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The image question

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  November 11, 2008 08:36 PM

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Lange photo
A 1936 photograph by Dorothea Lange
from Karl Baden's exhibit, ''Covering Photography'',
at the Boston Public Library.

With his collection of 2,000 books, Karl Baden upends the adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Baden, a photographer and professor at Boston College, collects books for the iconic images the covers evoke. He wonders: Was the book designer aware that a similar image already existed? Did the designer subconsciously absorb it? Or is there no connection whatsoever?

Baden mulls these issues in the exhibit he curated at the Boston Public Library, "Covering Photography: Imitation, Influence ... and Coincidence."

The cover of John McEnroe's autobiography, "You Cannot Be Serious," looks like a re-staging of Dennis Stock's portrait of James Dean. Baden wonders: Is that what the former tennis star and enfant terrible intended? Is the little girl's dress on the cover of "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" inspired by a similarly haunting photograph in Adam Fuss's "My Ghost" series?

Baden and two other collectors - who specialize in Italian architecture and the atomic age - will speak at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair at 3 p.m. Saturday at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center. Details at the book fair's website.

-- JAN GARDNER

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