Category Archives: Books

New York/Untapped Cities

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Screen capture of Untapped Cities website

An article and portfolio of my photographs from WTC on Untapped Cities, a web journal about New York City.

WTC is book about the Twin Towers, their presence and absence, and the rebuilding of the city after September 11.

It is also a tribute to New Yorkers and all who carry a piece of the great city with them. It is a book that commemorates rather than exploits, a book that preserves memories, both painful and hopeful, and celebrates, however cautiously, the resilience of this city in the face of adversity.

Purchase WTC here.

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New York/2,000 Books

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Storage closet in Chelsea — © Brian Rose

This is what 2,000 books looks like when stacked nine boxes high. 169 boxes in all. Your first thought when they arrive is — what have I done?! — and then they fit exactly as determined weeks ago when they were on a container ship slowly making their way to New York. So, no surprises.

The moment of truth is here. Please join me for the book launch in Cooper Union’s Great Hall. I will be doing a slide talk, taking questions, and there will be a reception afterwards with books available for purchase and signing. See you there!

WTC Book Launch
September 8, 6:30pm

The Great Hall
Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
New York City

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New York/WTC Launch

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Save the date — September 8th — for the launch of WTC! Books are in the port of New York and should arrive soon.

WTC Book Launch
The Great Hall at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
New York, NY

6:30pm (until about 8pm)
Slide talk and book signing afterwards
Light refreshments served

WTC/Advance Copies

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This is it folks. Advance copies of WTC have arrived from the printer, and — what can I say — the book is stunning. The original design for the cover had the letters WTC dissolving into a close-up of the skin of one of the Twin Towers, symbolic of their disappearance and ghostly presence. But we decided to go with silver reflective letters that almost float above the matte background. The effect is stronger, more iconic. It is simple, elegant, and I think, powerful.

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The spine and endpapers are a cool blue, taken from wedge of sky seen between the Twin Towers in one of the images. The photographs and text blocks are a consistent scale with white borders throughout except for the bleed images that break up the different sections. This is a book to be read — both the writing and the imagery.

I am very proud of WTC. It is the third in a trilogy of books about New York City. It is the culmination of a lifetime of observing the urban landscape and architecture, the center stage for human endeavor. It is a story both personal and shared — this great city and the tragedy that befell it 15 years ago. It is an attempt to honor and commemorate even in this moment of public vulgarity and corrosive discourse.

The official release of WTC is September 8th. I will be providing more information about the launch later. In the meantime, the book can be pre-ordered on my website.

New York/F&Gs

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WTC folded and gathered pages — © Brian Rose

It may look a little sloppy, but the loose pages shown in the photo above are actual offset printed pages for my forthcoming book, WTC. These are the so-called F&Gs (folded and gathered) straight off the press and air freighted from Hong Kong to New York for approval.

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WTC folded and gathered pages — © Brian Rose

The quality of the printing is stunning, and I am expecting to receive a small number of bound books in the next couple of weeks. The rest of the books will be shipped by boat and should arrive by the end of August, in time for the book launch on September 8th. More information on that soon.

New York/Finish Line

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Today is the last day of my Kickstarter campaign, and  the big news (at least for me) is that I have decided to print 2,000 copies of WTC instead of the 1,000 originally planned. Time and Space on the Lower East Side is sold out, and Metamorphosis is down to the last 200 copies. So, it made sense to print more this time. There are serious financial reasons for and against bumping the print run up to 2,000 — it costs more upfront, but gives me a much lower per unit cost. And the larger number of books require more storage space.

Everything is happening fast, and yesterday, the final proofs came in from the printer for approval. Above is the cover — front, back, and spine — and in the upper right are thread samples for the sewn binding. The letters WTC are reflective silver.

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Most of the pages were already approved several weeks ago, but several needed to be tweaked for color or density. The image above is a particularly difficult one because it is a back-lit scene, almost monochromatic, and any change shows in the neutral tones. The print at the top right is my reference C print, and the other two are proofs from the printer.

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Each of my books in this series — a New York trilogy — come in either the trade edition or limited edition. The limited book comes with an 8×10 inch print tipped in on the inside of the back cover, and it is housed in a slipcover box. For WTC I chose a dark grey linen slipcover with reflective silver lettering. The three books in their slipcovers can be seen above. The magenta one is Time and Space on the Lower East Side, and the middle one in a Kraft paper slipcover is Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013.


The slipcover for WTC is really beautiful.

We are on target for a September 8th release of WTC. There will be more information about it later, but the plan is a slide talk and book signing in New York at Cooper Union in the Great Hall.

Don’t forget my Kickstarter campaign — last day!!

New York/April 9

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Brian Rose in 1980 on the Lower East Side — Photo by Edward Fausty

A little indulgence on my birthday — a photograph of myself made in 1980 while doing the Lower East Side project with Edward Fausty. We were out shooting with the 4×5 view camera, and Ed took this picture. I was 25 years old. Looking very determined and focused.

WTC, my book about the World Trade Center, is now complete. It starts with pictures made when I was 22, and comes all the way up to the present. All the pieces are in place, the last being a wonderful essay written by Sean Corcoran, the photo curator of the Museum of the City of New York. I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign on April 17, which will then run about a month. Stay tuned.

Sean writes about the way in which the book came together:

Looking through his archive recently, he realized he had created something very profound and personal that he needed to assemble and share. Serving as a form of personal catharsis, Rose’s words and pictures reflect on the nature of tragedy, remembrance and resilience. He never obtained special access to photograph from particular vantage points, but rather he stood amongst New Yorkers and captured views from the sidewalks they tread every day.

New York/WTC

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Proposed cover of WTC with silver/blue foil lettering — © Brian Rose

An update on my forthcoming book WTC, the completion of my New York trilogy:

This has been the most difficult book I’ve worked on. Spanning five decades, different bodies of work, different formats — 4×5 film, 35mm slides, digital. It a slice of history, both personal and public. And while the book pivots on September 11th, it is not a book about that event per se . It attempts, rather, to embody the nature of New York City; to locate the city in our shared  cultural consciousness. It is a story told not so much through my interactions with people, but through my perception of the city as architecture, street, and as a grand stage for human endeavor.

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Jersey City, 1977 — © Brian Rose

Text is integral to the book, and I’ve worked very hard to make it descriptive and poetic. The narrative  is essentially chronological, but it takes various twists and turns. Some may find these discursive elements confusing, but to me they are what makes the book conceptually more interesting and challenging. There is a cinematic logic to the flow of the narrative.

In a few weeks I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign, and it is critical that I raise a significant percentage of the production costs. This will be the third book working with Bill Diodato of Golden Section Publishing. As before, I’m self distributing. Let me tell you, doing this is scary as hell. But I know it will be a success. I hope you will be there to help make WTC a reality.

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Norfolk Street, 2013 — © Brian Rose

New York/On the Bowery

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The Bowery near East 4th Street, 1980 — © Brian Rose/Edward Fausty

When I moved to New York in 1977, I lived on East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue. It was a relatively stable block compared to East 3rd, which was the location of a large homeless shelter with dozens of derelict men milling about in the street much of the day. The picture above was taken between 3rd and 4th Streets on he Bowery. Why it didn’t make it in my book Time and Space on the Lower East Side I can’t explain. Things fall through the cracks.

The buildings in the photograph are still there, relatively unchanged, but the facades have been cleaned up, and just to the right, there is a shiny new apartment tower with a 7-Eleven in the storefront. Why anyone goes there I can’t imagine since there are any number of better stocked bodegas and delis nearby. I guess the Bowery is 7-Eleven’s idea of a flagship location. It was a pretty rough scene in those days, and I have no intention of romanticizing its gritty authenticity. It certainly was authentic — and they were not serving Slurpees.

It was also a time of great creativity. CBGB was in the next block with the usual gaggle of black jacketed musicians out front, and lots of artists occupied lofts in or near the Bowery, the legendary end-of-the world skid row of New York. The apocalyptic nature of the neighborhood was both a scourge and an inspiration — at least it was for me. I wrote songs about the place, and of course, I photographed it.

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Brian Rose in 1980 — © Alex Harsley
Masking tape on camera to make it look less attractive to potential muggers.

The reality, however, looking at the photograph of myself above, is that we artists and musicians were to a great extent middle and upper middle class expats from the suburbs, products of America’s finest schools — and white. I was going to Cooper Union. Free tuition notwithstanding, it was an elite place, and you didn’t stumble in by accident. A recent article in Artnet News postulates that most successful artists come from relatively privileged backgrounds, and certainly, from my perspective, that is absolutely true. The starving artist is largely a myth, though no doubt there are easier and more reliable ways to make a living. And the other reality is that most artists are not doing fine art, either by necessity or by choice. They are in media, design, illustration, branding, advertising, commercial photography and film, etc. New York is full of these jobs — more now than ever.

Going back to the Bowery and the Lower East Side of the 70s and 80s — art was not so much born out of the decay and poverty of the neighborhood, as it was the place we chose to make art, to reinvent ourselves, to run away from mom and dad, and for many, to waste time. It was cool, and a little dangerous. It helped that it was cheap — my parents had basically cut me off financially — and I often got by on pizza slices and falafel. When I graduated from Cooper, debt free, I began photographing the Lower East Side. But 4×5 film was bloody expensive, and I struggled to complete the project. One day, however, a check arrived in the mail — for $9,000 — which (looking it up) would be worth over $27,000 in today’s dollars. A relative had died and left me the money. It saved the day, and made the LES project a success. There was also a grant from New York State, and the Seagram Corporation bought a dozen prints for what would eventually become the collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The print sale happened because of a connection made at Cooper Union.

There’s nothing wrong with sudden windfalls or connections made in school, but let’s put aside the idea that artists are impoverished denizens of rotting neighborhoods. That’s not to say that gentrification has no impact on artists who need workspace to paint or create installations. It does. The truth is, however, that artists are entrepreneurs who calculate profits and expenses like everyone else — who network and negotiate — who create works that are often very expensive to produce. It helps to start with some money, and success breeds more success, fairly or not.

Do I still believe that art can express the highest aspirations of humanity? The deepest emotions? Can it still address the social and political issues of the day? Yes. That’s why I started, and why I’m still doing it.

But now, on to my next Kickstarter campaign.

New York/Metamorphosis

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Framed prints from Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

I heard a few days ago from someone in Italy who bought a set of my prints — a selection of images from Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013. I don’t normally sell small prints, although there is an 8×10 included with the limited edition of the book. After all, my last show had 4×5 foot prints, which were pretty impressive. But I went along with the request and sold 18 small prints figuring they’d end up in a portfolio box.

Well, they’ve ended up on the wall, each separately framed, to form a grid of about 3×4 feet. I think it looks spectacular! Anyone else want something like this? Get in touch.

And just a reminder. Metamorphosis remains on sale for $50 on my website.

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Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

New York/Metamorphosis

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Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

It has been 16 months since my book Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013 was published, and there are now about 250 books left of the print run of a thousand. Based on my experience with Time and Space on the Lower East Side, I expect it to sell out by the two year mark. I am now working on a third New York themed book, WTC, which will be a visual chronicle of the World Trade Center from 1977 to the present. Doing these books has become an important component of my career, and it has greatly extended my reach as a photographer. The books haven’t made me rich, but I have not lost money on them, which is saying something, considering how much established publishers have pulled back from fine art photography books.

I am doing a book event next week sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation at the Hudson Library located on Leroy Street. I will be there with a number of other photographers and authors to present and sell our books, all of which have something to do with Greenwich Village. It would be great to see you there!

Register for the event here.

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From the GVSHP website:

A Book Fair with authors and their books about the Village

Tuesday, November 17
6:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Free; reservations required
Hudson Park Library, 66 Leroy Street, between 7th Avenue South and Hudson Street
[This venue is NOT wheelchair accessible.]

Together in one room, we are happy to assemble a collection of diverse books about the history, architecture, people, and culture of the Greenwich Village area, so you can get a head start on your holiday shopping. Or you may want to buy them all for yourself!

Authors Robert Herman (The New Yorkers), Lynn Robin and Francis Morrone (Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes), James & Karla Murray (STORE FRONT and NEW YORK NIGHTS), Janko Puls (Point of View New York City), Brian Rose (Metamorphosis), Ellen Shumsky (Decade of Progress 1968-1978), and Robin Shulman (Eat the City) will be on hand to sign copies of the books you purchase. What great gifts these will make, and all in one room!

Register for the event here.

New York/Photo-Eye Review

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Photo-Eye Review of Metamorphosis

It is hard to get real reviews of photo books or exhibitions. Most articles tend to be a rephrasing of press materials. And I’ve done lots of interviews for blogs and websites. I’m grateful for all of it, of course, but an actual critique — a thoughtfully considered assessment of one’s work — is particularly appreciated when it happens. So, I’m especially happy to receive such a review from Photo-Eye, the online photography book clearinghouse and shop.

Here are the closing lines of the review:

Meatpacking District joins those contemporary re-photography projects that share a calculated return to prior subject matter, to reexamine, reframe or tap into the power of comparison. Unlike some re-photography that addresses socio-political concerns, Rose assumes a rather neutral position in his written statement on the Meatpacking District’s metamorphosis; acknowledging both loss and renewal. Much re-photography is also tied to nostalgia. While Rose has no personal ties to the Meatpacking District per se, his return to New York after years abroad, and revisiting of past work and prior haunts, pushes back against his stated neutrality.

Color plays a striking role in the conceptual tone of this work. A gray winter’s day creates a past-tense palette in the 1985 work, whereas the temperate brightness of the 2013 helps to push us forward in time. The latter images defy a perceived patina of age, teetering on the line between vibrant and garish, new and unseasoned. The re-photography premise doesn’t always hold up individual images of varying strength and interest here, yet collectively these photographs offer much food for thought. The notion of absence informs a tour through this place’s industrial past
and adoption by a marginalized culture, thriving, yet hidden, then routed out and dying off, and its eventual rebirth as a sanitized, spotlight destination of see and be seen.

—KAREN JENKINS

Read the whole review here.

New York/The High Line

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Metamorphosis is on sale at the Friends of the High Line shop, both online and at their outdoor kiosk. Today, I did a quick box count of my inventory, and determined that I have 475 books left out of 1,000 printed. Over 50% sold since the book was released at the beginning of June.

 

 

New York/No Such Thing As Was

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An interview in Joe Bonomo’s blog No Such Thing As Was.

I want to engage and provoke, but not preach. I want people to overlay their own mental maps of the city onto mine, and in the process look at things differently, see things freshly, re-examine their relationship to the familiar. The story in these pictures is yours as much as it is mine.

 

 

New York/Chelsea Art Walk

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I will be at Dillon Gallery for the Chelsea Art Walk from 5 – 8pm this evening, July 24. My new book, Metamorphosis, will be available for purchase and signing. If you missed the opening a week ago, It’s your second chance. Hope to see you there.

http://artwalkchelsea.com

Dillon Gallery
555 West 25th Street
(between 10th and 11th Avenues)

 

New York/Out with the Old, In with the New

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It has been two years and one month since I released Time and Space on the Lower East Side. The trade edition of the book is now “sold out.” Approximately 1,000 copies sold. There are still a few books floating around in stores, and I know that my gallery still has some. Anyone who wants a copy should contact me directly, and I will see what I can do to find one for you.

The limited edition is still available. It comes in a slipcover with an 8×10 print inside. $250. The limited edition can be ordered here.

After a couple of years of promoting Time and Space, it’s sad to see it go. At the same time, however, my new book Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013 is now available. The books arrived last week, and I am now busy sending them out to Kickstarter backers and those who pre-ordered. Metamorphosis can be order here.

The two books together make a great set, and in another couple of years, I hope to come out with a third — WTC — photographs of the World Trade Center from 1978 to the present.

Last week’s opening at Dillon Gallery was a success despite rainy weather. The exhibit of my Meatpacking District photographs will be up through August 15. Don’t miss the chance to see these stunning 4×5 foot prints.