Levinson, Joel D. (Photographer); Stoumen, Lou & Gernsheim, Helmut (Contributors). FLEA MARKETS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOEL D. LEVINSON. Berlin, Germany: Editions Braus, 1986. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 150 pages. Fine/Fine.

Retrospective collection of photographs on subject. One of the most beautiful photography books of the 20th century. The First Hardcover Edition. Should not be confused with the Softcover Edition. Published simultaneously with the Softcover in a tiny print run (of about 25 copies) as a hardcover original. The First Edition is now rare. A brilliant production by Joel D. Levinson and Editions Braus: Oversize-volume format. Black cloth boards with metallic-silver titles on cover and spine, as issued. Photographs by Joel D. Levinson. Essays by Lou Stoumen and Helmut Gernsheim in the English original and felicitous German and French translations. Printed on pristine-white, thick coated stock paper in Berlin, Germany to the highest standards. In pictorial DJ with titles on the cover and spine, as issued. Presents, in its rare Hardcover Edition format, Joel D. Levinson's "Flea Markets". His ground-breaking sequence of photographs of California flea markets, taken in the 1970's and 1980's. "A microcosm of American society: Unique individuals from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, who all shared in an unusual atmosphere of mutual cooperation, appreciation, interest, and respect. A body of work where the relationships of people to each other and to objects 'for sale' uniquely symbolize the continual recycling of American consumer culture. Subtle yet possessing a jarring formal beauty and resolve" (Publisher's blurb). It is easy to underestimate the significance - and beauty - of Levinson's photographs. But in our age of eBay, the "live" flea market (that is, the physical, real one) has been completely taken over by "online sales", giving these wonderful images of a bygone era a sweetly nostalgic glow (even if this was never Levinson's intention in the first place). And yet, the relationships and interactions between Buyer and Seller - transactional, emotional, erotic - that happen every single day online are, in effect, the "virtual-reality" extension of the face-to-face encounters that the flea market made not just possible but indispensable: Just as the flea market enabled interactions between people who might never otherwise have met, so does eBay. Still, as this book poignantly reminds us, there is NO substitute for the face-to-face encounter. The inherently impersonal character of online transactions not only takes some getting used to, it is deeply unsettling and alienating (without us even being aware of the fact). As Robert Frank and now Levinson, among many other photographer-elegists show, photography is all about what we have irretrievably lost or are about to lose. An absolute "must-have" title for Joel D. Levinson collectors. This copy is very prominently and beautifully signed and inscribed in black ink-pen on the title page by the photographer: "For David C. Ruttenberg, With deep gratitude, Joel D. Levinson". The recipient, who died in 2003 at the age of 93, is the legendary Chicago-based financier/businessman who amassed a real estate fortune. He was also a major philanthropist and collector, who supported many young and aspiring artists (like Levinson). This title is a great photography book. As far as we know, this is the only such signed and inscribed copy of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing available online and is in fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. Please note: ALL other copies available online are the Softcover Edition. A tiny number of the Hardcover Edition was specially produced by Editions Braus, all of them now in private hands or public collections. A rare signed copy thus. 60 photographic plates. One of the most brilliant American photographers of our time. A fine collectible copy. . ISBN 3921524334. $400.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on February 27, 2017.