23 April 2007

Bruce Weber. Bear Pond, 1990.

Bruce Weber. BEAR POND. Bulfinch Press/Little Brown, NY 1990.  ISBN: 082121831X

Current Selling Prices
$350-$750 / £200-£400

Landmark collection of black-and-white photographs from the skull capped maestro of the gay, the fashionable and the rippling muscle. In the line of Horst, Hoyningen Huene and the ineffable George Platt Lynes. Weber did a lot of memorable advertising for Calvin Klein and pretty much established the new brattish image of the old firm of Abercrombie and Fitch.

Sometimes considered 'a late-modern erotic photography classic' especially by dealers trying to sell it. Published as a hardcover original only, with poem by Reynolds Price. It deals with the beauty of nature, dogs, and the masculine form, his three big interests. The place was the Adirondacks, the dogs Golden Retrievers and the guys buffed models from mondo fashionista. To quote a dealers catalogue:
'The underlying "message" of the work is Man's perfect harmony with Nature, which was prompted by a particularly crucial moment in American history: When the book first appeared, Bruce Weber's intention was to provide whatever solace and comfort an artist/photographer can give in the face of the devastation of AIDS. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book were donated to the AIDS Resource Center in New York City. It seems unlikely that even he could have imagined that "Bear Pond" would become an instant classic ... At their very best, the images in "Bear Pond", almost all of them full-frontal male nudes, have not been surpassed, not even by the photographer himself.'
Weber's work is completely ignored by Parr in his essential, but earnest 2 vol 'The Photobook' -- Parr tends to eschew the fashion guys, the gays and the swinging London crowd--there is no Bailey, Beard, Beaton, Horst, Hoyningen Huene or Platt Lynes. What's that all about? Weber's 1986 'O Rio de Janeiro' makes it into Roth's 101 books. 'Rio' which has girls as well + a lot of Jiu Jitsu can be had in fine/fine for a little less than $1000.

VALUE? Quite hard to find a really nice copy with d/w but not at all scarce at present, some asking over $1000 but findable at a great deal less. A signed copy was seen at $2500, seems to have vanished, unlikely to have sold, another signed tops the list of 25 firsts on ABE at $1680. Pretty nice firsts in jacket can be had for about $600. Second editions (which they often are) seem to go for around $400. [ W/Q ** ]

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