Facies Dolorosa: Das Schmerzenreiche Antlitz (Facies Dolorosa: The Face of Pain). Text by Dr. Hans Killian. Georg Thieme Verlag, Leipzig, 1934. 88 pp. Quarto. First edition. Hardbound with gilt title and spine.
When it was published in 2004, reviews of Parr & Badger, The Photobook: A History, vol. I invariably mentioned this title more than any other. "My own personal favourite of what might be termed accidental photographic books," said Sean O'Hagan in the Guardian, "Facies Dolorosa by Dr Hans Killian is an ostensibly medical book from 1934 concerning the nature of pain and suffering as it manifested itself on the human face. The subjects are pictured lying prone in bed, shot close-up in black and white, though not with the kind of detached precision that usually attends scientific inquiry. Killian was obviously involved intimately with his subjects and their conditions, and he photographs them with a sympathy that is both moving and oddly beautiful. It is, says Parr, 'perhaps the most melancholy photographic book of all'".
"To the layman the chief characteristic of the book lies in its strangeness, its departure from the norms of clinical photographic practice....
the tension between the intimate and the stone cold makes for a haunting and memorable book--moving yet creepy, blurring the line between living and dead, between serene and demented. Whatever its value as a diagnostic tool, Facies Dolorosa certainly resonates with a disturbing and powerful beauty."
About Near Fine; light scuffing; slight abrasion at crown and lower corners; small chip at base of spine; trace of fading to backstrip; foxing to rear free-endpaper, with last plate slightly effected; lacking very scarce dust jacket.