Carole Naggar is a poet, photography historian, curator, and painter. Her most recent publications are Magnum Photobook: The Catalogue Raisonné and Saul Leiter: In My Room. She is a regular contributor to Aperture and Time Lightbox, and since 2014 she has been Series Editor for the Magnum Photos Legacy Biography series. (April 2018)
In Place Vendôme, a woman’s legs, blurred by movement, scissor across a puddle, with the obelisk reflected upside down in the water. In another image, a little boy in shorts with a radiant smile runs home, a baguette under his arm. In a photo from the late 1970s, people are lost in conversation on public phones in the then-new Châtelet-Les Halles metro station, their faces hidden by the curvy cabins—a wry comment, even more so today, on the isolation and anonymity of contemporary life. “I had the vague sensation that I was witnessing the savage meal of a group of carnivorous plants disguised as phones to better deceive human beings,” Ronis commented.
The Black Trilogy, a recent reissue of Ralph Gibson’s early self-published books, brings together three of his books into one volume. Gibson is credited with reimagining the modern photo book, transforming it from its more illustrative, thematic approach to a deeply personal, artistic form where the sequence is based on free association rather than chronology or narrative. By making available books that had, over the years, become hard to find, the trilogy offers an occasion to reexamine Gibson’s singular itinerary.