Celestial Sphere, Color Movies, Gardens on Parade!

Worthy cause.

MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Ephemera from the Collection on the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.  Museum of the City of New York, X2013.156.6024.Promotional ephemera from the Collection on the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Museum of the City of New York, X2013.156.6.

Help the Museum digitize its 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair Collection!

The Museum’s New York World’s Fair collections continue to be a major resource for researchers all over the globe, and past research inquiries span a broad range of subjects, including: small format cinema technology, Cleveland artists who exhibited at the 1939 American Art building, and the Fair’s poetry contest.  The Museum first shared information about these collections in January 2013, shortly after learning we had received funding from Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to embark upon a collaborative 18-month project with the Queens Museum of Art to make our collections from both the 1939/40 and 1964/65 New York World’s Fairs more accessible as a result of a generous grant from the Council on Library and…

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Anna May Wong for Daughter of the Dragon (1931)

FROM THE BYGONE

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Portrait of Anna May Wong for Daughter of the Dragon directed by Lloyd Corrigan 1931

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theredlist.com

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Anna May Wong and Warner Oland in Daughter of the Dragon directed by Lloyd Corrigan 1931

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theredlist.com

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Desperately Seeking Photographer

I have been unable to identify the photographer of the following portrait of Anna May Wong. It was likely taken in 1934 when Wong was starring in a film tltled Chu Chin Chow, aka Ali Baba Nights.

Anna May Wong

If anyone knows, please let me know using the comment field or email me at camara.holloway@icloud.com

Picturing Americans…Insights come from everywhere!

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in a convo, “Picturing Americans,” about Thomas Hart Benton as part of the opening festivities for “American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood” at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

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Opening Reception (one of several!)

Thinking about Benton’s relationship to Hollywood and parallels with my research on Carl Van Vechten revealed an interesting thread via the director King Vidor. Benton went to Hollywood in 1937 on assignment for LIFE magazine. Van Vechten had gone a decade earlier in 1927 to write a series of articles for Vanity Fair. Both of them found Hollywoodland fascinating and at times repulsive.

Thomas Hart Benton by Carl Van Vechten
Thomas Hart Benton in 1935 by Carl Van Vechten

Van Vechten helped to catalyze the production of all-black cast musicals in the late 1920s. His infamous 1926 novel, Nigger Heaven, was considered for adaptation but this never came to pass. Talks with Vidor eventually led to his making the 1929 film, Hallelujah!, one of the first all-black cast feature films. Vidor admired Benton’s work and later purchased one of his paintings, The Negro and Alligator (1927) in the 1940s.

All three held complex views of African Americans that ranged from egregious stereotype to genuine admiration and empathy. All, of course, were the product of their times where the black vogue and jazz craze coexisted with the second heyday of the Klan, lynchings, and race riots. (Doesn’t sound much different from 2015, does it!?)

“American Epics” is a great exhibition and I had the chance to look at my research from a new angle. Win-win!

Chapter 1 is in the can!

Writer’s block was conquered and a decent draft of chapter 1 is complete. Summer is off to a good start.

This photograph Marlene Dietrich wearing her tuxedo from Morocco (1930) and this sketch by the Hollywood costume designer Travis Banton didn’t make it into the chapter so I thought I would share them here.

Viva deco dandies in tuxes!

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Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong'o

Afrochic now, done right: Lupita Nyong’o by Christian McDonald for Vogue magazine.

“THROUGH A LENS DARKLY” to Premiere at Sundance Film Festival

I am supposed to appear as a talking head in this documentary about black photography.

Epic Documentary is First Film to Examine the Role of Black Photographers in Shaping Identity of African Americans from Slavery to the Present

Award-winning filmmaker/director/producer Thomas Allen Harris’ recently completed documentary film, THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE EMERGENCE OF A PEOPLE, will make its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. This epic film, about contemporary artists and scholars probing the recesses of the American dream by interrogating images of stories suppressed, forgotten and lost, is the first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present. The film brings to light previously hidden and largely unknown images by both professional and vernacular African American photographers which add to our understanding of history by providing a window into lives, experiences and perspectives of Black families that is absent from the traditional historical canon.

“My whole team and I are extremely excited and humbled by this honor,” says Thomas Allen Harris. “Inspired by the work of our co-producer Deborah Willis, this project has been ten years in the making. We’re looking forward to audiences experiencing this incredible content, much of which has never been seen before.”

Ophelia Devore, founder of first black model agency, teams up with Emory University

How to Whitewash A Dandy: A Colorless Account of Queer Fashion History

By Tiffany Mott-Smith

http://taggmagazine.com/a-colorless-account-of-queer-fashion-history/

Queer Fashion History Exhibit: The Museum at FIT, 2013

Queer Fashion History Exhibit: The Museum at FIT, 2013

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Queer Fashion History Symposium. I spent six and half hours preparing for this event. Three minutes checking in with my editor for the event, 55 minutes looking for my press badge, two minutes watching my boifriend find my press badge hanging from my doorknob, 30 minutes dropping off my favorite pair of boots at Phillips Shoe Repair, 30 minutes spilling the tea with my favorite shoe repairman’s wife, 30 minutes re-adhering crystals to my favorite pair of boots, four hours deciding on approximately three outfits to match my favorite pair of boots. In case you are wondering, yes dear, these boots are everything!

Arriving at the symposium with my boots and badge in tow, I scanned the room with an immediate furrowed brow. I had imagined wild hair under elaborate chapeaus, statement necklaces and new romantic inspired street fashion. Instead I saw almost exclusively plain shoes, muted colors and dulled accessories- perhaps foreshadowing the day to come.

Continue reading “How to Whitewash A Dandy: A Colorless Account of Queer Fashion History”

CHIC Fancy Black History Through Fashion and Style: Dorothea Towles Church

Oh CHIC Fancy Huh!?

I am a loyal reader of various fashion magazines. I love flipping through the pages, reading the various articles and fashion tips, but most importantly seeing the most beautiful clothes and the gorgeous women that wear them oh so well. Although the representation of african american models can be quite scarce, I can still get a glimpse of some of the cocoa brown beauties that have the opportunity to grace the pages and the runways of major publications and fashion houses. That is certainly more than I can say for my ancestors before me. Seeing a black face on the runways or inside the magazine issues were unheard of until the beautiful Dorothea Towles Church gracefully made her way into an industry, that at the time saw no place for her kind beauty.

Dorothea Towles Church became the first successful black model in Paris is the 1950’s.

Mrs. Church originally set out to become in actress, however…

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