What's the future path for the Ned Scott Archive? "Unknown" has to be the answer. That Ned Scott's body of work has its own force, depth and will is undeniable: it has been revealed in the history of the Archive. Where it will go, and what form it will take are hidden aspects, but clues may be found by visiting past events. And so it is appropriate to take a look back at the history of the Archive.
The archivist finds it fascinating, if not a little disturbing, that after so many years of patient and deliberate effort to accomplish a well defined goal that the goal is not any closer to completion today than it was 17 years ago at the archive's inception. This is fascinating because so much has occurred in the pursuit of that goal without moving materially toward it's long sought conclusion, and disturbing because unexpected malign forces surrounding Scott's work, while only glimpsed earlier, have now become clearly manifest in their proportion, scope and reach. These are not negative findings, far from it. They highlight the native life force of the artwork as it tries to assert itself.
The goal of the archive at its inception was the preservation, research and the opening up of the Ned Scott Photographic Collection, boxed and sealed for 60 years, to the world at large. The driving engine of all archive activity was, and continues to be, the linking of Ned Scott's name to all his photographic material in public circulation or in private collections. This goal remains the same today as it was at the inception of the archive despite the multitude of events, discoveries and disappointments of the intervening years.
Archive activities began in Louisville, Kentucky. Highlights of these activities to be discussed include five in town exhibits, the building of a fully stocked darkroom with 30 x 40 capabilities, donations to and from key individuals and insitutions, limitied auction at Sotheby's in New York, articles in regional and national magazines, travel to key haunts familiar to Ned Scott in the '30's and '40's, a prominent national exhibit at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, and the selection of a Ned Scott image by the US Postal Service for a commemorative stamp issue in 2004. An archive director was hired, serving for seven years for total compensation of $104,780.00. The archive moved from Louisville to Honolulu, Hawaii in 2002 and continues operations as of this writing.
Roles of Ned Scott's surviving relatives will be discussed (along with those of his two parents, Florence and Norman, Esq.) These include myself, Ned's son, Penelope Scott Sing, Ned's daughter, and Delia Scott Tyrwhitt, Ned's younger sister. Ned's older sister, Ellen, died in 1954. How these important parties viewed Ned's career and how their perceptions drove their behavior vis a vis the development of the Ned Scott Archive are telling features bearing on the outcome of archive events. Many of the forces surrounding Ned's life and career, it will be seen, remain active influences imbedded in his artwork. That this body of art survives, more or less intact, is something of a miracle. The tumble of events manifests the strength of those forces, but despite their compelling destructive nature which emanates directly from members of Ned's own family, his work always seems to find a way to smooth seas and calm waters. Leonard Cohen makes this point in discussing his own art, and he says it far better than I ever could: (Ned's old friend, Henwar, would understand perfectly)
"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in..."
Appearing here will be actual letters written to and by archive members, with postal covers where available along with emails and facsimiles. Significant phone calls on archive business will be represented from personal notes made in the time frame. Letting the facts speak for themselves will be the goal of this narrative, much the same way Ned Scott's photographic eye allowed his subjects their true, honest and respectful expression.
Further events and circumstances are chronicled below as the years unfold.
It has come to pass that the fraud perpetrated by Augustin Chavez against Ned Scott and Paul Strand has been thoroughly exposed. All Ned Scott material has been clearly distinguished from that of Paul Strand, and confusion within the photo art community has dissipated. New films which Ned Scott worked under his Columbia Pictures contract have come to light. The films score for Redes/The Wave, composed by Sivestre Revueltas, has become something of enormous interest within the musical community. Metropolitan symphonies around the nation have begun performing this score while at the same time rolling the film for the audience. This outcome has occurred largely due to the remastering of the original film neg by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation. This year the Cannes Film Festival will feature Redes/The Wave and more metropolitan symphonies will perform the score for audiences. This archive allowed permission for usage of a number of the images from that film for the WCF's use in their campaign to promote the new version of the film. Letters by Paul Strand, Henwar Rodakiewicz and Fred Zinnemann, posted here on this platform have proved very helpful for understanding the production process of Redes/The Wave in 1934. James Krippner, a college professor and author, wrote an excellent book on the subject of Paul Strand's Mexican experience from 1932 to 1934, and this book was published with the help of Filmoteca through the Aperture Foundation in New York. Twenty-two of Ned Scott's images were reprinted in the chapter of that book which chronicled the film's production. The author inscribed a copy of the book which I gave to Penny Sing, Ned Scott's daughter and my sister. It is such a fine piece of work and a splendid tribute to Ned Scott. The Ned Scott Archive has been able to contribute to these developments, and indications are that this process will continue into the future.
The insights expressed in my letters to Fred Zinnemann, posted below in this section, have proven to be prescient. Fred had an innate sense about the direction of Ned Scott's photography, and ensuing events proved him right.
One of the noteworthy accomplishments this year has been telling the story of the making of the film The Story of G.I. Joe, 1944. I am always scouring the internet for any new Ned Scott images which appear from day to day. (There are always 10 or more habitual ones per day). Late in December of last year, a large group of prints for the G.I Joe film cropped up on eBay in their original format. Almost all of these had never been seen before. I could not resist purchasing as many as I could. So began a four month effort to tell the story of the film's creation. This was worth the effort mainly because in today's world, few people know about Ernie Pyle, and fewer still have a grasp of how influential he was in the making of the film. That's because Ernie is known for his writings and the Pulitzer Prize he won for his 1943 book "Here Is Your War", not for his film making efforts.
The task was absorbing for me. I used three books for reference which I fortunately had on hand, being previously purchased because Ned Scott had been montioned in each. This was an excellent body of material from which to find original subject matter which related to how the film was done. And though this took me much time and energy, I am very glad I did it. It's a Hollywood story which was hugely influenced by un-Hollywood individuals and institutions. The Federal Government was involved in enabling important aspects of the film so that the authenticity and feel might be as accurate as possibe. It is the only film made during the war which used actual war veterans as actors. Ned Scott's effort on this film is his most important one of his career. Please visit the discussion here.
This was the year that I began to analyze Ned Scott's photograph making processes. Exposing the public to more and more photographs as I captured them at auctions and sales was inducement for separating them into various categories. These categories were nicely discussed in Ned Scott's article published in The Complete Photographer magazine in 1943. He titled his article Photography in the Motion Picture Industry, and when it was published in 1943, a number of his photos appeared to illustrate various points discussed in the article.
Using these categories from the article, I created several new pages on this site. In those pages I mounted photographs which correspond to these different types of photos. In Leg Art and Gag Shots, I placed photographs which highighted female stars in various poses which showed off legs and costumes. Gag shots were something different, but they conveyed the same relaxed attitude of stars as they were busy with home chores, surrounded by favorite pets, costumed in holiday attire, etc. Another category created this year was the Menace Shot. Nothing gets the attention of the movie going public like a threatening photograph. Ned Scott made a number of these for his films, especially during the war years and afterward as the film noir genre proliferated in Hollywood. Glamour Shots, of course, were an expected theme of all Hollywood phtographers. I populated this page with many of Ned Scott's famous portraits of "A" list stars of the day. And finally, I made a page which discussed the revenue side of Ned Scott's activity, called Taxes. This page is loaded with scans of 1099's from various studios, and they make very interesting reading. Looking at these documents, one can't help but come to the conclusion that the life of the Hollywood photographer in those years was decent, fulfilling financially and challenging.
One of the most pleasing events just occurred halfway into the year. Mark Vierra, famed Hollywood author and friend of the Archive, wrote a book, published by Running Press of New York, which discusses the emergence and proliferation of the Film Noir genre in Hollywood during the 1940's. A large number of film titles are presented in chronological order to convey the essence of the genre. These films are unrolled for the reader using comments from reviewers of the day and selected photo stills to convey the deeply menacing undercurrents of these films. He titled his new book, Into The Dark. While the selection and mastering of the stills are Mr. Vierra's work alone, Running Press did a very credible job of layout, sizing and paper selection to enhance the visual impact of these images. The result is a riveting book. Vierra credited some of his many images selected for his book to Ned Scott, and he further honored Scott with favorable mention in his book's forward. Nothing could please me more, that Ned Scott's photography achieves the recognition it so richly deserves.