Paris Photo: Alec Soth

Undoubtedly one of the greatest hits of this year’s Paris Photo was Alec Soth‘s “The Last Days of W“, shown on the Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis stand. You can see the work, which was originally published in the October 2008 issue of Modern Painters, on Soth’s own site,  and read an introduction by Soth on their Artinfo site.

In the introduction, he quotes several Bushisms, and ends by saying that in this collection ‘I suppose I’m not really trying to accomplish much at all. Rather, as President Bush himself once said, “One of the great things about books is, sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.”’

And there are a few such here, although on the printed page or screen some lack the impact of the works in the flesh. About half the prints in the work were on show in Paris and several in particular on show caught my attention.

One of the finest landscape images on show in Paris is his view of Salt Lake, Utah, the rectangle split into two, salt below, pale blue sky above, by the thin line of a road coming from the right two thirds of the way across the frame, on it a lorry and a few smaller dots – but you need to see the actual print to appreciate it. Following it is another splendid image of a group of cadets at West Point, then a great image of a table tennis table and a mural at First Baptist Church, Bemidji, Minnesota.

Another favourite image on show in Paris that also includes a mural was of Michael and Dominique from Dearborn, Michigan, a black couple in their wedding whites (including a white top hat for Michael) seated behind a long table with a lilac fabric front on a rather battered stage; behind them a backdrop of the Nile, pyramids and moon.

“The Last Days of W”, a 48 page self-published artist book printed on newsprint, is still available from Little Brown Mushroom Books or Magnum at $17.00 (plus shipping), though I expect it will soon sell out.

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