Friday, October 17, 2008

Display case 13 (Man Ray)

  Man Ray was one of the more influential American artists of the 20th century. Even those with moderate knowledge of his work may have difficulty viewing these three book covers without being reminded of his photographic studies of women. How familiar the photographers who made the cover images were with Ray's imagery is another question, but it is not the only question. One may also wonder whether this particular subject matter originated with Man Ray. The answer, I suspect, is probably not; curve of neck, curl of hair, sudden movement of fingers to lips have all received various forms of attention throughout, at the very least, the history of representational painting. What Ray seems to have contributed to is the isolation of shape, pushing it toward abstraction while preserving the ambiguity of its emotional content. And it may be this ambiguity that allows the form of the image to be pressed into service as an illustration for various kinds of content, including book jackets.

Title: Spectator

Author: Rachel Salazar

Publisher: Fiction Collective 1986

Designer / Illustrator: Abe Lerner

Title: Flesh And Blood

Author: Jonathan Kellerman

Publisher: Ballentine Books 2002

Designer / Illustrator: Not listed

Title: Slow Emergencies

Author: Nancy Huston

Publisher: Steerforth Press 2001

Designer / Illustrator: Not listed

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