ABOUT FACES by Terry Landau


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All you ever wanted to know about the human face--by a TV producer, creator of the "About Faces" exhibit, which is currently on an extended science-museum tour. Landau starts out with the evolution of the human head, feature by feature, all the way from Crossopterygia, the first fish to migrate to dry land 350 million years ago. She ties the multiplicity of human facial expressions (smile, fear, surprise, etc.) to the communication needs of our species' complex social organizations and our extended maturation period. Along the way, she also cites studies that trace the development of facial recognition skills from infancy to adulthood; that examine how different societies control the "public" face of their members (Japan frowns on all but the ubiquitous smile); how the face has inspired artists from the Stone Age on; and how the face and head have been adorned or distorted through the ages and across cultures via infant head binding, tattoos, scars, cosmetics, etc. The profuse illustrations include sculpture and portraiture, composites demonstrating the omniprescence of facial bilaterism and of "ideal" beauty, a plethora of facial decorations and masks, and on and on. The text is a tad flaccid, but the 117 black-and-white photos are clear and give this project a universal, and perhaps enduring, appeal.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1989
Publisher: Anchor
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