The Great Hall of the People. The People's Fine Art Publishing House, 1959. Title page + 20 unbound photographs dry-mounted on loose mat board. 22 x 15 7/8 in. (56 x 40.5 cm) Housed in faux-leather box folio with gilt title.
Aperture set to release a history of Chinese photobooks in the spring of 2014. Among the participating editors is Ruben Lundgre, who wrote this article on The Great Hall of the People in the inaugural issue of the The Photobook Review.
These twenty wide-angle photographs depict both interior and exterior of the newly constructed Great Hall of the People, a massive structure that upon its completion became the seat of the Chinese government.
Like Albert Speer in Nazi Germany, Chinese architects knew full well the potential of architecture to advance the power of the state. Though they blended in certain indigenous elements, The Great Hall of the People and the other Ten Great Buildings constructed to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the People's Republic, display a Modernist severity, with stark facades of columns, pilasters, and clean lines on a massive scale.
Certainly if architecture and power could go hand in hand, architectural photography would be allied in the cause. The orderly lines and shimmering geometry of the images project a sense of overwhelming grandeur, a dominance of space that is every bit as complete as the party's control of the political life of the state.
A few scuffs and areas of light abrasion to extremities of case with slight bumps to corners; a few photos show some rippling in the area where they are mounted to mat board.