Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Nude Backs of Edward Weston, Diego Rivera and Jean Charlot, 1925-27

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Diego Rivera, 1926. Model unknown. Model likely Luz Jimemez. From Pinterest.

I recently ran across the above 1926 Diego Rivera drawing of a back which immediately brought to mind Edward Weston's 1925 images of the backs of Anita Brenner and his son Neil and the 1927 posterior images of his then lovers Christel Gang and Bertha Wardell. Below is more or less a chronological depiction of the cross-pollination going on between Weston and close friends Jean Charlot, Diego Rivera and possibly others on this particular theme.

Anita Brenner, 1925. Edward Weston. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1. Edward Weston photo. ©1981Center for Creative Photography. Arizona Board of Regents.

Edward Weston's abstract nude back photos of the mid-1920s were a natural outgrowth of his 1910s nudes of his wife Flora, lover Margrethe Mather and various dancers and other lovers. His 1925 Anita Brenner images may have been inspired by Man Ray's below photo depicting the transformation of the female body into a musical instrument. Ray painted the f-holes of a stringed instrument onto the photographic print and then rephotographed the print, altering what was originally a classical nude. The armless torso seemingly fascinated Weston as this theme appeared again and again in various his nudes over the years.

"Ingre's Violin," model, Kiki of Montparnesse. Man Ray, 1924. 

Weston's awareness Man Ray's "trickery" is evidenced by a 1924 Daybooks entry comparing a manipulated photo of Tina's to Man Ray's recent work. 
"Tina printed her most interesting abstraction done in the tower of Tepotzotlan (see below). She is very happy over it and well she may be. I, myself would be pleased to have done it. She printed from the enlarged positive, so she has a negative print and shows it upside down. All of which sounds "fakey," and, in truth, may not be the best usage of photography, but it really is very genuine and one feels no striving, no sweat as in the Man Ray experiments." (Daybooks, Vol. 1, Mexico, May 2, 1924, p. 69). (Author's note: The above Man Ray image was first published in June 1924 thus would not have been known to Weston at the time of this entry but could well have been known to him by the time of his 1925 Brenner sitting(s)). 
Interior of Church Tower, Tepotzotlan, Mexico, 1924. Tina Modotti. From ArtNet.

Tina and Edward were first introduced into the Mexico City art scene through a March 1922 exhibition arranged by Ricardo Gomez Robelo to entice Edward, Tina and her husband Robo de Richey to join him after he returned from his Los Angles exile to a burgeoning post-revolutionary Mexico City arts climate. Having accepted a high level position in the Art Department of Jose Vasconcelos's Ministry of Public Education, Robelo (see top center below) had been a Tina-infatuated member of their social circle during his 1919-21 period in L.A.. 

De Cordova, Vera, "Los Fotografias como Verdadero Arte," El Universal Ilustrado (México, D. F., Mexico),  No. 255 (Mar. 23, 1922), pp. 30-31, 55. From Digital Archive, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The exhibition featured Weston, Margrethe Mather and Jane Reece photos of Tina, Robo, Robelo and mutual friends and drawings and batiks by Robo (see above review). Having preceded Edward and Tina to Mexico where he opened a studio in Robeleo's lodgings, Robo suffered an untimely February 9, 1922 death while Tina was on her way to join him. While settling Robo's affairs Tina helped Robelo stage the promised exhibition as he introduced her to his circle (and Robo's by association) of friends such as Diego Rivera and his assistants Jean Charlot and Xavier Guerrero, and Adolfo Best Maguard, Roberto Turnbull and numerous others. Tina would would reconnect with, and introduce Weston and their mutual friends to Guerrero, Turnbull and Best-Maguard when they shepherded an exhibition of Mexican arts and crafts to Los Angeles in the fall of 1922. (For much more on this see my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association.").

Anita Brenner, 1925. Edward Weston. Avant-Garde Art & Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010.

Tina and Edward moved to Mexico in August 1923 and largely through Tina's 1922 connections they were quickly accepted into the avant-garde art scene. I highly recommend reading The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Volume 1, Mexico and Avant-Garde Art & Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties for fascinating personal accounts of Tina and Edward's and their mutual friends' activities in Mexico between 1923 and 1929.

From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1, p. 52. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

Idols Behind Altars by Annita Brenner, Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1929. Cover illustration by Jean Charlot. (From my collection).

Idols Behind Altars by Annita Brenner, Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1929. Frontispiece "Hand of the Potter Amado Galvan" by Edward Weston.

Weston captured numerous abstract variants of Anita Brenner's back sometime in 1925. Sharing these among their mutual circle of friends most likely inspired similar work from Weston's by then close friends Jean Charlot and Diego Rivera and possibly others. This work can be seen more or less chronologically below. Tina and Edward's close friendship with Brenner resulted in a lucrative 1926 commission to provide the illustrations for Brenner's seminal  Idols Behind Altars which was published in 1929 (see above). The hundreds of Weston-Modotti images compiled for Idols Behind Altars served as Sergei Eisenstein's inspiration for "Que Viva Mexico!" filmed in 1931. (For much more on this see my "Brett Weston's Smokestacks, 1927").

Eisenstein issue, "Que Viva Mexico!" Experimental Cinema."

Anita Brener, 1925. Edward Weston photo. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.


From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1, p. 52. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.


Diego Rivera, 1924. Edward Weston photo. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

Tina Modotti, 1924. Edward Weston photo. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

Nude, 1925 by Jean Charlot. Model Luz Jimenez. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1.

Jean Charlot, 1924 by Tina Modotti. From the Red List.

Model Luz Jimenez with her child, 1926 by Tina Modotti. From Wikipedia.

Model Luz Jimenez clothed, 1926 by Edward Weston. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

Upon his 1926 return to Mexico with son Brett, Weston posed Anita Brenner's erstwhile domestic and cook (and Rivera's and Charlot's long time model) Luz Jimenez on a petate, this time capturing her back fully clothed in colorful Mexican garb. (For much background on Luz see Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties and Dreaming With His Eyes Open: A Life of Diego Rivera by Patrick Marnham, Knopf, New York, 2000, pp. 303-4).

Diego Rivera, 1925. Model likely Luz Jimenez.

 
"The Flower Seller," 1926 by Diego Rivera. Model Luz Jimenez. 

Luz Jimenez was featured clothed and veiled by a basket of flowers in Rivera's stunning 1926 piece "The Flower Seller." 

"Nude With Calla Lillies," 1944 by Diego Rivera. Model Frida Kahlo.

Nude backs and calla lillies became recurring themes in Rivera's ouevre over the years evidenced by the above work from 1944.

Neil Weston, 1925. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

In his 1925 interlude back in the U.S., Weston continued his nude back experiments with son Neil. He also made some exquisite nudes of  then lover Miriam Lerner (see below), a close friend of earlier Weston muses Betty Katz and Margrethe Mather. Both Katz and Lerner would later become clients (and lovers?) of mutual Weston friend architect R. M. Schindler. 

Nude (Miriam Lerner, 1925 by Edward Weston. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

"Germination," 1926, by Diego Rivera. Tina Modotti, model. From Addoway.

Diego Rivera, 1926. From Pinterest.

Snapshot of Anita Brenner posing, 1926. Photo by Manuel Heilblum. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1, p. 52.

Christel Gang, 1927. Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

Christel Gang, 1927. Edward Weston photo. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.


Weston spent his first year back from Mexico juggling numerous lovers including Christel Gang and Bertha Wardell (see above and below).

Bertha Wardell, 1927. Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.

For much more on the related abstract nudes of dancer Bertha Wardell see my "Bertha Wardell Dances in Silence: Kings Road, Olive Hill and Carmel."

Orozco, 192 by Edward Weston. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1.

The above and below "rear views" of Orozco and Rivera depicted while working on their murals are a nice example of art imitating art. Again Weston may have provided the inspiration for Rivera with his 1926 image of Orozco at work. (Author's note: For much on Orozco's friendship with Edward and Brett Weston and his 1930 "Prometheus" mural at Pomona College see my "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club.").

Diego Rivera, detail from Making a Fresco, 1931. Photo by Michael Nye. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, Vol. 1, p. 359.

From the selected research for this piece it appears that an entire exhibition could be woven around this fascinating topic. It would be a great theme for the upcoming Getty initiative, Pacific Standard Time: L.A./L.A.. I will be adding material to this post as I discover additional material so check back periodically.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Robinson Jeffers by Hamilton Wolf, Carmel, 1919

(Click on images to enlarge).
Robinson Jeffers, Carmel, 1919. Portrait by Hamilton Achille Wolf.

I just ran across this first known non-photographic portrait of Robinson Jeffers by Hamilton A. Wolf, painted in Carmel 1919 where Wolf moved with his mother after returning from service in WWI. Wolf would later find employment at Berkeley's California School of Arts and Crafts which held annual Carmel summer sessions in the 1910s-1920s. This was also about the time that Jeffers began work on his iconic Tor House (see below). Wolf was previously an instructor at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design from 1911 to 1916 and taught drawing to the likes of fledgling architect Paul R. Williams. Wolf's Jeffers pastel is on permanent display at Tor House so be sure to look for it on your next tour. (For some interesting Jeffers Tor House connections see my "Connections in Stone: Lummis, Jeffers and Kuster").

Period postcard of Tor House.

Ad for the Los Angeles School of Art and Design from the 1915 Los Angeles City Directory. (Note that the school's President is none other than Dr. John Randolph Haynes.)

In December 1914, Wolf gave a lecture on Japanese Art to the L.A. School of Art and Design's Palette Club. ("Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1914, p. III-6.). Likely attendee's included architecture student Paul R. Williams, and Japanophiles Lloyd Wright and Ramiel McGehee. Like Lloyd's father, Ramiel avidly collected Japanese art and art books during his year and a half in the Orient in 1908-9.

Lloyd Wright ca. 1920.

Wright lectured to the same group in April of the following year on "Architecture and Its Bearing on the Community." ("Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1915, p. III-21). In August 1916 Lloyd broke ground on an artist's studio he designed for the School's director Mrs. L. E. Garden-McLeod which was being completed about the time of the debut performance of Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre. Lloyd married one of Barnsdall's leading ladies Kirah Markham on November 18, 1916.

Los Angeles School of Art and Design, 602 S. Alvarado St. USC Digital Archive.

Ramiel McGehee also lectured at the school's Palette Club on Japanese folklore where he presented Japanese dances in costume (see below) and displayed an exhibition of Japanese prints with Lloyd likely in attendance. About the time Lloyd married Kirah he and Ramiel were collaborating on stage set designs for performances of the Cherry Blossom Players under Ramiel's direction at the Alexandria Hotel in January 1917. ("Cherry Blossom Players to Give Performances Soon," Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1917, p. III-19).

Ramiel McGehee in Japanese Noh Dance, 1919. Edward Weston photograph. From Merle Armitage Dance Memoranda edited by Edwin Corle, Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Connections in Stone: Lummis, Jeffers and Kuster

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Charles F. Lummis Home, "El Alisal," Arroyo Seco, 1910. 

Recent publicity over the Historical Society of Southern California's lease for the Charles F. Lummis House not being renewed got me to thinking about Robinson Jeffers' Tor House and his wife Una's ex-husband Ted Kuster's neighboring house in Carmel. These three still extant icons in stone have many fascinating connections. For example, Occidental College is likely to be the new lessee for the Lummis House. Jeffers was a student at Occidental when he met the married Una. She divorced Kuster and married Jeffers and they moved to Carmel in 1914.

Robinson Jeffers Residence, "Tor House," Carmel Point, ca. 1930.

Lummis was the first writer with a national reputation to recognize Jeffers' work publishing two of the 18-year old's poems in Out West in 1905 and 1907. Thus Jeffers had to be aware of, and might have even pitched in on Lummis's 1898-1910 labors to build "El Alisal." Inspired by Lummis, Jeffers taught himself stone masonry and built Tor House between 1919 and 1930 or thereabouts.

Ted Kuster Residence, Carmel Point, 1924.

The cuckolded Ted Kuster married Denishawn Dancer Edith Emmons and moved to Carmel and much more rapidly built his own stone house next to the Jeffers in 1924 along with his pioneering Theatre of the Golden Bough. (For much more on all of this see my "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924," and "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage," and "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence.").

Charles F. Lummis, 1902. From Wikipedia.

An interesting sidebar on Lummis: I just finished Donald Hagerty's fascinating biography, The Life of Maynard Dixon and learned that Lummis and Schindler-Weston mutual friend Dixon were very close lifelong friends. Lummis was instrumental to Dixon's successful career providing much companionship and moral and financial support and published his art work and poetry in Land of Sunshine beginning in 1897 and later in Out West (see below for example). He also listed Dixon among his regular contributors on the magazine's monthly masthead.

"Genius of the West," by Maynard Dixon, Out West, January 1902, frontispiece.


Pauline Schindler also featured Dixon's art work on the cover of The Carmelite alongside the work of Robinson Jeffers during her tenure as editor and publisher (see below for example).

The Carmelite, June 19, 1929. Courtesy Carmel Harrison Memorial Library Local History Room.

"Tor House" by Stanley Wood, The Carmelite, December 12, 1928.