Friday, June 20, 2014

Dennis Hopper Sneaks In

This Week:  Back to the Movies!  More Bread-and-Butter in the Back of the Book; we do very nicely with a Leger, but not enough to quit the day job.  Dennis Hopper!

Even Vogue has to pay the bills - throwing some meager little bones to the advertisers. . . let's move on.

Well, someone was having fun.  First a lot of dresses horizontal, then a lot of dresses vertical.  And there isn't much more to say about them.  Junior ready-to-wear at major department stores, many of which we are already following on Twitter.  $20 watch.  Ho hum.

This week's art -

"$200.00 ($1,635.00) Fernand Leger:  'The Well'; color lithograph.  This 1943 lithograph, second in an edition of seventy-five, is by a French master who died in 1955.  With mat and gold-leaf frame."  New Gallery, which is where we got the Gottlieb, but know nothing else about.

 Well,  here it is, exactly as described in 1959:

Looking very nice indeed and yours for $7,500.00. (Several place online.)

Let's go to the movies!

Oh, my God - they're too young to vote!

*    Non-actors Pat Wayne - son of John - and Yvonne Craig front this oddity that appears to be a public service announcement for the American jury system in comedy (?) drama set in California 1848.

*    Oscar nominee - Best Song - "Strange Is the Way of Love."  Just awful.  Same producer as the terrific North West Territories of the same year.  What happened here?

*   Mexico plays part of California; in an early featured role, Dennis Hopper plays punk gunslinger.   Dennis Hopper is terrific.  It's hard to even watch him in this sludge of mediocrity.

This is free on YouTube - here is the first 15 minutes of it.  I confess that I've paid a good four months' of DVD rental for it to sit in my kitchen until I figured out if I would go on with this.  Shameful.

Dennis Hopper in 1959:

Dennis Hopper at Musso & Frank in 1959, presumably before he was fired from Warner Brothers and took off for New York.

According to the very nice Dennis Hopper website, upon the suggestion of his late friend James Dean, he began taking photos of people on the streets of New York.  A few years back, I saw the Dennis Hopper show at MoCa in Los Angeles and liked it very much.  And if I'm not very much mistaken, I read about it in Vogue.  (I won't go into the Hopper/Vogue axis here; we are sure to run into him again.)  There were a lot of pictures of our friend Jane Fonda, not wearing a hamster fur skirt:  

My favorite Hopper photo:

Hopper selfie:

Next time:  another Western, more art, Italian evening gowns.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Short Shorts and Polly Pants

This time - an unexpected trip to Bermuda.

Continuing along with the sitting-awkwardly-in-the-studio-is-fun! beach news. . . on the left, the ugliest picture I have come across in Vogue:

Weird, cheap-looking cutout, the model is nearly in white face, one foot looks bare, the other in one of those nasty "suntan" color nylons with reinforced toes.  The blurbage (which I just remembered I was going to Tweet - sorry, my dear three followers:  "Sharp-edged, immaculate -- eel-scrubbed, in fact:  American separates-dressing has been throng on these principles for years.  What's new, and delightful: the separates-attitude beached."  Um . . . I don't think that means what you think it means.  "Notable in this neat-on-the-beach era: a current of strict little knee-capping sun dresses."  Knee capping?  That's really not what you think it means.  She's wearing an Omega watch, still alive and kicking and we pick up another member of the Twitter flock.   Let's just move on. . .

Much better, but still veering toward Ladies' Home Journal, which is sadly on its last legs.  "Instant beach dash - without water: the news of brown and a surprise play of navy blue."  Note the shorts: batik!   I think of batik as a fabric of the Sixties - as in Madras bedspread-on-the-wall Sixties.  I am wrong.

Charles James - of the big exhibition now at the Met - toyed with batik as a beginning designer, before getting underway in 1926 - just spent several minutes trying to attribute that to the article in a recent issue; there is just too much Vogue online.  But the grand Charles James did not design these cute little shorts, shorts that would look pretty good today, or anyway, a few months ago - I think we are onto Bermuda shorts at the moment.  And this designer just happens to be Bermudan, but not in a short-short mood.

Polly Hornburg was, from the brief amount I can gather, the daughter of a old Bermudan white family, who began designing after World War II.  She experimented with African tribal cloth, as well as batik, and she is credited with - and while there is too much of some things on, it is utter crap in other ways because there is nothing about Polly Hornburg thereon.  She is credited on various sites with popularizing the one-piece diving suit, the sheath, and the dinner skirt.  The diving suit? She was a diver.  Also a business woman, who had a string of shops that sound like the Lilly Pulitzer shops - bright, vacation fashions.  It's kind of still around in fancy Bermuda hotels.  Here is Polly Hornburg  in front of her father's house, photo by Slim Aarons.  She died at 94, just a few years ago.

More Polly:

Thanks,  They've got this as 1952.  Looks right.
Two more pages of Vogue - the gist of which is:  Brown cloth!

In researching this, I came across a very interesting, well-done blog about Calypso Couture.  You should go visit it.

The photographer for this shoot was William Bell - he seemed to flourish for a few years in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Someone left a note on that he died in 2012, and was thrilled to see that his work was visible again.

Oh, our Picasso - "The Reappearance of the Bull."  Good for the bull.   It was one of 50, but I couldn't find this lithograph anywhere on line.  Either it appreciated wildly, or it didn't.  Best I can do.

But I did find this - Polly Hornburg was once so popular that her Polly Pants inspired a song:

Which Blogger can't find.  Here's the link -

Polly deserves better.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SwimArt - More Synchronicity

We make a killing in the art market.

Back-of-the-book mishmash.  Skipping ahead to kill two birds - the always-anticlimatic b-o-b pages and to get some more art out of the way.  Nearly a quarter of the way through!

Are we going to the beach?  No.  We're going to pretend we're at the beach with our sunlamp and sea-air machine and ridiculously feeble exercise program.  And we're going to start by wearing a Christian Dior silk hat.

The hat is not so great here, but gorgeous on the page. I can't stop looking at it.  The blurbage:
"Eclipsing almost everything - except the fact that this much hat is a lot of fashion - a hat of bright blue silk shantung and a huge white bow.  To wear: not with bathing suits, but in a bathing-suit climate- with, say, a white sliver of a dress for lunch in the sun-country now. "  So why not show it with the white sliver of a dress?

It could be found at Lord & Taylor (still around and on Twitter) and the sadly-departed Joseph Magnin, which would have  had the best Twitter feed of all.  Earrings by Schlumberger of Tiffany. Red Comet lipstick by Germaine Monteil, which is kind of still around, if you count Costco.

Let's talk about some of those "remarkable substitutes" for the beach.

"In terms of good looks gained, tensions lost, and a general rise of euphoria, we know of no more efficient machine than a beach with its irresistible combination of swimming, sun and salt air.  Failing the real thing, however, we're pleased to report that what you can do in the way of duplicating the great beach benefits at home or at a salon is:  extraordinary.  . . . Sun tans, of course, are a cinch to acquire away from the beach- and getting cinchier by the minute."

And it goes on to warn of the hazards of the sun lamp, advising you to start with 30 seconds a day and work your way up to 5 minutes.  Now, if this were written in the style of the present day, some poor Vogue minion would have cooked herself horribly and given us all the gruesome details.

After more words of warning about the sun lamp, we turn to the sea-air fakery.  "Even the famously potent alchemy of the sea air itself is not, it seems, behind the scope of beauty salons.  One fascinating alternate is a treatment called Vapozone, which consists of aerating the skin in a dense mist of ozone and active oxygen.  The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow: clearer, cleaner, plumper-looking skin; a definitely peppier complexion.  Vapozone comes, like dessert, at the end of a full-course facial, is administered by the Charles of the Ritz Salon in New York, and works this way:  After your face and throat have been  properly cleansed and gently massaged with a rich cream, icy witch hazel-soaked pads are applied to the eyes.  At this point, the Vapozone machine - which looks rather like a particular elegant vacuum cleaner attachment, and has been warming up quietly all this time - goes into serious action.  Which is, simply, to deliver at a flick a stream of warmish moist air, and a sensation that a Vogue editor - ah! - who's been through the Vapozone mists describes as floating through the moors. Following this fifteen-minute aeration, a creamy masque to tauten things up; more icy cold cotton pads; a final sloshing of skin-freshener; make-up. . . "

Vapozone is still around!  A quick look around reveals that Cate Blanchett sometimes has an oxygen facial.  Vapozone?  It seems to be a European thing.

And the rest of the blurbage describes some simple Pilates-style exercises that will take you five minutes a day, yet will give you results in two weeks.

Now - cooked, oxidized and almost perspiring, we are ready for that bathing suit!

"Pay-off for the figure that's been swimming steadily for months (possibly via the exercises charted above) - maillot of knitted cotton-and-Orlon in a sunburst of color news: a clear, un-ingenue yellow.  This, by Jantzen; about $17.  At Bonwit Teller; Dayton's; Roos Atkins.  Beach turban: a Wamsutta towel, wrapped at great length.  Red with a clear affinity for the new beach-yellow: Harriet Hubbard Ayer's lipstick news - Red Blaze."

The stores - gone, gone, gone.  Harriet Hubbard Ayer is new to me - but she shouldn't be.  The brand lingers on in Europe.  There is a recent biography . . . we'll come back to this.  The venerable Wamsutta  is still going strong.  And, Jantzen, of course.  This suit looks so uncomfortable. Wearing an enormous towel wrapped around your head won't help.  She looks tense - very un-beachy.

Now, for the art, which I chose before deciding to skip ahead to the bathing suit.  Our art could wear our bathing suit!  That's synchronicity!

"$400 ($3,260) Lynn Chadwick  'Maquette for Female Dancing Figure,' 1958: iron.  By one of England's most spectacular sculptors, winner of the Venice Biennale Sculpture Award in 1956.  Big museums, including London's Tate, own his works.  5 1/2 " x 11".  Seidenberg."

The least expensive maquette sold at auction went for $19,000 - which appears to have done much better than if we had invested that $400 in the stock market ($9,000).

I had to look up "maquette" - it means the model made to scale.  It doesn't mean something you might impale yourself on.

I had, also, to look up Lynn Chadwick.  But I'm not the only one, apparently.  In rummaging around through the Tate website, I came across this:

A poster for a talk - or the book jacket - by the author of a new book about "England's most neglected" post-War sculpture.   Still, our $400 did pretty well.  One of Mr. Chadwick's most famous sculptures:

A very short video shot by Mr. Chadwick's grandson:

Next time:  more fun not in the sun and our first Picasso.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Licorice and a Cherry

This time - Adolph Gottlieb - His Imaginary Dessert and His Spangly Dress.

"$165.  ($1,344) Adolph Gottlieb.  "Imaginary Landcape" " red and black water color.  This strong painting is by a well-known American who lives in New York and whose work has been exhibited all over this country, and in India, Japan, and Europe.  Charcoal grey mat and grey wood frame, done by Gottlieb, himself.  22 1/2 x 18 1/2.  The New Gallery."

First, this looks pretty familiar because it is one of many Imaginary Landscapes.  This one I imagine to be a Spanish castle in the snow, especially when it's on its side.

Adolph is a sort of friend of a friend of Reading Vintage Vogues - we just missed him in the September issue, as he was off touring when his AbEx pals sat for a portrait with Irving Penn.  Extremely devoted readers will remember seeing the following photo at least eight times:

But we'll see this one even more - the Gottlieb looks just as nice on its side, even more Spanish castley.  (This looks fine in iPhoto, but it collapses on the way to the Desktop. Repeatedly.)

If "Imaginary Landscape" were an oil painting, and not a watercolor, we'd have good down payment on a house around here.    It's a school night - no time to search beyond the first few search pages for good sales figures - I've seen $9,000 on eBay, but also $1,500.  My wild, wild guess would be that this was still a bargain, even at what amounted to $1,300.

I saw a lot of Gottliebs at the AbExRedux exhibition, so feel we've already "done" him.  Here is a rather staid chronology of his life by the Gottlieb foundation - dropped out of high school, worked his way to Paris, drew incessantly and went to museums every day, met Barnett Newman, hung out with Mark Rothko. . . I don't have time to get permission to use the photo of my favorite painting - "Dry Cactus," which I read as "Dead Octopus" as it scrolled by.  I liked it better as an octopus.

The New Gallery - nothing pops out, except it was at 601 Madison Avenue.

We're running into our friend The Guggenheim everywhere these days - have a nice Eatograph at the Venice branch.

This seems naked without a movie. . . or a dress.

Oh, great and mighty Internet!  I asked and you gave -

This came from a very nice, but brief fashion blog called The Strutting Peacock, whose author found it on what I think is a Tumblr site.   If you have found yourself here, then you should hurry over there, where there are so many pairings that I couldn't find Gottlieb, but found several Barnett Newmans, who lends himself well to simple shifts.  Thanks, Georgina M of Polyvore.

Next - maybe a break from art. Why not?  Next - swimsuits!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Just Can't Break Up With My Blog

This week:  Trying to remember how to do this. . .

We left off last July, barely into a dense forest of art history.  Why?  Some reasons - new Mac and new iPhotos kind of confusing; overwhelmed myself trying to make a perfect Twitter account; the normal problems of life; and, very important, no more alternate work schedule.  (Still bitter about that.) But I just can't break up with my blog.  I miss it.  I miss the joy of discovering forgotten things.  And having a sort of reason for poking around and tracking people down.  Every time I come across the year 1959, I think of my poor blog.   Every now and then I check in on  the Twitter account (very tightly curated - RVV follows only and every person on entity appearing in this issue) and am amazed at how alive it all is.  Silly, but vibrant.  Bubbling along, with recent Tweets from the Jamaica Tourist Board about an upcoming regatta, Elizabeth Arden about spring lipstick colors; the Guggenheim with a very witty post on Bike to Work Day. . . Deep down, I feel that social media, or this "social media stuff", doesn't really exist, or shouldn't really exist, or should be thoroughly ignored. . . yet here I still am.

Some digital house cleaning:  The Movies Page will be moving to WordPress pretty soon.  Twitter will be the repository for all of the 1959 references that keep popping up.  And take a look at "Blogs I Follow" on the sidebar.  All still going strong and well worthwhile.

So:  here goes.

"$200.00.  ($1,630.00 in 2014).  African Mask. Monumental in its effect, this high patina wooden mask, from the Dan tribe of the Ivory Coast, now part of Liberia, was worn by a woman.  Female masks have round eye holes; male, horizontal ones.  4 3/8" x 8 1/2".  Mathias Komor."

When I'm not blogging this page, I barely take any of it in.  As I write, though, I ask myself:  What can I find out about the Dan tribe?  Why are the eye shapes different for men and women, and are they really?  Is the gallery still around?  The curiosity is visceral - I feel it in my fingers as I write.  So, this is why I do it.

The Dan - There are informative videos about the masks of the Dan on YouTube.  But here is a dance from some time between 1958 and 1960, according to the YouTube info.

Here is a map of the Dan (or Gio) region stolen from a Christian missionary website that includes prayer points so that the Dan can be converted from their animist beliefs.  I do not approve.

Here is a very similar mask in the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Round eyes, so should be a mask worn by a woman, but this one seems to have a beard.  I admit I have trouble warming up to most of what is often described as "ethnic art."  I feel I have very little in common with anyone who ever wore it.   All I can do is acknowledge the distance, which is kind of intriguing in itself.  

OK - how much does a Dan mask cost today?

This one sold for $62,000.00 at Christies in Paris in 2004.  That was the highest on this list of auction results.  Based on the examples, I would guess that a good Dan mask would cost from $5,000 to $10,000.  

The gallery that sold the mask in the magazine in 1959?  Mathias Komor was an expert in Asian art, who had a gallery from 1941 until 1984 at Madison Avenue and 71st Street.

One reason why I don't do this.  Two hours!  But I have seen the Snake Girls Dance, and have begun to recognize living people in these masks, especially this one:

who could be starring in a French rap video.

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