Some years ago, I collected several instances of the same engraved denture for an exhibition.
Initially, it appeared on a Deberny & Peignot catalog of stock engravings. Then it found its way to a David Pelham Penguin cover, a recent book about censorship, a thick Portuguese humor anthology. I keep seeing it in all sorts of places.
The Deberny & Peignot catalog contained 5000 images, and legendary french designer Massin contributed with a vividly humorous introduction where he takes the reader for a tour of the collection. The denture is one of the images he singles out.
Why is this denture so charismatic? Why do so many designers discover it? Perhaps because it looks like the macabre grin of a skull, but also because it is a perfectly modular object, a set of floating teeth, absent of a face, ripe for appropriation.
In a sense, the denture is like the images used on memes, usually selected for their lego-like capability to be juxtaposed with different captions, generating never-ending combinations.