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Jan Saudek Hardcover – July 1, 1998
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Top Customer Reviews
That captures just one side of this complex collection. A child kisses a woman's grandly pregnant belly (p.68) - is that a sibling in there? An older woman (p.94) holds up a picture, apparently of her younger self. A girl displays an injured wrist (p.147), creating a queasy and desperate sympathy for her, whoever she is. A darkly made-up punker in ripped nylons holds a doll (p.58). Somehow, these and many others each capture a stretch of time, as close as last night or as far away as decades gone by.
A number of photos appear in pairs or larger groups. Sometimes, the pictures in a matched pair (e.g. p.112-113) each reverse the sense of the other. A few times, the person or group appears once clothed, then again nude (p.80-81). Nearly all of them carry some sense of decay, one way or another. Flaking plaster forms the most common background, for example. A claustrophobic room with a window looking onto nothing frames another set of pictures. The people themselves often convey decay of some kind, too. "Ballerina" (p.57) shows a strong and shapely figure, with the woman's face seemingly decades older than the body it attaches to. Full figures appear often, ranging up to obese (p.174), suggesting decay of another kind. Another woman (p. 132) just looks life-long tired, her body seemingly softened and veined by her children's demands on it, maybe demands that ended years ago.
Saudek offers plenty of humor, too, from simple expressions (p.158), to seemingly impossible poses (p.160-161), to bawdy picture-pairs where one figure appears with or without the other (p.88), proving that context is everything. Open eroticism appears frequently, too, often mixed with the humor or other mood. Although some of these pictures are black and white, some were taken in color, and many seem to have been hand-colored and modified after the fact. Saudek's unique and often anachronistic vision unifies this set, a visual sensibility that simply has to be seen. If you like your figure models young, pretty, and only hinting at sexuality, you'll find some of that here. That's just a small part of this collection, though. Lots of these models aren't young, some are hard to call pretty, and very few just give hints. If you like photography that demands something of the viewer, you might find this very enjoyable.