Wednesday 5 January 2011

Scissors, Paper

In most areas of life, I am fairly grown up, but I have never lost a fondness for the major activity of my primary school years - cutting things up. As a result, I have files of  'Articles that Might Be Interesting to Read', 'Articles that Made Me Laugh', 'Brilliant Cartoons', 'Poems I Like' and 'Amazing Photographs'.

This morning, I have been leafing through this last folder, and here are some of my favourites from among its contents:

1. A photograph by Hiroshi Sugimoto of Queen Victoria, taken from the 13 August, 2001 issue of the New Yorker, where it was publicising a photography exhibition at the Guggenheim SoHo. There was no other information given about it - such as why she was wearing that get up, why she allowed herself to be photographed in it and what exactly she was thinking as she stared so implacably at the lens:

2. A picture of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor taken in Paris in 1951 by Cartier-Bresson. This was published in  Antiques & Art in Victoria to publicise an exhibition of photographs from the British National Portrait Gallery that was held between 24 March and 13 May 2001 at Bendigo Art Gallery. We went to see the film called The King's Speech last week and the photograph seems more intriguing than ever as a result:

3. A photograph illustrating an article by Peter Schjeldahl from the 6 August, 2007 issue of the New Yorker. It is of Gerald and Sara Murphy, a wealthy but rather tragic couple who lived in Antibes in the 1920s and were friends of Cole Porter, Picasso, Man Ray, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fizgerald (they were the models for Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender is the Night.) To F. Scott Fitzgerald, Schjeldahl writes, the Murphys served "as symbols of the great theme of the Lost Generation: romantic disappointment, given intensity by the majesty of the dreams at stake." To support his case Schjeldahl quotes a letter Murphy wrote to Fitzgerald, saying, "Only the invented part of our life - the unreal part - has had any scheme, any beauty," and another by Zelda Fitzgerald following her husband's death in which, he tells us, "she writes that Scott's love of the Murphys reflected a 'devotion to those that he felt were contributing to the aesthetic and spiritual purposes of life'":

4. Finally, (and especially for the attention of Frank Wilson, who, I seem to remember, was talking with pleasure on his Books Inq blog about receiving some Bernstein recordings as a present recently), a photograph that again comes from the New Yorker - its 15 December 2008 issue this time. This picture never fails to make me smile - it shows Bernstein conducting Mahler in 1970, with such abandon that I doubt he was actually conveying anything to the players in the orchestra. Never mind - at lesat he seems to have been having a really fantastically good time:


  1. Fascinating images - what a great find

  2. Sara Murphy used to wear her pearls to the beach, to give them a bit of sun.

  3. I came over to ask if you had seen 'The King's Speech'. What did you think of it?

  4. The short answer is I liked it (I could bore you with tiny little quibbles, but the truth is while it was on I laughed, I cried, et cetera, so I shouldn't be so picky. I never got bored for a minute.)