Thursday, September 30, 2010

a picture for dreaming over

Arnold Böcklin, Isle of the Dead, Oil on Board, 80 x 150 cm, 1886, Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig

"One of Arnold Böcklin's (1827-1901) most haunting images, especially for later painters like Giorgio de Chirico and the Surrealists, came to be called Island of the Dead, a scene depicting no known reality but universally appealing to the late Romantic and Symbolist imagination. With its uncanny stillness, its ghostly white-cowled figure, and its eerie moonlight illuminating rocks and the entrances to tombs against the deep, mysteriously resonant blues and greens of sky, water, and tall, melancholy cypresses, the picture provided inspiration not only for subsequent painters but also for numerous poets and composers."
(source for quote: History of Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Photography by H. H. Arnason, published by Prentice Hall, Inc., and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York © 1998)

Rachmaninov - The Isle of the Dead Op. 29

Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence
(haunting in a different way: a "ghostly white-cowled figure" standing on top of one of the World Trade Center buildings)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the most famous reindeer of all

Christmastown will miss you, Billie Mae Richards (1921-2010)

As Richards said on National Public Radio in 2004: "What better legacy can you leave than a show that everybody loves?"

Friday, September 10, 2010


Happy Friday!

Pierre-Louis Pierson, The Queen of Hearts, Albumen silver print, 1861-63

The Countess de Castiglione (1837-1899) created a sensation when she dressed as The Queen of Hearts for a masked ball in 1857. The photograph above commemorates the Walewski ball, although it was made several years after the event. She came as an apparition, always beautiful . . .

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and sweet dreams . . .

Friday, September 3, 2010

flappers and "the bob" haircut

Ceramic heads by Gudrun Baudisch (1907-1982), 1920s, at the Wiener Werkstätte

"At first, a bobbed head was seen as a sign of dangerous radicalism. When the manager of the Palm Garden in New York rented his hall to a left-wing group whose meeting ended in a riot in 1918, he defended himself by saying the woman who signed the lease was well dressed and drove a nice car. He added: "Had we noticed then, as we do now, that she had short hair, we would have refused."

-excerpt from America's Women by Gail Collins
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Louise Brooks (1906-1985) (a.k.a. Pie-Face) on the set of A Social Celebrity. The barber is Adolphe Menjou.

"Barbara (Bennett) finally appeared, wearing Constance's beige gabardine suit. We lunched on chocolate milkshakes at a drugstore, after which she took me to the smart hairdressing shop of Saveli, where Saveli himself attended to my hair. He shortened my bangs to a line above my eyebrows, shaped the sides in points at my cheekbones, and shingled the back of my head. Barbara was pleased. "As a mat-tra-fact, Pie-Face," she said, "you are beginning to look almost human."
-excerpt from Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, © 1983

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excerpt from the short story, Bernice Bobs Her Hair (1920) by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1948):

"On the following Wednesday evening there was a dinner-dance at the country club. When the guests strolled in Bernice found her place-card with a slight feeling of irritation. Though at her right sat G. Reece Stoddard, a most desirable and distinguished young bachelor, the all-important left held only Charley Paulson. Charley lacked height, beauty, and social shrewdness, and in her new enlightenment Bernice decided that his only qualification to be her partner was that he had never been stuck with her. But this feeling of irritation left with the last of the soup-plates, and Marjorie's specific instruction came to her. Swallowing her pride she turned to Charley Paulson and plunged. "Do you think I ought to bob my hair, Mr. Charley Paulson?"

Charley looked up in surprise.


"Because I'm considering it. It's such a sure and easy way of attracting attention."
Charley smiled pleasantly. He could not know this had been rehearsed. He replied that he didn't know much about bobbed hair. But Bernice was there to tell him.

"I want to be a society vampire, you see," she announced coolly, and went on to inform him that bobbed hair was the necessary prelude.

Louise Brooks in Love 'Em and Leave 'Em, 1926

She added that she wanted to ask his advice, because she had heard he was so critical about girls.

Charley, who knew as much about the psychology of women as he did of the mental states of Buddhist contemplatives, felt vaguely flattered.

"So I've decided," she continued, her voice rising slightly, "that early next week I'm going down to the Sevier Hotel barber-shop, sit in the first chair, and get my hair bobbed." She faltered, noticing that the people near her had paused in their conversation and were listening; but after a confused second Marjorie's coaching told, and she finished her paragraph to the vicinity at large.

"Of course I'm charging admission, but if you'll all come down and encourage me I'll issue passes for the inside seats."

There was a ripple of appreciative laughter, and under cover of it G. Reece Stoddard leaned over quickly and said close to her ear: "I'll take a box right now."

She met his eyes and smiled as if he had said something surpassingly brilliant.

"Do you believe in bobbed hair?" asked G. Reece in the same undertone.

"I think it's unmoral," affirmed Bernice gravely. "But, of course, you've either got to amuse people or feed 'em or shock 'em." Marjorie had culled this from Oscar Wilde.

Kym Hepworth, detail of Oscar Wilde's tomb by Jacob Epstein, Père Lachaise, Paris

It was greeted with a ripple of laughter from the men and a series of quick, intent looks from the girls. And then as though she had said nothing of wit or moment Bernice turned again to Charley and spoke confidentially in his ear.

"I want to ask you your opinion of several people. I imagine you're a wonderful judge of character."

Charley thrilled faintly--paid her a subtle compliment by overturning her water."

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Siouxsie and The Banshees - Peek-a-Boo

Happy Friday

Happy Friday!

Kym Hepworth, Betty Compson smiles

Betty Compson (1897 – 1974)

The Raveonettes - Aly, Walk With Me