Salgado’s $9,000 Primeval World

There goes Eve. She’s wearing only head, chin and arm ornaments. Balancing on a fallen tree trunk, she crosses a stretch of jungle water. In search of Adam? Eve is not Eve but a member of the Zo’é tribe in Brazil. But the famous photographer, Sebastião Salgado, presents the young beauty in Old Testament style: primeval woman in black and white.

His latest work is called Genesis. Salgado explored the world on over 30 expeditions looking for places that — in his eyes — best convey a prehistoric earth: Penguins in Antarctica, the black-browed albatross in Georgia, whales off Argentina, greater flamingos in Galapagos, an American anhinga in the Pantanal, crater lakes in Madagascar, indigenous communities in Indonesia, Africa, Brazil, the Arctic.

Sebastião Salgado with his limited masterpiece edition of the masterpiece.
Sebastião Salgado with his limited masterpiece edition of the masterpiece.
Salgado, once ready to stop taking any more pictures, shows us a world before the proliferation of the human species.

His latest opus is the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society — the land and life of a still pristine planet.

He does this — as he always does — in stunning black-and-white images. The message of the photo project, supported by Unesco, is clear: preserve the last remnants of primeval nature. They are too beautiful to be destroyed.

The subjects could all have been photographed differently. Restrained, less spectacular, mysterious. The harsh contrasts, the dramatic skies cloaked in clouds, Salgado creates a pathos that is painful.

"My love letter to the planet." -- Sebastião Salgado
“My love letter to the planet.” — Sebastião Salgado
Salgado, the Delacroix of photography, is not a man of gentle tones. His images are in the best sense: bold. Despite that they are quite magnificent.

Now there’s a masterpiece of the masterpiece. German publisher Taschen releases a limited edition of Sebastião Salgado — Genesis, conceived, edited and designed by Salgado’s wife Lélia. 704 pages, 18.4 x 27.6 in.

The two volumes of the limited Collector’s Edition cost $3,000 the set, the special Art Edition coming with a gelatin silver print even $9,000. Each set is numbered, signed by the master himself and comes in a wooden crate with a designer book stand made of cherry wood. Tempted? Click here to download the teaser.

The delivered box weighs a whopping 59 kg / 130 lb. If I had this money, I’d spend it without thinking on such a gem. Salgado calls Genesis “my love letter to the planet.” Once you open it — I’m talking about the regular hardcover edition for us commoners — you’re like put under a spell.

$9,000 a rip off? Nah. Such an outstanding vision of the earth’s mesmerizing scale, order and beauty has no price tag really. Its content is priceless. Who knows when it’s forever gone.

(with excerpts from Salgado’s Urwelt)