MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org

“Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people”

In an October, 1948 article, LOOK magazine proclaimed, “Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people. About one hundred Big Names have answered a call for help from the Urban League.  Many have picked up a paintbrush for the first time….”

Joan Crawford, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Joe Louis, and many others donated their original artworks to the cause. Many, including an artistically struggling Joan Crawford who was described in LOOK as “attacking the canvas,”  allowed themselves to be documented during the harrowing creative process.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.100,101

Although we don’t have images of Lena Horne, Joe Louis, and Frank Sinatra attending the benefit show, we have pictures of the paintings they produced:

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.24

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.4

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.2

This last image begs the question, “Can and did Frank Sinatra paint the saddest clown ever?”

Betsy Bloomingdale – international socialite, style icon, wife to the heir of the Bloomingdale’s fortune, and close confidante of Nancy Reagan – also donated her efforts:

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.108

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.108

Here is “boy-next-door” actor Van Johnson hard at work on a painting:


Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.122

The Museum of the City of New York holds hundreds of outtakes from this shoot, images that never made it to print.  Though they were famous in their time, no one on our cataloging team recognizes the celebrities below. Do you?  Help us identify these individuals in our comments section!

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York.

About Allyson Ross

Digital Imaging Specialist

12 comments on ““Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people”

  1. Melissa
    December 6, 2011

    I’m fairly certain that #7 is Margaret O’Brien: http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/margaret-obrien/

  2. Virginia Trembles
    December 6, 2011

    Very much Margaret O’Brien in 7. Is that Duke Ellington in 2.? 1. and 6. are super familiar.

  3. Larry
    December 6, 2011

    Yes, that looks like Duke Ellington in 2.

  4. Debra
    December 6, 2011

    7 is definitely Margaret O’Brien and 6 is Cornell Wilde.

  5. Dom DiFabio
    December 7, 2011

    Unidentifed celebrites
    Those I can identify are:
    2. Duke Ellington
    3. John Derek
    6. Cornell Wilde
    7. Margaret O’Brien
    8. Ezio Pinza

  6. Elaine and Jim
    December 15, 2011

    # 5 Michael Romanoff? Possibly with Elsa Maxwell

  7. Marianne
    December 19, 2011

    I believe #1 is actress Ann Rutherford.

  8. John P. Cooper
    January 30, 2012

    I say so, too.
    2. Duke Ellington
    6. Cornell Wilde
    7. Margaret O’Brien
    8. Ezio Pinza

  9. Stephanie Jones
    April 17, 2015

    To the curators of this photo collection: Would one of the photos in your collection happen to be of Joan Crawford’s finished painting? A reader of my Crawford website bought a painting from eBay years ago signed “1948 Joan Crawford” for $50 but having no verification. Very curious to see if her painting matches up with what something in your files shows.

  10. Jennifer
    April 17, 2015

    i think I own on original Joan Crawford dated
    1948 I would love someone to verify if it is genuine and if she done others.

  11. Stephanie D. Jones
    April 17, 2015

    Ms. Ross: A reader of my Joan Crawford website bought a painting from eBay years ago that is signed “1948 Joan Crawford” but without any verification papers. Would the museum’s photo archive by any chance have photos from this day of Crawford’s finished product? Would love to find out if the painting the reader owns is from the day depicted here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on December 6, 2011 by in Digital Project and tagged , , , , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Museum of the City of New York

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 322 other followers

%d bloggers like this: