Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker
The fortunes of Vanity Fair magazine declined in the 1930s, and the February 1936 issue was the last before it merged into Condé Nast's Vogue and ceased to exist. But caricature remained a high point of the magazine through its last issue, which boasted Paolo Garretto's vivacious image of dancer and singer Josephine Baker. The toast of Paris after her sensational 1925 appearance in "La Revue Négre," Baker symbolized for European audiences the vitality of jazz, the Charleston, and African American culture.

Garretto knew Josephine Baker and claimed to have introduced her to her husband, Pepito Abatino. Highlighting her sensuous figure against a bright yellow curtain, and using thin threads of real feathers, Garretto conveyed the beauty of her slim body, the athletic grace of her dancing, the exotic costumes, and the extraordinary vivacity of her stage presence.

Josephine Baker 1906-1975
Paolo Garretto (1903-1989)
Collage with hand-painted and airbrushed watercolor and gouache, crayon, colored pencil, wood veneer, and feathers on paper, 1935, for Vanity Fair, February 1936
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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