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Thames & Hudson

The Plant Kingdoms of Charles Jones by Sean Sexton & Robert Flynn Johnson

The Plant Kingdoms of Charles Jones by Sean Sexton & Robert Flynn Johnson

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In 1981, at Bermondsey Market in London, Sean Sexton, the Irish born photographic collector, chanced upon the gelatin silver prints of Charles Jones. Dating from the turn of the century, these beguiling studio "portraits" of tulips and sunflowers, onions and turnips, plums and pears display both astonishing skill and startling originality. Their close-up viewpoint, long exposure and spare composition anticipates by decades the later achievements of modernist masters.

This volume presents his work in sections devoted successively to vegetables, flowers and fruit, with captions taken from Jones's own identification, written by hand on the back of the prints. Robert Flynn Johnson places the work in the tradition of still life 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. Writer and restauranteur Alice Waters describes the simply beauty of the photographs in the preface. The perfect antidote to appetites jaded by processed foods and late 20th-century life, the legacy of Charles Jones is a reminder of the bountiful riches of nature.

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