Arbiter of men’s fashion in the early 19th century (one of the reasons they dressed so silly) Beau Brummell was born on this day in 1778. He is usually “credited” with introducing the modern suit and tie. People have speculated that was gay. Who would have thought such a thing?! Some have even speculated that Brummell and Lord Byron were lovers. You may remember Byron’s poem, “He walks in beauty because he spends 5 hours every day getting dressed.”
In 1917 on this day, Dean Martin was born. I never liked him much when I was a kid. He was just the guy who screwed up Jerry Lewis’ movies. But as with most people, I got over my love of Jerry Lewis and, perhaps less commonly, came to appreciate Martin. He is actually a funny guy. But more importantly, he’s quite a good singer. I don’t like him as much as Sinatra, but I prefer him to Tony Bennett. I’m sure he put on a hell of a show. Here’s a clip that shows this, I think; he’s performing “Volare” and “An Evening in Roma” with lots of laughs beside:
Then we get to the music stars. First, Tom Jones is 74. He annoys me personally. But I rather like his voice and I love the arrangements of his bands. Here is a good example of a kick ass band with Jones doing his thang with “It’s Not Unsual”:
And our second music star, Prince is 55 today. You may know him by another name, however: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Or: The Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Or as I like to think of him: The Artist Formerly Known as the Human Formerly Known as Prince Rogers Nelson. Take your pick. Anyway, he is one of these scary talented guys. But I’ve never really liked him. Here he is doing a song I’ve never heard that sounds very much like every other song of his I’ve heard. And I assure you it is not because I don’t “get” it. It’s fine pop music, but I know he is capable of far better:
The day, however, belongs to the great French Impressionist Paul Gauguin who was born on this day in 1848. When I was at the Getty Center last year, I have a revelation while in its impressionism room. Those artists I liked least when I was younger, I now like the most. This is especially true of Paul Cezanne, who I think is by far the most interesting of the impressionists. But it is also true of Gauguin, whose primitivism speaks to be greatly. For example, The Yellow Christ is great religious art from a time that just couldn’t manage it. I think it is better even than any of Dali’s religious paintings.
Andrea has indicated that Gauguin was not a good man who treated his family badly. I don’t find any evidence of that. He strikes me more as a man with marginal mental health who was finally banished by his family when he was of no economic value to them. Regardless, there is no doubt that he lived a scandalous life. He probably had more illegitimate children than the five legitimate ones he had with his wife. And then there are the sexual relationships that he had with prepubescent Tahitian girls. (I would like to think this did not include coitus, but really I don’t want to know.) Regardless, it doesn’t much matter. I don’t have a problem overlooking terrible personal lives in artists I admire. (Rape is another matter, though.) It is more the vile beliefs that put me off.
Happy birthday Paul Gauguin!