First Book: Bill Hunt
I have been going around to photographers asking them one question: “What was the first photo book that you can remember buying or seeing that really had a strong affect on you?”
Alec was able to ask the gallerist Bill Hunt the same question. Here is Bill’s response:
The first book I remember caring about is Duane Michals “Real Dreams” (Addison House 1976). It is still magical. The sequences have a theatrical and spiritual center. I must have gone through a couple of dozen copies because I kept giving them to friends. It seemed to communicate in a way that I felt but couldn’t articulate myself.
When I met Duane I actually bent down and kissed the hem of his pants, an act that took both of us considerably by surprise. It did make an impression. He is truly a master of many things, and we have some history together.
He did a very a special holiday card to benefit Photographers + Friends Against AIDS (“Merry Christ Mouse” leaving what seemed to be a very questionable – vaguely scatological – gift near the Christmas tree). I can be a fairly emphatic and direct speaker, but was totally left in Duane’s wake at a speaking engagement with him at the Savannah College of Art and Design where he dramatically and hysterically insisted that the students take themselves and their careers seriously and not settle into any sort of complacency. Recently he came to my gallery to look at Paolo Ventura’s “Winter Stories”, and it struck me as the most powerful endorsement a contemporary artist working with fantasy could receive. Further Duane bought a piece and said it was the first photograph he had ever purchased.
I love Duane. So much of my considerable passion for photography can be traced back to “Real Dreams” and his unparalleled ability to take you into his imagination.
A further note, I think that I bought all those copies of “Real Dreams” at A Photographer’s Place, the late lamented bookstore on Mercer St. owned by Harvey Zucker. Anyone over a certain age truly cut their teeth on books in that store. You could spend hours in there browsing and buying. He and the staff were wellsprings of information about photographers and books. Also you always ran into or got introduced to people there. It was a real hangout. Amazon does not provide nearly the same experience.
And that’s the story of my first photo book.