04 May 2011

Marlene Dietrich: Like a Rodin Sculpture?

Rodin's La belle heaulmière 

In Boston Latin School Register Literary Magazine (Spring 1961), Gunar Viksnins composed a written portrait of Marlene Dietrich, comparing her "delicate form" to a Rodin sculpture. Dietrich's admirers have frequently demonstrated a penchant for associating her with and alongside perplexing academic references, especially during the 1960s, when--in the seminal essay, Notes on Camp--Susan Sontag sandwiched Dietrich and Sternberg's "outrageous astheticism" between Carlo Crivelli's trompe l'oeil techniques and Gaudi's "lurid and beautiful" architectural style. Although Sternberg's films barred viewers from entering the frame by barricading Dietrich behind smoke and veils, the grotesque sculptures of The Scarlet Empress could be mounted on the Sagrada Familia to keep company with its gargoyles without attracting the slightest suspicion. Thus, these collegiate connections to Dietrich may not be wholly apparent, but they are visible. In fact, Viksnins' comparison could hold true if we only compared her to Rodin's male sculptures because Rodin's often withered (e.g., image on left) or contorted female figures embodied indelicate agony.

Enough of this prater. Read Viksnins' portrait and interview and read the photographer Andrew Davidhazy's backstory.*

*Note: Refresh the page if the link shows a "404 Error." It's fibbing!

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