Prestel Editions present this true coffee table book, a mere 1.36kg on the scale, a heavy-weight bot in terms of contents and container. Printed on thick paper and wrapped in linen, built to last, this is one piece every photography connoisseur must have.

New York Sleeps Cover

The 77 images present the viewer with an empty city. New York City is probably one of the most crowded place on Earth, yet German photographer Christopher Thomas present it to us completely emptied of its inhabitants. It then emerges a post-apocalyptic feeling blending with the timeless and nostalgic touch of black and white photography.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2009

I share the views of The PhotoBook blog, on the December ’09 entry, dedicated to the book, and from which excerpt is taken:

Because of New York’s long history related to photography and art, it is in of itself a potential cliché and a daunting urban landscape subject. To look at New York anew, Thomas choose to work in black and white, specifically using the Polaroid type 55 positive/negative film with a medium-size view camera, with extended exposure durations. He chooses to photography during the late evening and early morning hours, completing this project over a couple of years. His photographs are subsequently organized thematically; the city, bridges, riverside piers, parks, and the neighborhoods.

Brooklyn Bridge III, 2008

The book is divided in 5 chapters, seemingly targeted to a different audience:

  1. Manhattan, for the New York-conscious reader
  2. Bridges, for the commuter
  3. Piers & ports, for the nostalgic sailor and post WW2 immigrants
  4. Public parks, for the real New Yorker (and the family guy)
  5. The neighborhoods, for those who know that Manhattan is not New York
Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge, 2001

Finally, the foreword – by the editors – gives us an insight on how the project started and turned into what is in the book, and also some backstage tips:

When we unsuspectingly removed these photographs from a drawer—seven views, all taken in 2001 (before September 11), softly sketched as a result of long exposure times, printed on deckle-edge paper with the streaky border of a Polaroid—we urged the photographer to return to New York, where he had lived now and again over an extended period, in order to continue the series. […]

With his clear idea of shooting techniques, composition, light, formats, and his dispensing with color, the exquisite printing in rich, subtle tonality, and the form of the images’ presentation—handmade paper, passe-partout, frame—Christopher Thomas picks up on classical traditions. […] His photographs seem classical, from another time.

Grand Central Terminal II

Grand Central Terminal II, 2001

About photographer Christopher Thomas

Born in Munich in 1961, Thomas has received many international awards for commercial photography. He has worked for magazines such as Geo, Stern, Merian, and the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin and produced numerous photo essays. He became known as an artist for his “Münchner Elegien” (Munich Elegies), exhibited in 2006 at the Fotomuseum München (with a publication by Schirmer/Mosel, Munich, 2006). “New York Sleeps” is to be shown in fall 2009 at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York. Christopher Thomas lives and works in Munich.

Further to the above ‘official’ biography printed in the book (right under a very good picture of Christopher himself), the general public may know Christopher Thomas’ works on the Mercedes advertisements and some impressive portraits, notably of Boris Becker or Alanis Morissette.

Flatiron Building, 2001

Flatiron Building, 2001

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