Sacré Atavism. Photographs by Kikuji Kawada. Text by Tasso Shibusawa. Shashin Hyoron, Tokyo, 1971. 248 pp. + list of plates. Large squarish quarto. Limited to 1000 copies. SIGNED in Kanji on colophon page. Clothbound with printed spine label. No jacket as issued. Photo-illustrated paper over board slipcase (shown in illustration). Numerous full-page gravure reproductions. Publisher's card laid in.
A sleeper in the Japanese photobook canon! Kikuji Kawada is best known for Chizu (The Map), a book that is, unequivocally, one of the most important photobooks ever published. He came to the attention of Ken Domon and Ihei Kimura when he submitted a photo to a contest. He was a founder the Vivo group, along with Eikoh Hosoe, Ikko Narahara, Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tomatsu, and others. Most of Sacré Atavism takes architectural sculpture as its subject. It is divided into six chapters: "parco dei mostri;" "grotesque garden;" "the fantastic castle;" "microcosmos;" "the hell" and "wax man in town." All explore notions of the grotesque. Full of vertiginous compositions and grainy, high contrast tonality, these moody and atmospheric images render even familiar scenes intensely strange. The subject matter includes Bomarzo's Garden of Horrors, the Tiger Balm Garden in Hong Kong, the castle of Ludwig II in Bavaria (also the subject of his book Cosmos of the Dream King); the Boboli Gardens in Florence, scenes of heaven and hell from Gothic and Romanesque churches and a wax museum in New York. Kawada has cited the Art Brut of Jean Dubuffet as an influence. "I seek for the analogical power and the enlargement of consciousness in photography," he once said. "I seek for the analogical power and the enlargement of consciousness in photography," Kawada has said.
Indeed, this astounding book borders on the psychedelic! As Parr and Badger said of The Map, Kawada's photographs are a masterly amalgam of abstraction and realism, of the specific and the ineffable, woven into a tapestry that makes the act of reading them a process of re-creation in itself. In the central metaphor of the map, in the idea of the map as a series of interlocking trace marks, Kawada has conjured a brilliant simile for the photograph itself: scientific record, memory trace, cultural repository, puzzle and guide."--additional reference Anne Tucker, et. al., The History of Japanese Photography.
Fine in about Near Fine slipcase; slight smudge to spine label; light wear and abrasion at extremities; small tear lower edge of rear panel.