Title: Death Had Two Sons

Photographer: August Sander
Author: Yael Dayan
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
Designer: Milton Glaser


Image Title: after: Widower 1914
Photo Genre: Portraiture
Book Genre: Novel

For the cover of Yael Dayan's fourth book, 'Death Had Two Sons', the legendary designer and illustrator Milton Glaser has drawn a loosely interpretive facsimile of 'Widower 1914', one of the best known portraits from August Sander's landmark publication, 'Menschen Des 20.Jahrhunderts'. As psychologically complex as it is visually straightforward, 'Widower' depicts a middle-class, middle-aged German man and, presumably, his two sons. In contrast to their father's orotund physique, both boys are thin, forlorn and pale to the point of anemia. In Sander's photograph, the man is looking toward the taller boy, while the other, ignored, turns his hopeless gaze to the camera.
The image is a good choice for Dayan's novel, which tells the story of a man forced by the Nazis to choose the life of one of his sons over the other. Glaser has taken artistic license, however, by making the father thinner and more of an aristocrat. Additionally, and more important, the subtleties of interaction and expression are lost, and the personalities of all three individuals have virtually disappeared. In reducing the specificity of the photograph, Glaser's drawing has also taken away much of it's life. KB

To view August Sander's original image, click on the 'Point of Interest' image at right.

Cover drawing by Glaser

The photograph is so incredible and the drawing by Glaser is so NOT incredible. Too bad someone didn't tell the emperor he had no clothes!

We all need someone to tell us the truth, gently if possible, but the truth nonetheless.

Denise Breslin