Thursday, September 29, 2011

PARIS IN THE 1920'S AND THE AMERICANS WHO FLOCKED THERE

 Ernest Hemingway, Man Ray, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Elliot, Dali, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein.  Why did so many of Americas best and brightest spend the better part of the 20's (and in some cases the better part of their lives) in Paris?  For some, the answer is simply because they could, but for others......  let's explore further...
After the war, many previously healthy and hopeful young men, returned home emotionally or physically changed, with little faith in their Government or hope for the future.
In America the KKK was at the height of it's power, violence was rampant due in part to organized crime thanks to prohibition, and we had a new found hunger for materialism, all of which added to the cynicism of the youth.
In Paris, rents were low, drinking was allowed, women were considered (somewhat) equal, and the art scene was welcoming.  Once a few restless artists and writers made a home there (and in many cases wrote about it) it seemed everyone who could, found their way to the art collector and writer Gertrude Stein's house in Paris.

Ernest and Hadley Hemingway in Paris
" All of you young people who served in the war...you are all a lost generation."  Gertrude Stein 

M/M F. Scott Fitzgerald

 The lost generation referred to young people who came back from WWI cynical about the future.  Many were American artists who moved to Paris and wrote about their disdain for American materialism.
Gertrude Stein (left) and her life partner Alice
 "America is my country, Paris is my home town"  Gertrude Stein
 Flappers epitomized the "lost generation".  Paris, as always, was the center of the fashion world.  The flapper style reflected women's changing role in society, which was becoming more active, involved, and equal.
"Flappers loved to flirt, bob their hair, put on their choicest pair of earrings, and a great deal of audacity and rouge, and go into battle."  Zelda Fitzgerald

Picasso's art studio in Paris
 1924 was "the summer of a thousand parties."  F. S. Fitzgerald
Gertrude Stein's house in Paris
 "Paris was always worth it"  Hemingway
 One cannot discuss Paris during the 1920's without including the singer and erotic dancer Josephine Baker.  "La Baker" was an African American, probably of mixed race, who left America for Paris after encountering racism and censorship.  By comparison, the jazz age in Paris was exotic, sensual and inviting for African American entertainers.
Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Picasso were all fans of Josephine Baker.
Due to the rampant racism and the powerful presence of the KKK, Josephine Baker renounced her American citizenship and eventually married a Frenchman and became a french citizen.




 "Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood."  Josephine Baker
Amen sister.
Have a beautiful day.
YANCEY

4 comments:

Leslie R. said...

Love this post! A Moveable Feast is one of my favorite books, and I really liked Woody Allen's take in Midnight in Paris.

Braxton and Yancey said...

Leslie,
A Movable Feast is a family favorite of ours, all four of us have read and loved it. Braxton and I agree that Midnight in Paris is our new favorite movie - can't wait to see it again!

Louis Shalako said...

Excellent photos. I'm currently writing and researching a mystery novel set in Paris, 1926. Thank you!

Braxton and Yancey said...

Louis,
Happy to have been a help. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your novel.
yancey

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