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R.M. Schindler house for Henwar Rodakiewicz: photographs found

on Thursday, 05 January 2012. Posted in News

The Rudolph M. Schindler house for Henwar Rodakeiwicz was designed and built in 1937. This house was located on Alto Cedro Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Schindler was known for his innovative use of space, light and form. Henwar likely chose him to design his house because Henwar, being first and foremost a photographer like Ned Scott, Paul Strand and Edward Weston, appreciated the expansive use of light combined with clarity of form. These were essences inherent in Schindler designs.

Schindler house for Henwar Rodakiewicz

The sweeping, vaulted exterior glass panel was cutting edge for its day, and Schindler placed the house on the lot so that this exterior elevation faced the northeast to catch the early morning light. The stoic imprint of this panel with its attending lintels and offsets reflected Henwar's sense of purity, simplicity and order.

Northeast elevation Schindler house

The encompassing impact of the design, together with its setting, goes right to the heart of Henwar's creative spirit. A clue to this fact may be found in an April 1939 letter from Henwar to Ned Scott: Henwar distilled a definition of photography by saying "There is a language without words and so beautifully clear". This same definition can be applied to the design of his Schindler house. It speaks its own language just as a good photograph does.

Schindler house curve study

Living within the house was most likely more process than just mere experience. Interior spaces were suffused with outside scenery and natural forms, and new patterns were constantly forming and reforming within. As Henwar said in the same letter to Ned Scott, "It's funny, isn't it. The way some people work. With me it's 'eye' and direct to heart. With others it's ear to brain." So perception was not worth anything unless heart ruled at the core of everything. For Henwar, this is what Schindler's design captured.

Schindler house for Henwar Rodakiewicz

John Wayne color photo from "The Long Voyage Home" painting identified

on Wednesday, 11 January 2012. Posted in News

This John Wayne photo from John Ford's classic portrayal of Eugene O'Neill's "The Long Voyage Home" demonstates the lasting brilliance of carbon prints. This film, produced by Walter Wanger, was the first Hollywood film to employ recognized artists to capture scenes from the movie's production. Ned Scott, being the still photographer on the movie, photographed this Ernest Fiene painting of John Wayne in character as Seaman Ole using 8 x 10 kodachrome film. Carbon prints were made from these kodachromes, and Ned Scott saved several for his own personal collection. Walter Wagner organized a 24 museum tour of the country for these paintings chiefly as a promotional effort for the movie. Though the film did not do that well at the box office, it made a very great impression as an "art" film. John Ford was so pleased with the effort that he saved and mounted a select group of Ned Scott's still photographs from the movie and hung them in his house where they stayed for years. Nine artists produced 12 paintings, and each artist was paid $10,000 for his work. Many of these carbon prints are displayed along with some interesting source material and stills photos from the film. Ned Scott made several formal portraits of the painters themselves while they were on the set of the movie. "Long Voyage Home" received seven academy award nominations. Though the Dudley Nichol's storyline from Eugene O'Neill's sea themed plays was rather loose, Eugene O'Neill loved the movie so much that he kept a copy in is home which he viewed frequently. Other John Wayne photographs by Ned Scott include those for the movie "Stagecoach" and they may be viewed here.

John Wayne photo as seaman Ole

John Wayne photo of Ernest Fiene's painting as seaman Ole from "The Long Voyage Home"

Janis Carter photo illustrates quality of Ned Scott's personal prints

on Saturday, 14 January 2012. Posted in News

A recently acquired photo of Janis Carter by Ned Scott dramatically illustrates the vast difference between Ned Scott's own personal prints and the prints created by the photographic labs at Columbia Studios. These lab-made prints were often made at night from negatives created the day before, and they served a number of important and specific purposes for the Hollywood film making industry. Ned Scott detailed this topic in an article he wrote for publication in the Complete Photographer in 1943. The chief point to make, however, is that while these were crucial to the success of a film, they were poorly made prints. Professionals often referred to them with some contempt as "glossies" because they were printed on cheaper resin coated paper. Contrast and tonal quality were mediocre, or flat. When Ned Scott decided to print from one of his negatives for his own collection, these factors came into play in a big way. Ned Scott used four labs around the city of Los Angeles to create large display prints for him. If he could not be on hand to make them himself, he gave the technicians specific instructions for printing. The results were spectacular. These two images of Janis Carter, taken at Ned Scott's own residence in La Canada, California, embody this quality of his prints. The blacks of the prints are rich, deep and resonant.

Janice Carter with coral fan

This image was posed with a black coral fan which for may years took the place of honor in display above Ned Scott's fireplace mantel between two Tridacna (giant clam) shells given to him by Vallejo Gantner. The photo of Janice Carter with the glass-topped table emphasizes the point of black resonancy even more.

Janice Carter with glass table

The quality of these two prints quickly becomes evident when compared to a similar image from another negative Ned Scott created during the same photo shoot. This print was created by the studio lab at Columbia without consideration for tonal range and contrast.

Martin Scorsese's WCF links to Ned Scott archive for film project

on Saturday, 25 February 2012. Posted in News

Martin Scorsese, through the World Cinema Foundation, has restored the 35mm film REDES which has been a cult favorite in art houses over the intervening 76 years since its release in 1936 in Mexico. This cultural protest film, one of the first of its kind in Mexico, features several firsts beyond the simple genre statement. It was the first major score for the Mexican composer Silvestre, it was the first Fred Zinnemann directed film, and it was the first Paul Strand produced film. The World Cinema Foundation, or WCF, patiently and quite expensively restored the film with its original English subtitles. Their painstaking work is superb, capturing the the distinct mood and feel of the original.

The WCF operations director, Mr. Doug Liable, had an interest in incorporating a number of Ned Scott's stills from the film to be placed as supporting material for a DVD extra which will be tied to the restored DVD. The Ned Scott Archive was happy to oblige. On this DVD extra, Professor James Krippner is interviewed about his new book "Paul Strand in Mexico", Aperture Foundation, 2010. One of the four chapters of this book deals with the production of "Redes", and he details the cultural aspects and production highlights of this film during the interview. While he is speaking, the Ned Scott stills from the movie will be presented in the background in a similar fashion to the process of a Ken Burns feature documentary.

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

Photo courtesy of World Cinema Foundation , Brigitte Lacombe, photographer

Joan Bennett photo from 1937 discovered in magazine

on Tuesday, 20 March 2012. Posted in News

One of the first films which Ned Scott photographed for producer Walter Wanger was "Vogues of 1938" starring Joan Bennett and Warner Baxter. At that time, Ned Scott had been shooting films in Hollywood for two years. One of his new friends, Ralph Steiner of Frontier Films in New York, wrote him about a mutual friend who wrote articles for McCall's magazine. His name was Pare Lorentz. Lorentz specialized in Hollywood material (like the E ! channel of today), and he wrote a monthly article entitled "Movies: What's Happening today". Ned Scott was right in the middle of shooting "Vogues", and at Lorentz request sent him photographs of Joan Bennett for use in his article. In a July 1937 letter to Ralph Steiner, Ned Scott discusses his feelings for Lorentz' misuse of his photos:

"Noticed in this month's McCall's that bastard P. Lorentz published four pictures I sent him. One of them---a Joan Bennett creation---was labeled with both our names but I saw no credits anywhere. Nor have I heard from him except that he returned the stuff he didn't need. Can't understand a guy like that. What the hell does the guy think I send him pictures for? Because I'm fond of him? He can go right plumb to hell and take his McCall's and shove it where it belongs and you can tell him so for me"

That issue of McCall's has finally been located and the Lorentz article and photos are now part of the archive material. Other Joan Bennett images from the same movie are located here.

Another interesting find in this article is that of other images which are from other Ned Scott films. The two images shown, one each of Ronald Coleman and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. are Ned Scott stills from the movie "The Prisoner of Zenda". This photograph of the boxer in the ring is that of Wayne Morris from "Kid Galahad", another film Ned Scott worked.

McCall's magazine

McCall's cover for August, 1937

McCall's magazine

Lorentz' article with Ned Scott images: Ronald Coleman (top) and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. from "The Prisoner of Zenda", and Joan Bennett from "Tradewinds".

Below: Wayne Morris from "Kid Galahad".

McCall's magazine

Leopold Stokowski letter located

on Thursday, 22 March 2012. Posted in News

Loepold Stokowski sent this letter to Ned Scott on September 10, 1934 while Scott was still in Alvarado filming REDES. Though there is no record what image Ned Scott sent to Stokowski which called forth the comment about Vera Cruz, one can surmise that Scott snapped a photo there before his final leg of his journey to Alvarado, 50 miles to the south. Peggy Bok, former wife of Curtis Bok, was the mutual friend who introduced Scott to Stokowski, no doubt earlier in 1934 while Scott was still in New York city. Ned Scott was a keen aficionado of fine classical music, as was Henwar Rodakiewicz. Meeting and becoming friends with renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski surely must have been a very large thrill for Ned Scott.

Later on in 1940 when Ned Scott built his new house in La Canada, California, he incorporated a high energy sound system into his living room area. The living room measured 36 x 21 feet, and the height was a full 13 feet. One could say that that room was built for music. Ned Scott had a close friend from the Hollywood studios whose specialty was "sound technician". He and his friend would spend many afternoons tweaking the system for maximum performance. This was high tech for the time. The sound equipment was built from scratch, incorporating a short wave radio, a main amplifier and two pre-amps, two 12 inch woofers and one 8 horned tweeter. It was fabulous.

l. stokowski

REDES film photo depicts religious art

on Sunday, 25 March 2012. Posted in News

Ned Scott was busy with his 5 x 7 Graflex while on assignment in Alvarado, Mexico for producer Paul Strand during filming of REDES/The WAVE in 1934. While not participating in film production, Ned Scott was free to roam the streets and shorelines of Alvarado with his camera. Among the many features he studied with his camera was the church in the center of town. What caught his eye were the religious icons placed prominently in the nave right next to the pulpit. Eight negatives survive of these religious figurines. The camera angles capture a sensitive and sympathetic aspect of each. What is not revealed in these images is Ned Scott's loathing of all organized religion, especially Catholicism. This deep seated hatred issues form his childhood when he was placed into British boarding schools during the First World War. He spoke only French, and being thrust into an Anglican or Catholic boys' school was a bitter experience indeed. He carried this throughout his life. And in 1931, when photographing Ranchos Iglesia in Taos, New Mexico, Ned Scott aligned a grave yard cross superimposed over the crosses of the church pediments--a clear statement of his sentiments toward religion as it relates to human life. But in Alvarado three years later, he had suspended these strong feelings long enough to perform a remarkably delicate and subtle treatment of the Christ and Mary figurines. Paul Strand had perhaps influenced him in the handling of the subject matter since he had created studies of such figures in other churches while there in Mexico in 1933. But there is no record of that possible connection.

madonna in Alvarado Church

Figurine in Alvarado church 1934 by Ned Scott

Ned Scott platinum printing photo discovered

on Thursday, 03 May 2012. Posted in News

Ned Scott's favorite method of printing his negatives was to use platinum paper from the Platinotype Company in London. He felt that platinum paper was the truest representation of his negatives, and this was especially evident in the black tones in the images. Obtaining this paper was difficult as well as expensive. There was no representative or photo supply company in Los Angeles which carried the paper in stock. It was necessary to buy straight from the factory in London. It was the mid-thirties, and purchasing such a specialty item from London took time to organize. Purchase orders had to be executed in writing, and posting these in letter form was slow even with newly established overseas air mail routes. Paying customs fees or "duty" was 30% of the purchase price, and Ned Scott sought to avoid that whenever he could. Obstacles abounded for avid users of platinum paper, a factor which we cannot appreciate today. But Ned Scott persisted in his relentless quest for this excellent paper, and he purchased as much as he could prior to the closing of the Platinotype Company in June of 1937.

Connie McCabe, Head of Photograph Conservation at the National Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., has recently shared many of the particulars of platinum paper, particularly the warm japine black form. The Archive has supplied her with correspondence and documents from Ned Scott's platinotype file. She will be giving a talk on this subject at the May 11 meeting of the American Institute of Conservation in Albuquerque.

Printing platinum paper always involved the use of sunlight as the light source. These prints were not made in a darkroom.

Ned Scott platinum printing

Ned Scott laying out his Platinum Print holders for developing in the sun, 1940-41

Redes film photo shows 1934 Alvarado architecture details

on Thursday, 07 June 2012. Posted in News

While stationed in Alvarado, Mexico in 1934 to shoot the Mexican film "REDES" in 1934, Ned Scott used his 5 x 7 Graflex camera to photograph architectural details of the town during his off-duty hours. James Krippner, a professor of history, wrote a book which discussed Paul Strand's work in Mexico from 1932-34 titled Paul Strand in Mexico, 1932-34. His research entailed a visit to Alvarado in early 2010. He communicated to me after the visit that Alvarado had changed completely from those heady and rich days of 1934. The town had lost its rural, semi-isolated flavor, and the structures had been updated. Ned Scott's images of the 1934 architectural details of the town reflect just what the life was like for its citizens, especially the fishermen.

It's a relaxed but highly textured matrix of buildings, residences, narrow dirt roads all surrounding the ubiquitous domed church, set on the estuary of the Papaloapan River. Hints of Greek and Roman classical styles are juxtaposed with wooden plank structures with rolled tin roofs or clay tile. The larger buildings are all government buildings, and the more well-to-do private residences front clay streets. Life was simple, and the economy of the town revolved around fishing for haddock.

dramed door

Framed doorway, Alvarado, Mexico, 1934 by Ned Scott

Redes film letter by Gunther von Fritsch discovered

on Wednesday, 01 August 2012. Posted in News

Life Magazine published a pictorial essay on REDES film on May 10, 1937. The film had just been released in the United States, some two years after its Mexican release. Both Gunther von Fritsch and Ned Scott reacted to this essay in letters, making the point that little recognition was given by Strand to the REDES film collaborators. They were both seized by a righteous fury. No mention was made of Ned, Fred Zinnemann, Henwar Rodakiewicz, Gunther or any of the Mexican contributors to the film.

The Life article described the published photographs as "some of the loveliest photographs ever to come out of Mexico or motion pictures." It then went on to point out that "the photographer who produced The Wave (REDES film) is Paul Strand, one of the best U.S. cameramen alive." A casual reader will make the assumption from reading these two lines that Paul Strand created the stills which fill the pages of the article. Only by checking the credits toward the end of the magazine pages will one find that Ned Scott made these photographs. But hardly anyone is likely to do such a search, especially when the writer of the article leaves the reader with the impression that Strand was the maker of the stills.

Gunther von Fritsch letter

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