An exhibition that I wish I could see:
I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America.
Bel Geddes designs were very influential on the style of Jazz Age. A little known aspect of his career: the 1922 design of the interior of Palais Royal Cabaret where Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra performed.
George S. Kaufman dubbed the Cabaret “the Geddes triumph,” asserting that it “proved. . . that art and the night places can go hand in hand.”
The venue later became The Cotton Club when it moved downtown.
[Shout out to my colleague Sandy Isenstadt who contributed to the catalogue!]
Quintessential example of white modernists’ appropriation of blackness: The Congo by Vachel Lindsay, a poem from 1914
It was great to finally see this in person. Hide/Seek was a terrific show.
The influx of white folks to the new Harlem has led to many a grande folie! Shades of Godmother.
A portrait of Carl Van Vechten by E. O. Hoppe.
Carlo is a key player in Afrochic. He is a constant challenge and conundrum. Still trying to figure him out…
LoBagola, a trickster from B’mo, who pulled the wool over the eyes over the Negrotarians:
Bata Kindai Amgoza ibn LoBagola (1877 – 1947) was an early 20th century American impostor and entertainer who presented an exoticized identity as a native of Africa, when in reality he was born Joseph Howard Lee in Baltimore, Maryland. Despite an impoverished start in life and a lack of education, and a series of scandalous arrests related to homosexual activities, mainly involving underage individuals, LoBagola maintained a long and colorful career posing as an African “savage”, during which he delivered lectures to many institutions and conducted public debates.
LoBagola was able to secure a book contract with Knopf to publish his “life story.” He was photographed by Doris Ulmann, one of the photographers I discuss in Afrochic.