It’s hard to trust that it may be 10 years because the Taschen art book house set the joy of book publishing on its ear while using publication from the world’s largest mass production book, `Sumo’ by Helmut Newton. The 66 pound, 20 by 27.5 inch book was originally issued being a signed, special edition volume full of its own chrome viewing stand made by modern artist Philippe Starck.
Now, upon the 10th anniversary of it’s publication, comes `Sumo’ the coffee table sized edition for people who either couldn’t pay for the $10,000 first edition and who (like us) the huge original was only too unwieldy to regulate for simplicity of viewing. Either way, `Sumo’ is back also it exists to showcase and celebrate what exactly is undoubtedly one on the world’s premiere photographers and his awesome most famous sexy, edgy, (largely) monochrome work.
Newton, who died in the vehicle accident outside Hollywood’s legendary Chateau Marmont hotel right after the book’s original publication, was beyond compare in the event it came to his stark and somewhat controversial portraits with the world’s famous and rich as well as many with the world’s top models and in some cases downright ordinary people. `Sumo’ captures every one of Newton’s most popular photographs including subjects like Princess Caroline, Brigitte Neilsen, Salvador Dali, Iman, David Bowie (separately), David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini (together) Nicholas Cage, Darryl Hannah and countless others. His oft-times German (and in some cases Nazi) influenced, S&M images of models from Hollywood to Paris remain as strikingly vibrant and leading edge as they were when originally shot. The full page and double truck layout on the photos enhance the dramatic impact both in versions too.
In preparation because of this smaller, coffee table edition, the designers (presumably June Newton) went back and reviewed each on the photo pages to determine if any improvements could possibly be made. The result certainly are a relatively small number of substitute photos (Winnie on Deck, Cannes or Romy Schneider, as an example) or alternative takes usually only a few frames in addition to the original shot selection. The main benefits and drawbacks are basically which the new version is immensely much easier to view compared to the poster size original, even though the impact in the larger format pages is sort of lost, especially within the double truck photos that are nearly bigger than life from the first edition.
Overall, the high cost is probably the great equalizer. Now, the first time, the brilliance of `Sumo’ is obtainable to the masses. After a ten year wait which can be the best news of. Either way, this really is easily one on the most impressive photo art books ever assembled. While the stand and weight increase the aura of majesty, `Sumo’ stands by itself as one on the greatest art books ever. Yes, ever.