Friday Photos: The Image is the Message

Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

The other day I was talking with an aspiring screenwriter about great film actors. I mentioned Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Marilyn Monroe. The aspiring screenwriter, a young woman, told me that she’d heard of them, seen a lot of their photos on the internet, but had “never actually watched any of their movies.”

I probed further and discovered that in spite of not screening any of these actors’ films, the aspiring screenwriter had formed definite impressions of these “old actors.” Clark Gable was  a “real he-man,” Cary Grant “delicious,” Audrey Hepburn “definitely sweet”, John Wayne “that cowboy guy,” and Marilyn Monroe “unbelievably beautiful but like totally tragic.”

It seems to me that national elections follow the same principal. Through fleeting visual glimpses and disconnected bits of information the public gains a strong impression of a candidate, and that image determines what happens in the voting booth — at least for the low-information voter.

Republicans are, by nature and ideology, wedded to the idea of experience as a necessary prerequisite for public office. We talk about a candidate’s fine record as a pro-business office-holder. Or we delve into the amazing personal history of Marco Rubio, or Ben Carson, their up-from-the-bootstraps American success story, and expect rational voters will also be carried along by these inspirational narratives.

But as the aspiring screenwriter’s knowledge of movie acting begins with the cast of Seinfeld and ends with Channing Tatum, many citizens fixate on an ahistorical image. Barack Obama had no record at all. But he had a trim figure, a generous smile, custom made Brooks Bros. suits, and a skin pigment that translated into an image of glamour that was hugely appealing to the American public.

Aware of the importance of image, Hillary Clinton regularly goes under the knife which deducts about 20-years worth of wrinkles and sagging skin from her  face. Her dumpy pant suits translate into business attire for the busy gal. Vogue magazine, at the height of MonicaGate, understood that Hillary needed, um, work, and slapped her on the cover with a makeover that was, even by Vogue’s standards, insane.

Hillary gets the Vogue glamour treatment, 1998.

Hillary gets the Vogue glamour treatment, 1998.

So: forget experience and accomplishments. The Republican who projects the right kind of glamour with a compelling personal narrative is the one who can beat Hillary. Her image is deeply compromised by her pay-for-play political operation disguised as a charity. And her severe lack of charm is becoming ever more apparent as she shleps her way through the initial stages of her presidential campaign.

Anyway, here are some images to enjoy over the weekend.

 

Self Portrait by Charlotte Soloman.

Self Portrait by Charlotte Salomon  (1917 -1943).  She was one of the most striking German Jewish artists of modern times. Her 769 autobiographical paintings are titled: “Life? or Theater?” She was gassed to death by the Germans probably on arrival at Auschwitz. She was five months pregnant.

 

Charlotte Salomon, “Kristallnacht” gouache on paper.

Charlotte Salomon, “Kristallnacht” gouache on paper.

 

During WWII, Jews in Budapest were brought to the edge of the Danube, ordered to remove their shoes, and shot, falling into the water below. 60 pairs of iron shoes now line the river's bank, a ghostly memorial to the victims.  'Shoes on the Danube Promenade' by Can Togay and Gyula Pauer

During WWII, Jews in Budapest were brought to the edge of the Danube, ordered to remove their shoes, and shot, falling into the water below. 60 pairs of iron shoes now line the river’s bank, a ghostly memorial to the victims. ‘Shoes on the Danube Promenade’ by Can Togay and Gyula Pauer.

 

Agnes Pelton, “White Fire” c.1930, Oil on canvas, 25.5 x 21

Agnes Pelton, “White Fire” c.1930, Oil on canvas, 25.5 x 21

 

Norma Jeane Baker AKA Marilyn Monroe.

Norma Jeane Baker, 1930s.

 

Norma Jeane getting more comfortable in her skin and in front of the camera.

Norma Jeane getting more comfortable in her skin and in front of the camera, 1940s.

 

Norma Jeane is gone. Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” 1954.

Norma Jeane is gone. Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” 1954.

 

Ed Rusha, “Back of Hollywood.”

Ed Ruscha, “The Back of Hollywood” 1977. The extreme horizontal format and deeply saturated colors remind us of CinemaScope. But the famous Hollywood sign is seen from the back. Thus, the painting is imbued with nostalgia for Hollywood’s lost glamour.

 

Nancy Reagan with Mr. T

Nancy Reagan with Mr. T. Take a look at her cute Christmas shoes.

 

Barcelona Haggadah, folio 43. The Barcelona Haggadah is one of the finest illuminated Hebrew manuscripts in The British Library. Written in about 1340 when Barcelona was home to a flourishing centre of manuscript illumination, the Haggadah is outstanding for the rich decorative and representational illuminations scattered throughout the text. Its fanciful figures, medieval musical instruments and pictorial scenes provide fascinating insights into Jewish life in medieval Spain.

Barcelona Haggadah, folio 43. The Barcelona Haggadah is one of the finest illuminated Hebrew manuscripts in The British Library. Written in about 1340 when Barcelona was home to a flourishing centre of manuscript illumination, the Haggadah is outstanding for the rich decorative and representational illuminations scattered throughout the text. Its fanciful figures, medieval musical instruments and pictorial scenes provide fascinating insights into Jewish life in medieval Spain.

 

Willem de Kooning, Untitled, 1983, oil on canvas

Willem de Kooning, Untitled, 1983, oil on canvas

 

Rare Kodachrome of Ingrid Bergman, 1943

Rare Kodachrome of Ingrid Bergman, 1943

 

A wonderful portrait of Irene Dunne, she was a wonderful actress who was as adept in comedy as in drama. A Catholic, she remained married to one man and was never involved in a scandal. Her two best comedies are “My Favorite Wife” and “The Awful Truth.” Both with Cary Grant.

A wonderful portrait of Irene Dunne, a brilliant actress who was as adept at comedy as she was in drama. A Catholic, she remained married to one man her entire life, and was never involved in a scandal. Her two best films are screwball comedies, “The Awful Truth” (’37) and “My Favorite Wife” (’40) both with Cary Grant.

 

French poster for “My Favorite Wife”

French poster for “My Favorite Wife”

 

This tablet is especially important because it records Nebuchadnezzar’s first capture of Jerusalem in 597 BC and the deportation to Babylon of the king of Judah.️

This tablet is especially important because it records Nebuchadnezzar’s first capture of Jerusalem in 597 BC and the deportation to Babylon of the “king of Judah.”

 

Rare Kodachrome of Gene Tierney, 1941.

Rare Kodachrome of Gene Tierney, 1941.

 

David Ortins, Untitled, oil, beeswax on wood panel, 19" x 14", 1990. Collection Robert & Karen Avrech, Los Angeles

David Ortins, Untitled, oil, beeswax on wood panel, 19″ x 14″, 1990. Collection Robert & Karen Avrech, Los Angeles

 

Karen and I recently attended a wedding here in Los Angeles. This is my obligatory footwear portrait.

Karen and I recently attended a wedding in Beverly Hills. This is my obligatory footwear portrait.

 

Carolyn Jones confronts Carolyn Jones.

Carolyn Jones confronts Carolyn Jones.

 

Edward Hopper, Sunlight In A Cafeteria, 1958

Edward Hopper, Sunlight In A Cafeteria, 1958

 

Seventeen Magazine, May 1960, Meet Paul Newman, photo by Francesco Scavullo

Seventeen Magazine, May 1960, Meet Paul Newman, photo by Francesco Scavullo

 

Anna May Wong looking like a bird of paradise.

Anna May Wong looks like a bird of paradise.

 

One of the books I'm reading while on my lunch break. Highly recommended.

One of the books I’m reading while on my lunch break. Highly recommended.

 

Great poster.

Great poster.

 

I'm still going through my late father's papers. Recently discovered this ID card.

I’m still going through my late father’s papers. I recently discovered this ID card.

 

Hilma af Klint Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X, Altarpiece Series 1915.

Hilma af Klint
Altarpiece, No. 1, Group X, Altarpiece Series
1915.

 

Cornell Capa, Hebrew Lesson in Brooklyn, NY, 1955

Cornell Capa, Hebrew Lesson in Brooklyn, NY, 1955

 

Livia Yarden wishes all our friends and relatives a lovely and inspirational Shabbat.

Livia Yarden wishes all our friends and relatives a lovely and inspirational Shabbat.

 

the_end_4766

 

This entry was posted in Abraham Avrech, Anna May Wong, Ariel Avrech Memorial Lecture, Art, Family, Friday Fotos, Gene Tierney, Glamour, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, Hollywood Stars, Hollywood Still Photography, Joan Fontaine, John Wayne, Judaism, Painting, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

13 Comments

  1. TheNonna
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    At first I was aghast at the screenwriter story, then very sad – basically sad at the stupidity. Why get into a business that you care so little about – if you cared even a little you would have interest in film from the beginning to the present.
    Anyway, has there ever been a bad photo of the beautiful Norma/Marilyn? I think not!
    And thank you for a photo of Irene Dunn; she is my number 1 and I’m passing that love to my granddaughter (after Guardians of the Galaxy of course).

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  2. Posted June 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Your “aspiring screenwriter” story tells me all I need to know about the quality of too many movies lately.

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  3. kgbudge
    Posted June 9, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Wait. Ingrid Bergman? At first glance, I would have guessed Ingmar Bergman. Not a terribly flattering photo.

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  4. Bill Brandt
    Posted June 9, 2015 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Beautiful pictures as always, Robert. Still trying to fathom an “aspiring screenwriter” who had never screened any of the films of these cinema immortals.

    Have you thought of putting a list together for these aspirants with a list of movies to screen, and what is being taught from a screenwriting view in these movies?

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  5. gerrytepler
    Posted June 7, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Hi Robert
    Just checking in as I’ve done every few years
    Love the blog and I intend to follow
    Shoes on the Danube Promenade
    is chilling: the calm aftermath of unthinkable horror
    Each pic needs a long conversation

    It’s been more than a generation, yet it doesn’t seem so long ago

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    • kgbudge
      Posted June 8, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Shoes on the Danube Promenade

      I had never heard of this art work before. Very touching.

      I find myself thinking that my uncle witnessed the Holocaust as an infantryman in Germany in 1945. Didn’t ever talk to me directly about it. Now he’s gone.

      My aged mother was his kid sister. She remembered the first reports of it, though. She’ll be gone sooner than I would wish.

      And then we’ll be down to my kids hearing me remember how my mother and uncle remembered the Holocaust.

      And then it will be harder to refute the deniers or get anyone to care about what seems like ancient history.

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  6. kishke
    Posted June 7, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I like the lines and color of the Hopper, but that’s an awfully bare cafeteria! Most cafeterias I know serve food.

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  7. kishke
    Posted June 6, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    The Nancy Reagan/Mr. T picture is so weird.

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  8. sennacherib
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink
  9. sennacherib
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    “The aspiring screenwriter, a young woman, told me that she’d heard of them, seen a lot of their photos on the internet, but had “never actually watched any of their movies.”
    The way of the world. You’re absolutely right about elections. When I saw Randolph Scott’s name above I of course thought of the “Blazing Saddles” scene. The A. M. Wong photo reminded me of a female Richard Petty of NASCAR and his hats.

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  10. Michael Kennedy
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Carol Lombard is a favorite in “My Man Godfrey” with Bill Powell. We began to watch “The Aviator” on Netflix tonight. I had never seen it as I am not a fan of Leonard de Caprio. It was awful ! We turned it off. My first wife’s mother knew Hughes quite well and he was not at all as De Caprio played him. I also knew Noah Dietrich’s daughter in college and the guy who played him was better in “Boogie Nights.” We turned it off after about a half hour.

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  11. Yossel
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Great photos!

    Does anyone else notice a striking resemblance between Ingrid Bergman [circa 1943] and Shelley Winters?

    Good Shabbos Behaaloscho.

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  12. Posted June 5, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    More beautiful artwork, Robert… well, maybe not the Vogue cover.

    I love the alter piece by Hilma af Klint. She was a remarkable artist in both abstract (which I normally don’t appreciate) and naturalism (which I adore). She was also something of a mystic who conducted seances and tried to communicate with the departed (although that seemed to be more common in her era).

    Livia Yarden has a joyous smile and toes that look delectable!

    I love the Stanwyck poster and the Newman cover of Seventeen. Excellent art again this week, Robert, but I have to ask — why does your dad’s ID have RESTRICTED across the Branch/Unit fields? Did he have restricted access to parts of the base, or was his unit designation Restricted from prying eyes??

    I’ll bet the Chaplan/Rabbi role was just a cover during World War II… can you say OSS? 😉

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