Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés

mercedes-grand-cabriosby René Staud (photos), Jürgen Lewandowski (text)

 

“In a coupé, convertible, or roadster, on the other hand, you are mainly transporting yourself, while at the same time celebrating the aesthetics of a beauty that has no need to attach value to rational functions. Better yet—it is not permitted to attach any such value, otherwise the mystery wouldn’t be a mystery any more.”

 

(English, Chinese, German) Which is why Mercedes-Benz “invented” something they insisted on calling the world’s first four-door coupé, the 2006–current CLS class whose sexy, swoopy, curvy lines are not weakened by having a set of rear doors. No matter the hoopla M-B heaped on it, that lovely car didn’t make it into this book.

The common denominator of the 16 models in this a book is that they have two doors—even something as ponderous as the 1965 600 “Nallinger” coupe that was only slightly less humongous than the state limousine in the same series—and that they are road cars.

© Mercedes-Benz - The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

© Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

Speaking of big, as with all the oversize books by this publisher you’ll want to flex your wrists before picking this on up—almost 8 lb and an unwieldy 12 x 15″ have a way of punishing the unwary.

And as with all books by German lensman René Staud (b. 1951)—who won his first photo competition at the tender age of 12—you can expect the most artistically sumptuous and technically sophisticated of photos.

© Mercedes-Benz - The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

© Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

This book, as all his other car books, are not meant to be learned expositions of anything in particular. Approach the book with that expectation and you’ll be sure to find it wanting. There is text, by German automotive journalist and amateur racer Jürgen Lewandowski who absolutely knows his way around a car but this book is first and foremost a celebration of the visual.

© Mercedes-Benz - The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

© Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

Staud is a commercial photographer with decades of experience not only behind the camera but as an interpreter or translator of what’s in front of the camera. Working for and with manufacturers he is sensitive to brand value and message, to “image” in the psychological as well as the literal sense. This is a long-winded way of saying his compositions are not random or generic but tailored to bring out the quintessence of a thing. Interesting as this all is, it is left to the reader/viewer to tease it out because the scant text confines itself to a few introductory sentences about each model or series and tables of basic specs.

mercedes-grand-cabrios-specs

© Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

There is, however, one aspect of his behind-the curtains activity that readers, especially photographers, will lap up: a chapter, illustrated no less, of how he and his team stage and shoot cars. The book ends with the 1996 Paris show car, the F 200 Imagination that many people will have long forgotten.

mercedes-grand-cabrios-shoot

© Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

mercedes-grand-cabrios-sacco

© Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés, Staging & Photography by René Staud, published by teNeues 2015, www.teneues.com. Photo © 2015 René Staud Studios www.renestaud.com.

The Foreword (above) is by Bruno Sacco (b. 1933), the Italian designer who was M-B’s head of styling 1975–1999 after first putting in a stint as chief engineer in 1974 and therefore has an uncommonly organic understanding of the marque’s philosophy. It is much too short to say anything of real value and is noteworthy simply because so many of the cars here fall into his tenure. (His favorite design is the 190 introduced in 1982 which is about as far removed from the cars celebrated in this book as possible.)

To beat a very dead horse: photo books that have images across the gutter should not be bound with flat spines that won’t allow the book to open fully.

 

Copyright 2016, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info)

Mercedes-Benz – The Grand Cabrios & Coupés
by René Staud (photos), Jürgen Lewandowski (text)
teNeues, 2015
304 pages, ca. 200 b/w & color photos, hardcover
List Price: $125
ISBN-13: 978-3832732936

 

Mercedes-Benz The Grand Cabrios & Coupes


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