Making Strange The Modernist Photobook in France Kim Sichel

Publication date:
12 May 2020
Yale University Press
224 pages: 279 x 216mm
120 color + 20 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


A richly illustrated look at some of the most important photobooks of the 20th century

France experienced a golden age of photobook production from the late 1920s through the 1950s. Avant-garde experiments in photography, text, design, and printing, within the context of a growing modernist publishing scene, contributed to an outpouring of brilliantly designed books. Making Strange offers a detailed examination of photobook innovation in France, exploring seminal publications by Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Pierre Jahan, William Klein, and Germaine Krull. Kim Sichel argues that these books both held a mirror to their time and created an unprecedented modernist visual language. Sichel provides an engaging analysis through the lens of materiality, emphasizing the photobook as an object with which the viewer interacts haptically as well as visually. Rich in historical context and beautifully illustrated, Making Strange reasserts the role of French photobooks in the history of modern art.

Kim Sichel is associate professor of the history of photography and modern art at Boston University.

Shortlisted for the 2021 DeLong Book History Book Prize, sponsored by The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing

“Well informed and fluidly written, Making Strange is a thorough and engaging account of the production and reception of those uniquely splendid French photobooks of the years 1928 to 1958.”—Romy Golan, author of Muralnomad:The Paradox of Wall Painting, Europe 19271957

Making Strange is a critical and heavily researched investigation into pioneering photobooks. Its focus on France, rather than the usual suspects of Germany, North America, and Japan, is one of its most important contributions.”—Andrés Mario Zervigón, Rutgers University