The Plant Kingdoms of Charles Jones, by Sean Sexton and Robert Flynn Johnson / ISBN 9780500544631 / 128-page hardback, 6.75 x 9.25, published by Thames & Hudson
A stunning collection of portraits of vegetables, fruits, and flowers by a turn-of-the-twentieth-century visionary
In 1981, at Bermondsey Market in London, Sean Sexton, the Irish-born photographic collector, chanced upon the gelatin silver prints of photographer Charles Jones. Dating from the turn of the century, these beguiling studio “portraits” of tulips and sunflowers, onions and turnips, plums and pears are skillfully executed and startling in their originality. Shot as close-ups, with long exposure and spare composition, the works anticipate by decades the later achievements of modernist masters.
This volume presents Jones’s photography in sections devoted to vegetables, flowers, and fruit, with captions taken from Jones’s own identifications, written by hand on the back of the prints. Renowned writer and restaurateur Alice Waters describes the simple beauty of the photographs in the preface. Robert Flynn Johnson contextualizes the work in the still life tradition and pieces together the fragmentary evidence about the life of this mysterious figure, who trained as a gardener and worked on a number of private estates, but who left no notes or diaries to explain why he photographed the plants he saw every day. The perfect antidote to appetites jaded by processed foods and late twentieth-century consumerism, the legacy of Charles Jones is a reminder of the bountiful riches of nature.
117 illustrations in color and black-and-white