“Many of Brassaï’s most famous images of Parisian night life’s seamier side were published in Voluptés de Paris, a 1934 book the photographer usually excludes from his bibliography because of a disagreement with its publisher over its title and content...” -Roth 101.
FIRST EDITION, THE PRESUMED FIRST ISSUE, COMPLETE WITH THE EIGHT SUPPRESSED PLATES AND ORIGINAL SPIRAL BINDING.
“Brassaï’s early photographs concentrated on the nighttime world of Montparnasse, a district of Paris then noted for its artists, streetwalkers, and petty criminals. His pictures were published in a successful book, Paris de nuit (1933), which caused a stir because of its sometimes scandalous subject matter. His next book, Voluptés de Paris, made him internationally famous” (Britannica).
“Paris by Night was no sooner off the press than Brassaï sold the remaining photographs to the popular magazine Voilà and began another phase of his exploration of the city. In December, 1933, he wrote his parents that he was taking the final photographs for his ‘Paris intime,’ Pierre Mac Orlan had agreed to write the preface, and publication was scheduled for March.
“By October, 1935, it was clear that the book had stalled at the publishers. Although Brassaï had received an advance, the publisher claimed he was financially unable to bring the book out. When the book finally did emerge from the printer it was entitled Voluptés de Paris, and there was no introduction by Mac Orlan. The unsigned preface mimicked a carnival barker’s spiel, touting the city to the potential reader like a lewd sideshow attraction: ‘Paris the paradise of desire, the capital of Adventure... Paris where you can find your every fantasy in reality...’. Available by mail order, the book would be sent in a plain wrapper...”
Brassaï was not pleased with the production and distribution of the book and soon disowned it. “However, Voluptés de Paris did not entirely escape critical notice. Peter Pollack... judged it among Brassaï’s best work, ‘an invaluable collection of Brassaï’s essential pictures’...” (Marja Warehime, Brassai: Images of Culture and the Surrealist Observer).
On the two issues: Anne Wilkes Tucker notes in her detailed book Brassaï: The Eye of Paris: “The book is very rare, and for unknown reasons two versions exist. One has thirty-eight halftones and the other has forty-six... I have yet to see a copy of the larger edition with the binding intact, so perhaps plates were removed to prevent the rings from breaking”.
This is the only copy we have seen complete with the forty-six photos and original spiral rings.
Paris: Paris-Publications, 1935. Quarto, original orange wrappers, original spiral binding; custom box. One leaf neatly detached; neat stars drawn on two leaves (not affecting images). A spectacular copy. RARE.
Price: $9,500 .