Category Archives: Ruckenfigur – Rear View

Literally ‘back figure’, the term rückenfigur is usually associated with German romantic painters to describe a viewpoint that includes another person seen from behind – rear view – viewing a scene spread out before the viewer. It is both view and viewer. Rear view, the side that does not prepare itself for the camera, the revealing side we forget In Japan bakku-shan is a woman who looks attractive from the rear but not from the front. What about the reverse?

Skin Deep

Sir Thomas Overbury included the line, ‘All the carnall beauty of my wife is but skin-deep’ in his poem ‘A Wife’, written in 1613.  From it we have the proverb ‘Beauty is only skin deep’.  Bark is the layer covering … Continue reading

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College Farm, Haddenam

On Sunday 28th May Primavera’s owners, Jeremy and Sheila Waller (figures in sculpture, right) hosted an Open Garden in conjunction with the National Garden Scheme at College Farm, their Haddenham home.   It was an opportunity to roam around the … Continue reading

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Alexandra Palace

Glimpsed from the train heading north out of London Alexandra Palace looks well-named – a grand honey coloured neo-classical palace looking down regally on London. Close up it’s showing its 140 years; worn and tired it exudes the air of … Continue reading

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Ruckenfigur Reawakened

Although my ruckenfigur project reached a fairly satisfactory conclusion (see post 29th October 2013) I’ve not forgotten it entirely. My interest was recently reawakened by the following: ‘They are not, of course, abstract; they are pictures [by Vuillard] of (mostly) … Continue reading

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Larger

Mid morning larger against the wall at St John’s College.  What’s the story? Photo: St John’s College, Bridge Street, Cambridge, June 2014

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Ruckenfigure Revisited

The planned photo book on the ruckenfigur is complete (see post 22nd July 2013) and I’m awaiting delivery of copies.  Brought together in the book, Ruckenfigur Revisited might look like a coherent project, albeit a much extended one.   The truth … Continue reading

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Ruckenfigur Photo Book

Working on putting my ruckenfigur pictures into a book.  Includes: reviewing old files for pictures, see opposite; and writing some text, see below (comments welcome). Photo: Paris 1988   Ruckenfigur – Rear View The essence of an individual’s identity is … Continue reading

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First and Last

Not sure what the relationship is between these two.  Presumably they are friends, but each seems to be absorbed in her own world.  Planning and contemplating the Friday night ahead? Photo: Cambridge, June 2013

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Relationships

Sometimes the Ruckenfigur poses questions about the relationships between the people in the picture.  An elderly man with his carer?  A grandmother and grand daughter?  And why are the latter giving the former such a wide birth? Photo: Bury St Edmunds, … Continue reading

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Bison in London

The ruckenfigur often reveals something about people and their appearance that they are not aware of themselves and we double take in surprise, admiration or disbelief.  This man is well aware of what’s on his back, or at least we must … Continue reading

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Cycling

Cycling, a great sport, a great way to get around.  Pity that the gear can be so unflattering. Photo: Hove, April 2013

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Seven Sisters

This is closer to a true ruckenfigur than some recent views of the backs of people. Photo: Cuckmere Haven, Seaford, April 2013

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Avignon

These figures are neither in nor of the landscape.  They are detached from it and view it in detachment from on high.  They engage with it both visually and through the mediation of illustrated guides.  Tourists, they become temporarily ‘halted … Continue reading

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Back Figure

A literal interpretation of rückenfigur is ‘back figure’.  The faux ami approach to translation might have lead to ‘a figure carrying a rucksack’.  Sadly not, but the diversity of back packs – rarely fashion items – is an interesting facet … Continue reading

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Waterloo

Is this figure looking for someone, waiting for someone?  The other figures in the scene are themselves in rear view, walking away from her.  Does she envy them their purpose, or is she happy just to enjoy the riverscape (and … Continue reading

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