Bypaths in Arcady
- Banning, Kendall

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Book cover for 'Bypaths in Arcady'
Digital edition not available for copyright reasons.

Commentary

One of the most fascinating early photopoetry books, Bypaths in Arcady (1915) alongside the work of Adelaide Hanscom Leeson, enacts a strong distinction between the styles of British and American photopoetry in the early-twentieth century. In five discrete sections, Bypaths amounts to five pantomimes or performances, representing a late photographic engagement with characters of the Commedia dell’Arte, common in visual art across Europe and North American in the late nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Lejaren à Hiller’s lush photogravures act almost as stills from pantomimic performance and, in their sparing use of costumes, are risqué in their representation of partially nude male and female figures. Hiller, too, in his preference for black backdrops, dispenses with a number of settings common to the photography of figures up to this point: landscape, in the work of Emma Farnsworth and Anne Brigman, and interiors, in Lady Clementina Hawarden. Although Banning’s poems are, for the most part, unremarkable, Hiller’s photogravures make up for the banality of the verse, and their engagement with representations of the female body is both subtle and nuanced. Woman as ‘object’ resonates throughout Bypaths, with female nudity a kind of masquerade. This, too, is reflected in Banning’s verse, particularly in ‘Devotion’, in which the verbal masquerade of contradictory images to evoke the female body mirrors Hiller’s photographic masquerade of nudity.

Book Details

Author: Banning, Kendall
Title: Bypaths in Arcady
Publication Year: 1915
Poets Featured: Banning, Kendall
Photographers Featured: Hiller, Lejaren A.
Subjects: Love poetry, American, Photography, Artistic
Photographic process: Photogravures

This book can be found in the University of St Andrews Library catalogue HERE

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