the pugilist poet

Arthur Cravan (born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd on May 22, 1887) was known as a pugilist, a poet and a larger-than-life character.

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“Cravan was born and educated in Lausanne, Switzerland, then at an English military academy from which he was expelled after spanking a teacher

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He set out to promote himself as an eccentric and an art critic, though his interest was showing off a striking personal style rather than discussing art. To a degree, Cravan was a charlatan as well as a genius. He staged spectacles and stunts with himself at the centre, pulling down his pants in public and once acting on the front of a line of carts where he paraded his skills as a boxer and singer.

After the First World War began, Cravan left Paris to avoid being drafted into military service. On a stopover in the Canary Islands a boxing match was arranged between Cravan and the reigning world champion, Jack Johnson, to raise money for Cravan’s passage to the United States. Posters for the match touted him as “European champion.” Johnson, who didn’t know who he was, knocked Cravan out solidly, noting in his autobiography that Cravan must have been out of training.

Jack Johnson found here

His style involved continuous re-invention of his public persona, and outrageous statements and boasts. As the nephew of Oscar Wilde (his father’s sister, Constance Mary Lloyd, was married to Wilde) he even produced hoaxes—documents and poems—and then signed them “Oscar Wilde”. In 1913 he published an article claiming that his uncle was still alive and had visited him in Paris. The New York Times published the rumor, even though Cravan and Wilde never met.

On the page and in person, Cravan paraded himself as “the poet with the shortest haircut in the world.”  Penniless most of the time, he drank in dive sports bars in the Bronx and slept rough in Central Park. Marcel Duchamp invited Cravan to a conference at Grand Central Palace. His lecture caused a sensation: drunk and undressing, he cussed out an audience who called the cops, shocking the Greenwich Village avant-garde.

Marcel Duchamp found here

It was in New York that he fell in love with the poet Mina Loy. They moved to Mexico together and married in 1918. The couple planned a trip to Argentina but did not have enough money for both of them to book passage on the same vessel. Loy took the trip on a regular ship and Cravan set out alone on a sailboat. He never arrived in Argentina and it is presumed that he died, aged 31, in a storm at sea. Mina gave birth to their daughter, Fabienne, in April. She spent a year searching for him, and decades fantasizing his return. Although theories abound, the mystery of his disappearance has never been solved. 

Mina Loy found here

guilty of many carelessly written sentences

Olga, the Baroness de Meyer (1871 – 1930/1931) was an artists’ model, socialite, patron of the arts, writer, and fashion figure of the early 20th century. She was the wife of photographer Adolph de Meyer and was rumoured to be the natural daughter of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.

image of Olga found here

To many individuals who observed Olga’s early life the most distinguished familial connection was her relationship with Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII. Though officially her godfather, the British royal was known to be one of Olga’s mother’s lovers and, consequently, suspected of being Olga’s actual father.

King Edward visiting Marienbad found here

However, other potential fathers have been identified. A strong candidate was Stanislaus Augustus, 3rd Prince Poniatowski and 3rd Prince of Monte Rotondo, a former equerry of Napoleon III, whom Olga reportedly resembled and with whom the newlywed Duchess Caracciolo reportedly eloped on 1 September 1869, the very day her arranged marriage with the duke took place.

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Olga married Marino Brancaccio in 1892, and divorced him in 1899. Artist Jacques-Émile Blanche, a family friend, called it “a short and most dramatic union“. A month later she married Adolphe de Meyer, a celebrated artist and photographer. This was a marriage of convenience, as the groom was homosexual and the bride was bisexual; some sources went to far as to identify her as a lesbian.

Baron de Meyer found here

The de Meyers were characterized by Violet Trefusis—who counted Olga among her lovers —as “Pederaste and Medisante” because, as Trefusis observed, “He looked so queer and she had such a vicious tongue“. Olga also had an affair with Princess de Polignac, the well known Singer sewing-machine heiress and arts patron.

Known for “her elusive combination of childlike innocence and soigné charm” and described as “tall and slender, with Venetian red hair”, Olga de Meyer was muse and model to many artists. Though British novelist George Moore was unimpressed by her beauty. As he commented to an admiring friend, “By Jove, you’re all after the girl, a fine Mélisande for the stage, with her beautiful hair down to her heels. She’s paintable, I admit, but as to one’s daily use, I should rather have the mother than the daughter. Too slender for me … you know my tastes.”

image of long hair found here

She worked briefly as a society columnist for a Paris newspaper in the 1890s. As Mahrah de Meyer, a name she adopted on the advice of an astrologer, she wrote one novel, the autobiographical Nadine Narska. The New York Times condemned the novel as “morbid, exaggerated and guilty of many carelessly written sentences”, while The Dial called de Meyer’s book “a miscellaneous mixture of paganism, diluted Nietzsche, and the doctrine of reincarnation“.

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Known as a female amateur fencing champion, Baroness de Meyer competed at tournaments in Europe and the United States in the early 1900s. The last years of Olga de Meyer’s life were not pleasant ones. As an observer wrote, “Nervous, drugged, surrounded by ambiguous friends and accompanied by a too-conspicuous husband, Olga became frankly spiteful. Scandal-mongering had eliminated the last of her respectable friends, and people visited her only because they could be sure to find a pipe of opium or a sniff of cocaine”.

more lovely stereoscopic images here

Olga de Meyer died in a detoxification clinic in Austria in 1930 or 1931. 

warts and all

Misia Sert (born Maria Zofia Olga Zenajda Godebska; 30 March 1872 – 1950) was a pianist of Polish descent who hosted an artistic salon in Paris.  She married Thadée Natanson, a Polish emigre politician and journalist, who became the editor of a Parisian Dreyfusard journal.

Misia (1947) found here

Thadée started the Revue Blanche. Verlaine, Mallarmé and other famous painters duly gathered. Those who couldn’t paint Misia wrote poems for her. The painters had the privilege of immortalising her miraculous looks, which included a legendary pair of legs and a bosom that kept strong men awake at night thinking.

Misia by Renoir found here

Being published in the Revue Blanche was like getting into a party: you had to know Misia. At a party thrown by Misia’s brother-in-law to celebrate the completion of nine large panels by Vuillard, Toulouse Lautrec was the barman. Misia met Liszt, whom she remembered for his warts, long hair and transvestite travelling companionThree hundred people were present, of whom a large proportion were already famous and all promptly became drunk, since Lautrec’s cocktails consisted of several layers of different-coloured liqueurs. A room was set aside for casualties and ended up jammed with the bodies of Vuillard, Bonnard, etc

Toulouse Lautrec found here

When Natanson was on the brink of bankruptcy, the newspaper magnate Alfred Edwards saved him, on condition that he surrender his wife to him. Misia began living with Alfred Edwards in 1903.

Edwards was a coprophile, among his other charms, but he was also loaded. There were butlers, chandeliers and an endless supply of Louis XVI furniture. Misia played for Caruso while he sang Neapolitan songs, and told him to pipe down when she grew sick of them. Renoir longed to paint Misia with the famous breasts naked, but she would never bare them to him, probably because Edwards was lurking heavily in the adjacent room, ready to exact jealous vengeance even though the artist by that time was an all but total cripple.

Alfred Edwards found here

Misia eventually lost Edwards to the gorgeous young actress Genevieve Lantelme, who had started off as a whore at the age of fourteen. In 1911, Lantelme drowned in the Rhine. The newspapers licked their tabloid jaws over every detail. Referring obliquely to Edward’s bizarre sexual perversion as the cause of the murder, one journalist wrote “An unspeakable idea that I cannot even describe crossed his mind, an idea that he wanted the horrified and indignant actress to put into practice. She struggled and screamed and he threw her body into the water.” Edwards sued for libel and was awarded damages of one franc. 

Lantelme found here

Misia moved on to José-Maria Sert, a colourful, muscular painter of colourful, muscular murals. Sert was a tirelessly fiery Spaniard with enough cash to keep Misia in the style to which she had no real intention of ever becoming unaccustomed.

By 1923 Sert and Misia were both in love with the same girl, Roussy Mdivani, a junior member of the marrying Mdivanis. Roussy was chic as opposed to artistic. She was also young as opposed to old. The triangle lasted for as long as Misia’s pride allowed, plus a bit longer. Then she consoled herself with Coco Chanel, who took her turn to assume the dominant role.

Chanel found here

the Baroness balances a birthday cake

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1875-1927) was known as the Queen of the Dada Movement.

Elsa found here

Her father, a mason, sexually and physically abused her in her childhood. She practiced prostitution, and had numerous affairs with both men and women throughout her lifetime, including the writer Djuna Barnes.

Djuna found here

Elsa married August Endell in April 1901 but by 1903 she had left him for his friend Felix Greve. In July 1909, Greve disappeared from Germany after staging his own suicide. Elsa played a part in the faked suicide, she sent a letter to his publishers accusing them of working her late husband to death. He sailed from Liverpool to Montreal, where he renamed himself. Later, as the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove, he described staging his death and reinventing himself in his first autobiography. 

Felix Greve found here

It is unclear how Elsa made her way to New York. However, it was there she met and married Baron Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven, the black sheep of his illustrious family, in November 1913. Through her marriage to Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven she became a Baroness but little is known about their relationship. Baron von Loringhoven hurried back to Germany at the outbreak of the war and then, not liking war, shot himself – an act which his wife characterized as the bravest of his life. 

black sheep found here

From 1917 on, she published a fair amount of her mostly Expressionist and sometimes Dada-style poetry in various magazines. She also created “ready made” sculptures and collages from random items she stole or salvaged from the trash. Her most famous “ready made” is the plumbing pipe irreverently called “God”

God found here

By the early 1920s, von Freytag-Loringhoven had become a living legend in Greenwich Village. Often arrested for her revealing costumes and ongoing habit of stealing anything that caught her eye, she “leaped from patrol wagons with such agility that policemen let her go in admiration“. She continued to pose for artists, and appeared in a short film made by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp descriptively titled The Baroness Shaves Her Pubic Hair.

Duchamp and Ray playing chess found here

Margaret Anderson vividly recalls the Baroness’ first entrance into the Little Review’s office: “So she shaved her head. Next she lacquered it a high vermilion. Then she stole crêpe from a house of mourning and made a dress of it. She came to see us. First she exhibited the head at all angles, amazing against our black walls. Then she jerked the crepe with one movement. It’s better when I’m nude, she said.”

Elsa found here

When many of her friends moved to Paris after the First World War, von Freytag-Loringhoven tried desperately to join them. Eventually she returned to Berlin in April 1923 – a time when inflation of the German currency was at its worst. She was reduced to selling newspapers on a street corner of the Kurfüstendamm in the winter of 1923–1924 and was a more or less permanent inmate of several insane asylums. Her outrageous blackmail attempts and demanding propositions to André Gide, George Bernard Shaw, and perhaps other celebrities for living expenses did little to keep her out of trouble. Her notoriously elaborate costumes were not of much help either. In an undated letter to Djuna Barnes, von Freytag-Loringhoven describes an ensemble she wore to the French Embassy in Germany:

Andre Gide found here

“I went to the consulate with a large, wide sugarcoated birthday cake upon my head with fifty flaming candles lit – I felt just so spunky and affluent! In my ear I wore sugar plumes or matchboxes – I forget which. Also I had put on several stamps as beauty spots on my emerald-painted cheeks and my eyelashes were made of gilded porcupine quills – rustling coquettishly – at the consul – with several ropes of dried figs dangling around my neck to give him a suck once and again – to entrance him. I should have liked to wear gaudy colored rubber boots up to my hips with a ballet skirt of genuine gold paper with lace paper covering it (to match the cake) – but I couldn’t afford that! I guess that inconsistency in my costume is to blame for my failure to please the officials?

Cake Head found here

The true circumstances of von Freytag-Loringhoven’s death are still unclear. On December 14, 1927, she died of asphyxiation when the gas in her room at the Rue Barrault was left on overnight.

a lili by any other name

Danish painter Einar Wegener* (1882 – 1931) was a successful artist.

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His life story is told in a book entitled Man into Woman, published in 1933. Einar was a perfectly normal boy, both physically and mentally. At the age of twenty he married; his wife Gerda was a painter too, and their marriage was a happy one. One day, an actress whose portrait was being painted by his wife was unable to come for her sitting. Einar’s wife persuaded him to wear stockings and heels and pose for the drapery and legs.

Gerda found here

Over time, Gerda became famous for her paintings of beautiful women with haunting almond-shaped eyes dressed in chic fashions. In approximately 1913, the unsuspecting public was shocked to discover that the model who had inspired Gerda’s depictions of petite femmes fatales was in fact Einar.

example of Gerda’s artwork found here

In 1930 Einar went to Germany for surgery, which was only in an experimental state at the time. A series of five operations were carried out over a period of two years. The first surgery, removal of the testicles, was made under the supervision of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin.

At the time of Einar’s surgery the case was already a sensation in newspapers of Denmark and Germany. The King of Denmark invalidated the Wegeners’ marriage in October 1930, and Einar managed to get his sex and name legally changed, receiving a passport as Lili Elbe.

Lili by Gerda found here

The rest of Lili’s surgeries were carried out in the Dresden Municipal Women’s Clinic. The second operation was to remove the penis, and transplant ovaries, which were taken from a 26-year-old woman. These were soon removed in a third then fourth operation, due to rejection and other serious complications. The fifth operation was to transplant a uterus and was intended to allow Lili, then nearing the age of 50, to become a mother. She soon after died of transplant rejections.

Gerda Wegener went on to marry an Italian military officer, aviator, and diplomat, Major Fernando Porta, and move to Morocco, where she would learn of the death of Elbe, whom she described to a friend as “my poor little Lily.” (By contrast, she described her second husband as “a magnificent, splendid and peerless hunk of man”.) After living for several years in Marrakech and Casablanca, the Portas divorced, and Gerda returned to Denmark, where she died in 1940.

image found here

Gerda is still recognised today as one of the leading art deco artists of the early twentieth century. Her book and magazine illustrations included both high fashion and lesbian and straight erotica. Lili was one of Gerda’s favourite models, wearing women’s clothes or nude. As a fashion designer in Paris, Gerda was influential in setting fashion trends. It is amusing to consider that the 1920s small breasted feminine ideal may have been influenced by Lili’s figure.

Gerda’s artwork found here

* As well as at wikipedia, information regarding Lili Elbe and Gerda was found here

beware the 5:00 pm miasma

Despite her Gallic sounding name, the Comtesse de Noailles (1824 – 1908) was English and lived near Eastbourne for nearly 20 years before moving to France later in life.

Beachy Head from above Eastbourne circa 1890 found here

When she was 40, she saw a portrait of a young girl by the artist Ernest Hébert. De Noailles attempted to buy it but it had already been sold so she decided instead to adopt the model, named Maria. Her Italian father, Domenico, had brought her to Paris to be adopted for two bags of gold with which he would use to create a vineyard.

Pasqua Maria by Ernest Hébert found here

De Noailles encouraged her cows to graze near open windows believing the methane they produced was good for her health. She also left England every winter for fear of catching flu. When Maria became an adult, de Noailles instructed her to do the same with her family, saying the climate became too unhealthy when leaves fell, especially from oak trees, which de Noailles believed England had too many of.

Majesty Oak of Kent found here

After Maria married, if the Comtesse came to stay, all the trees in the vicinity would have to be felled in case she caught some disease from the bark. During Maria’s pregnancy, the Comtesse instructed her to drink only water in which the tips of pine branches had previously been boiled, which was  problematic, since all nearby trees had been cut due to a previous demand.

felled pine tree stump found here

Other habits included sleeping with a loaded pistol beside her bed; having a string of fresh onions hung on her bedroom door to protect her from infections; wrapping silk stockings stuffed with squirrel fur around her forehead to prevent wrinkles; eating large amounts of fresh herring roe to prevent bronchitis. She also believed that port wine should be drunk at sunset, mixed with a little sugar and diluted with soft rainwater collected from the roof of their house by her servants under her husband’s supervision.

bald squirrel found here

She refused to travel anywhere if the wind was blowing in an easterly direction and was liable to call the train to a halt and return home should she notice the trees blowing the wrong way.

During a visit to southern France where de Noailles and her daughter met other members of polite society, she instructed her family to accept no invitations to afternoon tea after 5 o’clock, believing that most people caught flu at this time because of dangerous miasma in the air at the end of the day.

dangerous invitation to a late tea found here

The Comtesse lived until she was 84, her diet in the last weeks of her life consisting solely of milk and champagne.

tiptoe through the teeth

There are several Luna Parks in different parts of the world as well as one here in Sydney.  Ours has had an interesting history since it opened in 1935.

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Through the years there have been quite a few famous visitors, including a certain Prince Philip of Greece, now the Duke of Edinburgh, who disgraced himself in 1945, while on shore leave, when he was escorted out of the River Caves ride after breaking the rules by getting out of his boat.

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The famous entrance face was designed by Rupert Browne. Luna Park has had several artists-in-residence since Rupert’s reign including Arthur Barton, S. John Ross and the infamous Martin Sharp. During Sharp’s residency, several teeth were stolen from the giant laughing face, the thief was never found.

image: Martin Sharp

In 1979 the tragic fire in the Luna Park Ghost Train claimed seven lives. Martin’s work on the Luna Park Face was ruined, and the park’s theme “Just for Fun” lost its meaning. Like many others, Martin firmly believes the fire was a deliberate act of terrorism aimed at destroying the park and establishing alternative interests. The reason for the arson attack is not hard to discern — Luna Park’s unique location on the northern foreshore of the harbour, adjacent to the north-western tower of the Harbour Bridge, made it a prize of inestimable value to property developers.

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Martin Sharp was also responsible for bringing Tiny Tim to Luna Park where he set a new world record for non-stop professional singing – two hours and fifteen minutes. Tiny was best known for his hit song Tiptoe Through the Tulips which he sung in a falsetto voice whilst accompanying himself on the ukulele.  He was also well known for having married his first wife on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show; they named their daughter Tulip.

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Tiny may have had a touch of OCD, he certainly liked rubbing lotion on his skin. He used Eterna 27, Jergen’s body shampoo, Vaseline Intensive Care (yellow bottle) for his upper torso and Vaseline Intensive Care (green bottle) for the lower half. He applied Oil of Olay 8 times a day.

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trapped by a fetishist

It appears to me that more people in the arts have polygamous relationships than us ordinary folk. Or maybe no one writes about the ordinary folk who are having them

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Wonder Woman was created by Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston, who wrote the stories under the pseudonym Charles Moulton. Marston is also known as the inventor, or at least the most enthusiastic advocate, of the polygraph lie detector. Marston led a colorful and unconventional life. In his first of several popular psychology books, Emotions of Normal People, he discussed emotional states in terms of “elementary behaviour units” in the activities of dominance, compliance, submission and inducement.

One study in Marston’s book involves the “baby party,” a strange sorority ritual held at Jackson College. Freshman initiates were required to dress like babies, bound, prodded with sticks, and wrestled when they resisted. One of Marston’s theories was that America would become a matriarchy, and in many of his writings he espoused the view that women could and would use sexual enslavement to achieve dominance over men.  His ideas landed him the post of consulting psychologist for the women’s magazine Family Circle.

order your adult baby dresses here

His research assistant on that study, Olive Byrne, was also the woman who, as Olive Richard, conducted the seminal interview published in Family Circle. In fact, Olive moved in with Marston and his wife Elizabeth. William Marston fathered two children each by each woman, and the extended family lived together harmoniously.

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Artist Sir Stanley Spencer also had an unconventional love life.

“He viewed sexual union as a sacrament. A man raises a woman’s dress with the same passionate admiration and love as the priest raises the Host on the altar,’ he wrote.

Bardot

Stanley met his first wife, Hilda Carline in 1923 and they eventually married in 1925. Their first daughter, Shirin, was born the same year and their second, Unity, in 1930.

In 1933 a fellow artist, Patricia Preece, began to model for him, first in a conventional way – there is a portrait of her in striped jersey in front of his gramophone – and later wearing increasingly few clothes.

Patricia Preece – Self Portrait

Stanley quickly became infatuated. Hilda wrote to a friend: ‘She vamped him to a degree unbelievable except in cinemas. If he went to her house, she always received him half or a quarter dressed. He showered her with presents, from the lacy lingerie in which he painted her, to gifts of cash.

Carline divorced Spencer in 1937. A week later he married Patricia, knowing she, however, was a lesbian. She continued to live with her partner, and though she frequently posed nude for her husband, refused to consummate the marriage.

Patricia found herself trapped by a fetishist. As she said years later, he bought her ‘innumerable pairs of bright, beastly shoes with enormously high heels, in which he stared at my legs and feet with fascination‘. When Spencer’s bizarre relationship with Patricia finally fell apart (though she would never grant a divorce), he returned to visiting Hilda.

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Then there’s Australian actor Jack Thompson who spent 15 years in a ménage à trois with two sisters, Leona and Bunkie.

“Know how difficult it is living with the woman you love?” Thompson is fond of saying. “Try doubling it”. Though the living arrangement came to an end, Thompson has no regrets, “I wouldn’t have missed it for quids.”

Glenda Jackson & Jack Thompson 1975

Perhaps most famous of all were the complicated goings on of the Bloomsbury Set.

Duncan Grant had always been actively homosexual but a relationship blossomed with Vanessa Bell who was in a relationship with his friend, artist Roger Fry. Grant eventually moved in with Vanessa and her two sons by her husband Clive Bell. Then Grant’s new lover, David Garnett arrived.

Vanessa Bell aged 2

Relationships with Clive Bell remained amicable, and he too stayed with them for long periods fairly often – sometimes accompanied by his own mistress, Mary Hutchinson. Vanessa very much wanted a child by Duncan, and became pregnant in the spring of 1918. Although it is generally assumed that Duncan’s sexual relations with Vanessa ended in the months before Angelica was born, they continued to live together for more than 40 years.

Bloomsbury

Published in: on October 24, 2010 at 6:17 am  Comments (36)  
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out-drink, out-party and out-flirt

Augustus John was well known not only for his artistic talents but also for his unusual living arrangements with two women.

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“In the summer of 1897 he suffered a severe accident hitting his head on a rock whilst diving into the sea, this seemingly resulted in a radical change in character – later leading to the myth that he had dived into the sea, hit his head on a rock and emerged from the water a genius.

image found here

It was at the Slade that Augustus met and fell in love with Ida Nettleship. Sensuously beautiful she had almond eyes, a mass of dark hair and full lips. In 1901, Augustus eloped with her and they were married.

image found here

Marriage did not stop John’s womanising – he met and fell hopelessly in love with Dorothy McNeil, known as Dorelia or later affectionately as Dodo. Ida liked Dorelia enormously and a tumultuous ménage-a-trois was formed.

Dorelia

For a time this was successful; Dorelia bore him two children and Ida gave birth to five but sadly died at the age of 30 from puerperal fever. Then in August 1911, John and Dorelia decided to rent Alderney Manor, a strange fortified pink bungalow built by an eccentric Frenchman in 60 acres of woodland.

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Their children ran wild over the heathland and bathed naked in the pond. The communal chaos was presided over by Dorelia in pre-Raphaelite robes looking as if she was constantly about to pose for a portrait. Over the years they acquired all the trappings of a back to the land community; cows, a breeding herd of saddleback pigs, various donkeys, ponies, carthorses, miscellaneous cats & dogs, 12 hives of bees that stung everyone, a dovecote from which all the doves flew away and a ‘biteful’ monkey.

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Communal living did nothing to cramp John’s style – the affairs continued, almost too numerous to mention – with Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mrs Strindberg, the actress Eileen Hawthorne & Mrs Fleming, Ian Fleming’s mother, (a liaison which resulted in a daughter, Amaryllis, later an accomplished cellist.) John never seemed to deny any of his wayward offspring – taking some under his communal wing, paying maintenance to support others. Though the claim that he had fathered some 100 illegitimate offspring is probably an exaggeration – it being fashionable at one time to claim to have had a child with him.

Amaryllis

The years at Alderney were the peak of John’s artistic career. Everyone who was anyone seemingly wanted to have their portrait painted by the erstwhile King of Bohemia. A controversial portrait of Lord Leverhulme, the founder of Port Sunlight, was returned to John minus its head, the soap millionaire having been offended by the artist’s depiction of him. John exhibited the remaining section of the portrait with the title ‘Lord Leverhulme’s Watchchain’. In 1954 the two sections were joined together again. You can see the join line quite distinctly on the painting today.

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John and Dorelia lived out the last years of their lives at Fryern, interspersed with occasional trips abroad or up to London – where John would proceed, even into his eighties, to out-drink, out-party and out-flirt his considerably younger companions.

Augustus John by Cecil Beaton found here

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 8:26 am  Comments (46)  
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obsessed with alma

Circus performers have featured before at the Gimcrack but they’re an interesting subject so let’s look at another one,  Con Calleano

“The world’s greatest tightwire artist was born at Lismore, New South Wales, on 26 December 1899, the third of the ten children of an itinerant showman and boxer, Cornelius Sullivan and his wife, Vittorine, the grand-daughter of an Aboriginal. The family changed their name, and by 1918 ‘Colleano’s All-Star Circus’ was touring Queensland. Con mastered the feet-to-feet somersault on the tightwire – something previously considered impossible, because the performer cannot see his feet until after they land on the wire.

As well as starring in circuses here and overseas, Con was a stunt double for Charles Boyer in the film Flesh and Fantasy. His nephew, Bonar Colleano, followed in his uncle’s show business footsteps and became an actor performing in nearly 30 films before his sudden accidental death in 1958.

Several British stars of the silver screen have taken part in a fund-raising match for the family of American actor Bonar Colleano.

The 34 year old actor was killed in a car crash at Birkenhead, Liverpool, in August. He left a wife, actress Susan Shaw, and three-year-old son Mark.

Singer Alma Cogan kicked off the game, which also included actors like James Mason, Sid James, Stanley Baker and Alfie Bass.

Alma Cogan and friends found here

Alma Cogan was a pop star in the fifties and sixties who died from cancer at the age of 34. It’s been rumoured that she had an affair with John Lennon, that she was gay, that she had been raped when young, that she was a sexual enigma….. most of the rumours were refuted in a book written by her younger sister, Sandra Caron, who also had to contend with the attentions of a stalker.

“In the years that followed, Sandra became haunted by the obsessive behaviour of some of her sister’s more extreme fans. She was affronted when one of them, Stephen Woods, a former schoolteacher from Lancaster, who never met Alma, sent money to Bushey Cemetery to restore the star’s grave, without permission from the family.

In November 2001, when Sandra unveiled an official Heritage Foundation plaque to Alma outside their former home at Stafford Court, where they entertained The Beatles, Woods attempted to fund the cost of the memorial.

This offer, and a further one – to buy up 250 seats at the tribute luncheon that followed at Grosvenor House Hotel, at a cost of E12,500, provided he was allowed to control the event’s publicity and choose the person to unveil the plaque – was refused.

Woods, now employing the alias of Miles Furlong, took out another paid advert in The Stage. This one published Alma’s former ex-directory telephone number, the number of her passport, which he had in his possession, the registration number of her car, and the site and number of her grave.

Another Jewish Alma who attracted stalker-like attention was Alma Mahler. When her love affair with artist Oskar Kokoschka ended, he remained obsessed with her.

“He contacted dollmaker Hermine Moos to assemble a life-sized and anatomically-correct replica of his former lover, in order to fill the void in his heart. After several months of correspondence, during which he sent copious notes, paintings and sketches as to how the Alma-Puppe was to look, Moos delivered the finished Doll.

Despite Kokoschka’s initial excitement, apparently the replica left him sexually unsatisfied, so the Alma-Puppe was simply employed as a life-model, which garnered him some thirty pen-and-ink drawings.

Unfortunately, the Alma-Puppe met with a tragic fate, as one evening, at a party that Kokoschka held in his studio, he became quite drunk, and broke a bottle-of red wine over its head.

read more about Kokoschka’s specifications regarding the alma doll here


Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 7:50 am  Comments (32)  
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