In 1999, the Wall Street Journal described 21st Editions as following “in Alfred Stieglitz’s footsteps.” Stieglitz’s groundbreaking journal, Camera Work (1903-17) elevated photography to a fine art, an equal of painting and sculpture. 21st Editions (1998-present) picked up where Stieglitz had left off and indeed surpassed it in developing the art of the book.
John Wood, 21st Editions editor from 1998-2014, indelibly shaped this collection of images, poetry and prose. Among the writers and poets he selected to illuminate and engage the images include the Pulitzer-Prize winning Edward Albee, Robert Olen Butler, Annie Dillard, and Adam Johnson, and Richard Wilbur. Harvard’s John Stauffer and Collier Brown, also long-time contributors, are the current co-editors.
In its art, 21st Editions pays homage to William Morris, who founded the Arts and Crafts Movement and Kelmscott Press, widely recognized as the beginning of the fine-press book movement.
The legacy and mark of 21st Editions is impossible to ignore as a present and future point in the history of photography and in the art of the book as it relates to the presentation and marriage of the word, image and artisan binding. The dozens of prestigious museums and special collections libraries that own selections of these titles speak to that fact.
Students and researchers now have access to the full 21st Editions catalogue at two major institutions renowned for their conservation and promotion of the art of the book.
In the Fall of 2018, the National Gallery of Art, home of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection (Key Set), acquired a complete 21st Collection with the generous help of the Thompson Family Foundation. The University of Minnesota also acquired the complete 21st Collection in 2018 and now serves as a repository for the entirety of the 21st Editions archive.