William Ewings earlier collection
of photographs for Chronicle Books, The Body (1994) (reviewed in Metapsychology
December 2001) was a wonderful collection of images of the human body
collected by theme accompanied by a discussion of the photographs and
photographers. This newer collection is
very similar, except its themes are love and desire, and there is considerably
less text included with the images. The
book is divided into eight chapters, titled Bonds, Icons, Observations,
Propositions, Tokens, Libidos, Reveries, and Obsessions. Theres less thematic unity to this collection,
but it has the same high quality of reproduction of images, and Ewings
selection is thoughtful and creative enough to please both those new to art
photography and also those who know a great deal about the subject. The only disappointment is the lack of
sustained discussion in the written portion of each chapter.
The photographs included in this book span the whole
history of the medium, going back to 1850.
Since many photographers are crammed into the 400 pages of the book, each
individual is normally represented by only one or two pieces of their
work. Its good to see familiar names
such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Imogen Cunningham, Sally Mann, Rineke Dijkstra,
Robert Doisneau, Alfred Eisenstadt, Man Ray, Sylvia Plachy, Larry Clark, Henri
Cartier-Bresson, Nan Goldin, and of course Robert Maplethorpe. There are also a large number of
unattributed photographs, partly because sometimes the information has simply
been lost, but more often because the photographer preferred to remain
anonymous, given the content of their photographs, which often include nudity
or are plainly sexual. But maybe most
readers will gain the most from this book by coming acquainted with many
photographers with whom they were previously unfamiliar. Personally I was struck by many of the
Modicas 1996 picture, Treadwell, New York, of two young children being
held by their mother
Lee Adams' 1993 picture, Brothers Praying, Hooterville, Kentucky, of two
men kneeling together on the floor, resting their arms on a chair, their heads
1994 picture, Haircut, of two young people, possibly brother and sister, on a
Ishimotos 1951 picture, North Avenue Beach, Chicago, of a womans legs
on a beach, while she waits in line
Steiners 1931 picture, Nude and Mannequin, making a wry juxtaposition.
Annemarie Schuden-Halms 1991 picture, Ich (I), a
glorious montage of 144 Polaroids of flowers and a female nude.
Tom Stappers 1994 picture, Jessica Dancing at Club
Exposure, of young people showing a great sense of self-awareness of their own
Alejandra Figueroas 1997 untitled pictures of
sculptures looking very realistic.
Mandelbaums 1996 picture, Untitled, No. 108, of two mouths pressing
their tongues together
Princes Body Image pictures from 1998 and 1999, of classical statues and
backgrounds interrupted by large negatives of pornographic photographs of
couples having sex
Love and Desire makes for excellent
browsing, and it is a physically well-constructed book that can withstand
sustained use. Its a pleasure to see
the variety of images and approaches to depicting the ways that people
experience attraction to others.
© 2002 Christian Perring. All
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island.
He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring
how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help
foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the