Friday, October 17, 2008

Display case 16 (Muybridge, Warhol)

  Edweard Muybridge

  The thousands of photographic motion studies Edweard Muybridge made in the middle 1880's, collectively published in 1887 as Animal Locomotion, have served as standard reference works for those interested how mammals move. Such groups would include scientists, doctors and visual artists. Now, more than a century later, the pictures have acquired a campy patina, due perhaps to a tension between the sober, scientific nature of their initial purpose and the surreality of having nude adults perform everyday tasks in front of a large grid.

  The two sketched figures treading on the title type of Philip Slater's Footholds appear to be taken from Muybridge's Man Walking at Ordinary Speed and Woman Picking Up and Throwing Baseball, while the sequences on the cover of Time Management for Christian Women seem to be based on Woman Walking and Woman Leaping from Rock to Rock. Unlike the Muybridge original, the female model here is fully dressed, perhaps due to the religious underpinnings of the book, which, according to its jacket blurb, "[s] basic time management principles through a Bible filter to distill excellent advice on doing your best work and being your best self for the Lord".

Title: Foot Holds

Author: Philip Slater

Publisher: E.P. Dutton & Company 1977

Designer / Illustrator: Tom Lulevitch

  Below is a section of one of Muybridge's plates from Animal Locomotion which may have been the basis or inspiration for the cover image:

Title: Time Management For Christian Woman

Author: Helen Young & Billie Silvey

Publisher: Zondervan 1990

Designer / Illustrator: Not listed

  Below is a section of one of Muybridge's plates from Animal Locomotion which may have been the basis or inspiration for the cover image:

  Andy Warhol

  Andy Warhol, not a photographer in the classic sense, was, rather, an artist who made great and radical use of photography as part of his practice. Like Edweard Muybridge (but for different reasons), much of his work involved the multiple and the grid.

  Warhol's Electric Chair series of the 1960s achieved a degree of notoriety that reached well beyond the confines of the art world. It would not be unusual for a cover designer of that period or later to appropriate his bold, graphic style (which itself appropriated the graphic styles of advertising and popular culture).

Title: Cruel And Unusual

Author: Michael Meltsner

Publisher: Random House 1973

Designer / Illustrator: John Sposato

  The cover photo of singer/songwriter/poet Kevin Max is actually by Norma Jean Roy & Greg Gorman (Gorman is a well-known portrait and editorial photographer, with several monographs of his work published). It is difficult to know without asking the subject or photographers whether or not the similarity to Andy Warhol's later silkscreened self-portraits, from the black turtleneck to the wild silvery hair, is intentional, but the resemblance is too close to let pass without comment. The book's back cover even makes visual reference to Warhol's use of the multiple as pictorial strategy. The image here is a double exposure or print.

Title: The Detritus of Dorian Gray

Author: Kevin Max

Publisher: Blind Thief Publishing 2003

Designer / Illustrator: Melissa Barnes

Photographer: Greg Gorman

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