Photographer John MacLean has travelled to and documented the towns in which 25 of his artistic heroes spent their childhoods for his new book Hometowns. The creation of the book , which won a best international photobook award at Paris Photo this year, saw John travel to 25 towns and cities around the world visiting the places where Wassily Kandinsky, James Turrell, Gabriel Orozco, Robert Frank and Bridget Riley, among others, spent their formative years.
The beautifully designed book is a double gatefold that allows the images to sing. Designed by Wayne Daly, the 65 images are presented only with a two letter reference in a sans serif font that lets you know which artist’s hometown you are looking at. The text that gives information about the artist is contained in a concise appendix at the end of the book. Hometowns is a personal document that has allowed John to explore the environments that were formative for the individuals that have influenced his own practice. The book sets up a complex premise whereby the photographer has documented and interpreted environments that may have been previously been experienced and abstracted in the work of those that he admires.
“It began life as a line in my notebook: ‘Photograph the hometowns of your heroes’ — an idea for a layered investigation into the places which influenced those artists whose work has coloured my own,” writes John in the introduction. “Two years later, that line has become a 65-image, photo-homage to a unique group of artists who have been my own mentors-by-proxy, and an endeavour to untangle the strands which connect me to their work.”
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