The Unseen Eye…A Life in Photography and Other Digressions

Poster photographed and designed by Gerald Slota for W.M. Hunt and Aperture, © Gerald Slota

In conjunction with his new book The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious, W.M. – Bill – Hunt has created a special performance piece suggested by his text for the book.

This monologue with projections and video will consist of ruminations on his many years of collecting and a life in photographs. Mr. Hunt has been a collector since his early years as an actor. He has been a fundraiser (Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS, The Center for Photography at Woodstock and the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund), a dealer (Ricco/Maresca Gallery and his own Hasted Hunt) as well as a writer and teacher.

Hunt is known for his wit and sometimes larger than life personality. This evening is one of information and digression. He hopes to bring into the light many of the names and stories left out of book.

The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious presents an idiosyncratic and compelling collection of photographs assembled around a particular theme: magical, heart stopping images of people in which the eyes are obscured, veiled, or otherwise hidden. The gaze of the subject is averted. The pictures present a catalog of anti-portraiture, characterized at first glance by what its subjects conceal, not by what the camera reveals.

Amassed over the course of almost forty years by Hunt, the collection includes works by masters such as Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Imogen Cunningham, William Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Robert Frank as well as lesser known artists and vernacular images. Hunt’s instinctive pursuit of striking images has resulted in a collection that manages to evoke a picture of humanity from birth to death, with all the associated nuances of memory, wit, eroticism, fear, grief, and horror.

More than three hundred and fifty intensely evocative and frequently surreal images are brilliantly sequenced in this volume—the cumulative effect is unnerving and riveting. Most critically, the images are drawn together by the narrative of the collector himself—a highly personal monologue that weaves throughout the book, in which Hunt offers his own perceptive responses to the images he has gathered over many years. The end result is a series of surprising epiphanies about how and why one collects. This volume is a must for anyone who collects or has considered putting together a collection of his or her own.

W.M. Hunt is a frequent lecturer on collecting, a well known dealer and an adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts, New York. An earlier exhibition of his collection launched to critical acclaim at the Rencontres d’Arles de la Photographie in 2005 before traveling to the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland, and FOAM, Amsterdam. An exhibition of 550 works, The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Collection of W. M. Hunt will be on view at the George Eastman House from Oct.1 2011 to February 19 2012.

Exhibition on view:
George Eastman House, Rochester, New York: October 1, 2011- February 19, 2012

Performance by Bill Hunt:
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore: Friday, October 28, 2011
Doors at 6:30 pm, Performance at 7:00 pm

[email protected]

Click here to read an interview of W.M. Hunt in At Length magazine.

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