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The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious Hardcover – September 30, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (September 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781597111935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597111935
  • ASIN: 1597111937
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 10.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #933,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Hunt is a collector, and has been for more than 30 years. His is a curious collection: all of his photographs are about concealed or obscured eyes. As a result, his book, which draws only from his collection, is all about the role the viewer plays in photography and what it means to look at pictures. With works from photographers like Brassai, Joel Peter Witkin, Cindy Sherman, Alexandra Boulat, Adam Fuss, it is also an impressive survey of photography from the 19th century to the present. (The Photo Department The New York Times Magazine 2012-12-27)

The Unseen Eye by W.M. Hunt is perhaps the most compelling anthology of photographs I have encountered. Comprised of 370 images from Hunt's largest collection of photographs, Collection Dancing Bear, it is a unique assortment of images, ranging from vernacular photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, to iconic reportage images, to photographs from the giants of the photographic art world. (Sarah Bradley Photo-Eye 2011-10-18)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious, includes 370 images from W.M. Hunt's personal trove, which he has been collecting for nearly four decades. While the book features pictures by famous artists such as Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Imogen Cunningham, William Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Robert Frank, it also is a compendium of photographs by lesser known artists and some purely vernacular images. Hunt's instinctive pursuit of striking images has resulted in a collection that manages to evoke a picture of humanity from birth to death, with all the associated nuances of memory, wit, eroticism, fear, grief, and horror alongside press prints and snapshots that Hunt picked up at flea markets and art fairs, each image in the collection shows a subject whose gaze has been turned away. Sometimes the eyes are covered completely.

What makes the collection bear the name of the book is the theme. In each image, the gaze of the subject is averted, the face obscured or the eyes firmly closed. The pictures present a catalog of anti-portraiture, characterized at first glance by what its subjects conceal, not by what the camera reveals. According to Hunt, `I looked for and found a photograph at an auction house 40 years ago that had a veiled, romantic presence, and it was an intense and unexpected experience. So I looked for another one. And then I found a couple more, and I thought, `What an odd thing to be doing.'" But in time Hunt's home was filled with photographs in which the subject's eye was somehow unseen. The collector, though, insists that he always "sees" the pictures. `The images run through my mind like a Rolodex. I don't have to take them out physically to see them. They play on this strange lightbox in my head.'

This collection spans the time of the first photographs in the 19th century to the present and there likely is not a more genuinely varied collection anywhere! Grady Harp, March 12
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book has a lot of photos I'd never seen -- many are beautiful -- many are odd/disturbing -- a very interesting collection that I'll enjoy revisiting from time to time
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By EJO on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hunt's collection, a fascinating group that ranges from vernacular and anonymous images to photographs by masters like Kertesz,Arbus, Penn, Avedon, has been exhibited in locations in Europe and the United States (most notably, an exhibition of nearly 500 images that filed all available galleries at the Eastman House in Rochester.) The book which collects some--not all--of his photographs is unlike other anthologies. This is NOT a book of greatest hits; nor is it a history of the medium. The mundane and the great mingle. Humor joins with tragedy. In Hunt's hands these hundreds of photographs which feature eyes closed, obscured, covered, etc. become part of a psychological journey that brings the viewer/reader on a visual journey from the unknown, from innocence, from mystery to something that might be called experience, knowledge, psychological truth. I can think of few photography books as stimulating and thought-provoking as this one.
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