5+5 | Darius Himes. Book Nerd. Gentleman. Scholar. January 13 2015


The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Darius is what a remarkably nice guy he is. And lest you think this is a middling assessment, let me assure you: people being nice...really truly nice… is something I hold in incredibly high esteem. Mr. Himes? He’s off the charts nice! He’s also incredibly knowledgeable, which is what earns him the “scholar” moniker we’ve bestowed upon him. That Darius is a guy who loves photography, learning and language is evident in his answers below. They speak smartly about each individual edition while also referencing the broader context of photography history.

His abiding curiosity and passion for the medium in general (and books in particular) have propelled him along a path of increasingly amazing art world roles. Along the way, he’s also built the finest photo book collection I’ve ever seen. When I met him, he was living in Santa Fe, where he edited the photo-eye Booklist. I was absolutely thrilled when he became a director at Fraenkel Gallery, and not only because it’s San Francisco location meant that I got to see him more often. Fraenkel was a perfect fit for his passion, scholarship and, yes, his niceness too! After several years of thriving at Fraenkel, I was delighted to hear that he was moving to NYC, for a fabulous role at the venerable Christie's. They’re lucky to have him, and I couldn’t think of a finer addition to the city’s photography community. Everybody wins!  – Jen Bekman & Team 20x200

5 Perfect Picks

1) Photographe de Paris, by Michael Cappabianca 
Several heartstrings of mine are pulled in this image: the formal structure of the image reminds me of classic still life arrangements found deep in the history of art, and the gentle diffuse studio light reminds me of the "northern light" found in classic Dutch paintings of the Delft school. This composition carries with it no small measure of an architect's sensitivity to shape, form and volume. This could be an architect's model in very early stages. ... Except for the fact that this is a photograph of a book, and not just any book. One of the first, rare photo books that I became aware of, and had a chance to sell to a major collector, was Atget's first volume, titled Photographe de Paris. The shape of the book, and the color of the barely faded cloth is unforgettable, and immediately carries that association for me. The color palette of this photograph couldn't be more carefully considered. So perfect.

2) Oranges, by Jennifer Mason 
Many of my comments about Michael Cappabianca's photograph hold in the analysis here as well. The color palette and compositional structure are superb, not for breaking new ground but for utilizing a classic structure of the past to new ends. It's hard not to think about Paul Outerbridge, or Steichen's color studio work, or even Erwin Blumenfeld's fashion work informing this image. Tabletop still life imagery is a time-honored genre and always affords an artist the chance to explore simple spatial and color relationships with simple and symbolic objects. Ms. Mason is doing just that... and perhaps more.

3) offSET #29, New York, by Lacey Terrell
Lacey Terrell is a hardworking photographer in the film business, producing stills on the sets of movies and television shows around the world. In and around those sets, during her off-moments—or one should say, when the actors aren't working—she makes work to please herself. "offSET #29" is from that body of work and is an example of the kind of poise she injects into her work. She nails it with this piece.

4) Animal Locomotion: Plate 717 (Cat), by Eadweard Muybridge
Mr. Eadweard Muybridge was an inventor, a San Franciscan, an adventurer, innovator, photographer, murderer, and man with a composition of equal parts gentleman and rascal. In that sense, he stands as the prototypical successful Silicon Valley start-up hooligan. The story of how his iconic Animal Locomotion series began is all-too-familiar. Hired to settle an open debate involving Leland Stanford (yes, THAT Stanford) about whether a trotting horse has all four hooves off the ground at any given moment, Muybridge set up a series of cameras and devised a method to expose the images as the horse trotted past. (Remember, this was the 1870s and the local camera store didn't exist as we think of it today. Although, now that I think of it, the "local camera store" is nearing extinction...) The results not only answered the question, but they revolutionized our understanding of the world by revealing something that the naked human eye could not determine on its own. Stop-action photography and the motion picture were simultaneously born. Want to know more? I adjure you to read Rebecca Solnit's masterful book, The River of Shadows. I chose this picture mainly because I love cats.

5) Small Farm of California, Contra Costa County, by Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange is one of the great photographers of the 20th century and is highly regarded for her powerful Depression-era work in California's Central Valley. Her photographs of "Oakieville" encampments, including her iconic "Migrant Mother" helped the broader public visualize the hardships that were happening in the rural parts of our country. Contra Costa County California, where this pastoral image was taken, sits at the northernmost edge of the Central Valley (and extends to the waterways that represent the eastern edge of the bays in the San Francisco/Oakland area). "Small Farm" is neither well-known nor representative of her larger body of work; it is pleasing for so many other reasons, not least of which is Lange's sophisticated sense of composition, diagonal lines, and the elegance of the California sun.

5 Q's + 5 A's

1) What's your favorite museum?
The Frick.

2) Most coveted coffee table book?
Shashin Yo Sayonara, Daido Moriyama (1972) (Bye, Bye, Photography Dear).

3) You've got $5M to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
Crystallizations, 1944, by Mark Tobey.

4) Favorite color?
Robin's Egg Blue.

5) If you could be reincarnated as an artist, who would you want to be?

The 411 on Darius Himes
Darius Himes is International Head of Photographs at Christie's, where he oversees a global team producing auctions, exhibitions and catalogues. Prior to Christie's, Himes was director of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco. In 2007 he co-founded Radius Books, a non-profit publisher of books on photography and the visual arts, where he continues to serve on the Board and consults on project acquisitions. He was founding editor of the photo-eye Booklist, a quarterly magazine devoted to photography books, which ran from 2002–2007. A lecturer and writer, he has contributed to Aperture, Blind Spot, Bookforum, BOMB, PDN, and American Photo, and has lectured at The New York Public Library and various schools and festivals worldwide. His most recent title, Publish Your Photography Book, co-authored with Mary Virginia Swanson, was released in a 2nd edition by Princeton Architectural Press in the Spring of 2014.

Professional Site: Christie's   Twitter: @dariushimes     Instagram: @dariushimes Facebook: Darius Himes

Read the prior 5+5 with Glynnis MacNicol »