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Helping Hands Fassbender, Adolph  (German, 1884-1980)

Pictorial Artistry is the most lavish publication of pictorial photography produced after World War I. This five-and-a-half pound volume contains 40 hand-pulled gravures, spiral bound on ample pages in an edition of 1,000 numbered copies. Fassbender produced the film positives used for making the plates, supervised the plate making, chose the ink colors and oversaw the printing. A full page of text describing the photographer’s reaction to the subject, the picture’s composition and the equipment used accompanies each photogravure. Many of the images in the book are rural scenes, atmospherically soft and morally uplifting.

Fassbender was an inveterate optimist who wished to portray only the good in life. Pictorial Artistry was initially praised for its rich photogravures, but its timing was unfortunate. In 1941, the United Stated entered World War II and anti-German sentiments (against both Fassbender and the publisher) halted distribution of the book until the end of the war. Fassbender had personally covered much of the publisher’s expenses, ultimately losing several hundred dollars. This book can be considered the among the final works of the pictorial era to be produced in photogravure. [1]


[1] Fassbender, Adolf, and Christian A. Peterson. The Pictorial Artistry of Adolf Fassbender. , 1994