Annie Leibovitz and Mikhail Baryshnikov: One Moment, Two Stars

Annie Leibovitz and Mikhail Baryshnikov: One Moment, Two Stars

After shooting Louis Vuitton advertisement campaigns for the last three years, Annie Leibovitz got in front of the lens, with dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, for Vuitton’s newest campaign in the Core Values series.  The series has previously featured legends such as Sean Connery, Mikhail Gorbachev, Keith Richards, Buzz Aldrin, Roman and Sofia Coppola, and Catherine Deneuve.  The longtime friends posed in Leibovitz’s New York City studio, where the subtle lighting captured a tender moment between the two old friends.

Annie Leibovitz and Mikhail Baryshnikov: There’s This One Funny Picture….

Annie Leibovitz: I Really Wanted to Understand a Dancer

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Beauty Revealed: New Photographs of Marilyn Monroe Unveiled

Beauty Revealed: New Photographs of Marilyn Monroe Unveiled

Photographer Len Steckler is just now releasing photographs that he took of Marilyn Monroe during a 1961 visit with Pulitzer-prize winning poet Carl Sandburg.  Steckler is selling them as a limited edition series called Marilyn Monroe: The Visit.

Beauty Revealed: New Photographs of Marilyn Monroe Unveiled

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Patti Smith’s Objects of Life: Melancholy Meditations

Patti Smith’s Objects of Life: Melancholy Meditations

In 2008, Patti Smith was the subject of Patti Smith: Land 250 at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporaine, Paris.  This short film was Patti Smith’s introduction to her rich multi-layered installation at Fondation Cartier in Paris, which reflected 40 years of her more personal visual art-making and creative expression.  Her most recent photographic exhibition, Objects of Life, opened in New York City in January, 2010.  Inspired by the process of discovery during 11 years of filming, this installation features a selection of photographs, video, and a rare unseen painting by Smith, as well as some of her  personal belongings.

The short film from Patti Smith’s 2008 appearance at the Fondation Cartier, photographs from that installation, photographs from her new exhibition, Objects of Life, and an extensive slide show that includes photographs from both exhibitions are presented below.

Patti’s Smith Polaroids: Melancholy Meditations

Slide Show: Patti Smith’s Objects of Life/Melancholy Meditations

(Please Click on Image to View Slide Show)

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The World of Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Dream of Life: An Intimate Portrait of Patti Smith

A Meditation on Aging and Mortality

Patti Smith: Dream of Life is a film that’s been 12 years in the making, a work that reveals an intimate, impressionistic portrait of a woman who is still blazing her own trail through late middle age, a woman who has seen and suffered great loss and who is perhaps the only major surviving connection from New York City’s Beat generation, to the 1970s Manhattan art scene, to the birth of punk, to the present.  For the most part, the film has been described as a paean to life, resoundingly joyous and elegiac, warm and vibrantly present, a collage of moods and moments from one immensely talented woman’s richly lived time on earth. Patti Smith arrived in the big city 40 years ago and made her first residence in a room at The Chelsea Hotel, which in those days was also home to William S. Burroughs, Jefferson Airplane, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, Robert Mapplethorpe and some of the Warhol crowd. Patti soon became the muse, friend and partner of Robert Mapplethorpe, became a poet, then a performance poet, then an underground rock musician and then a rock star.  She left the stage and the city to settle down in Michigan as a wife and mother. Then, following the 1994 death of her husband, the musician Fred “Sonic” Smith, she returned to New York City, to music, to poetry and to political activism.

Dream of Life is a beautiful and occasionally haunting artistic creation, a meditation on aging and mortality, an intimate study of an unusual kind of fame and the portrait of a genuinely remarkable person. The film was received with great acclaim at The Sundance Film Festival last year, as well as in Berlin and all over the film-festival world.

The videos presented below include a video comprised of  number of vignettes from the longer documentary, the official trailer of Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a short documentary about Patti smith and Robert Maplethorpe, and a video about the Chelsea Hotel.  This piece also presents two photo-galleries.

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Shot over 11 years by renowned fashion photographer Steven Sebring, Patti Smith: Dream of Life is an intimate portrait of the legendary rocker, poet and artist.  Following Smith’s personal reflections over a decade, the film explores her many art forms and the friends and poets who inspired her, including: William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Robert Mapplethorpe and Michael Stipe.  She emerges as a crucial, contemporary link between the Beats, Punks and today’s music.

Patti Smith: Dream of Life (PBS/POV Trailer)

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe: A Documentary

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe is a documentary short that provides rare glimpse of Patti Smith’s remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe during the epochal days of New York City and The Chelsea Hotel during the late nineteen-sixties and seventies.

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe: A Documentary

Slide Show: Dream of Life

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

Biographic Notes: A Portrait of One Woman’s Rich Life

Patti Smith: The Early Years

Patti Smith was born in Chicago in 1948 and grew up in Woodbury, New Jersey. After graduating from high school, Patti did a brief stint as a factory worker, which convinced her to move to New York City to pursue a life in the arts.  Soon after her arrival, she connected with the young photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whom she met while working at a book store. This was a close friendship that she maintained until his death in 1989. In 1969 she went to Paris with her sister and started doing performance art.   When Smith returned to New York City, she lived in The Chelsea Hotel with Mapplethorpe, and they began frequenting the then fashionable Max’s Kansas City and CBGB nightclubs.

She helped put New York’s punk-rock landmark CBGB on the map, at a time when New York’s East Village was becoming a burgeoning center of experimental artistic creativity. She organized The Patti Smith Group and in 1975 released her debut album, Horses, to critical acclaim. Produced by John Cale, the album was described as an original mixture of exhortatory rock & roll, Smith’s poetry, vocal mannerisms inspired by Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison, and the band’s energetically rudimentary playing. In 1976, Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas oversaw the Patti Smith Group’s second album, Radio Ethiopia, and the result was a more bombastic guitar-heavy record, tempered by the title cut, the height of Smith’s improvised free rock.  After an almost nine-year hiatus, Smith returned to recording with the 1988 album Dream of Life, the work of a more mellow, but still rebellious songwriter. Smith’s comeback album was co-produced by her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, with songs that included her call-to-arms, People Have the Power.

Grief and Mourning

In 1994, her husband died of a heart attack at the age of 45. Just a month later, her younger brother (and former road manager) Todd, also died of a heart attack. Her longtime friend and companion Robert Mapplethorpe had already died of AIDS in 1989. Determined to carry on as a tribute to the encouragement that her husband and brother had shown her before their passings, Smith performed a string of opening dates with Bob Dylan in late 1995 and issued the intensely personal Gone Again in 1996.  The album offered a potent mix of songs about mourning and rebirth, reflecting Smith’s belief that the beauty of life survives death.

But another eight years would pass by before her second artistic comeback, marked by a trio of acclaimed albums released in quick succession, which found her fighting her way out of a period of intense personal grief stemming from the loss of several of the most important people in her life. The documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and is currently opening in theaters nationwide and in Europe.

Life in The Chelsea Hotel: A Documentary

People are always asking what it’s like to live in The Chelsea Hotel.  Well, it’s not always easy. There are times when you can end up feeling felt like a fly caught in a spider’s web, at risk of being eaten alive if you make the wrong move.

Life in The Chelsea Hotel: A Documentary

Audio: Bob Dylan/Farewell

Slide Show: New York City’s Elegant Dowager/The Chelsea Hotel

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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John Mayer: Just Half of My Heart

John Mayer: Just Half of My Heart

Seven-time Grammy Award winning musician John Mayer’s new album Battle Studies was released on Tuesday.  And if Mayer has ever been successful at putting all of his pessimism about romance into a single album, then Battle Studies is the one.  “It’s one record about one thing,” Mayer said.  The underlying emotional tone that runs throughout the songs in the album is one of discomfort with close relationships and a relatively pervasive dark, dysphoric  mood.  Most of the songs in his album convey a sense of skepticism about love, lovers and anyone looking and passing judgment from the outside in.

Mayer was interviewed by Steven Daley this week in Details Magazine:

Daley wrote, “From the opening track, the U2-redolent Heartbreak Warfare, it’s clear that the musician who ingratiated his way into the nation’s heart with soft-serve hits like Your Body Is a Wonderland and Daughters has entered a new phase.  The record revives the spirit of that most maligned of 20th-century art forms, adult-oriented rock, channeling the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Dire Straits, and reflects how assured Mayer has become.  Battle Studies may well force some of his detractors to admit that the man they used to view as Dave Matthews’ cocky little nephew has grown up some.”

Mayer described his own thoughts about having to cope with his public face as a celebrity and with his detractors in the media, as opposed to Mayer the musician: “What do you think is stronger: a dozen press articles that say I’m this guy, or a record with 10 songs on it that you enjoy?  Which has greater staying power?  At the end of the day, all I owe the world in exchange for my dumb face being in their lives are the 10 songs every couple years that are hopefully of greater magnitude than somebody’s press story about me.”

John Mayer: Who Says (Battle Studies)

John Mayer: Heartbreak Warfare (Battle Studies), The Beacon Theatre, NYC

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Soupy Sales, Zany Slapstick Television Comedian, Dies at 83

Soupy Sales, Zany Slapstick Television Comedian, Dies at 83

Soupy Sales, whose wacky television routines turned the smashing of a pie to the face into a zany art form, died Thursday night at the age of 83.  A forerunner to Pee Wee Herman as a children’s television show host with wide adult appeal, Soupy bombarded television screens throughout most of his life.  Frolicking with his puppet sidekicks White Fang, Black Tooth, Pookie the Lion and Hobart and Reba, the heads in the pot-bellied stove, transforming himself into the private detective Philo Kvetch, and playing host to the ever-present “nut at the door,” Soupy Sales became both a television favorite of youngsters and an anarchic comedy hero for teenagers and college students.

Clad in a top hat, sweater and bow tie, shuffling through his Mouse Dance, he reached his slapstick highpoint in the mid-1960s on The Soupy Sales Show, a widely syndicated television program based at WNEW-TV in New York City.  Soupy Sales became the Godfather of pie-throwing, and by his own count some 20,000 pies were hurled at Soupy or at visitors to his television shows in the 1950s and ’60s.  His celebrity pie-victims included Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, all of whom turned up just for the honor of being creamed.

By 1966, his wild stunts heightened Mr. Sales’s appeal to young people as a comedian who loved to tease authority, and when he headlined a rock ’n’ roll show at New York’s Paramount Theater on Easter of that year, as many as 3,000 teenagers were lined up throughout Times Square hoping to get seats for his morning performance.  Mr. Sales was later a longtime panelist on television’s What’s My Line? and a host for a variety talk show on WNBC Radio in the 1980s.

In the 1959 video of The Soupy Sales Show: Lunch with Soupy Sales presented below, the television crew from The Soupy Sales Show sneaked an exotic dancer onto the set as a special surprise for Soupy’s birthday.

The Soupy Sales Show: Lunch with Soupy Sales, 1959

You can read more about the life of Soupy Sales in The New York Times here.

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Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

If you thought it was going to be a long time before you ever witnessed Lady Gaga make a grandly gay appearance on the C-Span television network, well you’ll just have to think again!  Our Lady Gaga of the Immaculate Penis spoke before thousands in attendance at The National Equality March on Washington today.  And there were two very memorable parts: first, when they placed a riser behind the podium for her to stand on and speak, and second, when she wooed the audience with a Judy Garland joke.  Reminders: Obama makes Lady Gaga joke, Gaga makes Judy Garland joke.  Oh yes…America, the Beautiful!!

Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

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