When photographer Frédéric Lagrange first visited Mongolia in 2001, he was motivated by his childhood fascination with his grandfather’s stories of being rescued by Mongol soldiers during World War II. During that initial visit, he forged such a deep personal connection with the country and its people that he kept returning. Over the course of 17 years and 13 month-long trips to Mongolia, he accumulated 1261 rolls of film. The same society of people who saved his grandfather’s life shaped Lagrange’s life as well.
The outcome of this extraordinary relationship is a large-scale, limited-edition photo book which tells a loosely chronological visual story of the evolution of a largely unknown landscape and its people over the course of Lagrange’s visits. Pentagram partner Matt Willey designed this stunning book to allow each of the 185 black and white and color portraits and landscapes to convey both the beauty of their subjects and the tenderness with which the images were shot. The book’s cover, bound in red and blue linen designed to evoke the color of the Mongolian flag, features custom foil block lettering that forms a stark contrast against the solid colors. The book’s massive size complements the vast expanse of the Mongolian landscapes, and the delicacy with which each image was selected and printed conveys Lagrange’s profound respect for the culture.
In the foreword, celebrated travel writer Pico Iyer writes that he bows to Lagrange, “who has had Mongolia in his veins, in his past, his viewfinder for decades.” The book is as much a tribute to Lagrange’s mammoth 17-year undertaking as it is to the beauty of the country and its people.