Friday, February 20, 2009

Where are you? Please phone home!

Wow! She stopped me in dead in my tracks when I first saw her strutting down a back alley on the internet. But was she a real Bolles girl or not? She had both the attitude and the pose down cold. There was that Noguchi-like bimorphic shadow Bolles so often employed as a compositional tool, but other aspects seemed askance at first sight. Take the the dramatic violet shading, which looks great and makes the girl pop out of that chilly background. But Bolles rarely used chiaroscuro or even subtle shading and once wrote that he considered it a sort of artistic crutch. However, when he did add shadows they were always in bright colors (see the 'fencer' Film Fun cover from my Valentine's Day post) rather than browns or blacks, so that part of the painting rings true. Placing the girl right against the wall seemed odd to me until I matched the painting up beside the 1940 Film Fun below, and the horizon line line up precisely where the floor and wall meet. The acid yellow was a seldom used color but the outfit looks like it was pulled right from Bolles' wardrobe. The spray of tulle fits in too as it was a common fashion accessory for Bolles. And the hair-do, well that pretty much ices it for me.

So let's compare her with the 1940 cover below. Is our showgirl in yellow an extreme makeover of the beachgirl? Bolles tinkered with a lot of his paintings from 1939 on, and I've seen one that was even more heavily altered than this. But to be honest, reworked paintings were almost always weaker than the original, while I think this both more interesting and relaxed than the Film Fun cover. I've superimposed the images and they pretty much match up. The difference in the aspect ratio of the magazine image is likely because the art editor cropped the original painting for the cover, something that was done a lot.

So two questions remain. Why did Bolles so radically remake a cover that had so much going for it? (Think of all the time he put into the perfectly freehanded pinstripes). And far more important, where is this painting? As some of you know I'm writing a book on Bolles and have long been in the hunt for unique material. Can someone out there help me?


The Old Nail said...

That's quite a heavy reworking of the original then.
I try to avoid reworking my paintings if at all possible but I suppose commercial pressures made it necessary for Bolles.

Unknown said...

coincidentally, Vintage Scans was showcasing a similar theme:

(warning!! for those of you surfing the net at work or among youngsters: Nudity!)

Li-An said...

A book about Bolles work ? What's a great idea !

Jack R said...

T.O.N.: It really was a heavy repaint, but the curious thing was that this was an unpublished painting, and just about all of the paintings Bolles reworked were for his own amusement rather than for commercial purposes.
Dawl: I'll have to check that out :)

Li-An: The book proposal is actually being considered as I write, but with the market these days it could take forever for a decision. Needless to say, if something happens I'll certainly let you know.

Li-An said...

OK, I will follow this.

Anonymous said...

What about the placement of the girl's right hand?

Jack R said...

Hah! I never noticed that before. But it fits with some of Bolles other repaintings where he reworked hand poses as he was amazingly particular about getting hands just right. Once he had a son in law sit with a cigarette (mind you this was a national champion bicyclist) because he didn't like the way the model was holding it. Thanks for pointing this out.