In its power to evoke what is no longer present physically — yet entirely visible emotionally — it resonates like the perfect twin to its predecessor.
Undaunted Spanish artist Ana Juan inherited the demanding challenge: Create a New Yorker magazine cover to mark the10th-anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Accepting the assignment meant working in the shadow of the 2001 New Yorker cover — by the artist couple Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly — that so memorably plumbed emotions in the immediate dark days of that September’s numbing despair.
Mouly herself, the New Yorker art director, believes Juan rose to that challenge, writing on the magazine’s blog: “In its quiet beauty, Juan’s image evokes both the reflecting pools at soon-to-be-opened Ground Zero Memorial and the black-on-black cover that The New Yorker published in the aftermath of 9/11.”
Comic Riffs asked Juan about her inspiration for rendering the acrylic-on-paper assignment:
“The process toward inspiration usually has different ways,” the artist tells ‘Riffs. “This time the idea came suddenly, but ... years ago, the idea slept peacefully in my sketchbook, until the right moment.”
Even though she's based in Madrid, Juan is creatively stirred by Gotham.
“Just occasionally visiting New York, where I have many friends and I always enjoy the time, [the city] is a very inspiring place for me,” she says.
Juan says that although her idea “was almost clear since the beginning,” she was buoyed by Mouly’s encouragement in helping her develop the idea.
In that way, the echo to the 2001 cover is even stronger.
“Both images are 10 years of difference,” Juan says. “Spiegelman’s black towers respond exactly to the feeling right after the terrorist attack. The Towers and their occupants disappear into the darkness, right in front of our eyes, without hope.
“The cover of 2011,” she continues, “remembers that all the people pass away there [are] still in our hearts.
Juan, who was in Valencia “in the swingin’ ‘60s, says she doesn’t try to express emotions in her work — but that she’s heard from readers who have been moved by her 9/11 anniversary cover.
“Some people kindly tattooed [it] onto their skin...,” she says. “That is really amazing.”