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Don’t Look Away

A photographic collection of averted eyes.


Clockwise from top left: Aaron Siskind's Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation No. 60 (1956); Carrie Levy's Untitled, from "Domestic Stages," (2004); and Edward Weston's Neil on Couch (1925).  

Art gallerist W. M. Hunt’s photography collection—which, failing an invitation to his home, you can visit in his new book, The Unseen Eye—is built around a central theme: Virtually every subject’s eyes are obscured, covered, or absent. Over his years of collecting (during which he co-founded the gallery now known as Hasted Kraeutler), Hunt says, he did not exactly make a conscious choice to search out the faceless face. “You must be magnetized for the pictures to find you,” he explains, describing “that strange, alien, intense feeling, the voodoo and juju of collecting. You meet people, you run into these crazy pictures—that’s all unexpected, and seems to be informed by some force that I can’t account for.” Supernally elegant Irving Penn prints harmonize with flea-market snapshots; a dreamy Sarah Bernhardt sits a few pages away from a roomful of Klansmen; in the companion exhibit, an Edward Weston shares gallery space with a police mug shot. “And let me tell you,” Hunt adds, “finding a mug shot where you can’t see the guy’s eyes takes awhile.”

The Unseen Eye: Photographs From the Unconscious
By W. M. Hunt.
Aperture, $75.
Companion Exhibit at the George Eastman House, Rochester, Through February 19.


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