Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alvin Ailey photographed by Carl Van Vechten

New York City

Alvin Ailey was twenty four years old when these pictures were taken.  At the time he was performing in the Broadway musical House of Flowers (by Harold Arlen & Truman Capote, directed by Peter Brook) alongside Diahann Carroll, Pearl Bailey, Juanita Hall, Carmen de Lavallade, Geoffrey Holder and Arthur Mitchell, all of whom were also photographed by Van Vechten at the time.  Ailey of course went on to found the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in 1958 and Arthur Mitchell founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem ten years later.  Geoffrey Holder choreographed works for both of those companies.  It was Holder’s wife, Carmen de Lavallade, who introduced Ailey (her close friend from High School until the end of his life) to dance training with Lester Horton and it was with Carmen that Alvin first came to New York to appear in House of Flowers.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Humpty Dumpty Miniatures

Dale Wittig 
gesso pencil & acrylic on card 
March 2017 San Francisco CA

Charles Stuart 

Oliver Cromwell  

Charles Stuart’s severed Head  

Charles Stuart prepared for entombment

Humpty Dumpty was always a Head.
Oily Cromwell wanted him dead.
If Wishes are Horses with Beggars astride,
Humpty Dumpty ends up being fried.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Marlon Brando on a Streetcar named Desire Set

photographed by Carl Van Vechten 
Ethel Barrymore Theatre 
243 W47th St Manhattan 1948

Van Vechten is probably best remembered now (and rightly so) for his elegant and celebratory portraits of the many leading figures of the cultural movement that has come to be known as the Harlem Renaissance.  (I was planning to make a post on his portraits of Alvin Ailey and will do so very soon, but I remembered these pictures of Brando that I had come across some time back and how little they flattered the great actor in his very attractive youth, which pleases me, and besides: they were ready to go.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jim Collette

photographed by Bob Mizer 
for the Athletic Model Guild & Physique Pictorial 
Pico-Union Los Angeles 
1967 & 1968

As promised yesterday, here are some more pictures of this athletic Franco-American model who accidentally ended his short life the same day as Bobby Kennedy (though unlike the much admired Presidential Candidate not in his beloved LA.)  The first nine employ the same backdrop as the wrestling set with Tommy Evans and were likely shot the same day, a few of them using only the center velvet curtain and others the whole elaborate set up.  The rest come from three separate sessions, though all on the grounds of the Mizer Residence in Pico-Union Los Angeles. The last one, just below, appears to have been made in the back yard on the lawn.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Jim Collette & Tommy Evans wrestling before Black Sequin Curtains

photographed by Robert Mizer 
for AMG & Physique Pictorial 
Los Angeles 1967

According to Bob Mizer, in the pages of Physique Pictorial, Jim Collette died in June 1968 from a lethal mixture of alcohol and pills while camping with a gang of Hippies in Colorado.  It sounds like they dumped his body in a river in hopes that it would look like he drowned.  Jim is the one Stage Left (or Audience Right) in the first six pictures above.  He’s the guy with the bigger pompadour, prettier face and more athletic body.  It should come as no great surprise that I haven’t got any information on Tommy Evans yet.  I’ll post more pictures of Jim alone later, but this longer set of him with Tommy deserved to be seen first, as I found exactly ten of them, and they’re so keenly lit, inky black and sparkly, and just a bit spooky.