops worldwide. She has been the recipient of many awards for her book designs and was the youngest-ever laureate to receive the prestigious Gutenberg prize for her complete oeuvre. Her design for ‘Weaving as Metaphor’ by American artist Sheila Hicks was awarded 'The Most Beautiful Book in the World’ at the Leipzig Book Fair. Her books have been shown at numerous international exhibitions and are also represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.