Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s

Princeton University Press
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Wartime Kiss is a personal meditation on the haunting power of American photographs and films from World War II and the later 1940s. Starting with a stunning reinterpretation of one of the most famous photos of all time, Alfred Eisenstaedt's image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day, Alexander Nemerov goes on to examine an array of mostly forgotten images and movie episodes--from a photo of Jimmy Stewart and Olivia de Havilland lying on a picnic blanket in the Santa Barbara hills to scenes from such films as Twelve O'Clock High and Hold Back the Dawn. Erotically charged and bearing traces of trauma even when they seem far removed from the war, these photos and scenes seem to hold out the promise of a palpable and emotional connection to those years.

Through a series of fascinating stories, Nemerov reveals the surprising background of these bits of film and discovers unexpected connections between the war and Hollywood, from an obsession with aviation to Anne Frank's love of the movies. Beautifully written and illustrated, Wartime Kiss vividly evokes a world in which Margaret Bourke-White could follow a heroic assignment photographing a B-17 bombing mission over Tunis with a job in Hollywood documenting the filming of a war movie. Ultimately this is a book about history as a sensuous experience, a work as mysterious, indescribable, and affecting as a novel by W. G. Sebald.

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About the author

Alexander Nemerov is the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University. He is the author of five previous books, including To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America, Icons of Grief: Val Lewton's Home Front Pictures, and Acting in the Night: "Macbeth" and the Places of the Civil War.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 25, 2012
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Pages
184
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ISBN
9781400844883
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / American / General
Art / History / General
History / Modern / 20th Century
Photography / General
Photography / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Phil's new book Gypsy Joker To A Hells Angel is based on 44 years as a Hells Angel. Photos & stories are a must read for all motorcycle riders" - Sonny Barger

In the early 1960s, a young Navy vet, motorcyclist, amateur photographer, and rebel named Phil Cross joined a motorcycle club called the Hells Angels. It turned out to be a bogus chapter of the club that would soon find infamy, so he switched to another club called the Night Riders. Like the bogus chapter of the Hells Angels, this turned out to be a club whose brotherhood was run by a man Mr. Cross describes as “a complete asshole.” One day, Mr. Cross stuffed the leader in a ringer-type washing machine and joined a club called the Gypsy Jokers. He started a San Jose chapter of the Jokers and embarked on the most action-packed years of his life. The Jokers were in the midst of a shooting war with the real Hells Angels. The fighting became so intense that the Jokers posted snipers atop their clubhouse. This was a rough time, but it was also the height of the free-love hippie era, and as a young man, Phil enjoyed himself to the fullest. He never let anything as minor as a little jail time stop his fun. Once, while serving time for fighting and fleeing an officer, Phil broke out of jail, entered his bike in a bike show, won the bike show, and broke back into jail before anyone discovered he was missing. Though Phil was tough—he was a certififed martial arts instructor—the Angels proved a tough foe. After multiple beating-induced emergency room visits, Mr. Cross decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, so he and most of his club brothers patched over to become the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels.DIV /divDIVThis book chronicles the life and wild times of Mr. Cross in words and photos./div

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE IN BIOGRAPHY AND SHORTLISTED FOR THE PEN/JACQUELINE BOGRAD WELD AWARD FOR BIOGRAPHY

"Welcome to Rockwell Land," writes Deborah Solomon in the introduction to this spirited and authoritative biography of the painter who provided twentieth-century America with a defining image of itself. As the star illustrator of The Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century, Norman Rockwell mingled fact and fiction in paintings that reflected the we-the-people, communitarian ideals of American democracy. Freckled Boy Scouts and their mutts, sprightly grandmothers, a young man standing up to speak at a town hall meeting, a little black girl named Ruby Bridges walking into an all-white school—here was an America whose citizens seemed to believe in equality and gladness for all.

Who was this man who served as our unofficial "artist in chief" and bolstered our country's national identity? Behind the folksy, pipe-smoking façade lay a surprisingly complex figure—a lonely painter who suffered from depression and was consumed by a sense of inadequacy. He wound up in treatment with the celebrated psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In fact, Rockwell moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts so that he and his wife could be near Austen Riggs, a leading psychiatric hospital. "What's interesting is how Rockwell's personal desire for inclusion and normalcy spoke to the national desire for inclusion and normalcy," writes Solomon. "His work mirrors his own temperament—his sense of humor, his fear of depths—and struck Americans as a truer version of themselves than the sallow, solemn, hard-bitten Puritans they knew from eighteenth-century portraits."

Deborah Solomon, a biographer and art critic, draws on a wealth of unpublished letters and documents to explore the relationship between Rockwell's despairing personality and his genius for reflecting America's brightest hopes. "The thrill of his work," she writes, "is that he was able to use a commercial form [that of magazine illustration] to thrash out his private obsessions." In American Mirror, Solomon trains her perceptive eye not only on Rockwell and his art but on the development of visual journalism as it evolved from illustration in the 1920s to photography in the 1930s to television in the 1950s. She offers vivid cameos of the many famous Americans whom Rockwell counted as friends, including President Dwight Eisenhower, the folk artist Grandma Moses, the rock musician Al Kooper, and the generation of now-forgotten painters who ushered in the Golden Age of illustration, especially J. C. Leyendecker, the reclusive legend who created the Arrow Collar Man.

Although derided by critics in his lifetime as a mere illustrator whose work could not compete with that of the Abstract Expressionists and other modern art movements, Rockwell has since attracted a passionate following in the art world. His faith in the power of storytelling puts his work in sync with the current art scene. American Mirror brilliantly explains why he deserves to be remembered as an American master of the first rank.

In 1895, a cultured, well-educated young German named Arnold Genthe arrived in San Francisco as a tutor to the son of an aristocratic family. Almost immediately, Genthe was attracted by Chinatown, or "Tangrenbu" — a teeming ten-block area of crowded buildings, narrow streets, and exotic sights and sounds in the shadow of Nob Hill.
Fascinated by a living culture totally foreign to his experience, Genthe began to photograph Tangrenbu and its inhabitants. Today, these photographs (over 200 are known to exist) are the best visual documentary record of Chinatown at the turn of the century, offering priceless glimpses of the rich street life of the district before it was leveled by the great earthquake and fire of 1906.
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