Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Thursday, 19 December 2013

W. B. Yeats: Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven


.


McCall's, Style and Beauty cover: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1942 (George Eastman House)


Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,   
Enwrought with golden and silver light,   
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths   
Of night and light and the half light,   
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;   
I have spread my dreams under your feet;   
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939): Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, from The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)

 




McCall's, Style and Beauty cover, woman wearing scarf: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1938 (George Eastman House)


McCall's, Style and Beauty cover, woman in flowered hat, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1937 (George Eastman House)


Lucky Strike ad, girl in red: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1936 (George Eastman House)

Lucky Strike, Girl in Red

Lucky Strike ad, girl in red, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1936 (George Eastman House)

Lucky Strike Girl

Lucky Strike girl: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1936 (George Eastman House)
 

Lucky Strike ad, girl with snowshoes, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1936 (George Eastman House)
 


Camel Cigarettes ad, girl in pool
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1956 (George Eastman House)



McCall's cover, girl in rain, Carbro print
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1943 (George Eastman House)


Canon Towel Ad, Nude in S

Cannon Towel ad, nude in shower
. Note: "Cannon towell [sic] ad -- While carbro was on display, people tried to pry off the daisy! Also the model's husband threatened divorce until Nick swore it was someone else." : photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), c. 1945 (George Eastman House)

Lizabeth Scott

Lizabeth Scott. Note:
"Lizabeth Scott 'Modern Screen' cover. She did have a towel on which was cropped.": photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1945 (George Eastman House)

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), c. 1948 (George Eastman House)

 

Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1949 (George Eastman House)

Gloria De Haven

Gloria de Haven, Modern Screen cover: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1947 (George Eastman House)

Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1940 (George Eastman House)


Rose Covarrubias

Rose Covarrubias
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), n.d. (George Eastman House)


Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, Carbro print
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1941 (George Eastman House)


Marlene Dietrich - Actres

Marlene Dietrich, Carbro print
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1935 (George Eastman House)


Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong, Carbro print
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1931 (George Eastman House)


Audrey Totter

Audrey Totter
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1945 (George Eastman House)

Ingrid Bergman montage -
Ingrid Bergman, Modern Screen cover: photomontage by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1947 (George Eastman House)

Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1945 (George Eastman House)

Judy Garland

Judy Garland: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1945 (George Eastman House)

MCCALL MAG, FOOD, ICE CRE


McCall's, homemaking cover, ice cream, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1943 (George Eastman House)
 
Untitled

[Untitled]: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), n.d. (George Eastman House)
 
Marilyn Monroe - Actress

Marilyn Monroe: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1952 (George Eastman House)
 
UNITED FRUIT CO, BANANAS,

United Fruit Company, bananas: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1932 (George Eastman House)
 
Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1952 (George Eastman House)
 

American Cyanimid, woman and lamb, Carbro print. Note:
"Photographed at Bronx Zoo, ad for American Cyanimid, caption 'Baa-aa-aa'." : photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1946 (George Eastman House)


McCall's, homemaking cover, packing trunk, Carbro print
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1942 (George Eastman House)

 
  MCCALL MAG, HOMEMAKKING C

McCall's, homemaking cover, Carbro print
: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1941 (George Eastman House)

 


McCall's, homemaking cover, dog and shoes: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1944 (George Eastman House)
 
McCall Magazine, Homemaki


McCall's, homemaking cover, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), n.d. (George Eastman House)
 
MCCALL MAG, STYLE & BEAUT

McCall's, Style and Beauty cover, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1939 (?) (George Eastman House)
 
CAMEL CIGARETTES, 3 IN RE

Camel Cigarettes ad, three in red, Carbro print: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1931 (George Eastman House)
 
CAMEL CIGARETTES, GIRL ON

Camel Cigarettes ad, girl on glass, Finlay Process: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1931 (George Eastman House)
 
Anthony and Cleopatra, Fr


Coca Cola ad, on the set of Anthony and Cleopatra: Frederic March, Claudette Colbert, Cecil B. De Mille: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1935 (George Eastman House)


Ladies Home Journal, swimsuit layout: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), 1932 (George Eastman House)


 Photos by Nickolas Muray (b. Mandi Miklós) (1892-1945) courtesy of George Eastman House

13 comments:

Unknown said...

This is extremely beautiful, utterly charming, touching and funny also. It really raises the spirits, which is always in order, but especially now I think. (I read the news today, oh boy, etc., etc.) Curtis

Simonp@pipeline.com said...

Hey Tom - Ted, Edwin, and "beautiful women", you've smoked me out! (though truth is, I've never ever actually been away, consistent reader and consistent admirer of your extraordinary, inevitably breath-taking, blog - and "just because you so rarely hear from me..." - that wonderful Times Square plastic-mac homburg-raffishly-over-the-brow word "lurker" coined for "fools such as I" - Keep up the great work (don't ever stop the great work) and holiday greetings to you and dear Angelica

Wooden Boy said...

The porcelain stillness of those faces is something remarkable.

Placing the products of these two economies with the thrum of the old oneiric machinery running through; a fine critical stroke.

Wooden Boy said...

The knife resting on the apples too...

TC said...

Many thanks and great good wishes to all and to all a... er, that is, many thanks, Curtis, Simon, and Duncan.

Yes, the bodies and faces in the photos may as well be porcelain, and the food objects also. With Muray the same props and motifs recur, and are sometimes virtually interchangeable -- I've tried to bring this out in a few of the obvious juxtapositions: e.g. Judy Garland and the ice cream advert, similar peppermint stripings. Actual food and sex were never going to be as good as oneiric food and sex, naturally. Muray's technical prowess and experimental virtuosity advanced the tricks of hidden persuasion into an art form of subtle power, capable of manipulating desire in exactly the way that other European emigré, Edward Bernays, of the Freud family, designated as calculated to move the metallic heart and plastic soul of an American consumer directly toward product acquisition.

(By the by, it will probably not come as a surprise to learn that Muray did some predictably dreamy fantasia shots for the then-budding... er, wrong figure there, I fear... plastics industry.)

Indeed Muray's enormous and interesting portfolio probably gives more attention to food items than to women's (or for that matter men's) bodies. The editing committee here adjudged the edible evidence to be redundant. The apple shot is one of four careful apple studies that survive in the Muray archive. The one I have chosen is the darkest of these. It shows clearly that a clean knife cut may well reveal that the most delicious-looking apple is in fact already beginning to rot at the core.

In any case that old Chimpanzee Adam was never going to be far to seek, in "this kind of a society". Those slightly bruised bananas dangling above giddy Marilyn (a natural comedienne and definitely "in on the act" -- Muray's subjects, especially those with a sense of humour, loved working with him) were delivered to the photographer's studio by the United Fruit Company.

(This was once the season of the annual Gift Fruit Box.)

Stepping back a bit to see Muray's work in historical context, I am reminded, particularly by his omnipresent deployment of saturated reds, of the investigation of color symbolism in other artists trained in the photographic and cinematic arts in central Europe in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Douglas Sirk stands out. But of course Sirk was delivering melodrama, a sort of decadent development away from the original rot at the core.

TC said...

A bit of background on Muray. Hungarian by birth, he attended a graphic arts school in Budapest, where he studied lithography, photoengraving, and photography, and earned an international engraver's certificate. He then undertook a three-year course in color photoengraving in Berlin, learning there to make color filters. He worked then for the publisher Ullstein, before sailing off to America and getting work as a color printer in Brooklyn. He started his own Greenwich Village portrait studio. A 1921 portrait commission from Harper's Bazaar to photograph the Broadway actress Florence Reed set him on course to a lucrative professional career. By 1926, he was back in Europe on assignment for Vanity Fair, photographing celebrities in London, Paris, and Berlin. In 1929 the same publication sent him to Hollywood to photograph movie stars. There followed, after the great market crash, a new phase of fashion and advertising work, for many of the major American popular magazines.

Muray had an eventful life. The Frida Kahlo portrait here is one of several. Muray and Kahlo were lovers for ten years. The affair survived Muray's third (and penultimate) marriage, and Kahlo's divorce from and subsequent remarriage to Diego Rivera, and ended only when it became plain to Muray that Kahlo wanted him as a lover and not a husband.

Muray was a master fencer, competing for the US twice in the summer Olympics in sabre events. He also represented the New York Athletic Club. While fencing at the club he suffered a heart attack and was resuscitated through open heart massage performed by a fellow fencer. Four years later he was stricken again in the same fencing room, and this time was not so lucky.

Curtis Faville said...

Marilyn Monroe said that Joe only wanted one thing, and she got kind of tired of doing it all the time.

Plus, Joe was intensely jealous. Wanted her to stay home, so he could ______ her whenever he wanted to. Be a good wife, etc.

He wasn't much of an intellectual, but he'd been raised in a traditional Italian-American household, and wanted everything in its place.

TC said...

Yes, well, I guess that's been pretty well established... and the tensions there were likely inevitable... though to be honest, given the difficulties and anxieties fame created for each of those otherwise fairly normal and indeed quite shy people, and given the lengths to which they went, in their respective ways, to avoid being eaten alive by publicity and gossip, I'd almost wish that their memory somehow be shrink-wrapped into an inviolable privacy bubble.

But Curtis, you've caused me to pause at some length to consider the multiple possible meanings of the word "traditional".

After all, it's supposed to be that time of year.

Curtis Faville said...

Tom:

I had the occasion to meet Joe in my work towards the end of his life.

He was very pleasant, but had "handlers"--an aspect of his Italian cultural upbringing that I found amusing. His people protected him.

I've always been conflicted about how to view MM. I think she learned how to manipulate the media, and men, but then felt a little stupid doing that. At the beginning of her career, she seemed comfortable with using her sexuality to achieve opportunities in Hollywood, but then when she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams, she saw it as an empty victory. Wanting to be a "serious" actress probably involved feeling the same kind of vague ambition she'd experienced earlier. I'm not sure she really believed she'd be able to carry heavy parts without using her reputation and physical presence. I think Some Like it Hot is her best role, but it's all about sex, etc.

Curtis Faville said...

Mike Lally has a sweet little poem about MM in his collection Rocky Dies Yellow (Blue Wind Press).

tpw said...

Thanks, Tom, for this pulchritudinous array. Too bad Muray never photographed Maud Gonne.

TC said...

Well, Curtis, with Marilyn,"vague" always comes to seem the operative term, one way or the other.

Sometimes perhaps a protective vagueness. That might make sense.

Obviously she had a mind and a psyche, likewise Joe D.

It's just that the things about them which allow us to speak of them as though they were somehow our possessions had so much more to do with their physical qualities.

Cultural properties, I suppose they are, in that sense.

(Mis-typed "Vultural" for "Cultural", there -- what can this mean?)

I saw DiMaggio play several times, late on when his legs were obviously hurting, so that the effortless gliding in the outfield had given way to a delicate, painful-looking lope. When he quit, after '51, he said he said he was retiring because the game was no longer fun. One could see that. On the other hand, in that same late period, one night at old Comiskey, I watched from the right field grandstand as he destroyed the Sox in both games of a twi-night doubleheader. The passage of time turns memory into mythology so easily, but I believe he drove in seven runs in that doubleheader. On the bum pins.

Anyway it's that and only that part of the persona, which in its singular totality was probably as complex as that of any other larger than life public-figure persona, which ever seemed even approximately intelligible... or for that matter, even, interesting.

Funny thing, I get a fair amount of back channel commentary on these posts, which I refrain from quoting as I assume the back channel commenters could / would say things for public consumption, if they so desired. (Probably an optimistic assumption, but still.)

In any event, a reader who, through a combination of circumstances, happens to have encountered both JD and MM "in real life" (as the phrase once was) -- MM, back East, during the Miller marriage; JD, back out here during the period when he was in the habit of taking lunch with his old local Italo baseball pals at Dante Benedetti's New Pisa, Grant & Vallejo in the city -- has also been sharing memories.

And from this I gather that the two figures, as people, were, like most people, mysteries, of which only the external wrappings are visible to us.

By the by, when Joe and Marilyn were on the outs, Joe was "romantically linked" (in the gossip columns, of course) with a number of glamorous Hollywood movie actresses. Two of them are featured in Nick Muray's portfolio. Can anyone identify them?

And oh, Terry, thanks for representing here, on the phantom-Irish aspect. That wonderfully spooky top Muray shot and several of the lower shots as well were done for shoe ads. "Tread softly because you tread on my dreams", in the Yeats poem, was the line that suggested the connection that became the basis of the post -- some six months ago, when work on this was begun.

It is indeed curious to imagine what Muray would have done with Maud Gonne. And a few rolls of Kodachrome.

Curious, nay even perhaps sacrilegious.

But in the same archive which houses Muray's negatives, there also happens to be this:

Maud Gonne, Irish Patriot (c. 1900): photo by William M. Vander Weyde (US, 1871-1929)

TC said...

By the by, talking of Marilyn's vulnerability -- that part of her which was in the end perhaps most endearing -- it seems to me that the one photographer who ever came close to really touching that was John Vachon, who shot these pictures when she was recuperating, with Joe by her side, in the Canadian Rockies after an ankle injury sustained during location shooting on The Misfits:

George Herbert: The Pulley (Pandora's Box)