Paris. Photographs by Kishin Shinoyama. Tokyo, 1977. Unpaged. Folio. First edition. Hardbound in faux leather with gilt titles and matching slipcase. Numerous full-page color reproductions. Laid in is a double gate-fold booklet with a map that shows areas of photographs as well as thumbnail reproductions of all images with English captions.
Not unlike Ihei Kimura's Pari, published in 1974, Shinoyama's Paris is an updated versions of Atget's Paris seen through the eyes of Japanese expats. Like Atget and Kimura, his focus is also on the topography of the quartiers that survived the construction of the boulevards in the 1850s & 1860s. But in Shinoyama's Paris, surfaces are depicted with the sort of ravishing color and exquisite detail that the photographic technology of Atget's day could not even begin to capture. It's a palette of earth browns and sooty blacks, with only the most judicious use of saturated tones. With a few exceptions, though, the twentieth century barely seems to intrude on these images.
What makes Shinoyam's achievement all the more impressive is that in the mid-seventies, when he worked on this and his three other major color books of the period--Sadistic Play of Bondage, Meaning of the House and Hareta Hi (A Fine Day)--the "Fine Art Photography" establishment still did not take color very seriously. William Eggleston's Guide, based on the landmark exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, appeared only in 1976.
What Parr & Badger write of Ihei Kimura's Pari, also holds very much true of Shinoyama's book, which Shinoyama must have seen:
[It is a] view of the city...which teeters between conventional travel photography and something much more original...What he [Kimura, but also Shinoyama] appear[s] to have discovered is a residue of Atget's Paris, at a time when the work of the French photographer was much less known to the photographic world than it is now..."
Shinoyama went on to become renowned for his stylized nude photos--which, unfortunately, over time, became increasingly predictable and formulaic.
Fine in Near Fine- slipcase; light abrasion at extremities with repair to lower joint.