Peek: Photographs from the Kinsey Institute by Carol Squiers, Jennifer Yamashiro
Alfred C. Kinsey, professor of biology at Indiana University, joined the emerging field of sex research in 1938 and investigated sexual behavior until his death in 1956. His pioneering studies, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), also popularly known as "The Kinsey Reports," stunned a straight-laced nation with statistics on the actual sexual practices of everyday Americans. Although case histories were the foundation of his studies - nearly 18,000 individuals were interviewed - Kinsey and his small team of researchers also collected related supplementary material such as books, journals, diaries, manuscripts, artifacts, prints and drawings, graffiti, and photographs. Notwithstanding the strength of the Institute's diverse holdings, the photography collection held a unique place in Kinsey's research. Counted among the 75,000 images that make up this collection today are numerous anonymous snapshots, photographic album books, photographically illustrated diaries, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century erotica from Europe and Asia, as well as works by well-known artists such as George Platt Lynes, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, and Joel-Peter Witkin.. Peek is the first survey of this rich visual resource of sexual, erotic, sexual and erotic imagery, which, until now, has been inaccessible to the general public. The 125 images presented here, along with accompanying texts by four scholars, demonstrate the various ways in which photography functioned at the Institute. This fascinating and unprecedented publication makes clear the significance of Kinsey's life work, placing the photographs in historical context and raising theoreticalissues about Kinsey's directives as a researcher, collector and interpreter of the photographic image.