The Gaze

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Mr. Grundy
Leslie Gale Saunders, Saunders, photograph, black and white photograph, photography, gelatin silver print, scale, gaze, 2D art, two-dimensional, metaphor, interpersonal, sight line, posed composition, juxtapose, juxtaposition

Looking only at these photographs, and not at any information about them, we might assume that they are images in a series. After all, they both make use of the gaze, and in both cases there is a portrait-like subject/object on a back wall, staring expressively at a hunched, humanoid figurine.

These two photographs were actually made approximately 13 years apart. But by examining them together, we may notice the differences in the qualities of the two gazes enacted upon our similarly-postured figurines. In Mr. Grundy, the drawn pin-up girl’s glance at the  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  is as flirtatious as her pose, and her body, however anatomically unlikely its own proportions, is at least similar in  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  to the figure’s body. The figure, whom we might assume is Mr. Grundy himself, is unaffected by her presence. Whether it is his apparent depression, an inability to see the one who gazes at him, or some kind of an understanding that he inhabits a three-dimensional world while she exists only in two dimensions, he “strolls” along in front of her; and as he ignores her gaze, he also ignores ours. In this way, the work becomes a  metaphorUsed in art as in speech. A term, regularly used for one object, is used for another and suggests a likeness between to the two.  for the interpersonal; it images a visual relationship in order to express a quality of a social relationship.

In the earlier Micromegas, Saunders has used a three-dimensional head as the counterpart for his small figurine. The head’s size is much greater than even the entire body of the figure. By placing the head above the figure, Saunders has emphasized this difference in size while creating a vertical relationship between the two subject-objects. The figurine is lit from behind, nearly a silhouette, while the large head is lit from the side and above to emphasize its features and expression. The relationship between the two components of this image is complicated by the nature of the head’s gaze at the figure; the head carries a demeanor of quiet appreciation, perhaps even loving attention, at the dejected figurine. The  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  suggests a parental relationship that transcends biology; while Mr. Grundy is a  metaphorUsed in art as in speech. A term, regularly used for one object, is used for another and suggests a likeness between to the two.  for interpersonal relationships, Micromegas represents the relationship between the human individual and the epic, the  monumentalIn art criticism, any work of art of grandeur and simplicity, regardless of its size, although it often connotes great size. (  or the divine.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • These two photographs appear to be posed rather than found compositions.  That is, Saunders didn’t happen upon these images in everyday life, but rather constructed them by bringing objects together and lighting them. How is this different from “snap-shot” photography, where the image is captured from the social or natural world? Is Saunders’ way of working here more like the practice of another discipline, such as painting? How?
Online Activity
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Create your own comic strip

Each number at the top of the Activity window is a separate frame.  When you have finished adding drawings to each frame, you can click on the Play button at the top-right side of the Activity window to "play" your comic strip!

Studio Activity

In the photographs Mr. Grundy and Micromegos, Leslie Gale Saunders plays with scale, dramatic lighting and  juxtaposingCombining two or more objects that don’t usually go together to cause the viewer to consider both objects differently.  unusual objects to create a narrative.

  • Use a lamp or lamps to create dramatic lighting and shadows in the scene. Experiment with the placement of the light for maximum drama.
  • Edit the photos and print the one you feel best sets up a narrative.
Studio Activity

As an extension to the previous studio activity create a comic book or comic strip based on the characters and the  narrativeRelating to the telling of a story, or the telling of events, etc.  you set in the photograph.

For more information and tips on creating comic and comic books see the following links.


Author unknown.  ‘Leslie Gale Saunders.’  Saskatchewan and the Visual Arts, Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 10, 2008 from:

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning