Bart Sorgedrager: Factory Photo-Books

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Behind the scenes of “industrial publishing”: how factories used photo books to market themselves to potential clients

Massive industrial halls, dirty overalls, spinning gears and smoking chimneys: Factory Photo-Books: The Self-Representation of the Factory in Photographic Publications is the definitive overview of an extraordinary genre spanning from 1890 to 1987. From the invention of the medium, businesses recognized the power of photography as a marketing tool. Companies commissioned photobooks in order to showcase their quality, innovativeness and progressiveness. The books went out into the world as promotional gifts for clients, investors, local public figures and employees. Meanwhile, factories themselves created promotional photobooks to extol their own production value and recruit new business. These gigantic centers for production employed designers, printers and photographers at the top of their field, including Margaret Bourke-White, Piet Zwart, Bruno Munari, Alvin Langdon Coburn, André Kertész, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Jacob Tuggener, Robert Doisneau, Paul Schuitema, Jurriaan Schrofer and Eugenio Carmi. The ambition to portray the firms in unique ways often led to amazing experiments with book forms, photography and graphic design.

Factory Photo-Books covers iconic publications such as Vuur aan zee, with photography by Ed van der Elsken, Paul Huf, Ata Kandó and Cas Oorthuys, as well as surprising hidden gems that prove there is still much to be studied about this genre. Acquaint yourself with a new perspective on the history of the photobook through this selection of more than 175 publications from 16 different countries, brought together by photographer and collector Bart Sorgedrager.

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