Friday, December 27, 2013

"Jane & Serge" by Andrew Birkin (Taschen Books)


The book unfolds in front of a reader/looker slowly like water pouring into sand.  At first the photographs by Jane Birkin's brother Andrew, who by the way is a Peter Pan expert and an interesting scriptwriter on top of that, are extremely intimate.  It is sort of like going to a stranger's house and looking at their photo album, and then all of sudden you recognize a famous face in the background.   There is something lovely and sincere about these images, but it becomes more clearer when you read the little booklet that comes with the photo album. 

 Andrew Birkin writes a very moving narrative that goes with the images in the book.  Each photograph is annotated with a commentary of some sort that is separate from the actual book of photos.  But what makes this a really special deal is Andrew's essay about his feelings for his sister and Serge Gainsbourg himself.  He loved him.  And he loves his sister and the children as well.  But the little booklet adds a context to the picturesque narrative - and like all family albums there is sense of sadness or that life won't be like this forever.   Some of the most beautiful images are of Kate, the daughter of Jane and her first husband John Barry.   The sad irony is that Kate passed away after the completion of this book.  Nevertheless, along with my production through TamTam Books (Gilles Verlant's fantastic bio on Serge "Gainsbourg") and the recent 33 1/3 study on "Melody Nelson" one gets a fantastic picture of life as lived by Jane and Serge. 

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