Sleep in a Nest
  of Flames
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Charles Henri Ford, circa 1930's, photo: Cecil Beaton


The 1930's: an American in Parisis


Charles Ford's experiences in Paris during the 1930's make him one of the last links to the Bohemian world of that artistic capital during this period. Certainly one of his most profound connections was with the Russian émigré painter Pavel Tchelitchew. They were to become lovers and their relationship would last until Tchelitchew's death twenty-five years later. The Russian artist was one of the leaders of a group known as the Neo-Romantics. He designed for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe and had been patronized by Gertrude Stein. This relationship provided Ford with an entrée to the haute-bohemian art world. He already had a friendship with Stein and through her and her salon met many of the literary figures of the day. Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap of The Little Review became friends, as did the circle of Natalie Barney's predominately lesbian salon.

Ford was the subject of a number of Tchelitchew paintings, which are included in the film. As well as a photographic portrait of Ford taken on a Paris street by his friend Henri Cartier-Bresson, Berenice Abbott's photos of art and literary figures are used to bring these personalities to life. Cecil Beaton was a close friend and, in addition to his many Ford portraits, we semi-animate a group of photos he took of Ford in which he is dressed as a surreal Harlequin. This section offers a window onto this art and literary avant-garde by one of its last surviving members.

Charles Henri Ford reads, Pavel Tchelitchew paints Peter Watson's portrait (1934)

photo Cecil Beaton

Courtesy the Ransom Center, University of Texas and Cecil Beaton Estate, Sotheby's, London

Charles Henri Ford with Gertrude Stein (1933)

Courtesy of Mc Keldin Library University of Maryland


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