Saturday, February 9, 2013

Aim, mission and background of Phaidon

Phaidon is among the world’s premier publishers of books on the visual arts. Founded in Vienna, Austria, in 1923 by Dr Bela Horowiz and Ludwig Goldscheider with the objective of delivering insightful books at affordable prices, it has stayed tuned to the changing media culture by running a webzine and providing new content online.

Its website states: “At heart, we believe knowledge of the creative visual arts, in all their forms, confers real and worthwhile social prestige. We aim to make the creative act more exciting and understandable by all.” It has released a string of titles with some of the most renowned artists, architects, designers and photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, to offer an in-depth idea of the way these creative visionaries engage with the world around them – irrespective of the medium they work in.

Phaidon has enjoyed long-standing relationships with internationally renowned names like Ai Weiwei, Elliott Erwitt, René Burri, Nan Goldin, Ferran Adria, Stephen Shore, John Pawson, Steve McCurry and The Bouroullec Brothers among others. One of its most noteworthy publications, ‘The Art Book’, presents an entirely new way and angle of looking at, understanding and analyzing art.

It simultaneously looks to debunk art-historical classifications by giving apt examples from different time periods, visions, techniques and schools. Well, here one can see Carracci alongside Cartier-Bresson, Duchamp beside Duccio. It lets Monet be considered with Mondrian, or Waterhouse contrasted with Warhol. Each artist is represented through a catchy illustration of an exemplary artwork, along with an explanatory text on it and its creator. The entries are cross-referenced. Glossaries of different artistic movements as well as technical terms can be referred along with a directory of international galleries and museums.

Phaidon (named essentially after a Greek philosopher, and Apollo, the Greek god.) was recently acquired by Leon Black, the billionaire financier and one of the UK’s established art collectors. He bought it over from a British businessman, Richard Schlagman. In a statement released, Mr. Black stated that he and his family ‘are looking forward to supporting the growth of the company, including the development of its publishing program, geographic expansion, and the launch of cutting-edge digital products.’

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