Friday, October 17, 2008

Display case 12 (Cartier-Bresson, Sander, Stock)

  Three solitary figures; isolated in unremarkable landscapes, appear on the covers of these three books:

The cover image for John Galsworthy's The Man of Property, presumably depicts Soames Forsyte, the novel's protagonist. This illustration of Forsyte, portrayed in the book as a wealthy solicitor during England's late Victorian period, has been lifted from the elderly bourgeois gentleman in Henri Cartier-Bresson's photograph, Allees du Prado, Marseilles 1932. He has been made younger on the cover of Galsworthy's novel, and has lost his his bowler hat and cigarette holder; his cape is gray instead of black. His outline and proportions, however, are a precise match with Cartier-Bresson's original.

Title: The Man of Property

Author: John Galsworthy

Publisher: Signet Classics 1967

Designer / Illustrator: Not listed

  The composite below illustrates the connection between the two figures:

  The tiny, dark, glowing figure in Alice Thomas Ellis' novel, Fairy Tale, seems to have its source in August Sander's 1926 portrait of German painter Anton Räderscheidt. Among other indications, the length and cut of the figure's coat and the bowing of the knees make a convincing argument for Sander's photograph being its source. That said, the original image is unrelated to the content of the book.

Title: Fairy Tale

Author: Alice Thomas Ellis

Publisher: Akadine Press 2001

Designer / Illustrator: Not listed

  Below is a schematic showing how Sander's original image was reduced in size, blurred and given an 'outer glow' to match the book cover image:

  Finally, those with any knowledge of post World War II popular culture will recognize Bill Summer's photograph for the cover of former tennis star and enfant terrible John McEnroe's autobiography as a direct and intentional re-staging of Dennis Stock's portrait of actor cum legend James Dean in Times Square, NY. Intentional because McEnroe wants us to see him as Dean, an idol and iconoclast. At once self-mocking and self-aggrandizing, McEnroe challenges us to be in on the joke. After all, 'You cannot be serious'...or can you? It is worth noting that Summer's photo is 'reprinted courtesy of Nike, Inc.' (a reference to McEnroe's bright white footwear). Money talks, and James Dean walks... again.

Title: You Cannot Be Serious

Author: John McEnroe

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons 2002

Designer / Illustrator: Lisa Amoroso

Photographer: Bill Sumner

(reprinted courtesy of Nike, Inc)

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