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Jean Tinguely

Today’s Artist Birthday: Jean Tinguely

Jean Tinguely (22 May 1925 – 30 August 1991) was an artist who worked in the Dada tradition, best known for his mechanical sculpture work, also known as kinetic art. He called his creations “Metamechanics,” which playfully mocked mass consumerism and the overproduction of material goods.

Jean Tinguely, 1976, in Basel. [Photo by: Helen Sager]
Jean Tinguely, 1976, in Basel. [Photo by: Helen Sager]
Born in Fribourg, Switzerland, Tinguely grew up in Basel. He attended the School of Arts and Crafts, though records indicate that he was not terribly fond of consistent attendance. He later had an apprenticeship as a decorator, until 1947 when he begins to spend a lot of time in the circle of the Basel anarchist Heiner Koechlin.

Heiner Koechlin, c.1960

In 1952 he moved to France with his first wife, Swiss artist Eva Aeppli, to pursue a career in art. They immersed themselves in the Parisian avant garde scene throughout the mid-twentieth century, and there he developed his distinctive, mischievous, and whimsical style.

Images of Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, 1958 in Paris
Images of Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, 1958 in Paris

At the beginning of 1955,  he moved into a studio in the Impasse Ronsin where one of his neighbors was the sculptor Constantin Brancusi. Later that same year, Tinguely takes part in the exhibition Le Mouvement at the Galerie Denise René in Paris, together with Pol Bury, Soto, Calder, Vasarely, Duchamp and other artists, where the concept of kinetic art plays a major role for the first time.

mouvement

In 1956, through his network of connections in the Parisian art scene, he meets the brilliant young artist Yves Klein, and the two quickly became great friends. In November of 1958, Tinguely and Klein collaborated on a joint exhibition entitled Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome, at the Galerie Iris Clert.

 

Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, 1958
Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, 1958
Tinguely and Klein, 1958

In 1959 in grand style, he scatters copies of his manifesto “Für Statik (For statics)” from an airplane over Düsseldorf, promoting the idea “Everything moves. Standstill does not exist …”.

Jean Tinguely, above the skies of Düsseldorf, about to scatter copies of his manifesto on the city below.
Jean Tinguely, above the skies of Düsseldorf, about to scatter copies of his manifesto on the city below. 1959

In October of 1960, he is one of the founders of the group “Nouveaux Réalistes” in Paris. Headed up by Klein, the group sets its goal as exploring new ways of perceiving reality. Aside Tinguely and Klein, the initial members were Arman, Martial Raysse, Pierre Restany, Daniel Spoerri, Francois Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Jacques de la Villeglé. The following year, they were joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Gérard Deschamps.

Jean Tinguely (far left) Niki and unidentified man, shooting paint at a nearly finished work, 1961 [photo: Shunk-Kender; © 2008 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, all rights reserved / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2012; photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Shunk-Kender]
Jean Tinguely (far left) Niki de Saint Phalle, and unidentified man, shooting paint at a nearly finished work, 1961 [photo: Shunk-Kender; © 2008 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, all rights reserved / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2012; photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Shunk-Kender]
In 1962 he completes his spectacular Study for an End of the World No. 2, a sculptural ensemble that completely self-destructs before an audience in the desert of Nevada, outside Las Vegas, USA. Earlier in 1960, he had attempted his first self destructing sculpture, Homage to New York, but the work did not completely self-destruct. What remains of that sculpture now resides in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1963-64, he created the monumental sculpture Heureka for the Expo 64 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Heureka," by Jean Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland. Created 19
“Heureka,” by Jean Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland. Created 1963-4

In 1966, Tinguely, along with Niki de Saint-Phalle and Per Olof Ultvedt, created the Hon-en-Katedrall (sometimes spelled “Hon-en-Katedral“) art installation exhibited at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The work was a large scale sculpture of a colorful pregnant woman lying on her back with her legs wide apart. The sculpture was 25–26 meters long, about 6 meters high and 11 meters wide. It was constructed of scaffolding and chicken wire, covered with fabric and fiberglass, then painted with brightly-colored poster paint. Visitors would enter the work through an opening in the location of the woman’s vagina, returning to the womb, as it were. Once inside, they were to find a screen showing Greta Garbo films, a goldfish pond and a soft drink vending machine, all the while being entertained by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, played through hidden speakers. The piece was exhibited from June 4 to September 9 in 1966, and during that time had over 80,000 visitors.

Installation of "Hon-en-Katedrall," Tinguely
Installation of “Hon-en-Katedrall,” created by Jean Tinguely, with Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Per Olof Ultvedt (pictured right to left).

One of his most celebrated works was created in 1970, when he and a group of friends create La Vittoria in front of the Milan Cathedral, in Milan, Italy. It was a giant golden phallus which, with much pomp and circumstance, burns to the ground as part of the festival celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes.

la vittoria 1
Phase 1 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.
la vittoria 2
Phase 2 & 3 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely. The sculpture is revealed and then set on fire. The event was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.
la vittoria 3
Phase 4 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely. The sculpture had been set on fire and now remains only the frame. The event was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.

In 1971, Tinguely married his second wife, his long time creative partner, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, 1966
Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, 1966

From the 1970’s until 1991, Tinguely worked continuously on his complicated and fantastical sculptures and exhibitions. His creative flow was intense and prolific, however the near-frantic pace of his creation may have taken its toll however.

Jean Tinguely in his studio, 1981
Jean Tinguely in his studio, 1981

On August 18, 1991 Jean Tinguely suffered a stroke and was taken to the Inselspital Hospital in Berne. He resisted death for nearly two weeks, but unfortunately never recovered. He would succumb to the complications of the stroke and passed away on August 30, at the young age of 66 years.Tinguely01

His funeral was held on September 4, 1991 in Basel. His 1979 tractor-like and drivable sculpture entitled “Klamauk,” was part of his funeral procession. That same sculpture still makes the rounds of Basel on “Tinguely Tag,” or “Tinguely Day,” a annual celebration of his life, remembering him each year on the anniversary of his death.


tinguely by vera isler, 1990
“Playing is art. So I am playing.”

Jean Tinguely

digital collage portrait created by 
Terri Maxfield Lipp
May 22, 2017


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Originally posted May 22, 2016
Updated on May 22, 2017 

Richard Avedon

Today’s Artist Birthday: Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004) was an American fashion and portrait photographer. His celebrity, fashion, and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half of the twentieth century.


Avedon was born in New York City, NY, in 1923. His father, Jacob Israel Avedon, was a Russian-born immigrant who advanced from menial work to starting his own successful retail dress business on Fifth Avenue, called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. His mother, Anna, whose family owned a dress-manufacturing business, encouraged Richard’s love of fashion and art. Avedon’s interest in photography emerged when, at age 12, he joined a Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) Camera Club. He would use his family’s Kodak Box Brownie not only to feed his curiosity about the world, but also to retreat from his personal life. His father was a critical and remote disciplinarian who insisted that physical strength, education and money prepared one for life. Avedon would later cause a degree of controversy with his “Father Series;” a series of images of his father over a period of time as the elder Avedon was dying.

Jacob Isreal Avedon, photographed by his son Richard Avedon for the "Father Series" produced in 197
Jacob Isreal Avedon, photographed by his son Richard Avedon for the “Father Series” produced in 1974. The series  was controversial as it was a deep, visual examination and revelation of the process of death.
death
Jacob Isreal Avedon, sleeping just months before his death, photographed by his son Richard Avedon for the “Father Series” produced in 1974. The series was controversial as it was a deep, visual examination and revelation of the process of death.

The photographer’s first muse was his younger sister, Louise. During her teen years she struggled through psychiatric treatment. And, eventually, becoming increasingly withdrawn from reality, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She was later institutionalized and died at the age of 42. His love for his sister often expressed itself in his desire to capture tragic beauty in his photos.

Richard's adored sister, Louis Avedon, c. 194
Richard’s adored sister, Louis Avedon, c. 1945

Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in Bedford Park, Bronx, where he worked on the school paper, The Magpie, with James Baldwin from 1937 until 1940. After graduating from DeWitt, he enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry but dropped out after one year. He then started as a photographer for the Merchant Marines, taking ID shots of the crewmen with the Rolleiflex camera his father had given him as a gift. From 1944 to 1950, Avedon studied photography with Alexey Brodovitch at his Design Laboratory at The New School for Social Research.

avedon marine chest measure
Photograph of a Marine getting his chest measured, by Richard Avedon, when he was the assistant editor for “The Helm,” from 1942 to 1944

In 1944, Avedon began working as an advertising photographer for a department store, but was quickly endorsed by Alexey Brodovitch, who was art director for the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. Lillian Bassman also promoted Avedon’s career at Harper’s. In 1945 his photographs began appearing in Junior Bazaar and, a year later, in Harper’s Bazaar.

Cover of "Junior Bazaar, 1947 with model Anne Theophane Graham photographed by Richard Avedon
Cover of “Junior Bazaar, July 1947, with model Anne Theophane Graham photographed by Richard Avedon

In 1946, Avedon had set up his own studio and began providing images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He soon became the chief photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. From 1950 he also contributed photographs to Life, Look and Graphis and in 1952 became Staff Editor and photographer for Theatre Arts Magazine.

dovima
The legendary model Dovima, photographed by Avedon in 1950

Avedon did not conform to the standard technique of taking studio fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, he showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action in outdoor settings which was revolutionary at the time. However, towards the end of the 1950s he became dissatisfied with daylight photography and open air locations and so turned to studio photography, using strobe lighting.

swansdown avedon 1955
Models wearing Swansdown Suits, 1955 by Richard Avedon

When Diana Vreeland left Harper’s Bazaar for Vogue in 1962, Avedon joined her as a staff photographer. He proceeded to become the lead photographer at Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1973 until Anna Wintour became editor in chief in late 1988. Notable among his fashion advertisement series are the recurring assignments for Gianni Versace, beginning with the spring/summer campaign 1980.

avedon carangi 1980
Supermodel before the word “supermodel” even existed, Gia Carangi, photographed for Versace by Richard Avedon in 1980. (In the late 70’s and early 80’s “heroin chic” was quite-so chic in the fashion world and the beautiful Carangi was a dedicated user. She contracted the AIDS virus from sharing needles and tragically died at the young age of 26 in 1986.)

He also photographed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring a fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields, as well as directing her in the accompanying television commercials. He first worked with Shields in 1974 for a Colgate toothpaste ad. He shot her for Versace, 12 American Vogue covers and Revlon’s Most Unforgettable Women campaign. In the February 9, 1981, issue of Newsweek, Avedon said that “Brooke is a lightning rod. She focuses the inarticulate rage people feel about the decline in contemporary morality and destruction of innocence in the world.”

1974 Colgate toothpaste ad, model Brooke Shields, photograph by Richard Avedon
1974 Colgate toothpaste ad, model Brooke Shields, photograph by Richard Avedon
Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein, photographed by Richard Avedon in 1981
Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein, photographed by Richard Avedon in 1981
Brooke Shields photographed by Richard Avedon, January 26, 1988
Brooke Shields photographed by Richard Avedon, January 26, 1988

On working with Avedon, Shields told Interview magazine in May 1992 “When Dick walks into the room, a lot of people are intimidated. But when he works, he’s so acutely creative, so sensitive. And he doesn’t like it if anyone else is around or speaking. There is a mutual vulnerability, and a moment of fusion when he clicks the shutter. You either get it or you don’t”.

Richard Avedon and Brooke Shields attend the presentation of Yves Saint Laurent's Fall Winter Collection, 1980
Richard Avedon and Brooke Shields attend the presentation of Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall Winter Collection, 1980

In addition to his continuing fashion work, by the 1960s Avedon was making studio portraits of civil rights workers, politicians and cultural dissidents of various stripes in an America fissured by discord and violence. He branched out into photographing patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, protesters of the Vietnam War, and later the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989, by Richard Avedon
The Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989, by Richard Avedon

A personal book called “Nothing Personal,” with a text by his high school classmate James Baldwin appeared in 1964. During this period, Avedon also created two well known sets of portraits of The Beatles. The first, taken in mid to late 1967, became one of the first major rock poster series, and consisted of five psychedelic portraits of the group — four heavily solarized individual color portraits and a black-and-white group portrait taken with a Rolleiflex camera and a normal Planar lens.

The iconic Beatles poster, by Richard Avedon, 1967...long before Photoshop.
The iconic Beatles poster, by Richard Avedon, 1967…long before Photoshop.

The next year he photographed the much more restrained portraits that were included with The Beatles LP in 1968. Among the many other rock bands photographed by Avedon, in 1973 he shot Electric Light Orchestra with all the members exposing their bellybuttons for recording, On the Third Day.

Cover photo for Electric Light Orchestra's "On The Third Day" album, by Richard Avedon, 1973
Cover photo for Electric Light Orchestra’s “On The Third Day” album, by Richard Avedon, 1973

Avedon was always interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. As his reputation as a photographer became widely known, he photographed many noted people in his studio with a large-format 8×10 view camera. His subjects include Buster Keaton, Marian Anderson, Marilyn Monroe, Ezra Pound, Isak Dinesen, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol, and the Chicago Seven. His portraits are distinguished by their minimalist style, where the person is looking squarely at the camera, posed in front of a sheer white background. By eliminating the use of soft lights and props, Avedon was able to focus on the inner worlds of his subjects evoking emotions and reactions. He would at times evoke reactions from his portrait subjects by guiding them into uncomfortable areas of discussion or asking them psychologically probing questions. Through these means he would produce images revealing aspects of his subject’s character and personality that were not typically captured by others.

Marilyn Monroe by Richard Avedon, May 1957
Marilyn Monroe by Richard Avedon, May 1957

In 1982 Avedon produced a playfully inventive series of advertisements for fashion label Christian Dior, based on the idea of film stills. Featuring director Andre Gregory, photographer Vincent Vallarino and model/actress Kelly Le Brock, the color photographs purported to show the wild antics of a fictional “Dior family” living ménage à trois while wearing elegant fashions.

Kelly Lebrock, and two fine gentlemen, for Christian Dior, October 1982, photographed by Richard Avedon
Kelly Lebrock, and two fine gentlemen, for Christian Dior, October 1982, photographed by Richard Avedon

Avedon became the first staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992, where his post-apocalyptic, wild fashion fable “In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort,” featuring model Nadja Auermann and a skeleton, was published in 1995. Other pictures for the magazine, ranging from the first publication, in 1994, of previously unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe to a resonant rendering of Christopher Reeve in his wheelchair and nude photographs of Charlize Theron in 2004, were topics of wide discussion. Some of his less controversial New Yorker portraits include those of Saul Bellow, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, John Kerry, and Stephen Sondheim. In his later years, he continued to contribute to Egoïste, where his photographs appeared from 1984 through 2000. In 1999, Avedon shot the cover photos for Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada’s Addicted to You.

Nadja Auermann by Richard Avedon,
Nadja Auermann by Richard Avedon, 1995
RICHARD-AVEDON_3190007b
Nastassja Kinski by Richard Avedon, 1981

One of the things Avedon is distinguished by as a photographer is his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and traveling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th century portrait photography, and by some as Avedon’s magnum opus.

avedon_beekeeper
From “The American West” series by Richard Avedon

Serious heart inflammations hindered Avedon’s health in 1974. The troubling time inspired him to create a compelling collection from a new perspective. In 1979, he was commissioned by Mitchell A. Wilder (1913–1979), the director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, to complete the “Western Project.” Wilder envisioned the project to portray Avedon’s take on the American West. It became a turning point in Avedon’s career when he focused on everyday working class subjects such as miners soiled in their work clothes, housewives, farmers and drifters on larger-than-life prints, instead of the more traditional options of focusing upon noted public figures or the openness and grandeur of the West. The project lasted five years concluding with an exhibition and a catalogue. It allowed Avedon and his crew to photograph 762 people and expose approximately 17,000 sheets of 8×10 Kodak Tri-X Pan film.

in-america-west5

The collection identified a story within his subjects of their innermost self, a connection Avedon admits would not have happened if his new sense of mortality through severe heart conditions and aging hadn’t occurred. Avedon visited and traveled through state fair rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields, slaughter houses and prisons to find subjects. In 1994, Avedon revisited his subjects who would later speak about In the American West aftermath and its direct effects. Billy Mudd, a trucker, went long periods of time on his own away from his family. He was a depressed, disconnected and lonely man before Avedon offered him the chance to be photographed. When he saw his portrait for the first time, Mudd saw that Avedon was able to reveal something about Mudd that allowed him to recognize the need for change in his life. The portrait transformed Mudd, and led him to quit his job and return to his family.

Billy Mudd, trucker, from "The American West" series by Richard Avedon
Billy Mudd, trucker, from “The American West” series by Richard Avedon

Helen Whitney’s 1996 American Masters documentary episode, Avedon: Darkness and Light, depicts an aging Avedon identifying In the American West as his best body of work. The project was embedded with Avedon’s goal to discover new dimensions within himself, from a Jewish photographer from the East who celebrated the lives of noted public figures, to an aging man at one of the last chapters of his life, to discovering the inner-worlds, and untold stories of his Western rural subjects.

During the production period Avedon encountered problems with size availability for quality printing paper. While he experimented with platinum printing he eventually settled on Portriga Rapid, a double-weight, fiber-based gelatin silver paper manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert. Each print required meticulous work, with an average of thirty to forty manipulations. Two exhibition sets of In the American West were printed as artist proofs, one set to remain at the Carter after the exhibition there, and the other, property of the artist, to travel to the subsequent six venues. Overall, the printing took nine months, consuming about 68,000 square feet of paper.

In a coal mining valley on the western slope of Colorado, beautiful area of fruit orchards and streams, Avedon photographed at four tunnel mines. Most of the miners came from the small towns of Paonia and Somerset. Their families had lived in the valley for several generations. Brian Justice, a foreman at the Somerset Mine, said, ìMiners pit themselves against the earth, like sailors going out to sea. They arenít loyal to the company, theyíre loyal to the coal.î The Tribble brothers were strong young miners in their twenties. They liked the challenge of mining, the dangers and the money. Only the week before, Dave Tibble told them, he had been buried alive for nineteen hours. He had been working a mile underground when the cave-in occurred. He was at the end of the tunnel; big machines cut the ìfaceî where coal is cut. He clung to the cutting machine, finding pockets of air in and around it and waited until rescuers dug him out.
Miners photographed by Richard Avedon for the “In The American West” series. The Tribble brothers were strong young miners, and only the week before the shoot, Dave Tibble told Avedon that he had been buried alive for nineteen hours. He had been working a mile underground when the cave-in occurred. He was at the end of the tunnel where coal is cut. He clung to a cutting machine, finding pockets of air in and around it and waited until rescuers dug him out.

In September, 2004, Avedon suffered a stroke in San Antonio, Texas, while working on a new project titled Democracy to focus on the run-up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He never was to recover, and on October 1, he quietly passed away at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. There is no municipal record of a funeral, and the site of his burial, if there was one, has never been made public.

One of the last portraits Avedon would do, was that of a young man who only four years later would become President of The United States. Barack Obama by Richard Avedon, 2004
One of the last portraits Avedon would do, was that of a young man who only four years later would become President of The United States. Barack Obama by Richard Avedon, 2004

Text edited from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Avedon


Richard Avedon

Digital portrait
by Terri Maxfield Lipp, May 2015

(click image for full resolution)


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Erté

Erté

Erté (23 November 1892 – 21 April 1990) was a Russian-born French artist and designer. He was a diversely talented 20th-century artist and designer who flourished in an array of fields, including fashion, jewelry, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theatre, and opera, and interior decor.

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Erté was born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov (Роман Петрович Тыртов) in Saint Petersburg, to a distinguished family with roots tracing back to 1548. His father, Pyotr Ivanovich Tyrtov, served as an admiral in the Russian Fleet.

St. Petersburg, as seen in the late 1800's
St. Petersburg, as seen in the late 1800’s

In 1907, he lived one year in Paris. He said about this time “I did not discover Beardsley until when I had already been in Paris for a year”. In 1910–12, Romain moved to Paris to pursue a career as a designer. He made this decision despite strong objections from his father, who wanted Romain to continue the family tradition and become a naval officer. Romain assumed his pseudonym to avoid disgracing the family. He chose the the pseudonym Erté, from the French pronunciation of his initials.

erte2

From 1913-1914, he worked for famed fashion designer, a master couturier, Paul Poiret. In 1915, he secured his first substantial contract with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, and thus launched an illustrious career that included designing costumes and stage sets.

71 costume-design costume-design-for-actress-aileen-pringle-by-erte-in-the-film-the-mystic-19251

Between 1915–1937, Erté designed over 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar, and his illustrations would also appear in such publications as Illustrated London News, Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Vogue.

p1622 erte_harpersbazar_aug1922_100
Erté is perhaps most famous for his elegant fashion designs which capture the art deco period in which he worked. One of his earliest successes was designing apparel for the popular French singer and dancer Gaby Deslys who died in 1920, a victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic of that time.

Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys

He was also a designer for Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was later convicted of being a spy and executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.

Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari

Erté’s delicate figures and sophisticated, glamorous designs are instantly recognizable, and his ideas and art still influence fashion into the 21st century. His costumes, program designs, and sets were featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923, many productions of the Folies Bergère, and George White’s Scandals.

Erté in one of his designs
Erté in one of his designs

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On Broadway, the celebrated French chanteuse Irène Bordoni was often seen in Erté’s designs.

Irene Bordoni
Irene Bordoni
Irene Bordoni
Irene Bordoni

In 1925, Louis B. Mayer brought him to Hollywood to design sets and costumes for the silent film Paris. There were many script problems, so Erté was given other assignments to keep him busy. Hence, he designed for such films as Ben-Hur, The Mystic, Time, The Comedian, and Dance Madness. In 1920 he designed the set and costumes for the film The Restless Sex starring Marion Davies and financed by William Randolph Hearst.

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Costume for "The Mystic"
Costume for “The Mystic”
Ballroom design for the film, "The Restless Sex"
Ballroom design for the film, “The Restless Sex”

By far, his best known image is Symphony in Black, depicting a somewhat stylized, tall, slender woman draped in black holding a thin black dog on a leash. The influential image has been reproduced and copied countless times.

at-the-theatre-symphony-in-black
Erté continued working throughout his life, designing revues, ballets, and operas. He had a major rejuvenation and much lauded interest in his career during the 1960s with the Art Deco revival. He branched out into the realm of limited edition prints, bronzes, and wearable art.

Twiggy photographed by Bill King for the cover of Queen magazine, December, 1967. Hair by Michael at Leonard, Make-up by Guerlain, styling by Erté.
Twiggy photographed by Bill King for the cover of Queen magazine, December, 1967. Hair by Michael at Leonard, Make-up by Guerlain, styling by Erté.
Jacket by Erté
Jacket by Erté
Bronze figurine, 1960's
Bronze figurine, 1960’s

A major turning point in his career came in 1965, when he met Eric and Salome Estorick, the founders of Seven Arts Ltd. of New York and London. Seven Arts remained the exclusive agent for Erte’s work until his death.

The Estoricks
Salome and Eric Estorick

In 1998, he created seven limited edition bottle designs for Courvoisier to show the different stages of the cognac-making process, from distillation to maturation. In 2008, the eighth and final of the remaining Erte-designed Courvoisier bottles, containing Grande Champagne cognac dating back to 1892, was released and sold for $10,000 a piece.

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A slightly built man with a shock of white hair, he fell ill with kidney problems during a vacation on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, in March of 1990. He was flown back to Paris and died two weeks later at the Cochin Hospital, at the age of 97.

Image by © Sergio Gaudenti/Kipa/Corbis
Image by © Sergio Gaudenti/Kipa/Corbis

Erte was known for his ability to turn his talent in many directions. He reportedly painted only once in oils, preferring the gouache or tempera medium. He accepted commissions to design jewelry, lamps, furniture and interior decor.

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Today, his work may be found in the collections of several well-known museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); as well, a sizable collection of his work can be found at Museum 1999 in Tokyo.


Edited from:


Erté
From Artist Birthday Series: November 23, 2016

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:
(click image for full resolution)

erte-feat2

 


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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images. 


Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch: visual artist

Hannah Höch (November 1, 1889 – May 31, 1978) was a German Dada artist. She is best known for her work of the Weimar period, when she was one of the originators of photomontage. Her work existed to dismantle the fable and dichotomy that existed in the concept of the “New Woman”: an energetic, professional and androgynous woman, who is ready to take their place as man’s equal.

hannah-hoch-profile

Hannah Höch was born Anna Therese Johanne Höch in Gotha, Germany. Although she went to school, domesticity took precedence in her household, and in 1904 at the age of 14, Hannah was taken out of the Höhere Töchterschule in Gotha to care for her youngest sibling Marianne.

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Hannah Höch with one of her Dada dolls, c. 1920

In 1912 she began classes at the School of Applied Arts in Berlin under the guidance of glass designer Harold Bergen. She chose the curriculum glass design and graphic arts, rather than fine arts, to please her father. In 1914, at the start of World War I, she left the school and returned home to Gotha to work with the Red Cross.

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c. 1925

In 1915 she returned to school, entering the graphics class of Emil Orlik at the National Institute of the Museum of Arts and Crafts. Also in 1915, Höch began an influential friendship with Raoul Hausmann, a member of the Berlin Dada movement. Höch’s involvement with the Berlin Dadaists began in earnest in 1917.

Höch, 1915
At 27 years old, 1915

 

Hannah Hoch, 1916
At 28 years old, 1916

It was at this time that Höch became one of the first pioneers of the art form that would come to be known as photomontage. Photomontage (or fotomontage), is a type of collage in which the pasted items are actual photographs or photographic reproductions pulled from the press or other widely produced media.

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After her schooling, she worked in the handicrafts department for Ullstein Verlag (The Ullstein Press), designing dress and embroidery patterns for Die Dame (The Lady) and Die Praktische Berlinerin (The Practical Berlin Woman). The influence of this early work and training can be seen in her later work involving references to dress patterns and textiles.

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In 1920, she participated in the First International Dada Fair, in Berlin, which took on the traditional format of an art salon, but the walls of the site were plastered with posters and photomontages. Höch was allowed to participate only after Hausmann threatened to withdraw his own work from the exhibition if she was kept out. Höch’s large-scale photomontage Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser DADA durch die letzte weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands  (English: Cut with the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany) (1919)—a forceful commentary, particularly on the gender issues erupting in postwar Weimar Germany—was one of the most prominently displayed and well-received works of the show. Despite her critical success, as the group’s only woman, Höch was typically patronized by and kept at the margins of the Berlin group. Consequently, she began to move away from the group, including Hausmann, with whom she broke off her relationship in 1922.

Höch (on right) with Raoul Hausmann, at the First International Dada Fair, 1920
Höch (on right) with Raoul Hausmann, at the First International Dada Fair, 1920

 

The First International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920 (Hannah Höch, seen on far left)
The First International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920 (Hannah Höch, seen on far left)

 

The First International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920 (Hannah Höch, seated on left)
The First International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920 (Hannah Höch, seated on left)

 

Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser DADA durch die letzte weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands (English: Cut with the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany) (1919)
Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser DADA durch die letzte weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands (English: Cut with the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany) (1919)

Art historian Maria Makela has characterized Höch’s personal relationship with Raoul Hausmann as “stormy”, and identifies the central cause of their altercations—some of which ended in violence—in Hausmann’s refusal to leave his wife. Hausmann continually disparaged Höch not only for her desire to marry him, which he described as a “bourgeois” inclination, but also for her opinions on art. Hausmann’s hypocritical stance on women’s emancipation spurred Höch to write “a caustic short story” entitled The Painter in 1920, the subject of which is “an artist who is thrown into an intense spiritual crisis when his wife asks him to do the dishes.”

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1920

 

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Höch with one of her Dada dolls, c. 1921

From 1926 to 1929 she lived and worked in the Netherlands. Höch made many influential friendships over the years, with Kurt Schwitters and Piet Mondrian among others. In 1926, she met and began a relationship with the Dutch writer and linguist Mathilda (‘Til’) Brugman, whom Höch met through Schwitters. By autumn of 1926, Höch moved to Hague to live with Brugman, where they lived until 1929, at which time they moved to Berlin. Höch and Brugman’s relationship lasted nine years, until 1935. They did not explicitly define their relationship as lesbian (likely because they did not feel it necessary or desirable), instead choosing to refer to it as a “private love relationship.”

Höch and Brugman, 1930
Höch and Brugman, 1930

While the Dadaists, including Georg Schrimpf, Franz Jung, and Johannes Baader, “paid lip service to women’s emancipation,” they were clearly reluctant to include a woman among their ranks. Hans Richter described Höch’s contribution to the Dada movement as the “sandwiches, beer and coffee she managed somehow to conjure up despite the shortage of money.” During their partnership, Raoul Hausmann even suggested that Höch get a job to support him financially. Höch was the lone woman among the Berlin Dada group, although Sophie Täuber, Beatrice Wood, and Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven were also important, and decidedly overlooked, Dada figures. Höch references the hypocrisy of the Berlin Dada group and German society as a whole in her photomontage, Da-Dandy.

Da-Dandy, 1919
Da-Dandy, 1919

In 1935, Höch began a relationship with Kurt Matthies, whom she was married to from 1938 to 1944.

"Hungarian Rhapsody," 1940
“Hungarian Rhapsody,” 1940

Her work commonly combined male and female traits into one unified being. During the era of the Weimar Republic, “mannish women were both celebrated and castigated for breaking down traditional gender roles.” Her androgynous characters may also have been related to her bisexuality and attraction to masculinity in women (that is, attraction to the female form paired with stereotypically masculine characteristics).

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During World War II, Höch spent the years of the Third Reich in Berlin, Germany, keeping a low profile. She lived in Berlin-Heiligensee, a remote area on the outskirts of Berlin, hiding in a small garden house. She married businessman and pianist Kurt Matthies in 1938 and divorced him in 1944. She suffered from the Nazi’s censorship of art, and her work was deemed “degenerate art” making it even more difficult to show her works. She was even forced to hide much of her work by burying it in her yard until the war was over.

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1946

Though her work was not acclaimed after the war as it had been before the rise of the Third Reich, she continued to produce her photomontages and exhibit them internationally until her death at the age of 88 in 1978, in Berlin.

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Her house and garden can be visited at the annual Day of the Memorial (Tag des offenen Denkmals).

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Afterword:

In the spring of 2016, my always-art-encouraging husband and I took Dada inspired trip to Switzerland and Germany, specifically to visit three separate exhibitions celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Dada movement. On May 1, we visited the Museum Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich, to visit the show DADA Differently: Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Hannah Höch, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven curated by Sabine Schaschl, Margit Weinberg Staber, and Evelyne Bucher. It was a relatively small but perfectly presented collection of works from all three women. Having been a long time devotee of ladies of Dada, I actually burst into tears when taking Höch’s work in for the first time. Thus far, only Van Gogh and Cezanne had brought me to the point of public weeping, so this was a treat, indeed.

That same afternoon, we walked over to the Kunsthaus Zürich to see the Dadaglobe Reconstructed on its last day of exhibition in Europe (the collection was then exhibited at MOMA in New York in the United States from June 12–September 18, 2016), which contained rare pieces from Hannah Höch and others. Dadaglobe Reconstructed reunited over 100 works created for Dadaglobe, Tristan Tzara’s planned but unrealized magnum opus, originally slated for publication in 1921.

One of Hannah Höch's works in the Dadaglobe exhibition in Zurich, May 2016 - featuring a self portrait (seen on left) and portrait of Raoul Hausmann
One of Hannah Höch’s works in the “Dadaglobe: Reconstructed” exhibition in Zurich, May 1, 2016 – featuring a self portrait (seen here on the right) and portrait of Raoul Hausmann –  (photo by TMLipp)

 

View of Dadaglobe: Reconstructed, at the Kunsthaus Zürich, May 1, 2016
View of “Dadaglobe: Reconstructed,” at the Kunsthaus Zürich, May 1, 2016 (photo by TMLipp)

We then traveled to Germany and the gorgeous city of Mannheim, where the Kunsthalle Mannheim organized a large, impressive solo exhibition of Höch’s work, which we were honored to get the chance to see on May 6.  Nine large rooms held the collection, with a tenth, interactive room where one could watch a wonderful documentary about Höch’s life, or one could play with the wall of make-your-own-photomontage-Dada-contruction-from-wall-magnets (which I enjoyed immensely). The collection was comprehensive, breathtaking, and emotionally touching, and we spent hours slowly moving through the dreamland of Höch’s work.

Comprehensive exhibition of the work by Hannah Höch, Kunsthalle Mannheim (photo by TMLipp, May 6, 2016)
Exhibition of the work by Hannah Höch, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (photo by TMLipp, May 6, 2016)

 

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Exhibition of the work by Hannah Höch, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (photo by TMLipp, May 6, 2016)

 

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Exhibition of the work by Hannah Höch, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (photo by TMLipp, May 6, 2016)

 

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“Self Portrait of MyDadaSelf” by TMLipp, created at the Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany, during the exhibtion of the work by Hannah Höch. (photo by TMLipp, May 6, 2016)

 

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Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (photo by TMLipp, May 6, 2016)

 


Edited from:


Hannah Höch, November 1, 2016

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:
(click image for full resolution)

hoch-feat


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Mary Fuller

Mary Fuller: actress, writer

Mary Fuller (October 5, 1888 – December 9, 1973) was an American stage and silent film actress, and screenwriter.

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Mary Claire Fuller was one of four daughters born in Washington, D.C., to Nora (nee Swing) and attorney, entrepreneur, and real estate developer Miles Fuller. Mary spent her childhood in a forward-thinking upper-middle class environment. Precocious, intelligent and very independent as a child, she was explored the arts, especially music, writing, and painting. Her parents were very successful in real estate, buying and selling land in the area around Washington, DC, eventually building their own fine home on Dorset Avenue in Bethesda, MD.

Fuller (on far left) seen with a group of DC area business men, c. 1900
Miles Fuller (on far left) seen with a group of DC area business men, c. 1900

In 1899 however, the home was the scene of a tragic accident when one of the Fuller’s servants, Fanny Jackson, accidentally tipped over a kerosene lamp, setting herself on fire. Though Nora grabbed a blanket and did her best to put the fire out, Fanny panicked and ran out into the yard where she fell and died of her injuries. This event would remain in Mary’s mind for the rest of her life, instilling in her the fragility and brevity of life.

Mary Fuller's childhood home on Dorset Avenue, Bethesda, MD
Mary Fuller’s childhood home on Dorset Avenue, Bethesda, MD

Her father was an early supporter of women’s rights and independence, even opening a secretary school for women called “The Drillery,” so as to provide the training necessary to enter the work force, a relatively new concept at the time. Sadly, in 1902, when Mary was 14, her beloved father, who had so encouraged his daughter’s strength and creativity, suddenly died at the age of 44, leaving Nora to raise the girls alone.  The death of her father impacted Mary deeply, and though he was gone, she vowed to herself to live the kind of life that would make him proud.

"The Drillery," secretarial school set up by Miles Fuller, Washington, DC
“The Drillery,” secretarial school set up by Miles Fuller, Washington, DC

Nora recognized the immense talent in her daughter, and supported Mary’s decision to take up acting as a profession. When she was 18 years old, Mary worked in a number of theatre troupes on the east coast, eventually landing a permanent spot with the traveling theatre group, the Lyceum Stock Company, based out of Toledo, Ohio. Mary’s life would change forever in 1907, when she was in New York City with the Lyceum group and the troupe ran out of funds to continue travel, leaving the members stranded.

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Pretty, petite, and with big beautiful eyes, Mary began networking quickly, and was told of a film studio that was looking for an actress to cast. She hurried across town to Vitagraph Studios in Brooklyn, auditioned, and was hired on the spot. Her first film was The Ugly Duckling (1907), a short film that serve as the first step on her journey to superstardom.

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She worked for Vitagraph until 1910 when she signed an exclusive contract with Edison Studios. That same year, she appeared in the first horror film in history, Frankenstein, based on the Mary Shelley novel. The film became a sensation, not only for the sublime acting skills of the lovely protagonist, but also for its cutting edge special effects.

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Edison Studios (c. 1914)

 

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The creation of Frankenstein’s monster was achieved by building a wood and papier-mâché model of the monster, complete with wires to move the head and arms. The model was then set on fire and filmed. In the movie, the sequence was shown in reverse, a technique not seen before, and one that succeeded in terrifying the audience. Numerous reports of frightened film-goers running from the theatre served as great PR, and the film was a smash hit.

In 1912, Edison Studios developed another revolutionary, new idea, that of the movie serial. Starring Mary Fuller, What Happened To Mary became an enormous success for the studio, as well as for the beautiful young actress. A monthly melodrama, each month for one year, audiences were treated to the adventures, and misadventures, of a girl named “Mary,” and the dramatic events that happened to her. The chapters were entitled: #1: The Escape from Bondage; #2: Alone in New York; #3: Mary in Stage Land; #4: The Affair at Raynor’s; #5: A Letter to the Princess; #6: A Clue to Her Parentage; #7: False to Their Trust; #8: A Will and a Way; #9: A Way to the Underworld; #10: The High Tide of Misfortune; #11: A Race to New York; #12: Fortune 

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By 1914, Mary was the most famous movie star in the world. As silent films could be shown in any country simply by changing the language in the title cards of text, Mary Fuller became a global icon of style, grace, and glamour.

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Never one to turn away from a challenge, Mary played a wide variety of roles, such as the pretty young witch in The Witch Girl, and Egyptian deity in A Daughter of the Nile, an intrepid reporter in The Active Life of Dolly of the Dailies (all in 1914), and the tragic Southern belle in Under Southern Skies (1915), her first feature-length production.

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Mary was also a gifted writer, penning numerous magazine articles as well as dozens of screenplays, eight of which were made into films between 1913 and 1915: A Woodland Paradise (1913), The Prophecy (1913), When Greek Meets Greek (1913), When the Right Man Comes Along (1913),  The Virtuoso (1914), The Viking Queen (1914), A Princess of the Desert (1914), The Golden Spider (1915). She was also the director of several of her films, a step that the later Mary Pickford would emulate.

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By 1917 however, Mary’s career began to run into difficulty. Though still at the height of her fame, what audiences began to crave, was not what she was providing. With rising stars such as the seductive vamp Theda Bara, and the madcap comedy of Charlie Chaplin, Mary’s overall “good-girl-next-door” reputation left movie-goers less thrilled. Her last few films were financial losses for her then contracted studio, Universal Pictures, and when her contract came up for renewal, it was allowed to expire.

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Though offered parts in various films at this time, Mary Fuller would adhere to her own personal standards and not bow to public or studio pressure, stating that the roles of women in film by the early 1920’s had become “vulgar.” Nudity, semi-nudity, and women increasingly being portrayed as helpless or dumb, Mary turned her back on Hollywood and decided to return to the theatre as a stage actress on Broadway.

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Unfortunately, the film-vs.-stage rivalry was already strong in those days, and the producers in New York considered her name too closely associated to films, and she was unable to find work. She returned to Washington, DC, and lived with her mother, where she led a rather reclusive life, painting and writing. But as far as the world was concerned, Mary Fuller had disappeared.

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It is often reported that Mary had suffered a nervous breakdown after her career fell apart (or, as commonly reported but even less believably, after a failed love affair with a married man), and this was her motivation to live with her mother as a recluse. It has also been said that she had done well in the stock markets and had simply decided to retire, take care of her mother, and lead a peaceful life, away from the increasingly demanding public eye. There was no doubt however that she was a fragile personality, and Mary had reportedly always been plagued with a deep sense of loneliness, even when traveling internationally as the world’s first movie star. One could argue that it was this loneliness that guided her to be with her family and the comfort of home.

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In 1926, at the encouragement of her mother and sisters, Mary tried unsuccessfully to restart her career in films. The business had changed too greatly and the name “Mary Fuller,” in the mind of the public, was synonymous with silent films, by then considered an outdated art form. Discouraged, Mary returned to her mother’s home and her descent into isolation truly began.

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When her mother passed away in 1940, Mary moved in with one of her sisters. The death of her mother was incredibly hard on Mary’s heart and mind, a blow from which she would never truly recover, allegedly bringing on a complete nervous breakdown. Mary lived with her sister until July of 1947, when her sister became very ill. The few remaining members of the Fuller family decided, to provide Mary with the adequate care she needed, it was necessary to admit her to the psychiatric care facility at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in Washington, DC. Mary would spend the remaining 26 years of her life at St. Elizabeth’s.photoplay1114_0019Mary Fuller died on December 9, 1973 of natural causes at the age of 85. When she passed away, the hospital was unable to locate any relatives, or anyone that would make arrangements for a funeral. She was buried alongside four indigent people in an anonymous grave owned by the city, a few days after her death, in Washington, DC’s Historic Congressional Cemetery.

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View of Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC

 


Afterword

After living in Italy for 8 years, I moved to Washington, DC in 2009. My first job was a short stint as a waitress at one of DC’s iconic diners, followed by a few months as a cheese and wine monger in a delightful specialty shop near Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill. After that, I was unbelievably fortunate enough to find myself working as the Office Manager at Congressional Cemetery. It was one of the most fascinating jobs I have ever held, and it was Mary Fuller that brought it to me.

"Led by event organizer and former cemetery Office Manager, Terri Maxfield, the leaders of Rolling Thunder attend Memorial Day services."
“Led by event organizer and former cemetery Office Manager, Terri Maxfield Lipp, the leaders of Rolling Thunder attend Memorial Day services at Historic Congressional Cemetery.”

The apartment I had just moved into was across the street from the cemetery, and being a devout taphophile, I began to research the burial ground. Reading about the famous people buried at Congressional on Wikipedia, I ran across the entry “Mary Fuller: silent movie actress – unmarked grave,” and I was intrigued. Who was this Mary Fuller? A movie star? And why on earth was she in an unmarked grave? And so, off I went to the cemetery office to find out more.

The gatehouse at Historic Congressional Cemetery
The gatehouse at Historic Congressional Cemetery

My research on Mary led to the cemetery hiring me as their first full-time Office Manager. My time there was absolutely unforgettable, and something for which I will always be grateful. I met people through that job that I will be friends with for the rest of my life, and was privileged to be a part so many incredible events, both small and large scale. Throughout, my interest in Mary never left, and I would often wander out to the, quiet, back of the cemetery to visit her grave, just to “chat” with her.

Terri Maxfield Lipp portrays Mary Fuller, at the first annual Ghost and Goblets Halloween Fundraiser for Historic Congressional Cemetery
Terri Maxfield Lipp portrays Mary Fuller, at the first annual Ghost and Goblets Halloween Fundraiser for Historic Congressional Cemetery

When my time at the cemetery came to a close, I was ready for my next adventure, but something felt “not finished” with regard to my friend Mary. So, I contacted a monument company in the area that I had dealt with, and discussed the purchase of a marker for Mary’s grave. They were very kind people to work with, took my design for the memorial to heart, and before long there was a beautiful, rose-colored memorial bench installed on the site of her burial. It wasn’t the seven story high sculpture and fountain ensemble with spotlights and a pool that I had wanted to give her, but I was pleased with the result. The bench was completed with a Hollywood Star of Fame on the front (as she well deserves it), and the quote, “A Personality of Eloquent Silence” adorning the top. The words come from her response during an interview at the height of her fame, when she was asked to briefly describe herself for the magazine’s readers. It seemed fitting.

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From time to time, I see photos of her memorial on the internet, with flowers or other gifts laid there in her memory. It makes my heart very happy to know that this fine, brave lady, the first real movie star in history, has well-wishing visitors come to see her on a regular basis. And it is my sincere wish, that wherever she is now, she no longer feels the loneliness that drained this star of her light when she was here.


~ Written by Terri Maxfield Lipp


Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:

Mary Fuller, October 5, 2016
(click image for full resolution)

fuller-feat


TML Arts aims for accuracy in content and functionality in posts.
Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
or additional relative information.

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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images.