Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Socialites Adrift

Since I have until September to do so, I plan to wait a few weeks, perhaps when I have some vacation to see the Frida Kahlo show at SFMOMA. Seeing her ubiquitous images in the Mission down to even a pizza joint named in her "honor" have made me tire hr as much as I do.

Reviews from a number of friends of seeing her works in "the flesh" have reminded me of the importance of seeing such shows live. I am particularly intrigued by the comments I've heard about "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale" described as such:

Suicide of Dorothy Hale. Dorothy Hale had been the wife of Gardiner Hale, a well-to-do American portrait painter who had died in a crash during the 1930s. Without her husband to support her, Dorothy Hale ran into financial difficulties that she was unable to solve. On the morning of October 21, 1938, she committed suicide by throwing herself out the window of her suite in the Hampshire House building.

Clare Booth Luce, publisher of the magazine "Vanity Fair" and friend to both Dorothy Hale and Frida Kahlo, commissioned Kahlo to paint a portrait of Dorothy, for the sake of Dorothy's mother.

She was shocked when she saw the finished piece. The painting depicts Dorothy's fall, first showing her as a tiny figure against the backdrop of the Hampshire House, then as a larger shape tumbling through the clouds and, finally, as a bloody corpse on the ground. The frame of the picture was decorated with trickles of blood.

The publisher's first impulse was to have the painting destroyed, but she was persuaded by friends to keep it.

Socialites in distress have always been a fascination to me. For the two people on earth who have yet to see it, here is the performance of Tricia Walsh-Smith.

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