Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bailey, Jean and Kate

Something phenomenal happened last Thursday, a previous post of mine generated over 3000 hits in one day, the said post is here. The preferred search word  was 'Jean Shrimpton now'. The reason for this sudden flurry of interest was the airing of John McKays film, 'We'll Take Manhattan' on Britains BBC 4. The story centres around Bailey and Shrimpton's ground breaking 1962 photo shoot in New York, their love affair and the struggle to persuade stuffy old British Vogue to try something fresh, young and different.

  I watched and it was a highly enjoyable frothy drama, which perfectly fits in with the trend for recent history period dramas and the vintage clothing revolution. I especially enjoyed Helen McCrorys characterisation of the slightly neurotic  British Vogue fashion editor Lady Clare Rendlesham and the small appearance of Diana Vreeland, I would have liked to have seen more of her!  For those of you reading overseas, here is the trailer, I am sure it has already been sold abroad and if it does not appear on your screens soon, no doubt it will be on DVD.

Another post that received a flurry of hits is here, a post about Jean and her modelling contemporaries and what happened to them after the sixties.

In pre 1960's Britain most models were patrician beauties, plucked from the families of the landed gentry, it seems even a well brought up, middle class young lady from the home counties didn't quite cut the mustard.  And if that was not enough, a cheeky, working class, young photographer wanted to photograph her amidst a raw, gritty environment and pose her naturally. Below are Baileys photographs of seventeen year old Jean Shrimpton which caused such a fuss but contributed to the sixties youth quake liberation and the blurring of the social classes in sixties Britain.

And later... a polished Jean Shrimpton and one of the greatest models of all time.

Following the film was an excellent documentary on David Bailey 'Six Bars to the Beat' (how I love BBC 4, so glad this channel was saved from being axed as part of the BBC cuts).  Crusty, weasy, sniggery old Bailey, he is now 73. At times he can be toe curlingly crude but I couldn't help but like him, refreshingly non politically correct and he does talk a lot of sense. Talking heads included, Jerry Hall, Catherine Deneuve, Mary Quant and Catherine Bailey.

In the documentary Bailey declared that the only model that has the same qualities that Shrimpton had is Kate Moss, Bailey went onto to discuss how their brand of beauty is universally appealing, I can't remember his exact words but I think he mentioned how they could be the girl next door and how they are not classical beauties but beautiful.  I thought I would explore this...

Just like Jean Shrimpton but for very different reasons Kate Moss did break the mould when she bounced onto the scene in 1989, her story is well known and has become fashion legend, when she was 14 years old she was spotted at JFK airport by Storm model agency founder and owner Sarah Dukas, controversy followed, too young, too thin etc. Controversy has been following Kate ever since but she was completely different to the intimidatingly beautiful, curvaceous, Amazonian supermodels who were dominating the catwalks, glossies and pop videos of the late eighties and early nineties.

Peter Lindeberghs photograph of the supermodels, British Vogue cover January 1990

Corinne Days photoshoot of fifteen year old Kate Moss for The Face magazine


Polished Kate, heading towards 40, enduringly photogenic, Mario Testino for Vogue August 2011

To further investigate Baileys claims of the similar appeal of Kate and Jean I thought it may help to see them both on film...

Young Kate auditioning for a L'Oreal commercial

Jean Shrimpton in the 1967 film privilege

There is no doubt that both women are beautiful, with incredible bone structure and both ridiculously photogenic.  I wonder, will they be making a film about Kate Moss in fifty years time?  As there is a sculpture in her image cast in gold and Lucien Freuds painting of her sold for 3.93million pounds, not to mention her well documented rock and roll lifestyle...I think it's a certainty.

If your still hanging in there you can see and hear more of Baileys thoughts here...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Something For The Weekend

Shimmy Shimmy!

Another gem from Rhianna at The Last Doll Standing, go here to see the whole show.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I love this picture, does anybody out there know who this dancer is and who this photograph is by?


Thank you Stephanie and Violetta, I ran it through Tin Eye and sleuthed it. It is British Ballerina Alicia Markova, taken by John Rawlings in 1944.  I should have guessed it was Rawlings work,  nobody did colour like him. Whilst I was there...

Paris 1946

Mary Jane Russell

Alicia Markovas hand

Had some of these pictures on file for another post but I'm afraid I just couldn't help myself! I love his work, so very Mad Men or rather Mad Men so very John Rawlings.

Italian Holiday

It's that time of year again when I start trying to persuade MG, that a holiday would be a good idea and Italy is never far from my thoughts.  People who read this blog regularly will already know I have a weakness for thick, curving, lime washed walls with the sea just a stones throw away...

All photographs from

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Exiles

Irving Penn

"If one lives in exile, the café becomes at once the family home, the nation, church and parliament, a desert and a place of pilgrimage, cradle of illusions and their cemetery... In exile, the café is the one place where life goes on."

Hermann Kesten

I have always loved this quote as it rings so true, especially in France. Hermann Kesten was referring to the many German and Austrian writers, artists, intellectuals, political opponents, etc. Who with the rise of Hitler in the early thirties, left Germany and settled in France.

When France declared war on Germany in September 1939 German exiles were considered enemy aliens and interned in hastily constructed camps and prisons whilst they waited to have their cases heard and hopefully be released, this process took some time, if it happened at all.  In the meantime they lived  in appalling conditions with disease running rife, a few of them did manage to escape. By June 1940 the Nazis had marched into France and occupied Paris.  An armistice was signed and France was divided into two, German occupied France and Vichy France under the rule of the elderly Marchal Petain. The truth is both were very dangerous places to be and many French found themselves exiles in their own country.

 As the Nazis were marching towards Paris, thousands were trying to flee the capital, by any means, trains were full to bursting, all roads out of Paris were clogged, vehicles were abandoned when they ran out of fuel, thousands of people slept rough in barns and fields, there was no news but many rumours which added to the sense of panic, it was chaos.  Many were heading to the south or to the coasts, to try and get boats out or simply to stay with family or friends as far away from the Nazis as they could get, some had no clue where they were going, they just knew they had to leave.

Hitler put pressure on the Vichy government to round up all the German, Austrian and Czechoslovakian exiles, these people were now in grave danger, if they fell into the hands of the Gestapo they were imprisoned, sent to concentration camps or murdered by firing squads. Now thousands of French nationals also found themselves in danger, French artists, poets, writers and intellectuals were at particular risk, many of them were no longer in possession of the correct identity papers, trying to obtain the correct papers could result in arrest, they were aware they were on Hitler's list, many of them headed South to Marseilles where they shrank into the shadows, stayed in shabby back street hotels and met up with each other at the cafés, always looking over their shoulders.  They were now people without a state or a homeland, they had become in effect refugees. They needed a way out.

 Film Still from Casablanca

A Real Rick, Varian Fry

 Meanwhile in New York 'The Emergency Rescue Committee' had been set up, they had compiled a list of around 200 artists, writers and intellectuals who they considered to be at risk in occupied Europe, the list included Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Andre Breton, Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp, the objective was to help them to escape. 

  Havard graduate and political activist Varian Fry was the man who was chosen to go to Vichy France to set up an organisation to help people escape, in fact he was the perfect choice, he was a man with a strong social conscience, he was an intellectual who had studied the classics and he spoke French and German.  He arrived in Marseilles on August 14th 1940 with a suitcase, sleeping bag and air mattress, $3000 taped to his leg and a list of around 200 names.  His return flight to New York had been booked for August 29th.  He had around two weeks to get the job done!

Varian Fry, Andre Breton, Andre Masson, Jacqueline Lamba and Max Ernst at the CAS office.

Fry set up his organisation which he named: CENTRE AMERICAN DE SECOURS, 'CAS'.  The Tom tom drums had been beating and word got out on the refugee grapevine, that a man had been sent from America to help, he soon had a long line of people queuing outside his hotel room, it was not long before he had to find an office and trustworthy staff. 

Eventually he cobbled together an excellent team including a young American art student who had formerly been studying at the Sorbonne, Miriam Davenport.  Varian desperately needed more funding, help soon came from the beautiful, thrill seeking American heiress, Mary Jayne Gold.  Mary Jayne rented Villa Air-Bel, just outside Marseille, it became a home to CAS staff and some of the refugees (CAS clients), artists and intellectuals came to visit, there were parties and auctions, which all helped fund the clients escapes and keep up morale.

Andre Breton and Jacqueline Lamba fooling around at the Villa Air-Bel, just outside Marseilles. Breton was convinced that all the surrealists must defy the spirit of Fascism "by singing and laughing with the greatest joy"

Even the Nazis could not stand in the way of creativity, whilst waiting at the Villa Air-Bel for various visas, Andre Breton had the idea of producing a collective work of art, they would invent a new deck of cards,  known as 'Le Jeu de Marseille'.  The original drawings were preserved and eventually came to Andre Breton's daughter Aube, she donated them to the Musee Cantini in Marseilles, where they are on display to this day.

 Max Ernst the Surrealist painter was one of the many artists imprisoned by the French in 1939 for being a German national, he was at this time living with his British lover, fellow surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, in a small French village in the south of France. With the help of Paul Eluard and the intervention of Varian Fry he was eventually released, only to be arrested again a few weeks later by the Gestapo, he managed to escape and once again helped by Varian Fry, escaped to America, with Peggy Guggenheim. 

Leonora Carrington, distraught at Max's initial arrest by the French was persuaded by friends to leave France. She escaped over the Pyrenees into Spain, where she suffered a breakdown at the British embassy in Madrid.  She was institutionalised in Santander where she received shock and drug therapy. Her wealthy parents intervened and sent someone to secure her release (Leonora claimed it was her old nanny) Leonora was convinced her parents would send her to a mental institution in South Africa or one of the colonies, one day she persuaded the nanny to take her shopping and managed to run away, she sought refuge at the Mexican embassy, eventually she managed to get to Lisbon, where she bumped into Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim who were waiting to leave for America.  Leonora and Max had both been through too much to rekindle their relationship.  Max went on to marry Peggy. Following the escape to Lisbon, Leonora arranged passage out of Europe with Renato Leduc, a Mexican diplomat and poet who was a friend of Picasso and who had agreed to marry Leonora as part of the travel arrangements to help her.  Leonora eventually found sanctuary in Mexico and went on to become one of Mexico's leading artists.

Max Ernst speaking to immigration authorities at Ellis Island, Peggy Guggenheim looks on, July 14th, 1941

A few of the people Varian Fry helped...
"Artists in Exile", Peggy Guggenheim's apartment, New York, 1942. Front row: Stanley William Hayter, Leonara Carrington, Frederick Kiesler, Kurt Seligmann. Second Row: Max Ernst, Amedee Ozenfant, Andre Breton, Fernand Leger, Berenice Abbott. Third Row: Jimmy Ernst, Peggy Guggenheim, John Ferren, Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian. Photograph: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  

 The situation was becoming increasingly risky for Fry and his clients.  Obtaining exit visas for people was becoming impossible legally, the only way to get things done was to go down the illegal route, much to the chagrin of the American consulate and the Vichy government.  Fry became a thorn in their sides and they conspired together to do something about him (America was still neutral at this point). He had his passport confiscated and was told it would only be returned on the condition that he left Vichy France and returned to America.  He now knew what it felt like to be a refugee, his hand was forced, on 6th September 1941, almost thirteen months after his arrival in Vichy France, Fry boarded the train in Cerbere and embarked on the long journey back to America following in the footsteps of all those he had helped to escape.

CAS continued to operate but went completely underground, it's staff were now part of the resistance.

Over a period of one and a half years twenty thousand refugees had approached CAS for help, stretching his mandate as much as he dared Fry had extended the protection of CAS to more than four thousand people.  Cas had given direct financial support to six hundred refugees.  It had helped fifteen hundred people to leave France both legally and illegally.  It had also assisted in one manner or another in the evacuation of about three hundred British officers and soldiers.  CAS had set up a dozen communities around Grasse as well as woodcutting and charcoal burning enterprises in the Var forest that gave refugees not only employment but also a place to hide.  From 1942 unbtil the end of the war, the clandestine CAS was able to facilitate the escape from France of another three hundred people.

Excert from Villa Air-Bel

Further reading...

(French Edition)

A Quiet American,  The Secret war of Varian Fry, Andy Marino