Le culte du livre

The Photobook show inscribes itself in the wake of L’art se livre, a 2014 exhibition dedicated to art and artists’ books. In the framework of this photographic season, the museum focuses on the cult of the photography book, a phenomenon more current than ever. Since the early 1990s, the number of publishers interested in photography has not stopped growing, while digital technologies have placed editing tools directly in the hands of photographers. As much at the level of its content as of its form, the photobook is now venturing in directions that would have been inconceivable 15 or 20 years ago. As for its distribution, it has found new networks through the internet, new publishing houses, and various specialized exhibitions. For photographers – of all generations – publishing a book is like having a passport for the international scene.

Whether hand made or resulting from the latest technologies, a book is the result of decisions that do not change over time: choice of visual and textual content, cover, format, layout, paper, binding, type of printing, etc. These different elements must articulate themselves coherently. Published by large publishing houses or at the author’s own expense, printed by the thousands or in limited edition, the photography book is also a collector’s item for photographers, who are themselves assiduous buyers of photobooks. Sixteen photographers have thus agreed to reveal a few glimpses of their personal library. The exhibition, realized in collaboration with Darius Himes, International Head of the Photographs department at Christie’s, and co-author of the book « Publish your Photography Book », proposes to pay homage to the photobook.

To celebrate the cult of the photography book, MBAL brings together after Paris, New York, Madrid, Düsseldorf, and Moscow the books selected in the shortlist of the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards, a competition organized annually by Aperture and Paris Photo, two important actors of the international photography scene. 35 books, chosen by a jury of specialists out of 952 recent books from 63 countries, were divided into three categories: First Photobook, Photobook of the Year, and Photography Catalogue of the Year. The winners of all three categories are announced in the exhibition.