Humboldt Books is a publisher specialising in narratives and experiences of travel which undertakes interdisciplinary publishing projects, blending geography with literature, photography and art. Humboldt Books collaborates with international artists, writers, photographers, designers and architects, gathering their travel stories – be they real or imaginary – and recounting these experiences through a new, unconventional gaze. It also delves into the classics of travel literature, curating new editions and bringing adventures of yesteryear back to life with a contemporary edge. The publishing house was founded in 2012 by Alberto Saibene and Giovanna Silva.
We selected some representative titles, books that mainly talk about Italy, its horizons and its islands, its historical palazzi in the cities and its past narratives. The authors bring together these aspects and narrate them with their own perspective, either written or visual, personal or abstract.
To realize Orizzonte in Italia Antonio Rovaldi spent more than two months alone on a bicycle, travelling along the perimeter of the Italian peninsula, and then two weeks cycling around Sardinia. He put together hundreds of images of horizons which, day after day, came to form a chromatic stave of seas and skies. Finally, from the confines of his studio, image after image, he pieced back together a fair part of the Italian skyline.
Ontani in Bali documents part of the work of Luigi Ontani, a contemporary Italian artist based in Rome. One of the most legendary yet least documented aspects of his activity is the work that he carries out in Bali, where he lives for several months every year. In March 2014, the writer Emanuele Trevi and the photographer Giovanna Silva stayed with him for a few weeks, thereby witnessing the preparation of an Ogoh Ogoh, a carnival float decorated for the Nyepi, the day of silence.
Follow Me – Genova is a book created for the exhibition by Susan Philipsz in the city of Genoa. It offers an original itinerary in the city, read through the work of the Scottish artist, invited by the Museum of Villa Croce to conceive an exhibition in the historic centre of the city. The book is thus a city-guide that links different places and times. It also sets out from the habit of moving, investigated as a typical phenomenon of the Grand Tour – the origin of the term ʻtourismʼ.
For the making of Arrivederci, Ettore Favini visited over twenty artisan textile workshops, meeting with stylists, craftspeople, and dyers. Over the course of his trip, about a hundred textiles were donated to him. Upon his return, in Genoa he discovered the existence of a great textile tradition: Genoese brocade, Zoagli velvet, the indigo dye that along with Genoese denim made blue jeans a legend around the world. The story which unfolds in the book is his personal travel diary.
A Step Towards the Sea tells of the relationship between Roman Signer and Italy. His relationship with the country is a special one: some of his most renowned works are produced on the Stromboli volcano, while numerous actions and sculptures revolve around an Italian iconic subject such as the Ape Piaggio.
Italia 1945/1948 collects photographs of navvies at work, farmers in town, an amateur painter, children playing or looking at us: the suspended atmosphere in the wake of WWII. Every shot recounts the fragment of a story, waiting for cinema to piece them together. The shots by Luigi Comencini show him as a photographer shortly before becoming a director.
A few years ago Jonathan Monk moved to Rome for a while with his family. There, he adopted a pleasant gastronomic routine: restaurants and pizzerias, alone or with friends, but most of all with his family. Once back home, between the name of the restaurant and the foot of the bill, the artist used a pencil, and sometimes watercolours, to reproduce the image of a work by another artist on the receipt or scrubby hand-written note. This book brings together One Hundred Meals between Rome and Berlin.
Incompiuto: The Birth of a Style is the first and only study – the result of ten years of fieldwork – of a phenomenon not fully acknowledged in our country: the nationwide presence of public buildings and infrastructures whose implementation has never been completed. The scope of this phenomenon, its spread across the territory and its incredible architectural peculiarities together make the Incompiuto the most prominent Italian architectural style since WWII.
A visionary writer, charming dandy, and radical traveller, Raymond Roussel was among the most daring innovators of the last century. Via Roma 398. Palermo draws inspiration from the mystery surrounding Roussel’s death in the enigmatic room 224 of Grand Hotel Et Des Palmes. It brings together thirty international artists and authors from various disciplines and fields of expertise to provide a choral homage to the poet and his work.
Neither Nor: The Challenge to the Labyrinth, the catalogue of the Italian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, investigates and develops the theme chosen by the curator Milovan Farronato for the exhibition: the labyrinth. “Venice is a labyrinth which, over the centuries, has fascinated and inspired the imagination of many creative minds, including Borges and Calvino, the two greatest contemporary labyrinthologists.”
The Milanese Alberto Lattuada (director) and Federico Patellani (photographer) decided to set She-Wolf in Matera: a film in which Neorealism blends with melodrama. Patellani’s photographic reportage published in Matera 1953, left in the bottom of a drawer for many years, ranges from the search for locations and the set photos of that adventure, providing key documentation of the places and faces of Matera over sixty years ago.
Salento Moderno brings together a range of private homes built since the 1950s in Salento, in the area to the south of Lecce: single and double-family dwellings which, in terms of quality and variety, represent a unique example of spontaneity and aesthetic anarchy on the Italian architectural panorama. Investigating private living and its relation to public space, the volume opens a broader reflection on taste, celebrating its variety and imaginative scope.
– Orizzonte in Italia
– Ontani in Bali
– Follow Me
– A Step Towards the Sea
– Italia 1945
– One Hundred Meals
– Via Roma
– Padiglione Italia
– Matera 1953
– Salento Moderno