Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 8, 2007

Your Turn: Iran And The Desperate Man


(click for full size)

The image is not about Sarkozy and Merkel spending a cultural afternoon, nor is it about Merkel giving momentary pause to an arresting piece of art.  The photo accompanies a report about Thursday’s strategy session between the two.

According to the NYT article, the Europeans continue to see Iran as a nuclear threat despite the latest U.S. intel claiming Iran ditched its nuke program back in ’03.  If Sarkozy is more resolute than Merkel on the need for U.N. sanctions, it is not by much.

My question is, how does the painting — a self-portrait by French artist Gustave Courbet titled “Desperate Man” — map to the story, as well as mix with the interplay between the heads of state?  More importantly, how much is the Times (which made a point to name the artwork in its caption) playing off the painting to address the shifting picture on Iran, either by alluding to how it has been perceived up to now or to what to expect going forward?

(image: Maya Vidon/European Pressphoto Agency.  Paris.  December 7, 2007.  via

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