Exhibit explores connection between book covers, popular photos
Syracuse University Library is now hosting its spring 2010 exhibition, “Covering Photography: Imitation, Influence and Coincidence,” by guest curator Karl Baden ’74, a Boston-based photographer and member of Boston College’s fine arts department. He will present a gallery talk on Tuesday, March 2, at 5 p.m. in the 6th floor gallery of E.S. Bird Library.
In 2005, Baden founded the Web-based archive Covering Photography (www.CoveringPhotography.com), based on his own book collection. The exhibition previously appeared at the Boston Public Library in fall 2009. In his introduction to the online version of that exhibition, Baden writes, “Creative individuals from every discipline have regularly appropriated the ideas of others, at least as a foundation to build on …. This exhibition compares the cover art of selected books with the photographs from which they are, or may be, derived. The books were chosen not because of their content, but because the images on their jackets reference, in some way, another image … a photograph whose significance or popularity has earned it, or its maker, a place in the history of photography.”
Among the pairings in the exhibition are the Italian edition of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which uses Walker Evans’ “Atlanta, Georgia, 1936” as the source for its cover artwork, and the cover image of “The Mammoth Book of Erotica” (Running Press, 2000), which calls to mind “Nude, 1919,” part of Alfred Stieglitz’s collective portrait of his wife, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe.
According to Baden, “The connection between book cover and photograph may be obvious—an instance of imitation or even blatant appropriation. In other cases, it is more a question of the designer or illustrator being subtly, perhaps even unconsciously, influenced by a particular photographer or photograph. Finally, there may be no direct, or even indirect, trail of influence; the idea or visual trope may just be part of our collective cultural consciousness.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public. It runs until April 30 in the Special Collections Research Center gallery on the sixth floor of Bird Library. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., except holidays. The exhibition is also featured in the exhibit case on the first floor of Bird Library.