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Nobuyoshi Araki: Self, Life, Death: Limited Edition

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Akiko Miki

The Araki Limited Edition is limited to 3,000 copies. Each copy is individually numbered and includes foil-blocked, textured pages. The Araki Limited Edition is bound in special fabric and presented in a slipcase. Nobuyoshi Araki is the most controversial … see full wiki

Author: Akiko Miki
Genre: Photography
Publisher: Phaidon Press
1 review about Nobuyoshi Araki: Self, Life, Death: Limited...

My favorite collection of Araki's work

  • Jan 7, 2010
For Westerners, Araki's work is largely available only through hefty compilation books like this--his individual projects tend to be published in very limited editions, usually not easily available outside of Japan--and thus, we are left to find the best retrospective of his long and colorful career. I've examined many of the volumes available in the USA and I own a number of them. Typically, they all do something fairly well and have a few other failings, but when I'm introducing Araki to someone, I find that I always reach for this lovely Phaidon edition.

The photographs are rendered beautifully on quality paper in largely format. At 7.5 pounds, this book is no lightweight. The binding is particularly good, which is probably one reason that I enjoy pulling it off the shelf. Sometimes publishers put together massive books like this, but the binding feels like it's going to split at any moment (here I'm thinking of Taschen's edition of Tokyo Lucky Hole).

The organization of the photographs is interesting, although I'm not entirely in love with the concept of Self, Life, and Death. His work is separated into these three themes, but despite reading the introduction carefully, I don't understand why these three concepts and not others were chosen. They seem a bit arbitrary. However, this doesn't diminish the quality of the book - it just makes it a bit more difficult to understand where the photographs fit within Araki's oeuvre.

One thing that the massive Taschen collection does particularly well is that it groups the photographs by project and chronology. That way you can see the work in its context, more easily than with the Phaidon edition. This isn't a huge deal though, because Phaidon's editors help us see new connections in Araki's work that aren't readily perceptible when viewed as more-or-less discrete projects.

Overall, this is a beautifully crafted book filled with a wonderful selection of images, each reproduced to Phaidon's usual high standards. If you were going to buy a single Araki volume, I would definitely recommend this.

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