Thursday, April 17, 2014

R. M. Schindler, Julius Shulman and Kim Gordon: A 78-Year Collaboration Courtesy of MAK and the Gagosian Gallery


(Click on images to enlarge)
Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

R. M. Schindler, 1935. Photo by Dorothea Lange. Oakland Museum of California.

West elevation from across Laurel Canyon Blvd., Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Julius Shulman presciently photographed this house designed by Schindler for Clifton Estates developer Clifton Fitzpatrick located near the corner of Mulholland Drive and Laurel Canyon Blvd. sometime in early 1937, only a year after committing to a lifetime career as an architectural photographer. He was inspired by encouragement he received from Schindler's erstwhile Kings Road tenant and partner Richard Neutra after showing him his photos of the Kun House just down the hill at the mouth of Laurel Canyon. Shulman would purchase a lot nearby at 7875 Woodrow Wilson Dr. and commission Neutra disciple Raphael Soriano to design his personal residence which was completed in 1950. Shulman likely had to pay much more than the $750 price advertised below despite his lot being quite difficult to build on.

Clifton Estates Real Estate ad, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1937, p. V-3.

Schindler's Clifton Estates model home sold to New York theater chain operator and Cape Playhouse founder Raymond Moore for $17,000 two weeks after the above ad ran. Moore likely planned to use Schindler's modernistic design to recruit Hollywood movie stars to play summer stock at his prestigious 605-seat Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA. This is evidenced by his May 1936 Hollywood trip seeking to recruit Ginger Rogers. The Cape Playhouse, now the oldest summer theater in America, opened in 1927 with a play starring Basil Rathbone. Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, a former playhouse usher, made their acting debuts there. ("Ginger Rogers May Star in Play at Summer Theater," Los Angeles Times, May 25, 1936, p. 15). It would be interesting to speculate whether Schindler and friends were introduced into Moore's Hollywood circle or vice versa. (For much on Schindler-Weston connections with the New York and Cape Cod theatrical communities see my "Edward Weston, R. M. Schindler, Anna Zacsek, Lloyd Wright,Reginald Pole, Beatrice Wood and Their Dramatic Circles").

Raymond Moore, Cape Playhouse founder, “The Cape Playhouse and the Cape Cinema” ca. 1930s. From Tragedy and Comedy in New England.

"New York Theater Owner Buys Residential Realty Here," Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1937, p. VII-1.

Julius Shulman, 1935. From Wikipedia.

In his 1998 autobiography Shulman reminisced about the mentoring he received from Schindler on photographing interiors. 
"My relationship with Schindler was a cordial one. Although he never attended an assignment with me, he provided invaluable critiques of my photographs. I particularly recall his comments when reviewing prints of his Daugherty House in the Santa Monica Mountains. He asked: "Why on your interiors is the lighting equal in intensity on adjacent walls?" He then pointed to the naturally illuminated walls in his studio. Each differed, the light sources struck at varied angles. What a lesson! In my use of floodlights it had not occurred to me that illumination need not be uniform. Schindler's observations were timely for, as I became more active, there was a growing responsibility for more realistic identity of natural values in my interior compositions. My photographic techniques were further enhanced by his continuing comments on my interpretations to his designs. We both gained." (Julius Shulman: Architecture and its Photography, Taschen, 1998, pp. 46-48).
Shulman property, 7875 Woodrow Wilson Dr. Julius Shulman photo ca. 1950. Copyright Getty Research Institute, Shulman Archive.

It was from the above promontory that the legendary iconographer held court until his passing in 2009 just short of his 100th birthday. Schindler's Fitzpatrick House would be just out of view to the right in the above photo. It was also here where film maker Jake Gorst and I had the honor of performing the last recorded interview of Shulman for footage for the film on one of his best clients, "William Krisel, Architect." (For much more on Shulman's house see my post, "Julius Shulman Residence, 7875 Woodrow Wilson Dr., Los Angeles, Raphael Soriano, 1950, Historical Cultural Monument #325").

John Crosse interviewing Julius Shulman for the film "William Krisel: Architect" with film maker Jake Gorst. Photo by production assistant Phil Weyland, 2009.

Front yard and east elevation, Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Front yard, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

R. M. Schindler's now Fitzpatrick-Leland House was donated to the MAK in 2008 by then owner Russ Leland after completing a 10-year restoration process. Most Schindler fans will remember the house through the iconic images of the then fledgling lensman Julius Shulman who captured one of the few spec houses designed by Schindler, the others being three at 423, 429 and 433 Ellis Ave. in Inglewood in 1940, one of which was recently meticulously restored in award-winning fashion by Steven Ehrlich for his daughter in 2010. (See Vuong, Zen, "House of the Issue - Steven Ehrlich Architects," Architects Newsletter, December 6, 2010).

R. M. Schindler Spec House, Ellis Ave., Inglewood, 1940. Restoration by Steven Ehrlich, 2010. Grant Mudford photo.

Gordon's basement studio, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.
"Unlike most of Schindler's houses, which were designed for specific clients, the Fitzpatrick-Leland House was built on spec—a promotion of sorts for a new hilltop housing development. The angular, terraced structure was anything but anonymous—Schindler was the most idiosyncratic of L.A.'s early modern masters—but the spirit of the place was still aspirational. Gordon holed up in the basement game room for two-and-a-half weeks to paint." (Romano, Andrew, "Kim Gordon: Going Solo After Sonic Youth, and Why She Identifies With ‘Girls’," The Daily Beast, April 10, 2014.)
Kim Gordon, Design Office, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 2014. (Romano, Andrew, "Kim Gordon: Going Solo After Sonic Youth, and Why She Identifies With ‘Girls’," The Daily Beast, April 10, 2014.) All artwork © Kim Gordon. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Jiro Schneider.

Under the auspices of the Gagosian Gallery Kim Gordon is presenting newly created paintings throughout the iconic Modernist house under the byname of Design Office, the entity which encompasses her diverse and prolific production in art, music, literature, film, and fashion. Rudolph Schindler's iconic Fitzpatrick-Leland House (1936) was designed and constructed as a “spec” property to promote the housing development on the steep hillsides above Los Angeles. 

Sonic Youth, Dirty, 1992. Album cover design by artist Mike Kelley.

The multi-talented Gordon, was until recently a member of  Sonic Youth, an alternative rock band formed in New York City in 1981 that has performed at Coachella and many other SoCal venues. Their lineup included besides Kim, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Mark Ibold, and Steve Shelley. The band's discography includes 16 studio albums, seven extended plays, three compilation albums, seven video releases, 21 singles, 46 music videos, eight releases in the Sonic Youth Recordings series, eight official bootlegs, and contributions to 16 soundtracks and other compilations. (Here is a link to a Kim Gordon fashion clip on YouTube). (Author's note: The designer of cover for Sonic Youth's 1992 album "Dirty" was none other than Mike Kelley who coincidentally now has a major retrospective on display at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary until July 18th. Don't miss!)

Sonic Youth in performance. From Wikipedia.

After location scouting for months to find a venue for Gordon to work on and display her wreath paintings on display in this show, Gagosian Gallery curator and sometime location scout Aaron Moulton decided that the gallery-like setting provided by the Fitzpatrick House, the last place he inspected, was the most inspiring option. Schindler fans such as myself cannot help but agree. Displaying contemporary art in historically significant buildings is a growing trend in Los Angeles and if this show is any indication we have a lot to look forward to in the years ahead. 

Following is a portfolio of photos taken by Julius Shulman in 1937 and me today at the 11:00 a.m. Gagosian Gallery scheduled viewing. Sign up fast before there are no more dates left to experince Gordon's and Schindler's collaborative handiwork.

West elevation from east side of Laurel Canyon Blvd., Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Living room, Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Scanned from R. M. Schindler, Architect by August Sarnitz, Rizzoli, 1986, p. 128. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Living room, Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Scanned from R. M. Schindler, Architect by August Sarnitz, Rizzoli, 1986, p. 128. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Living room, Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Scanned from Julius Shulman: Architecture and its Photography, Taschen, 1998, p. 46. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

From the kitchen looking towards the living room, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

Upstairs bedroom, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

Bathroom, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

Patio and north exterior, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

Living room, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

 Basement, Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Basement, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

 Looking southeasterly from Laurel Canyon Blvd., Fitzpatrick House, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., 1936. R. M. Schindler, Architect. Julius Shulman Job 0132, 1937. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute.

Kitchen, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, 1936, 8078 Woodrow Wilson Dr., R. M. Schindler, Architect. Photo by John Crosse, April 17, 2014.

A lively discussion with new friends from left to right, artist Robyn O'Neil who was inspired to come and see Gordon's exhibition because of her Sonic Youth album covers designed by Mike Kelley, avid world art travelers and collectors George Morton and Karol Howard, Beth Crosse and Gagosian Gallery curator and host par excellence Aaron Moulton. George and Karol who regaled and provided us with numerous art travel tips were featured in a recent issue of Art & Antiques Magazine.
"Both the Dallas-based collector Karol Howard and the New York dealer Luise Ross feel that, more and more, general art audiences are appreciating both self-taught and trained artists’ works without drawing strict distinctions; they credit outsider art’s increasing presence in museums and art fairs for helping to steer this trend. Howard and her husband, George Morton, have built a collection that seamlessly brings together self-taught and trained artists’ works in many different formats and media. Howard says, “What kind of artist may have a made a particular piece is less important to us than its overall strength and the appeal of its subject matter.” However, Ross notes that, in the still-ailing art economy, “there are no younger clients; young people look at the work but never inquire about anything.” Even if outsider art may appear to some to be breaking out of a label-limited category, she suggests, it is solid sales that give an art-market trend its momentum." (Gomez, Edward M., "On the Border," Art & Antiques, February 2011).
Having studied British Arts & Architecture at Kings College in London, Robyn enjoyed immensely the collaboration and integration of Gordon's work in Schindler's architecture. Many of her drawings are reminiscent to me of the work of Laddie John Dill whose work is prominently featured in our living room.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Brett Weston's Smokestacks, 1927

(Click on images to enlarge)
Weston, Brett, "Stacks," 1927, gelatin silver print, 3-7/8 x 3 in. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From Brett Weston Photographs: 1925-1930 and 1980-1982, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 7.

While researching for an upcoming exhibition "The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship" I have run across numerous publications of Brett Weston's industrial image "Stacks." To this day the striking image is often inaccurately credited to his father due to the similarities with Edward's 1922 ARMCO Steel images (see below for example). Brett's intriguing 1927 photo was made at the tender age of 16 and was obviously inspired by Edward's earlier work. The location of these smokestacks remains unknown but Weston referenced taking photographs at an iron foundry in his December 7, 1927 Daybooks entry which provides a possible clue for future research.

Weston, Edward, ARMCO Steel, 1922. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

"Factory Pipes," ca. 1927, Johan Hagemeyer. Courtesy UC-Berkeley, Bancroft Library.

In mid-January 1928 Johan Hagemeyer visited Weston for the first time since his return from Mexico a year earlier. Johan's above image was apparently taken at the same location as Brett's photo evidencing his indelible memory of Edward's ARMCO work discussed later below. Hagemeyer also undoubtedly viewed Brett's and Edward's recent work during his five-day visit. Thus Johan and Brett could most likely visited and photographed this site together during his stay. (Daybooks, January 15, 1928). Brett's striking composition clearly favorably compares with Johan's illustrating his rapid artistic progress. I have found no record to date of Johan's image having been exhibited or published.

Although Edward's "Pipes and Stacks" (see below) was included in an exhibition of 102 of his prints, Brett's "Stacks" was not among the 18 prints he selected for their group show at the Los Angeles Museum in Exposition Park in October of 1927. This seemingly indicates that he had not as yet captured the image. ("Park Museum to Display New Art," Los Angeles Times, October 3, 1927, p. 7). The photo was however likely included in a show the following year at UC-Southern Branch arranged by another Schindler-Weston circle intimate Barbara Morgan. (For more on this see my "Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism.")

"Pipes and Stacks," ARMCO Steel, 1922. Edward Weston. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Weston diarized his much looked forward to November 1922 visitation with photographer/gallerist Alfred Stieglitz and subsequent studio visit with painter/photographer Charles Sheeler just weeks after taking his now iconic ARMCO photos (see above) while visiting his sister in Ohio on the way to New York. 
"Treat anything you undertake with dignity, a portrait or a box of matches. If I were [still] publishing Camera Work I would ask you for this breast, these torsoes and these smoke-stacks. ... Stieglitz looking at my steel works photos had said "You should see Sheeler's work," and then in the same breath "No, it is not necessary." But I concluded to go - and I am happy that I did. His photographs are a remarkable "portrait" of New York, the finest architectural photographs I have seen." (Daybooks I, Notes from N. Y. Nov. 1922, p. 6).
On a second visit to Stieglitz's studio Georgia O'Keeffe responded, "These stacks too are very fine, they remind me of the paintings of... (can't remember name) do you know them?" I did not." (Daybooks I, p. 6). 

A few months later Weston chronicled his close friend Johan Hagemeyer's comments, 
"I gave him a print of my "Stacks" - "I have never before demanded a print from you Edward, - but I must have a copy of that" - He would return again and again to it - "It is a thing I wish I had made - but I'm glad you did it for me to enjoy - for I feel I could have done it." (Daybooks I, April 25, 1923, pp. 9-10).


Weston, Edward, "Smokestacks" or "Steel" Irradiador, No. 3, November 1923. Image courtesy of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Jean Charlot Collection.

Edward's and Tina Modotti's rapid immersion into the Mexico City arts scene shortly after their arrival in 1923 soon resulted in his striking "Smokestacks" gracing the cover of Irradiador, the organ for the short-lived Mexican avant-garde Estridentismo Movement whose motto promised, "Will make reactionaries lose sleep, and will affirm all the anxieties of the present hour." (From Letters Alive.). The same image also appeared on the November 19, 1926 cover of Der Welt Spiegel. (Per Weston bibliographer Paula Freedman).

Sheeler, Charles, Power House No. 1 - Ford Plant, 1927. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Lane Collection.

Perhaps with Weston's ARMCO prints still engrained into his subconscious memory, Sheeler captured some very similar images during an autumn 1927 Ford Motor Company commission to photograph it's new Albert Khan-designed Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan (see above for example). With the launch of the new Model A, automobile production began at "The Rouge" that same year. Sheeler's Rouge commission was part of a $1.3 million advertising campaign to generate excitement and public interest in a new modern automobile and the powerful new plant. Sheeler's Rouge Plant portfolio from this commission clearly provided inspiration to Diego Rivera, Edward and Brett's 1923-26 Mexican sojourn amigo, during the creation of his 1932-3 "Detroit Industry" murals at the Art Institute of Detroit (see below). (See Frida Kahlo: Her Photos edited by Pablo Ortiz Moasterio, Editorial RM, 2010, pp. 506-517 for the Sheeler Rouge photos in her private photo collection.). (Author's note: Rivera became deeply entwined in the Weston-Schindler-Neutra-Scheyer circle through his 1923-6 Mexican connections with Weston, his exhibition collaborations with Galka Scheyer and his San Francisco mural connections. Among Rivera's numerous mural assistants on both sides of the border were also many mutual Schindler-Weston friends and lovers. I am planning a future article on this so stay tuned.)

Diego Rivera at work on "Detroit Industry" at the Detroit Institute of Arts, ca. 1932.

Through Edward's contacts with Schindler partner and Kings Road tenant Richard Neutra, a version of Brett's "Stacks" was definitely included along with 18 of his photos and 20 of Edward's in the seminal "Film und Foto" exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany in in May–July 1929. (Brett Weston Photographs: 1925-1930 and 1980-1982, edited by Van Deren Coke, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 10).

Willi Ruge poster design. Film und Foto, 1929.

"Film und Fotowas comprised of approximately 1,000 works from Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The traveling exhibition was a seminal avant-garde event in the history of modern photography which Neutra, through his European publishing and Deutscher Werkbund connections, was given responsibility for America's West Coast contributions. Neutra made a friend for life by delegating this task to Weston and providing him, Brett and Weston-Schindler mutual friends Imogen Cunningham and Roger Sturtevant their first significant European exposure. The below exhibition catalogue included an introductory essay to the American section by Edward along with a few of his images and a listing of his and Brett's contributions. (For much more on this see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism" (PGS))


Catalogue cover for "Internationale Ausstellung des Deutschen Werkbunds Film und Foto, Stuttgart 1929." From Luminous Lint

"Focus and Mechanism, Experimental Cinema, June 1930, p. 2.

Perhaps the first publication of Brett's "Stacks" was in the pages of Edward's friend Seymour Stern's Experimental Cinema in the June 1930 issue (see above). This came about through the largess of Edward's erstwhile lover and close family friend Christel Gang who was Stern's secretary, translator and contributor. Brett had only flown the coop from Carmel the previous month and moved in with Pauline Schindler in Frank Lloyd Wright's Storer House where he would set up shop with his first photo studio (see below). (A Restless Eye: A Biography of Photographer Brett Weston by John Charles Woods, Erica Weston Editions, Richmond, MO, 2011, p. 109). 

Storer House, 8161 Hollywood Blvd., Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, 1924.

Edward wrote of Brett's inevitable departure, 
"But Brett has grown wings, - no longer a child, yet so much a child in many ways that my heart aches when I think of what he faces now alone. But it had to be for his own growth. He no longer fitted into this nest, yet while he used it he had to be part of the routine, which no longer interested him." (Daybooks, May 18, 1930).
Braxton Gallery, 1624 N.Vine St., Hollywood, R. M. Schindler, architect, 1929. Viroque Baker and/or Brett Weston photos.

Brett had two months earlier made a rush trip to Los Angeles, possibly accompanied by fellow erstwhile Carmelite Roger Sturtevant, to photograph some projects Pauline included in her "Contemporary Creative Architecture" exhibition which traveled among various West Coast venues during 1930-31. Pauline welcomed with open arms her former Walt Whitman School pupil and quickly began acting as Brett's "agent" and designing his business card (see below). Pauline and sometime housemate Galka Scheyer would commandeer Harry Braxton's nearby Hollywood gallery (see above) designed by her estranged husband to show wealthy prospective clients Brett's work. Edward had a well-reviewed exhibition at Braxton's the previous February with all of his Los Angeles friends likely in attendance at the opening. (Millier, Arthur, "Realism or Abstraction," Los Angeles Times, February 9, 1930, p. II-17). (PGS. See also my "The Schindlers and the Westons and the Walt Whitman School" and "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club" for much more detail on the Braxton Gallery.).

Brett Weston business card, ca. 1930-31, designed by Pauline Schindler. Brett Weston portrait of Vasia Anikeef, Carmel, 1929. From the Weston Collection. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Laemmle Office Building, Hollywood and Vine, Hollywood, 1932-3, Richard Neutra, architect. From Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture by Thomas S. Hines, Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 160.

Stern was introduced into the Weston-Schindler orbit during Brett's time at the Storer House by Christel Gang. Stern was a higher level production assistant and special advisor to future Neutra client Carl Laemmle at his Universal Pictures while Gang was working as a German translator for Laemmle as well as her association with Stern's Experimental Cinema (see below).

Experimental Cinema, February 1930, inaugural issue.

Then editor of Carmel's avant-garde weekly newspaper The Carmelite, Pauline Schindler had featured contributing editor Weston's 1927 portrait of Gang on the cover the previous year (see below). Coincidentally Edward's "Smokestacks" appeared in his one-man show at the Carmel Playhouse the previous month. (Per Weston bibliographer Paula Freedman.).

Christel Gang, Edward Weston portrait. The Carmelite, April 10, 1929. Front cover. Courtesy Harrison Memorial Library, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.

Jacobs, Lewis, "Eisenstein," Experimental Cinema, February 1931, p. 4.

Then romantically involved with Russian film maker Sergei Eisenstein whom Stern had been urging Laemmle to employ, Gang arranged for a portrait-sitting for him at Brett's Storer House studio. (Sergei M. Eisenstein by Marie Seton, The Bodley Head, London, 1952, p. 156)Stern used Brett's portait of Sergei in the next issue of Experimental Cinema (see above) along with a portfolio of Edward's work and his statement in the same issue (see below). 

"Edward Weston," Experimental Cinema, February 1931, pp. 13-15.

(Author's note: Gang showed Eisenstein her collection of Edward's abstract prints and offered him one of his choosing. He selected an abstract nude of a woman's back which just so happened that she had been the model for (see below).

Weston, Edward, Nude (Christel Gang), 1927. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Weston, Brett, "Three Fingers and an Ear," (Ramiel McGehee), 1929, gelatin silver print, 6-7/8 x 9-5/16 in. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From Brett Weston Photographs: 1925-1930 and 1980-1982, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 9.

During the portrait session Eisenstein absconded with Brett's now iconic portrait of another Weston-Schindler intimate Ramiel McGehee (see above). 
"He saw a few of my photographs lying around and suddenly declared, "I vant dat!" Without another word he picked up my photograph of "Three Fingers and an Ear" and walked off with it. I couldn't stop him because I was intimidated, but it was a great compliment. That photograph later appeared on the cover (see below) of Camera magazine." (Woods, p. 110).
Weston, Brett, "Three Fingers and an Ear," (Ramiel McGehee), 1929, Camera, February 1973.

Special Eisenstein "Que Viva Mexico!" issue, Experimental Cinema, February 1933.

Sergei M. Eisenstein by Marie Seton, Bodley Head, 1952. Brett Weston frontispiece. (From my collection).  

Brett's portrait of Eisenstein presaged Sergei's making of the film "Que Viva Mexico!" (see above) with the financial backing of prominent Weston-Schindler circle members Upton Sinclair and Kate Crane Gartz. Sergei acknowledged that the inspiration for the film came from the 1926 photos Anita Brenner commissioned from Edward Weston and Tina Modotti to illustrate her Idols Behind Altars (see below). (Seton, p. 194). (For much more on Sinclair and Gartz see my "The Schindlers and the Westons and the Walt Whitman School. For much more on Barnsdall and her Los Angeles Little Theatre see my "Edward Weston, R. M. Schindler, Anna Zacsek, Lloyd Wright, Reginald Pole and Their Dramatic Circles").

Idols Behind Altars by Anita Brenner, Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1929. Frontispiece photo "Hand of the Potter Amado Galvan" by Edward Weston, 1926. (From my collection).

During Eiesenstein's portrait session Brett undoubtedly reminisced about assisting Tina and Edward as a fifteen-year-old while they traveled across Mexico compiling the images Brenner had in mind for her well-received book, including images of the murals of Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros. They also certainly must have discussed Orozco's nearby "Prometheus" in Pomona completed in May 1930.

In December 1930 "Gangster," Sergei's nickname for Christel, and Seymour Stern saw Eisenstein off at the station on his way to Mexico to begin filming on "Que Viva Mexico!" Seymour later wrote of Sergei, 
"He was the most brilliant human being I have ever met: he was intellectually free of illusion, politically free of dogma, and socially free of prejudice, and spiritually free of superstition. ... In Eisenstein I found a free mind." (Seton, p. 191). (Author's note: Around this same time Neutra received a commission to design Laemmle's Universal Pictures Building begging the question whether Stern and/or Gang played a role in him landing this prestigious project on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in the heart of Hollywood. Coincidentally Eisenstein also featured the work of another Neutra client Josef Von Sternberg in Experimental Cinema in 1934, the same year Von Sternberg commissioned Neutra to design his house.)
Millier, Arthur, "Reviews and News of Art; Photographs for Himself," Los Angeles Times, July 20,1930, p. II-12.

Around the time Brett's "Stacks" first appeared in Experimental Cinema Jose Clemente Orozco was working on his "Prometheus" mural at Pomona College. The next publication of Brett's "Stacks" was in the pages of the Los Angeles Times as part of art critic and family friend Arthur Millier's review of his one-man show at Jake Zeitlin's Book Shop (see above). The same day this article appeared, Orozco and his New York Delphic Studios gallerist Alma Reed were visiting Edward in Carmel.
"The coming of Clemente Orozco and Alma Reed will go down as an important day in my personal history. I am to open the season with a one-man exhibit in Alma Reed's New York Gallery: but more important she is to keep my work, feature it along with Orozco's, to the exclusion of all other artists'."(Daybooks, July 19, 21, 1930). 
Edward Weston Delphic Studios exhibition catalog, October 15-31, 1930. Bancroft Library, Alfred Honigbaum Collection.

Jose Clemente Orozco, Los Angeles, July 1930. Brett Weston photo. From Pijoan, Joseph, "Orozco's Great Fresco," Touring Topics, October, 1930.

Coincidentally, just a couple weeks prior to this, Brett had photographed Orozco (see above) whose murals he viewed and helped his father photograph during his 1926 coming of age in Mexico. The portrait was possibly taken at his Storer House studio around the time he was being feted by the California Art Club (discussed later). Brett also photographed Orozco's breathtaking "Prometheus" at Pomona College around the same time (see below). By then longtime Schindler-Weston intimate Arthur Millier featured Brett's photo of Orozco's mural two weeks before publishing his "Stacks" thus these must have been heady times indeed for the rapidly emerging lensman. (For much more on Orozco's time in Los Angeles in 1930 and his New York murals see my "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club.").

Brett Weston photo of "Prometheus" by Jose Clemente Orozco. (Millier, A., "Orozco's Fresco Complete," Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1930, pp. II-7, 12.

Orozco, Jose Clemente, ca. 1940s. "Jose Pijoan," From Christie's.

Art professor Jose Pijoan (see above), the driving force behind Orozco's visitation to Pomona College, also used Brett's stunning "Prometheus" image as the centerfold for his article "Orozco's Great Fresco" in the October issue of Touring Topics (see below). (For much more on Touring Topics see my "Touring Topics / Westways: The Phil Townsend Hanna Years." For much more on Professor Pijoan see my "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage" and "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club."). 

Pijoan, Joseph, "Orozco's Great Fresco," Touring Topics, October, 1930.

"Orozco and Pijoan Dream of Giants," Art Digest, August, 1930, cover. Brett Weston photograph.

Possibly the most prominent publication of Brett's photograph of Orozco's Prometheus was on the August 1930 cover of the prestigious national journal Art Digest (see above) again likely through the largess of Pijoan and/or the magazine's West Coast contributor Arthur Millier.

Jose Clemente Orozco, Carmel, July 20, 1930. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Amerika, Die Stilbildung des Neuen Bauens in den Vereinigten Staten, Richard J. Neutra, Verlag Von Anton Schroll & Co., Wien, 1930, p. 145.

At their prestigious digs at Aline Barnsdall's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House, the California Art Club honored Orozco, his Pomona College mural assistant Jorge Juan Crespo de la Serna, and Pijoan at their monthly dinner meeting on April 17th with Pauline, Brett and wife Elinore, and others in their Storer House circle certainly in attendance. ("Notable Company to Meet," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1930, p. I-8). Club Second Vice-President and Schindler Kings Road House tenant Richard Neutra most likely attended this meeting and met Orozco since he was slated to be the following month's honoree shortly before his world tour departure (see below). The Hollyhock House construction supervisor R. M. Schindler was also undoubtedly in attendance.

Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1930, p. I-8. From ProQuest.

Before leaving on his career-making world tour in May 1930, Neutra also selected "Stacks" (see above) and other images by Brett and Edward from their "Film und Foto" portfolios to illustrate his second book, Amerika, Die Stilbildung des Neuen Bauens in den Vereinigten Staten, published the same year (see below). Charged with designing the cover, noted Russian graphic designer El Lissitzky was so taken by "Stacks" when he viewed it in "Film und Foto" that he selected it along with another image from Neutra's book, a photo by Herbert of New York's Chanin Building, to create the striking cover photomontage seen below. Like Weston via Neutra, El Lissizy was also prominently involved in the "Film und Foto," having been charged with the design of the Soviet Pavilion. His now iconic self-portrait was also included in this seminal exhibition. (see two below).

Amerika, Die Stilbildung des Neuen Bauens in den Vereinigten Staten, Richard J. Neutra, Verlag Von Anton Schroll & Co., Wien, 1930. (From my collection).

"The Constructor," El Lissitzky self-portrait, 1924. From Analogue 76.

Weston, Brett, untitled, (Mt. Wilson Observatory support structure), ca. 1928, gelatin silver print, 4 x 3 in. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From Brett Weston Photographs: 1925-1930 and 1980-1982, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 7.

Neutra was obviously inspired by Brett's ability to find art in industrial repetition of geometric shapes evidenced by his above photo of the angular steel girders and texture of the rivets of the Mt. Wilson Observatory tower. Neutra made a trip to Mt. Wilson to photograph it himself for inclusion in Amerika (see below). He also likely used this trip to gather research for an unsuccessful attempt to win the new Griffith Park Observatory commission.

Amerika, Die Stilbildung des Neuen Bauens in den Vereinigten Staten, Richard J. Neutra, Verlag Von Anton Schroll & Co., Wien, 1930, p. 148.

Weston, Brett, untitled, (tower, Los Angeles), ca. 1928, gelatin silver print, 3 x 4 in. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From Brett Weston Photographs: 1925-1930 and 1980-1982, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 8.

Further evidence that Amerika was a collaborative effort with the Westons are the above and below images of power lines and towers. Brett's 1928 photo above again captured the repetitive beauty and geometry of an industrial object and was again the likely inspiration for Neutra's inclusion of the Southern California Edison photo below.

Amerika, Die Stilbildung des Neuen Bauens in den Vereinigten Staten, Richard J. Neutra, Verlag Von Anton Schroll & Co., Wien, 1930, p. 146.

A variant of the El Lissitzky Amerika cover photomontage also appeared in David Arkin's Arkhitektura Sovremennogo Zapada in a section excerpted from Neutra's book titled "Some Peculiarities of Recent American Architecture" which featured images of Neutra's "Rush City Reformed."

El Lissitzky photomontage, "Stacks" by Brett Weston, Chanin Building, New York, photo by Herbert. From Arkitektura Sovremennogo Zapada, Moscow, 1932 cited in Scenes of the World to Come: European Architecture and the American Challenge 1893-1960 by Jean-Louis Cohen, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 1995, p. 101. Both images first appeared in Neutra's Amerika

Another important appearance of Brett's "Stacks" was in a large group show of many Group f/64 participants and friends at San Francisco's De Young Museum under the curatorship of Lloyd La Page Rollins in early 1933 which included a total of 45 of Brett's prints. Coincidentally, R. M. Schindler had a concurrent exhibition of his architecture at the De Young as did Schindler-Weston intimates Henrietta Shore and Xenia Kashevaroff. (For more details see my "Schindlers-Westons-Kasevaroff-Cage").

Brett Weston, 1931 by Edward Weston. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

This brief article is intended to give a sense of the deeply entwined relationships of the Weston and Schindler families and their bohemian circles of friends in 1920s-1930s Los Angeles and Carmel. It is also indicative how a singular image can gain a life of its own, inspire other artists, mutate and spread globally under the right circumstances. Stay tuned for much more to come.