Friday, October 17, 2008

Display case 3 (Brassai, Sander)

  Two covers based on photographs by the Hungarian-born, Paris-based Brassai:

  The Fat Woman's Joke, Fay Weldon's novel about female stereotypes and body image employs a painted illustration taken from Brassai's Streetwalker Near the Place d’Italie (ca.1932).

Nadine Michi is listed as the designer for this cover, but the artwork is uncredited.

Title: The Fat Woman’s Joke

Author: Fay Weldon

Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers 1986

Designer / Illustrator: Nadine Michl

  The cover for Violette Leduc's bestselling memoir, La Bâtarde presents a more intriguing case since, unlike the Weldon illustration, it is not a direct copy. Rather, Jacqueiline Schuman has taken the woman from Brassai's Lovers Quarrel, 1936, opened her eyes, removed the curl from her forehead and given her bangs. The right-hand image above the books shows a composite of the Schuman's cover illustration and Brassai's original:

Title: La Batarde

Author: Violette Leduc

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1976

Designer / Illustrator: Jacqueline Schuman

  For the cover of Yael Dayan's fourth book, Death Had Two Sons, the legendary designer and illustrator Milton Glaser has drawn a loosely interpretive facsimile of Widower, 1914, one of the best known portraits from August Sander's landmark publication, Menschen Des 20.Jahrhunderts. As psychologically complex as it is visually straightforward, Widower depicts a middle-class, middle-aged German man and, presumably, his two sons. In contrast to their father's rotund physique, both boys are thin, forlorn and pale to the point of anemia. In Sander's photograph, the man is looking toward the taller boy, while the other, ignored, turns his hopeless gaze to the camera.

  The image is a good choice for Dayan's novel, which tells the story of a man forced by the Nazis to choose the life of one of his sons over the other. Glaser has taken artistic license, however, by making the father thinner and more aristocratic. Additionally, and more important, the subtleties of interaction and expression are lost, and the personalities of all three individuals have virtually disappeared. In reducing the specificity of the photograph, Glaser's drawing has also taken away much of it's life.

Title: Death Had Two Sons

Author: Yael Dayan

Publisher: McGraw-Hill 1967

Designer / Illustrator: Milton Glaser

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