Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mae West: Edward Burra

MAE WEST inspired a quirky British artist. Edward Burra's startling "Portrait of Mae West" came to life thanks to "Belle of the Nineties," a motion picture he viewed several times during the mid-1930s.
• • Several months ago, an exhibit opened, the first major exhibition in a quarter of a century devoted to the highly individual creations of Edward Burra [1905 — 1976]. Pallant House Gallery divided the works on view into a few rooms and themes. Under the heading "Painting the Stage: Edward Burra and Performance" visitors will find his interpretation of Mae West, 1934 – 1935, a watercolor on paper. This seldom seen artwork is on loan from a private collection, courtesy of Lefevre Fine Art © Estate of the Artist c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd., London. Located in West Sussex, Pallant House Gallery will offer this showing until 21 February 2012.
• • Born near East Sussex, Edward Burra [29 March 1905 — 22 October 1976] was an English painter, printmaker, and draughtsman. He was best known for his depictions of gay life, vaudevillians, performers, the urban underworld, black culture, and the Harlem (NYC) scene of the 1930s.
• • WHERE: Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, England; Tel. 01243 774557.
• • Tell them you heard about it on the Mae West Blog.
• • Wesley Ruggles [11 June 1889 — 8 January 1972] • •
• • On 6 October 1933, Mae West (and her lion lady character Tira) wowed the world when Paramount released "I'm No Angel," co-starring Cary Grant (in the role of Jack Clayton) and directed by Wesley Ruggles.
• • Mae West wrote this: "I argued for a long time with Wesley Ruggles, and finally they gave in. After lunch I returned to the set and things began to move."
• • Born in Los Angeles, California, Wesley Ruggles [11 June 1889 — 8 January 1972] worked on one very memorable project with Paramount Pictures starring Mae West. A younger brother of actor Charles Ruggles, Wesley directed one of Mae's most successful films "I'm No Angel" (1933).
• • In 1915, he began his career as an actor, appearing in several silent films — — a few with Charlie Chaplin. In 1917, he turned director, making more than fifty insignificant and forgettable films before he won acclaim with "Cimarron" [1931] and the financially flush and critically astounding blockbuster starring Mae West the following year. "I'm No Angel" raked in even more profits than "She Done Him Wrong" — — and keep in mind that this was during the height of the Depression.
• • Wesley Ruggles died in Santa Monica, California in January — — on 8 January 1972. The Hollywood director was 82.
• • On Tuesday, 8 January 1935 in Los Angeles • •
• • Busy working on her next motion picture, Mae West did have to miss half a day's shooting to attend the funeral of her father in Los Angeles in early January
on 8 January 1935.
• • On Monday, 8 January 1940 in Hollywood • •
• • "My Little Chickadee" had wrapped. Universal was hard at work, courting Mae West and hoping to have her do another film for them.
• • On Wednesday, 8 January 2003 in The Sun Sentinel • •
• • Florida readers of the Sun Sentinel were greeted by an interesting article "Three's A Crowd If One Is Mae West" published in the newspaper on Wednesday, 8 January 2003.
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "Every script presented to me, no matter how imaginative a story, was built around a man and a woman. Mae West pictures, as written by me, were built around a woman and men, the more the merrier."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • An article on the British artist Edward Burra mentioned Mae West.
• • Edward Burra's "Portrait of Mae West" was inspired by "Belle of the Nineties."
• • Kathryn Hughes writes: Edward Burra's aesthetic, then, was always camp and often explicitly gay. In Dockside Café, Marseilles (1929), the two women entwined behind the bar are clearly male transvestites, while the sailor-customer wears a bright pink jumper matched with ballet shoes complete with criss-cross ribbons. (Burra being Burra there is also a phallic coffee pot handle jutting from the sailor's crotch at an opportune angle.) It would be misleading, though, to read his life directly from his art. While it is true that he was always drawn to places where transgressive sexualities flourished — — clubs, cafés, anonymous street corners — — he himself remained, camera-like, a non-participating observer. The thousands of letters Burra wrote to his close friends, now archived at the Tate, may bounce along in high camp style
men are routinely referred to as "she," and everyone is "dearie" — — but it remains essentially a textual performance. Burra was happy to label himself a sexless creature. The only time he admitted to an erection — — a weak one at that — — was while watching a film of Mae West. ...
• • Source: Article: "Edward Burra, transgressive painter of English countryside and dockside bars" written by Kathryn Hughes for The London Guardian; posted on Friday, 18 November 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 2170th blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • by Burra in 1934/5 • •
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Mae West.

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