Conversations with Rudy Burckhardt includes an extensive interview with Simon Pettet and 22 photographs in duotone by the noted photographer, filmmaker and painter Rudy Burckhardt. The photographs, taken between 1930 and 1986, include his classic, much-admired image of the Flatiron Building, New York 1948, and photographs of rhapsodic beauty in Maine, gentle serenity in Naples, many humorous scenes (New York, Little Rock, Florence, etc.) and others. His images are all completely accessible and reflect his resolutely unpretentious style. The sprightly dialogue complements the photographs, with many discussed individually.
Rudy Burckhardt is, according to John Ashbery, “a subterranean monument.” Born in Basel, Switzerland in 1914, he came to New York City when he was 21. He soon established himself as a photographer and, in addition to his own photographic art, made a significant contribution documenting work for major galleries and art publications. His previous book, a memoir entitled Mobile Homes, was published by Z Press in1979, and photographs have been included in numerous volumes over the years, including the Complete Poems of Edwin Denby published by Random House in 1986. He died in August 1999 and is survived by his wife Yvonne Jacquette, his ex-wife Edith Schloss, his two sons Jacob and Tom Burckhardt and two grandsons.
Simon Pettet is a British poet living in New York City and is the author of several books (most recently, Hearth (Talisman, 2009)
The publication of Conversations with Rudy Burckhardt in 1987 honored the occasion of three significant events in New York City. After decades of relative obscurity, Rudy Burckhardt¹s devoted underground following was joined by many newfound admirers as a result of a major retrospective of 67 of his films at the Museum of Modern Art, and, concurrently, an exhibition of photographs at Brooke Alexander Gallery and a show of paintings at Blue Mountain Gallery.
As Phillip Lopate has remarked, “In the book, one is privileged to hear the artist¹s thoughts and doubts about living, making art, beauty, time, youth, aging, public acclaim, compositional techniques, Switzerland, parents, and the non-relationship between rapture and sorrow … The combination of beautiful, rarely-seen photographs and lively text make this an irresistible book.”