Friday, June 16, 2006

In the style of Josephine Baker

Hey yall we need to all recognize that this is the Centennial Year Celebration of the Great International Diva known as the incomparable Ms. Josephine Baker...In honor of this milestone the world renowned Sheldon Concert Hall and Galleries of St. Louis,Mo. USA is showing an exhibition in Josephine Baker's hometown of St. Louis, Mo. USA which not only celebrates her birth, but also her life and amazing achievements...The exhibit will be open to the public until August 26, 2006...My friend Mrs. Olivia Lahs Gonzales is the curator of the exhibit and is actually quoted in the following USA Today Article (Congrats Olivia!!!)

By Maria Puente, USA TODAY

Few Americans better exemplified the Art Deco aesthetic than Josephine Baker: long, sleek, sculptural and unmistakably Modern. Now a centenary exhibit tells the story of how an African-American street urchin, underappreciated in her native country in her lifetime, became an international star and helped define a style.

Baker (1906-75), born in St. Louis, grew up poor, black, limber and ambitious. She was still a teen when she joined a dance troupe and left for Paris, where the French were mad for anything associated with Africa, and the Art Deco movement was about to explode in the world arena.

Sexually liberated and reveling in her own body, Baker caused an immediate sensation by dancing naked except for a banana skirt. One famous 1929 shot by glamour photographer George Hoyningen-Huene depicts Baker, naked but for a long cloth and strands of beads draped in front of her, as a living Art Deco sculpture.

"She helped popularize Art Deco, and she epitomized the style — her look was extremely sleek and almost machine-like, her hair like a cap," says Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, director of the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis and curator of Josephine Baker: Image & Icon, on view through Aug. 26. (The exhibit goes to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., starting Nov. 23.)

Baker was just as fabulous with her clothes on: Courted by designers and even architects, she turned herself into one of the world's first style celebrities, in keeping with the Art Deco celebration of the new and rejection of tradition.

The Art Deco style favored an industrialized, streamlined look characterized by elegance, strong geometrics, polished surfaces and use of black and white. Starting after World War I, it dominated decorative art, fashion, jewelry, textiles, furniture design, interior decoration and architecture, and it continues to have influence today. Here are some ways to achieve the look of Josephine Baker in the home.

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