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The Art World and the Fedora

K.D. Lightner

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,354
Location
Des Moines, IA
I saw a program the other night on PBS; it showed the Roosevelt Memorial Park and some of the statuary there. I knew about the statue of Roosevelt in a wheelchair and that of his little dog, Fala, but also noticed this statuary piece among several in the park:

http://www.econ.surrey.ac.uk/staff/pierce/photos/roosevelt.jpg

And I got to thinking about the depiction of the fedora in art. I know that Hopper painted pictures of men and women in fedoras, including a self-portrait:

http://www.dospotencias.com/ar/img_hopper/hopper_autorretrato.JPG

and I wondered what other depictions of fedoras in other famous, or not-so-famous pieces of art and sculpture there were out there (I am excluding comic art, which, of course, showed many a fedora).

Anyone know of some other well-known pieces? I am going to research and see what I can come up with....

karol
 

Uncle Vern

One of the Regulars
Messages
171
Do you have some comments to make about the fedora in art? There's great melancholy and resignation in both the sculpture group and the Hopper, which is a self-portrait. I've stood in front of it more than once, as well as many of his other paintings. In his self-portrait, Hopper was saying that even though he was a painter, and a critical observer of his own culture, he wasn't exempt fom the dehumanizing tendencies of his time.
The sculpture group bears out something that the critic John Berger pointed out in reviewing a photography book. In its heyday, the fedora was so ubiquitous that it became part of a uniform, and tended to visually de-personalize its wearers. Look at those old New Years Eve photos with thousands and thousands of fedora-clad men flooding Times Square. It's ironic that we collect and wear vintage hats as a sign of distinction when they probably achieved the oposite in their heyday. I love Open Roads, but there was a time when half the men in Texas wore them, signifying more of a cultural bonding than a sartorial indulgence. Given the speed with which all comodities become co-opted today, it's probably going to take something more powerful than old hats to help us define and defend our individualities.
 

StraightRazor

Familiar Face
Messages
65
Location
Northwest Ohio
Look at the work of some of the great, old-time Illustrators. J.C. Leyendecker, Charles Dana Gibson, obviously Norman Rockwell, Harrison Fisher, ect. A lot of them, (Leyendecker especially), did work exclusively for the mens fashion industry. Their work is just exploding with examples of about 100 years worth of men's fashion, including hats. I have mounds of books if you want pictures.
 

K.D. Lightner

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,354
Location
Des Moines, IA
Vespasian -- Thanks for the Vettriano site. I had seen some of his most popular pieces, they are all over the art shops, but did not realize how many of his paintings contained fedoras, some featured quite prominently.

I was certain I would find fedoras in the famous Bellows painting of Dempsey versus Firpo, but not a hat or cap in site. His fight pictures are really sweaty and gritty, I guess they would have removed their hats.

Uncle Vern -- Interesting comments. I know I marveled for years when seeing depression-era photos of men (some women and children) in the streets, at how everyone had head covering, mostly fedoras and newsboy caps. I wonder if it finally got to be so "old hat" (excuse the pun), that it became declasse.

We are a fickle-hearted species -- at one point wanting to look like everyone else, and, then, turning against the thing we once adhered to. Or certainly, our children turn on it and reject it.

If there is a return to fedoras, and I think there is a small one at present, it will probably be to reject ballcaps, or maybe bareheadedness. Or, one hopes, as a practical measure as the ozone layer is threatened. But, it may not be the fedora that makes a comeback -- it could be some new creation.

I hadn't thought of the Hopper self-portrait as melancholy, but you are right: he would have made a comment on his own conformity. NightHawks, too, one of my favorite Hoppers, also has an austere beauty to it. That painting always haunted me, especially when I lived in New York and hung out in SoHo, sometimes in the middle of the night.

I'll dig around some more and see what I find.

karol
 

Bart

Familiar Face
Messages
70
Location
East Coast
Art World and the Fedora

Karol,

Whose taxes paid for that first "work of art"? Oops, sorry you were watching PBS, guess we all did.

Bart
 

RedPop4

One Too Many
Messages
1,353
Location
Metropolitan New Orleans
Much like the tattoo fashion, today. One day, these will also be an anachronism, if you will. Or artless bodies will be the new "individualism" or "self-expression" that piercings and tattoos are today.

I love the images of old ball parks where all the men are in fedoras and smoking cigars. I'd love nothing better than to go to the ball park and to be able to enjoy my cigar in the late evening sunshine from the comfort of my seat. With a lid of some sort atop my melon.
 

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