The woody and musty scent, the grainy texture of almost weightless material between your fingers, the nostalgia of fading photographs – these are some of the pleasures of flipping through an out-of-print book like Raf Simons’ Isolated Heroes or the first ever issue of Arena Homme + magazine.
In today’s transient digital age where Tumblr images and newsfeeds are consumed voraciously, the new (and young) has been fetishized, while old and rare publications provide a hidden library of reference that can’t be accessed through a simple Google search. Specialist bookstores like Claire de Rouen Books in London’s Soho are treasure chests of literary jewels, so cherished they are in fact that members of the creative circle, including fashion designers and photographers like Giles Deacon and Bruce Weber, are often in competition with each other for that “superbook” or in line for an appointment to peruse their extensive archive.
Lucy Kumara Moore who is trained as an artist at Chelsea College of Art and Design as well as the Royal College of Art, took over the directorship of the store after its founding owner Claire de Rouen passed away in 2012. In the past, Moore has curated the books and magazines selection at Opening Ceremony in London, and founded Room&Book: a three-day art book fair hosted by Institute of Contemporary Art in London. Here, she proudly picks out and photographs her most prized publications on her bookshelf with her trusty iPhone.
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again, Japanese Edition
I’m working on a publishing project at the moment, for which this Warhol book is a reference. Not only do I love the text itself (which I’ve read in English, not Japanese!), but there is also something perfect about Warhol being translated into Japanese. Japanese culture became heavily imbued with American influence after WW2, and Japan is still the ultimate pop city.
Bill Henson 1985
Newly established London publisher, STANLEY/BARKER published this late last year, and I launched it at Claire de Rouen. Henson is an incredible Australian photographer, and although he has a strong following in the world of cinematography and fashion, he’s still quite niche. The work in 1985 was shot around the mid 80s in Melbourne and Egypt. Henson’s interest was in rescuing suburban life from banality by tinting it with a sense of mystery and imaginative potential through broody lighting and a link with the ancient world. 1985 is one of my absolute favourite photo books.
Tableax et Dessins Anciens Et Du XIX Siècle, Collection Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
This is the catalogue of drawings and paintings that was auctioned by Christies when Pierre Bergé decided to sell the collection he had amassed with his partner Yves Saint Laurent. I remember watching the film about this sale, L’Amour Fou, and being swept up in the emotion of the event, and in the story of the life of Saint Laurent. Not only does this catalogue show us the things which Saint Laurent and Berge chose to buy for the heady, baroque world they constructed in their homes, but it also shows us what kind of company things kept – a painting by Théodore Géricault hangs out with stools by Ettore Sottsass, for example. An homage to the total interior!
POP Issue 30, Collector’s Edition Carolee Schneemann
I couldn’t resist putting this in because I was so proud of it when it came out – a cover of POP made exclusively for Claire de Rouen. As always, this issue is full of work by people I love – an insert by Collier Schorr, a cheeky shoot by Tyrone Lebon and an editorial by Mark Borthwick, who never fails to soothe my eyes.
Words by Aravin Sandran
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