Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mae West: Making Faces

MAE WEST posed for George Hurrell. "She'd drop her clothes at the drop of a hat," the Tinseltown photographer once told John Kobal.
• • A master lensman, Hurrell [1 June 1904 — 17 May 1992] was the darkroom genie responsible for many memorable photographs of Mae along with top-flight Hollywoodites during the 1930s.
• • Disliking the trend towards soft focus, George Hurrell preferred to sculpt an actor or actress's face with light and shade, using a movable boom light to illuminate cheekbones or create moody depths under a nose or the eyes — — as if he made new contracts with artificial lighting. “The most essential thing about my style was working with shadows — — to design the face instead of flooding it with light,” he said. Ah, the mastery of hinting at mystique. Ooooh, that such carefully orchestrated chiaro-scuro could bring heightened attention to a movie star, an individual who might have no more mental acuity than a vintage snow globe.
• • An article printed days ago in The Kentucky Enquirer got thoughts flowing along the black-paved Hurrell highway.
• • George Hurrell, an art student who would set the standard for the glamorized publicity stills in Hollywood, was born in Covington in 1904, according to John Schlipp, Enquirer contributor. While some sources list Cincinnati as George Hurrell's birthplace, Hurrell himself clearly states in correspondence that he was born in Covington, Kentucky. He was raised in Cincinnati until age 5, when the family moved to Chicago, writes John Schlipp.
• • Browse his August 30th article — — "Covington native was 'photographer to the stars'" — — inside The Kentucky Enquirer — —

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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