Photographs from the Unconscious
Thames and Hudson | ISBN 9780500543955
Hardback – 320 pages
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These marvellous photographs all have one thing in common. They are all portraits where the subjects' eyes are not visible. The works of canonical photographers such as Friedlander, Arbus, and Brassai, are interspersed with anthropological, reportage, contemporary and found photos. This is a remarkable publication packed with unsettling and startlingly beautiful images.
By Lynne Barwick
This haunting collection of photographs reflects the surreal vision of the New York collector W.M. Hunt. The photographs have a common theme the gaze of the subject is averted, the face obscured or the eyes firmly closed and range from Andre Breton's self-portrait with eyes closed to Ruth Snyder in the electric chair in 1928 and from Weegee's multi-imaged portrait of Andy Warhol in sunglasses to Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs of the artist Alice Neel with her eyes closed. The pictures present a catalogue of anti-portraiture, characterized at first glance by what its subject conceal, not by what the camera reveals. The continuous plate section, broadly ordered as a portrait of humanity from birth to death, has a commentary by Hunt running through it, in which he offers his own intense and perceptive responses to the images he has gathered over many years, as well as insights into the psychology of collecting.