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VANISHED NEW YORKMARC TAUSS. Cover art for Bright Lights, Big City. Photography, dyes, color pencil, airbrush, and glaze on chromogenic print paper. 165x171 mm; 6 1/2x6 3/4 inches, image, mounted to Bainbridge board with thick archival tape along wide margins. Matted. Cover art for Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City." New York: Vintage Books, 1984.
one of the most iconic book covers of the 1980s and one that defined an era. Editor Gary Fisketjon launched Vintage Contemporaries, a paperback imprint of Random House, in September 1984. The series was an immediate critical and commercial success with its recognizable art design color-banded spines, dot matrix accents, and graphic, often surreal artwork pioneered by Lorraine Louie. Many novels, including Bright Lights, Big City, appeared for the first time in this format, foregoing the usual hardcover edition. James McInerney said of the series and Marc Tauss's cover: I loved the Vintage Contemporaries design. My first thought was that the books looked like albums—this was in the days of LPs—and that seemed a good thing, since Gary was trying to appeal to a younger audience. No other books on the market looked like that. And I thought the cover image for Bright Lights was absolutely emblematic of the book. It was incredibly evocative and haunting"--talkingcovers.com/2012/09/12/vintage-contemporaries/. This image was the first and only cover for the book for 25 years.
Tauss used a combination of methods for the image; he photographed on site in lower Manhattan, using a friend whom he felt served as the model for the main character, Jaime. He then shot "the warm glowing facade of the Odeon, and the icily lit World Trade Center" and recomposed these elements using a series of collage, airbrush, and dye techniques to blend the images together into a perfect "stage" setting that would forever capture the essence of the novel and New York in the `80s. The cover has attained poignance since September 11th and Tauss remarked: "Eight years [after making this work] I moved three blocks north from the exact location I had photographed for the Bright Lights, Big City cover. The World Trade Center filled my front window. I would never have imagined that of the three components of that iconic cover, the towers would be the first to vanish"--ibid.
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