Dress-down Friday: Charles Henri Ford

As a rule of thumb, I will generally assume that anyone dressed in a hand-spangled cat suit designed by Salvador Dalí and photographed by Cecil Beaton is worthy of interest until proven otherwise.

And so it is with Charles Henri Ford, said hand model. A poet and visual artist (who also took his own intriguing photographs), Ford is mentioned alongside many of our favourite between-the-wars luminaries in Paris and New York, including Gertrude Stein, Paul Bowles and Djuna Barnes, whose Nightwood he typed up. His delicate features also attracted Carl Van Vechten and, in a subversive image which shows Ford leaving a pissoir adorned with a curiously positioned advertisement, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In Op Art stripes, in black tie alongside Factory mainstay Gerard Malanga, resting serenely on his lover Pavel Tchelitchew or entertaining a gentleman caller wearing rather less than he, Ford is never less than elegant.

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  1. A great minor figure, so easy to forget. Thanks for bringing him back into the foreground. Another largely forgotten writer, and good friend of Ford + Paul Bowles, is Edouard Roditi. A polyglot poet, translator, art critic and historian’ biographer of Oscar Wilde and Magellan, Roditi also wrote on homosexuality. Great writer, even greater character.

  2. Linda Hollander

    Beautiful, beautiful looking man! Great photos, especialliay the one on the table…who took that?
    James, I think your rule of thumb really worked out!

    You always make my day!

  3. I would love to see “Sleep in a Nest of Flames,” the 2001 documentary about Charles, though it can’t possibly cover all his tracks. He’s a good candidate for one of your circles.

  4. thombeau

    A cutie patootie!

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  8. I interviewed him about two years before he died about Romaine Brooks, Barney and the context. It was fascinating and he was lovely. He talked about Djina, Thelma Woods who he actually looked like in a photo that hung on the wall behind him. All of these people were larger than life personalities and had the courage to live their lives that way.

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