A Collector’s Eye

Murray Moss debuts a new book of photos.

Tertium Quid

“I’m not a photography person,” Murray Moss insists before launching into a description of Tertium Quid (August Editions), a big, handsomely bound book of the press photos he’s been collecting for the past few years. Moss, whose namesake SoHo store was the first housewares emporium to be curated as brilliantly as a museum design department, also claims he’s not a collector. But when he came across a banged-up press portrait of his late sister, Jean Moss, a Chicago photographer to whom his book is dedicated, he was intrigued by the quality of the print itself and began looking for more. For Tertium Quid (Latin for “the third thing” a couple of items can suggest), he organized the images into witty pairs: a smoking chimney and a smoking cigar; a miniature open book and a wide-open newspaper. Other connections are more idiosyncratic. A portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is paired with a picture of matching monogrammed hand towels because, Moss says, “if they were things, they’d be guest towels.”