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Hujar, Peter (Photographer) & Sontag, Susan (Contributor). PORTRAITS IN LIFE AND DEATH. New York City, NY: Da Capo Press, 1976. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 96 pages. Fine/Fine.

The photographer's breakthrough debut collection. One of the most beautiful art photography books of the 20th century. The First Hardcover Edition. Should not be confused with the Softcover Edition, which was published simultaneously with it. Published in a small and limited print run of a reported 50 copies only. The First Edition is now rare. An austerely elegant production by Peter Mohring: Oversize-volume format. Pale gray cloth boards with titles embossed on cover and spine, as issued. Photographs by Peter Hujar. Essay by Susan Sontag. Printed on pristine-white, thick coated stock paper in the United States to the highest standards. The reproduction quality is exemplary in every respect. In pictorial DJ with titles on the cover and spine, as issued. Presents Peter Hujar's "Portraits In Life And Death". The first and only book published in his lifetime, cut drastically short by AIDS. A perfect book, it opens with a sequence of definitive portraits of Fran Lebowitz, Susan Sontag, Divine, John Waters, William S. Burroughs, and Edwin Denby, among others, portraits of The Living taken in deliberate "death poses", as if each subject is reflecting upon his or her mortality. The collection then, cinematically, cuts to and closes with Hujar's sequence of The Dead, life-like mummies in the catacombs of Palermo, Sicily. Hujar's mummy-portraits are hauntingly "alive" in their evocation of Death, "living portraits of death" (Toni Morrison). Hujar was a Modernist whose closely intertwined themes of vitality/morbidity rejected the pervasive development of his (and our) time, Post-Modernism, which he derisively called "Looks-Like-Art". As a result, he never gained in his lifetime the fame he deserved. The purity of Hujar's portraits bewildered and frustrated the "art elite", given its postmodernist expectations: Why are they so simple and so spare? Hujar now enjoys a global cult following, with collectors forking over serious thousands of dollars for his prints, many of which Hujar had to sell for $100 apiece when he was felled by his "death sentence" illness. The dying Hujar calmly reassured Nan Goldin and Annie Leibovitz, two of his closest fellow artist/friends, that their grief was superfluous because he and his work will be recognized posthumously through these portraits of life/death's "sweet poetry and panic" (Susan Sontag). An absolute "must-have" title for Peter Hujar collectors. This title is a great art photography book. This is one of few copies of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a pristine beauty. It is the single most beautiful copy we have ever seen. Please note: Should NOT be confused with the Softcover Edition, which was published simultaneously with it, and is also scarce. Published as a hardcover original of a reported 50 copies only. Copies available online have very serious flaws, but nevertheless command a premium because the book, in any condition, is rare. This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A rare copy thus. 40 plates. One of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. . ISBN 0306800381. $2000.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on October 19, 2019.