The Passionate Eye of Claude Azoulay: Legendary Portraits of Our Times

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Cannes, 1971

Jane Fonda, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1966

Marilyn Monroe and Jerry Strasberg (The Actor’s Studio), New York, 1961

President John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle, Paris, 1961

Ray Charles, Paris, 1961

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Paris, 1963

Bob Dylan, Paris, 1966

Andy Warhol, Paris, 1977

The Passionate Eye of Claude Azoulay: Legendary Portraits of Our Times

Photography by:  Claude Azoulay, Paris, France

Leaving school at the time of post-World War II, an era when France was being rebuilt and when everything seemed possible, Claude Azoulay began working at France’s Paris-Match magazine in 1954.  Having covered the Algerian war, the Six-Day War and many others, his career followed some of the most dramatic events during the second-half of the twentieth century.  In addition, his photo-journalism work took him on travels to Saint-Tropez and Cannes, as well as to the major studios and movie sets in London and Hollywood.  Azoulay served as an exemplary part of the of great photo-journalism staff at Paris-Match for more than forty years, departing in 1996 to seek other adventures in the world.

Looking through a list of Azoulay’s photographic portraits made of stars and other celebrity figures is akin to opening an encyclopedia of film.  Azoulay photographed everything that he could; his portraits of celebrities are so alive and include brilliant images of Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Elizabeth Taylor, Faye Dunaway, Barbara Streisand, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Kirk Douglas, Jane Fonda, Francis Bacon, Peter O’Toole, John Wayne, François Mitterand and countless others.  He did not steal their images; rather, they lent him their souls in an attentive and caring mirror.  And thus his body of work has become an important portrait of our time.

Juliette Greco, Jean Seberg, Deborah Kerr and David Niven, Paris, 1957

Slide Show: The Passionate Eye of Claude Azoulay/Legendary Portraits of Our Times

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A Chelsea Rhapsody: Chelsea Mournings

A Chelsea Rhapsody: Chelsea Mournings

Jedd Giles has published a long article on Ed Hamilton the legendary blogging chronicler of the life and times of the Chelsea Hotel, and about the continuing demise of The Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in today’s edition of The New York Times, which begins:

“The Chelsea Hotel describes itself as a rest stop for rare individuals, a euphemism that still manages to pass the truth-in-advertising test if you take “rare individuals” to mean artists and addicts, and “rest stop” to mean possible death. Have sober, productive people ever bedded down for the night at the famous ghost ship on West 23rd Street? Have they even moved in permanently? Of course. One of the strangest rumors to emanate from the place over the decades is that some people actually raise children there. Still, it’s not the upstanding folks whose stories have echoed down the years and drawn generations of tourists and bohemians, it’s the legacies of giants who could barely stand up.

The Chelsea is where Dylan Thomas was living when he fell into a fatal, whiskey-induced coma. Where William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch. Where Leonard Cohen rolled around with Janis Joplin, he recounted her kindly ministrations in his song Chelsea Hotel No. 2, and where drug-addled Sid stabbed drug-addled Nancy, then couldn’t remember if he had done it or not.”

The Chelsea Hotel on West 23d Street in Manhattan is an elegantly shabby Victorian-Gothic hotel, which is registered as a national historic landmark. The Chelsea has a long history of serving as a sanctuary for the the avant-garde. Through the years, those who lived at the Chelsea have included Jack Kerouac, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Tennessee Williams, Edith Piaf, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jean-Paul Sartre, Leonard Cohen, Willem de Kooning, Jane Fonda, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Milos Forman, Jimi Hendrix, Dennis Hopper, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, Vladimir Nabokov and Wes Klein. Dylan Thomas drank 18 straight whiskies there. His last. Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while living there.

Recently, a corporate-style management team has taken over running the Chelsea, and its artist-residents are worried that the hotel will be transformed into a posh New York “boutique” hotel. A national grassroots protest is underway, and this posting is in support of that protest. This article presents a recent documentary about the hotel prepared by Michael Maher of the Australian Broadcasting Company, a music video of Rufus Wainwright (a former resident) performing Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #2, and a beautiful photo-gallery that presents photographs of the Chelsea, as well as of some of the artists and celebrities who have lived there.

Living With Legends: A Documentary on the Chelsea Hotel by Michael Maher

Rufus Wainwright Sings: Chelsea Hotel #2

To learn more about The Chelsea Hotel, please visit: Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog

Also see this brief article from today’s edition of The New York Observer here.

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