Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org
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.
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:
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:
Here is “boy-next-door” actor Van Johnson hard at work on a painting:
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!