Moï Ver’s book Paris is iconic in the history of photobooks.
During 1927 Moï Ver (born Moses Vorobeichic, changed later to Moshé Raviv-Vorobeichic) studied at the German Bauhaus in Dessau, under such luminaries as Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. Following his time at Dessau Moï Ver had a remarkably productive period. Paris 80 photographies de Moï Ver was published by Editions Jeanne Walter and Ein Ghetto im Osten – Wilna / The Ghetto lane in Wilna was published by Swiss publishing house Orell Füssli, both in 1931. A third book was originally also planned for publication in 1931, but this volume, Ci-conte 110 photos de Moï Ver was published posthumously in 2004.
His visionary style of imagery and avant-garde layouts have inspired many photographers and art directors since. Paris 80 photographies de Moï Ver contains collages and double exposures which are not known to exist as actual photographic prints. It is as if the photographer purposefully chose the book as the ultimate form of photographic expression. Arguably Paris established the photobook as an independent medium and art form.
At a time when pictorialism had reached its zenith in photography Moï Ver’s vision was the response of the younger generation – an antithetical unromantic crossover between painting and photography. Surrealist and Bauhaus influences are visible, as well as the work of artists such as Man Ray or Hannah Höch. Fritz Lang’s monumental movie Metropolis or Walther Ruttmann’s movie Berlin – Die Synfonie der Grosstadt both premiered in 1927. Moï Ver would certainly have seen both of these films and there are obvious references in his own work. In Paris, his own metropolis is in motion, buzzing with kinetic, practically radium-induced, energy.
His choice for the cover design of this book echoes that of E.O. Hoppé’s book Deutsche Arbeit published the previous year, yet Moï Ver takes it one step further.
More than eighty years after its publication, this book still appears relevant, radical and modern.
Visual parallels and references can be found from the work of Swiss photographer and graphic designer Herbert Matter to the Japanese Provoke group’s approach in the early 1970s, and even to the lifestyle and fashion publications of 1980s and 1990s.
Mostly described incorrectly as having 78 or 80 pages, the book has in fact 90 pages, not including the end-papers. My copy has layers of translucent tissue paper between each page. These sheets of tissue were originally bound with the book, although some become loose over time.
2 pages Introduction by Ferdinand Léger (Moï Ver’s professor of drawing at the Académie Moderne in Paris).
Paris, 80 photographies de Moï Ver
was published on the 2nd of January 1931 by Editions Jeanne Walter in an edition of 1000 numbered copies.
A wonderful facsimile edition was published in 2002 by Edition 7L also in an edition of 1000 copies. (Shown below)
Soft cover with dust jacket (Plus glassine dust jacket and printed numbering ticket)
App. 22.3 x 29.7cm
Arts et métiers graphiques n°22 March 1931
A sample page of the PARIS book was published in issue n°22 of the French magazine Arts et métiers graphiques in March 1931. Images are printed on one side only.
The sheet is of heavy paper stock and slightly smaller than the magazine format.
From the magazine:
CI-CONTRE: Page spécimen de Paris, 80 photographies
de Moï Ver, Introduction de Fernand Léger, Editions
Jeanne Walter, 26, rue Geoffroy-l’Asnier Paris IVe.
OPPOSITE: Sample page from Paris, 80 photographies by Moï Ver
Introduction by Fernand Léger
Editions Jeanne Walter, 26 rue Geoffroy-l’Asnier Paris.
Arts et métiers graphiques n°23 May 1931
A wonderfully designed full page advertisement was published in issue n°23 of the French magazine Arts et métiers graphiques in May 1931.
Moï Ver, Paris 80 photographies de Moï Ver, 2002
Facsimile edition published 2002 by Edition 7L in an edition of 1000 copies.
7L website: www.librairie7l.com