Ballet. Photographs and design by Alexey Brodovitch. Text by Edwin Denby. J.J. Augustin, New York, 1945. 144 pp. Oblong quarto. First edition (limited to 500 copies, though allegedly far fewer were produced, and most were distributed as gifts). Plain boards with cloth spine. Printed French fold dust jacket. 104 gravure reproductions.
A vintage portrait of Brodovitch from 1935, by his one-time student and friend Mary Faulconer, is available HERE
"One of the most cinematic and dynamic photobooks ever published...Ballet, published in 1945 by J.J. Augustin in New York, has become a photobook legend for two reasons. Firstly, only a few hundred copies were printed, so the book is more talked about than actually seen. Secondly, the volume was extremely radical… Alexey Brodovitch’s pictures totally violated the accepted conventions… [creating] a vibrancy and a fluidity that perfectly captures the motion of the dance."
The photographs in Ballet were taken between 1935 and 1937, just a year after Brodovitch arrived in New York. As Vince Aletti writes in The Book of 101 Books, they "reconnected him with one of his enduring passions: the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo...Working with an extremely mobile 35mm camera, Brodovitch captured the ecstasy and essence of the dance in images that shift, dissolve, blue, darken impenetrably, or explode into light"
"The picture represents the feelings and point of view of the intelligence behind the camera. This disease of our age is boredom and a good photographer must combat it. The way to do this is by invention – by surprise. When I say a good picture has surprise value I mean that it stimulates my thinking and intrigues me. The best way to achieve surprise quality is by avoiding clichés. Imitation is the greatest danger of the young photographer.--Alexey Brodovitch, Photography, February, 1964 [cited in: Creative Camera, February 1972]
Jacket professionally restored along spine with near flawless results; clean and bright internally; tiny personal stamps on front and rear paste downs; jacket moderately worn at extremities with a small areas of abrasion and discoloration; tanning to its verso about typical.