My Paris and La Revue Negre Opening Reception
Exhibition: Josephine Baker and La Revue Nègre - Opening Reception - 5:30pm
The material in this exhibition comes from the unpublished journal of Caroline Dudley-Reagan and research conducted by Jean-Claude Baker. This exhibition is a gift from the Jean-Claude Baker Foundation, on loan from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Josephine Baker, born into poverty in St. Louis in 1906, became an international star - and sex symbol - famous as much for her extravagant and freewheeling lifestyle as for her provocative stage presence. By 1924 she was on Broadway, in the all-black musical The Chocolate Dandies, with music and lyrics by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle.
Caroline Dudley Reagan, a white American socialite, and friend of Gertrude Stein, Léger, and Picasso, who divided her time between Paris and New York, wanted to introduce black musical culture to a Paris already fascinated with the African visual art currently in vogue. She decided to create a revue similar to the popular The Chocolate Dandies, Shuffle Along, and Runnin' Wild for the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. She went to New York in 1925 and assembled a company that included Baker, bandleader Claude Hopkins, blues singer Maud de Forest, clarinetist Sidney Bechet, and artist Miguel Covarrubias, who designed the sets. The show, La Revue Nègre, opened in Paris to wild acclaim and was seen by many of the leading avant garde artists and intellectuals of the day - including Darius Milhaud, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, e.e. cummings, and Ernest Hemingway - many of whom befriended the gregarious Baker. According to the critic Margo Jefferson, "...the revue - the real, not the mythic show - was the result of fine instincts, good luck and perfect timing." At the height of her fame, Baker rivaled Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford as the most photographed woman in the world; by 1927 she was earning more than any entertainer in Europe. (For more on Josephine Baker, see notes from April 29)
Exhibition: My Paris! Opening Reception - 5:30pm
My Paris! is an exhibition of Symphony Space members' favorite photos of the City of Light.