Artful Conception #12: The A Frame Revisited

This is sort of a rehash of an earlier post on the subject, but I couldn't leave well enough alone.  As I continue to peruse through old print media, I'm struck again and again by the repeated image of the A-Frame. 

The A-Frame is an image where you see a man or woman from the torso down from behind, with legs wide, and often a scene displayed through the open legs.  You might call it the For Your Eyes Only theme since that's probably its most recognizable use.  I'm not sure why it's used so repeatedly, but it does bring up some sociological thoughts...

1. Below, I have a mosaic of both female A-Frames and a male A-Frames.  Is there a significant difference between the two? In other words does it imply something different when there's a female with legs in the A-Frame versus when a man is doing it?

2. Some would claim the A-Frame is nothing more than ogling a woman's legs- but if that was the case, why an almost equal measure of male A-Frames through the years?

3. It would seem the A-Frame position denotes power - the individual appears larger and above the secondary figures.  You'll notice that when it's a man in the A-Frame position, the power is from violence - i.e. a showdown between two cowboys, or a violent attacker.  When it's a woman in the A-Frame position, it's almost always sexual - long slender legs, almost always with heels.  James Bond in the For Your Eyes Only movie poster may have the gun; however, there's no denying the anonymous, faceless woman has all the power.... the xexual power.

4. And finally, why always from the back? Why is it always a faceless, mysterious individual, rather than the A-Frame positioned toward the viewer with face visible? Something about this form is subconsciously compelling.

Male A Frame (click to enlarge)

Female A Frame (click to enlarge)


  1. As soon as I saw the movie poster I thought of "For Your Eyes Only" and you had it in your collection.

  2. Female A-Frames: all nekkid legs. (except one)
    Male A-Frames: all clothed legs. (except one)

    Not surprising that a sexual subtext dominates the female A-frames, as they are (almost entirely) nekkid legs.

    Interesting experiment: try mentally "clothing" the female A-frames, and "stripping" the male A-frames. What happens?

    Even more interesting: try switching out the male and female A-frames, putting the female A-frames onto the "male" covers, and vice versa.

    As to point (4), perhaps fascination with the human rear end has something to do with it. By the way, are you counting the two women peering through their legs as not "facing" the viewer?

  3. Nearing the end of a rainy, gray day--stuck inside my little beige cubicle, the quote "most men lead lives of quiet desperation" in my head--and then I see this collection of A frames. God bless you, Gilligan--GOD BLESS YOU :)

  4. I thought of The Graduate, with Benjamin's innocent deer in the headlights stare...not there.

  5. http://www.365horrormovie.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/munchies.jpg ("Munchies")