John Selbing

Book | Exhibition

Involuntarily John Selbing became Orrefors' own photographer. He was taken on as a draughtsman by Simon Gate in 1927, with the aim of becoming a glass designer. But early in the 1930s Orrefors ran into financial difficulties and Selbing was asked whether he could become the company photographer. They could no longer afford to use external photographers. Afraid of losing his job Selbing accepted the offer.

As a photographer he had an artistic approach and artistic ambitions. The management recognized this and gave him a great deal of independence in his work. He experimented both playfully and seriously, in and beyond the studio looking for suitable backdrops in nature and in the factory, as well as trying out new lighting techniques. Selbing is the most interesting photographer of glass in Sweden and he was operative at a time when Orrefors was expanding, in due course becoming a world-famous company.

In 1973, after 46 years at Orrefors, he left the company, taking nothing with him. His studio remained unaltered for many years and he left behind him a large archive that contained an unknown quantity of negatives. With the publication of these books and the exhibition, John Selbing finally receives the attention that his work richly deserves. 
The Unintentional Photographer
Production | Image processing: Jonas Sällberg
Production | Graphic design: Mats Fredrikson
Text: Maria Lantz
Translation: William Jewson
Published by Fredrikson/Sällberg 2018
The glass and the dream
Production | Image processing: Jonas Sällberg
Production | Graphic design: Mats Fredrikson
Text: Göran Greider
Translation: William Jewson
Published by Fredrikson/Sällberg 2019
"While working on the book John Selbing—The Unintentional Photographer we discovered that many of the negatives had sustained damage due to poor conditions in the archives, but they were interesting from a visual perspective.

In these images a further dimension of the photographic medium's basic task of capturing the moment has been added. A gradual process of deterioration can now be halted. Time goes on in both cases, but the photograph stops and continues to live its own life."
The Unintentional Photographer—The Exhibition​​​​​​​
Curated and produced by Fredrikson/Sällberg.
On display at Vandalorum Museum of Art & Design, Värnamo, Sweden 2/2—5/5 2019.

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