I am a graphic designer, photographer, and book collector. Fotografia Publica is an assemblage of pages that drives all three of my passions. The typography is sophisticated insofar as it is lively without upstaging the contents. The photographs are presented on the public stage of literature for the masses. Such a presentation underscores the vitality of camerawork that baffels even its practitioners. How can something so commonplace be so compelling. This catalog captures a spirit that fades (no, bleaches paler than white) in light of our contemporary reliance of stock photography to fill the bill. Here was an age where photography was a language and not a downloadable, royalty-free commodity. As the director of MNCARS, José Guirao Cabrera, states in the foreword: "A 20th-century art museum has the duty to examine one of the few occasions in which high culture has used the channels of low culture while maintaining (and even surpassing) the highest levels of quality."
My third passion, books, richochets and caroms in a mirror-world of simultaneous presentation of images of images in books. To turn the pages is to hold these photomontages in your hands, unsliced by the four edges of clean-to-the-edges historical approach. Here are pictures of books, shadows and all. Not just a transcript of what was said, but noise in the background. The crowds cheering. This catalog does not excerpt, but seems to pull up mass-culture's phenomenal treasures roots and all. The paper of the catalog becomes soil for these roots. The book is printed on an uncoated stock that invokes page turning and texture and the quiet light that must have layered the originals in a friable texture of utility and startling imagination. Turn the pages; turn the soil. Buy this book.
Peter W. Johnson