Spread your legs

Print Magazine takes a look at the evolution of the spread leg motif, from books to posters and album covers.? No stone is unturned here.

The human leg has evolved continually over many eons, adapting from an underwater propeller to its current form. But on book covers and on film and theater posters, the leg has evolved very little. In fact, the ?A-Frame,? a cutoff-torso-spread-leg framing device, is the most frequently copied trope ever used. From steamy paperbacks designed in the ?40s (Pamela?s Sweet Agony), hardly a year has gone by without at least one ham-fisted advertisement using this perspective. The earliest known uses were 19th-century engravings that showed spread-legged, Simon Legree?type slave masters lording over cowering victims. In Westerns, the quintessential showdown frames one duelist through the legs of the other, and mid-20th-century pulp magazine covers were known for their noir images of recoiling women seen through the legs of menacing men.

What amazes me is when the light bulb goes off and there’s the realization that this pose is unbelievably overused and yet I wonder why no one has picked up on this before.? Is it a subconscious thing, we see it and never think about it?? And why that pose.? It is sort of creepy spying something or someone looking through a person’s crotch, but there has to be a certain power in the image for it to be so pervasive.

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