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Fritz Kreisler 1875–1962
 
Paolo Garretto's witty depiction of Fritz Kreisler is an aptly disembodied portrait for a musician whose fame rests as much on sound recordings as on his physical stage presence. The Viennese-born violinist's international reputation was well established in the first decade of the century, particularly in America, where extended tours fueled an enthusiastic popular following. But his 1910 contract with the Victor Phonograph Company launched a previously unimaginable degree of exposure and renown. Garretto's depiction of Kreisler illustrated a 1934 Vanity Fair tribute, which identified him as one of the "Olympians of the Musical Sphere."

Cut from a thin piece of wood veneer and finished with airbrushed gouache, this portrait collage reflects Garretto's exposure both to Italian futurism and to French commercial art deco artists. But perhaps most striking is his adaptation of surrealist imagery in constructing this playful, one-eyed hybrid of man and musical instrument. "Under his hands," noted one contemporary, "persons become moving puppets . . . marvelous surrealistic toys for adults."

Paolo Garretto (1903–1989)
Collage of airbrushed gouache and crayon on wood laminate and illustration board, 1933
Original illustration for Vanity Fair, March 1934
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Publications Inc.
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