Is there a trend?


Note: And now there’s a third:  See end of post.

I just noticed a second cover which has a woman with her back to the reader. It makes me uneasy, but I’m sure there are other interpretations that can leave one feeling part of the endeavor.  Mostly I thought it is an odd coincidence on which people might want to comment.  We could think of this post as allowing an odd interlude for free association.

Let me note that Edouard posted several versions of his cover, and I don’t know that he selected the one I am showing. Each has the female figure with her back showing.

9 thoughts on “Is there a trend?

  1. I do find the motivation for the covers puzzling. I finally tried Google, and thought the following, from Time, interesting.

    The Allure and Puzzle of the Back in Portrait Photography
    Ye Ming
    Jul 30, 2015
    Photographers have long been trained to approach their subjects from the front. But in a new exhibition at the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York, each portrait curiously has its vantage point set from behind. What it uncovers is a long overlooked tradition of portraiture that flirts with the power of mystery and provokes questions over an often-neglected feature: the back.
    “The architecture of the back is phenomenally interesting and beautiful,” says Peter MacGill, the founder and president of Pace/MacGill Gallery and the show’s main curator. “It’s filled with life, filled with tension; it’s filled with intrigue because you don’t see the front.”
    As much as the front can give away a person’s identity and characteristics, a picture of one’s back adds an element of mystery by prompting more questions than answers. When that happens, even the most inconspicuous detail becomes worthy of observation in deciphering identity, circumstance and action.
    Photographs like this provoke a desire to seek answers to unanswerable questions, and some images capture their subjects in the most private moments, leaving the viewers unwilling to disrupt.

  2. The photograph on Bence Nanay’s collection immediately put me in mind of Berthe Morisot’s On the Balcony

    — see Griselda Pollock on “the spaces of femininity” in her critical discussion of T. J. Clark’s analysis of 19th C. impressionism. More directly relevant to the image of the female back is Dorothea Tanning’s Self-Portrait

    Christine Battersby has an excellent discussion of Tanning’s “female sublime” and her reworking of Caspar David Friedrich’s more Kantian sublime Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog.

    I chose Vermeer’s The Music Lesson as the cover for my book Reflecting Subjects

    Although the young woman’s back is to us, her face in the mirror allows us to see more of the encounter between her and the young man (Hume’s “minds as mirrors)

    Do you know who the photographer is for the Machery cover? The woman’s posture is awkward, perhaps slightly agitated, so I’m curious about that one too.

  3. The first cover is a still from *L’année dernière à Marienbad* (Alain Resnais, 1961).

  4. Jackie, one of the bad features of Kendal is that the cover of a book may be hardly noticed. I am in fact referring to your book as I write. It is a splendid choice for a cover, and I would have felt much cleverer had Iincluded it.

    I haven’t heard from Edouard about the post.

    Thanks for the other references!

  5. AGS, Thanks for the reference. The still also reminded me of Palace Nymphenberg because of the long perspective, and I see part of the filming was done there. Anne, thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  6. I’ll admit that, first, I’m glad to see some different pictures. I sometimes feel like there are 3-4 paintings that philosophers use over and over. That should stop.

    Second, when I see a picture like that, my thought is, “she is looking at the same thing I am. We are having a similar experience.” That seems especially good for a book on perception.

  7. That’s interesting, but puzzling..maybe it’s something like “Am I seeing/perceiving what she’s perceiving?”

Comments are closed.