Sep 28

Thinking of Charles Henri Ford on the 15th Anniversary of his Departure

Thinking of Charles Henri Ford on the 15th Anniversary of his Departure

Potrait of Charles Henri Ford by Pavel Tchelitchew.

Every year on this day I remember his last days, leading up to his final one in the hospital in New York City. I’ve told many people about the way that Charles continued to make his art even in those very last, fragile days. Collage was always one of his favorite forms of art to make, as everyone who knows of him will remember. He published countless works of collage, showed them in galleries, and published them in books. Some of the greatest collage artists were his friends, in particular Man Ray, who Charles introduced me to on my very first trip to Paris more than forty years ago.

Charles taught me that form of art as well, and for a time I too made collages and saved photos and magazine cuttings to use later. The best collage Charles created was the life that Charles lived. He pasted experiences onto the pages of his life in a way most people never do, and he started doing that at a very young age. He observed everything and everybody. Everything he saw was a little cutting that he could use later in some artistic way. He liked cities and he liked nature, he loved the company of other people and he loved being in places with hardly any people, too. He loved music and poetry and film and theater, and he liked people with a daring spirit. He was not afraid of the world, he embraced it whole and wherever he we went, he brought his notebooks, full of his thoughts, drawings, and ideas.
I think that he would be pleased, all these years after his departure from this world, to see that scholars continue to write about him, and about his art. Galleries still want to show his work, museums are still interested in his films and photographs. People from around the world contact me for permission to reproduce his art as books and articles. I feel privileged and honored to have the stewardship of his work and his archives full of historical treasures. Wherever you are, Charles, you are missed, and forever appreciated.
February 10, 1908 – September 27, 2002
-Indra Tamang

copyright © Indra Tamang 2017, all rights reserved.

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Jul 08

A Little Something About Ruth

The Portrait Heads of Ruth Ford by Pavel Tchelitchev (Vogue Magazine cover, March 15th, 1936)

Ruth Ford was born on this day—July 7th,1911—in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and today in her memory I would like to share something about her that quite a few people might not know. The last play Ruth was in on the Broadway was in 1980, at the Martin Beck Theatre at 302 West 45th Street. It was a short-lived production ofHarold and Maude, a stage adaptation of the 1971 movie of same name, and in it Ruth played Harold’s mother, Mrs. Chasen. Apparently the play bombed, but it would have been hard to surpass a movie as popular as that one was (and still is) and even if it did bomb, the role Ruth had in that stage production makes an interesting curio from her life full of interesting achievements.

West 45th Street is still full of theatres, including the old theatre where Ruth played Harold’s mother, the Martin Beck Theater. However, in 2003 it was re-named to honor the famous theatrical illustrator Al Hirschfeld. Martin Beck had been a Vaudeville promoter, and I know that Ruth and her brother Charles Henri Ford both loved vaudeville as children and saw as many shows as they could. Charles’s childhood diaries are filled with descriptions of the vaudeville shows they attended.
As for Al Hirschfeld, Ruth was one of his many subjects. She was sketched by him for the 1938 run of the play The Shoemaker’s Holiday, in which she starred opposite Vincent Price. And she was again his subject in 1959 when she starred in Requiem for a Nun opposite her husband Zachary Scott.
Ruth is part of a great theatrical history in New York, and West 45th Street will always be a street where Ruth walked, on her way to the theatre. By sharing this bit of Ruth’s theatrical trivia I am doing my own small part to keep her little flame lighted.
Wherever you are Ruth, you are still part of New York and very much not forgotten.
Happy Birthday.

July 7, 1911 – August 12, 2009


copyright © Indra Tamang 2016, all rights reserved.

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