List 35: The Dealer As Artist: Rhinoceros Jr Publications of Serge Plantureux

Rhinoceros jr. cover collage
The books on this list were sold en bloc and no items remain.

Serge Plantureux, a French bookseller and photography dealer (“un des plus grands marchands de photographies de Paris” according to Paris Express), has published several dozen small books, most 5 by 5½ inches, 48 pages, with stiff paper covers. Enough of them officially belong to Plantureux’s Rhinocéros jr. series to assemble this collection under that name. Many of the publications use seemingly spurious publisher imprints from improbably far-flung locations.

The subjects are sometimes overtly commercial publications produced for photography shows and prospectuses for items he has for sale. Others publish research into photo history . A couple seem inspired by his fascination with Wassily Kandinsky. Four are monographs of Soviet Bloc photographs. Several more are harder to explain: An essay on the illustrations of the first French edition of Marx’s Kapital, an essay on French film stills, a proposal to organize all photographs into one of 162 different categories.

In addition to the uniform format, each Rhinocéros jr. publication always combines serious scholarship with whimsy in design and interpretation. As a group, they form an aesthetically uniform group of dealer catalogs, a set of commercial offerings whose mercantile intent is hard to discern, and often blurs into design and philosophy.

The best introduction to Serge Plantureux in English is the interview he did with Shelia Markham, in her long-running series of talks with booksellers:



Subject to prior sale. Institutions may request billing. Usual terms to the trade. Sales tax will be added for California orders. Returnable within 30 days if not completely satisfied.