Lots of Support from Max WymanMonday, November 25, 2019
|Max Wyman in Lion's Bay, B.C. Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
I fondly remember a day in 1997 when Vancouver Sun editor Max Wyman called me to tell me he wanted me to review Marilyn Yalom’s book The History of the Breast. He told me something like, “When this book arrived at my desk I thought of you.” Within hours the book was couriered. I wrote the review and somehow even though reviewers could keep the reviewed book I have not been able to find it in my collection. Perhaps I gave it away or it was borrowed.
Clear in my mind was seeing one of the illustrations: Gabrielle's sister pinches her Nipple, circa 1594 that is in the Louvre. The artist is unknown. I will not use this painting to lead this blog as I am sure that the nipple patrol of social media would censor it. For those who have gotten this far, said painting will be at the bottom of this.
It would seem that even 23 years ago I somehow had some sort of notoriety that had to do with photographs of undraped females. I am sure that my reputation in this city has not improved since then.
All this came back to me with the NY Times obituary for Marilyn Yalom who died on November 20. In the obituary I read this quote from her: Though breasts still carry an overload of cultural and sexual expectations, many women hope to see the day when their chests do not have to bear such a burden.”
While she might have written that back then it is obvious that now more than ever that female burden is universally visible with the least amount of cover material and in fact is cover material at the supermarket checkouts.
Few in this century might know (I know) where all this breast interest really began in ernest. The stellar photographer Bert Stern invented cleavage lighting and his formula was used for Cosmopolitan. The important light was high pointing down at 45degrees and it was to one side of the photographer at 45degrees. This guaranteed plentiful (strange as cleavage is empty space) cleavage.
I did review other books for the Vancouver Sun that were not so made to measure for this reviewer. I have never liked to shoot landscapes but Wyman did send me an Ansel Adams autobiography (unfinished when he died in 1985) that was completed by his editor Mary Street Alinder
I understand that here in Canada the female breast has been deemed viewable in public without fear of arrest. As far as I can see no woman has yet taken up that challenge.