The Unseen Eye is one of those rare books that has the quality of a revelation.
It not only gives a new perspective on the work of many of the greatest names in the history of photography but also tells us something new about ourselves with all the associated nuances of memory, wit, eroticism, fear, grief and horror.
The photographs have a common theme – the gaze of the subject is averted, the face obscured or the eyes firmly closed. They range from André Breton’s self-portrait to Ruth Snyder in the electric chair in 1928 and from Weegee’s multi-image portrait of Andy Warhol in sunglasses to Robert Mapplethorpe’s photograph of the artist Alice Neel. The images present a catalogue of anti-portraiture, characterized at first glance by what its subjects conceal, not by what the camera reveals.
The author has gathered the images over many years and his selection includes not only many works by famous practitioners from across the history of the medium – Nadar, Brassaï, Walker Evans, Philip Jones Griffiths, Annie Leibovitz, Martin Parr – but also photographs of strange origin taken by anonymous figures from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.
Running through the book is a commentary which offers the author's own intense and perceptive responses to the images, as well as insights into the psychology of collecting. William A. Ewing, the distinguished curator of photography, contributes an introduction.
'Incredible … tactile and imaginative with depth and emotion'
'A wonderful selection of images … a great anthology. But combined with the brilliant text that accompanies it we are taken through a maze of ideas that investigates the powerful psychological depths which visual language can reach. … lovingly curated with great verve and I’m sure will become an instant classic, to be treasured for many years to come'
For London Independent Photography
'Put together with exquisite taste ... a seductive text in the form of personal-sounding notes [that] make browsing the book a compelling experience ... This is a book of stillnesses and depths that doesn't takes its readers for fools ... a wonderful book'
The Art Newspaper
'Elegant ... seductive ... an interesting balance of familiar and unexpected pictures contributes to new readings ... the alternation between the historical and the contemporary, and the mix and match are immensly graceful and fun ... The commentaries, all by Hunt, are remarkable'
Photography & Culture