Monday, May 31, 2010

The Authentic by Majer, 1955

From the Cornell Daily Sun, 1955. Notice cool belt. And just what is the correct shade of Oxford brown.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper RIP

Dennis Hopper, 20, painting in 1956.

and studying acting in Los Angeles with Nick Adams and Natalie Wood.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Paper Chase

According to surveys,something like 10% of Americans have graduate degrees. Perhaps that makes it surprising, there are relatively few media representations of that experience. The experience of graduate school, with its single minded focus on one subject taught at a very technical level, is very different than that of college. The Paper Chase demonstrated that it was possible to make compelling drama out of the obsessions with grades and professors who affect not to know your name and the fear of failure or even the fear that your ambitions will go unrealized.

Timothy Bottoms demonstrated great style playing a 1st year law student. Levi's, flannel shirts, shetlands, corduroy sports coats and knit ties. Narrow the labels a bit and put this on today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sherman Adams

A New Hampshire politician who, under Eisenhower, became the most powerful Chief of Staff in U.S. history. Ike was forced to ask for his resignation when it was revealed that he received a vicuna coat amongst other gratuities from a Boston businessman. A fellow has to stay warm, I guess.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Robert Oppenheimer

Robert Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist at the University of California who was tapped as scientific director of the Manhattan Project. After the war, he took up the directorship of the Institute of Advance Studies at Princeton. There are many pictures in Life magazine and in a few he is not engaged in the consumption of some form of nicotine.

He cut a natty professorial figure perhaps due his patronization of the old line tailors at Langrock. See this review of his biography American Prometheus by Stuart Mitchner in Princeton's Town Topics {thanks to C.Sharp}:
Finally, one photograph that is absent from the interesting assortment in American Prometheus can be found in Philippe Halsman's Jump Book, a collection of jumping luminaries the photographer put together in the late fifties. The photo shows Oppenheimer performing his jump in front of a blackboard at the Institute. It is at once a spectacularly uninhibited and absolutely, gravely determined upward leap, one arm raised high above his head (his face peering straight up), the jacket of his elegant three-piece suit flying open, his well-polished black shoes well off the ground. Halsman calls the leap "metaphysically spectacular." It's nice to know that even after the 1954 inquisition that supposedly "broke" him, the director could still reach for the sky. Look closely and you may be able to make out the Langrock label on his open jacket. According to American Prometheus, while most of the Institute's permanent scholars walked around in sports jackets (not to mention Einstein in his old sweater and baggy trousers), Oppenheimer could often be seen wearing expensive suits hand-tailored for him at Langrock's on Nassau Street. It should be added, however, that at least one witness reports occasionally seeing him "in a jacket that looked as if it had been eaten by gerbils."

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Rise and Fall of H.R. Haldeman

Two classic pictures of H.R. Haldeman. One at a 1968 conference sporting the perfect soft button-down collar with repp tie (his lapel appears like its wilting in the Florida heat). Also, his 1974 mug shot, displaying the classic trouser cut, plenty of rise but tapering through the knee toward the ankle.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Richard Diebenkorn

Originally posted September 2008
Richard Diebenkorn is interesting as an example of a painter who found greatness relatively late in his career. Beginning as an Abstract Expressionist, he switched to figurative painting. At the age of 45, he moved to Santa Monica, CA and began a 25 year series of color field paintings inspired by colors of beach and ocean. Here is Ocean Park #38 from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saarinen and Eames and Company

Originally posted August 2008.
Saarinen also had a sideline in furniture design, most famously with his Tulip chair. Above is a picture from Playboy of Saarinen along with his classmate and friend Charles Eames (Saarninen named his son Eames). Charles Eames worked closely with his partner Ray Eames. Eames wrote a memoir of their partnership called Ray is Not My Brother mocking a popular misconception of their relationship. In fact, Charles was married to Ray. I'm such a sexist that my first thought on reading that was "Wow, he married his gay partner in the 1950s. That's pretty out there." More prosaically, though Ray-Bernice was his wife. Below is a picture of Eames in a beach version of his molded chair.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eero Saarinen

The Finnish born but Detroit raised architect was naturalized just in time to join the OSS (designing missle diagrams). During the 1950s and 1960s, he developed a kind of soft organic modernism that became the jet age American establishment vision of itself. Steel and glass on the one hand, but with smooth flowing lines that seemed to express the possibility of flight.

The Gateway Arch
TWA Terminal at JFK

Saarinen's natural but rational airport is the perfect backdrop for a sack suit as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks demonstrate in "Catch Me If You Can"

Pure delight to our contemporary eyes, but to the orthodox modernists who dominated architecture it was heresy. You see, it is not the function of a building to fly. So, obviously, a form that expresses flight cannot follow function.

Some would argue that not a few of Saarinen's designs were not so functional. No one who has ever set foot in the cursed moving terminals at Dulles would disagree.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dustin Hoffman

Originally posted at AAAC
An outstanding example of natural shoulder seersucker on the recently minted star of "The Graduate," I am particularly interested in the shirt. Is that end-on-end. Definitely a gap in my wardrobe.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

CIA Agent II: William Colby

Princeton graduate and OSS veteran, Colby supervised the Vietnam war rural pacification program called "Operation Phoenix." Colby strongly believed that US counter-insurgency had succeeded, recounting in his memoirs that by the early 1970's he was able to tour the countryside by motorbike, without need of escort. After becoming the Director of Central Intelligence, he co-operated with the mid-1970's Congressional investigations into some of the CIA's misdeeds.

Picture from