Saturday, December 27, 2008

Vanity Fair Show At The LACMA

When I was in London last year, I was sorry not to have time to go to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Vanity Fair exhibition, with its striking poster - Gloria Swanson, snapped by the great Edward Steichen . What do you know? Now the show, like me, is in Los Angeles...

It was a magical afternoon at the LA County Museum of Art, as I took delight in seeing divine shots by some of my favorite photographers, amongst which Man Ray or Mapplethorpe. I especially loved the group portraits of actors, such as the one with a radiant, beautifully aged Vanessa Redgrave at the center, and the Shakespeare one, featuring Sir Ian McKellan in a suit and pair of Converse, as well as dear Dame Judi Dench.
I was thrilled each time I spotted one of my heroes: supreme French author Colette, dancers Anna Pavlova and Bronislava Nijinksa, James Joyce, Thomas Hardy, Igor Stravinsky, Louise Brooks... Sadly, as decades went by in the different rooms of the show, I spotted fewer and fewer people I worship; it seemed the photographs went on to focus on bland celebrities (the Miller sisters - why oh why?), models (Gisele may have a spectacular body but is she in any way inspirational?) and the like rather than on great minds.
Who are your heroes and icons?

28 comments:

d. moll, l.ac. said...

What a great exhibit that must have been. My heros/heroines....Hmmm, Hiroshage, Basho, Dervla Murphy, Hildegarde van Bingen, Albrecht Durer, Leonardo da Vinci, Georges Sands and Sherlock Holmes.....to name a few. I found the Vermeer book at the local used shop: 10 bucks for a mint hardback. Just into the second chapter.

Hila said...

I too am getting sick of people who happen to be beautiful being held up as role models and icons (Kate Moss anyone?). I prefer people who have done something extraordinary and have some talent - great authors, writers, dancers, etc. Just beacuse you exist and happen to be attractive/beautiful does not make you an "icon". Great post Mary-Laure - I would have loved to have seen this exhibition.

A World in a PAN said...

What a beautiful exhibition, I am so glad you got a chance to go.
I love th top shot, so mysteious.
And Vanessa Redgrave was one of my icons when I was very young.

Mary-Laure said...

D. MOLL - it sounds like we have some icons in common; I too just adore Durer, da Vnci, Basho...
I hope you enjoy the Vermeer book as much as I did!

HILA - EXACTLY!
Ever read an interview of Kate Moss? It's about as inspiring as reading your dishwasher's user's manual.

WORLD IN A PAN - you were the one who made me discover Vanessa Redgrave. She's just divine.

Kitty said...

Wow - real live Mapplethorpe photos? You lucky thing!

Happy New Year - hope 2009 is very good to you.

x

karina Manghi said...

These days celebrities are everywhere and are really superficial.
Here the vulgarity is so common that it is impossible to watch tv.
Every day I am more into photography.

MISS GLITZY said...

Let's say Louise Brooks to begin with.

Chloé Van Paris said...

women:
Gene Tierney
Louise Brooks
Betty Page
Kiri te kanawa
Ella Fitzgerald
brenda Lee
FLORENCE BROADHURST.....
i add your link in my last post

Gabbi said...

Been meaning to see this exhibit but the holidays have made it impossible, hope I can make it before it ends March! My heroes and favorite icons are usually strong independent women so this exhibit sounds perfect... thank you for sharing :)

Mary-Laure said...

KITTY - there was a really very sad picture of Mapplethorpe shortly before his death, looking like a very old man though he was only in his 40's... It broke my heart.

Joanna said...

Could NOT agree more with your post. Even though there were a few favorites from recent years (the ones I blogged about), as a whole they paled in comparison to the earlier decades of the magazine's history....back when people were famous because of their talent, and not because who they're dating or who their father is.

Mary-Laure said...

KARINA MANGHI - ah si, la tele argentina, ni me cuentes... Sigue existiendo Susana Jimenez???

MISS GLITZY - I knew YOU would say that! I adore Louise Brooks too.

CHLOE - I'm not familiar with Florence Broadhurst, I'll look her up.

GABBI - you absolutely MUST make time to go to the show, it's worth it.

JOANNA - oh yes, people who are famous because who their parents are or because of who they date are just too pathetic.
I canceled my subscription to Nylon when they put Paris Hilton on the cover.

Solange said...

hey, definitely agree, on the your point of today's role models... pathetic really.
I love gene kelly, jane austen, ellie wiesel and well, there are so many inspirational people.

glad you could enjoy the exhibition!

Solange,

Esti said...

I totally agree with Hila

:)

Fifi Flowers said...

Good that you got to see the exhibit... and you had to come all the way to CA!
My hero... Bill Gates... without him... I wouldn't be typing to you here!

Mary-Laure said...

SOLANGE - oh yes, Gene Kelly, I adore him, and Jane Austen too. Eli Wiesel is also a great modern hero, such humanity...

FIFI - I really admire all the philanthropic efforts that Bill and Melinda Gates are making. What an admirable way to spend their wealth and time.

miss cavendish said...

Oh--I remember the year of the overexposed Miller sisters. Didn't VF try a Singer Sargent society look?

Hila said...

Hi again :)
I received your lovely card in the mail today and I wanted to say a big THANK YOU! It's so sweet of you.
Happy new year!
xo

Mary-Laure said...

MISS CAVENDISH - no, nothing like the elegance of Sargent's paintings. The Miller sisters are portrayed lying lasciviously on a sofa like a 3-head creature...

HILA - I can't believe it took so long for the card to reach you! I'm glad you liked it. :)

Anonymous said...

well i am sure it is an interesting exhibition...i have always loved Louise Brooks (even had my hair like hers all through university!)...was Nancy Cunard included??? i always thought she was fabuous!
xxnancy

Joyce said...

This sounds like a perfect exhibit and one that was meant for you to see!!
Anyone who makes a difference I admire. I do like James Joyce too. One person I always wanted to met was Doris Day. I admired her love for dogs.

Spangler Cummings said...

You are my hero! What a great mentor and inspiration you have been...as my blogspot teacher. I was at the same show and you have let me see the sheer beauty again, through your eyes and heart. It is my great fortune that you are here.

willow said...

I love this photo of Louise Brooks! I am so envious...I would have thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit. :)

michiko said...

Great exhibition! I'm jealous lol
I totally agree with you, why everything you see today is so pop culture?! WHY?!

Thank you for adding me to your blog list, you're already in my favorites, in case you didn't know :)

Mary-Laure said...

NANCY - I wish I too could cut my hair à la Louise Brooks but it's not straight enough...
I don't think I saw a pic of Nancy Cunard at the show.

SPANGLER - your kind words make me blush... I'm lucky to have such a fun, art-loving friend as you to guide me through Los Angeles!

Arlene said...

Your California posts make me homesick. I lived in Glendale (between Pasadena and Burbank)for many years, until we moved to Colorado. Husband is a Long Beach native. You are going to so many places that I love! I enjoy LACMA and I'm enjoying seeing LA through your eyes. Happy New Year.

Hey Harriet said...

What an aamzing exhibition. I hope it makes its way to Australia! I'd love to see it. Man Ray is one of my fave artists and I'm a big fan of Louise Brooks :)

karina Manghi said...

No estoy segura si La Su tiene programa pero no te puedo explicar lo vulgar de Bailando por un sueño, da tanta vergüenza que un día apague la tele y no la volví a encender nunca mas.