Another Black Dahlia Portrait? Harvard’s Fogg Museum Displays Two Man Ray Artworks-George Hodel portrait and Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short Lookalike

 

November 5, 2017
Los Angeles, California

Two original Man Ray artworks are currently on display at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum.

The first is a photograph taken by Man Ray of his good friend Dr. Hodel upon his return from China in September, 1946. Dr. Hodel is seen wearing his UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency) topcoat and while on billet to Hangkow, China had the honorary rank of “Lt. General.”

The second is a lithograph portrait of an unknown woman, drawn by Man Ray in 1970. The woman has a dark red Dahlia* flower in her hair and bears a striking resemblance to Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short. As I have previously established Elizabeth Short was acquainted with and dated George Hodel and most probably knew and posed for Hodel’s Hollywood resident and artist/friend ManRay in 1943 for his L’Equivoque painting. Compare Man Ray’s portrait to the known photograph of Elizabeth Short from 1946 and decide for yourself?  (I also find it curious that Man Ray has posed the woman with her hands completely covering her mouth. Could this be a subtle reference, as the surrealists were prone to do in their artwork,  to hide the fact that Elizabeth Short’s mouth was savagely lacerated from ear to ear, therefore unshowable?) Man Ray was 80 years old in 1970 and would live another six years. I see it as a “he knew” public confession. Running out of time and wanted to make one more statement on a secret he and just a handful of fellow surrealist KNEW.

*”Black Dahlia flower does not exist. The closest to it is the dark red/maroon dahlia as shown above in the Man Ray portrait.

See links for complete background/details on Equivoque and later 1969 connection to Man Ray’s artwork Minotaure/Unsaleable.

George Hodel Man Ray Photo at Harvard’s Fogg Museum 2007 FAQ

The Timing

1943- Elizabeth Short poses for Man Ray’s L’Equivoque
1947- George Hodel surgically bisects Elizabeth Short’s body and poses it in homage to Man Ray’s Minotaur photograph
1961-  William Copley draws “It is Midnight Dr. ____ showing naked female and surgical tools in homage to George Hodel.
1969-  Man Ray draws Le Invendables (Minotaure showing naked female posed as Minotaur in homage to George Hodel.
1969-  Marcel Duchamp’s secret 20-year art project showing naked female posed in a vacant lot in homage of George Hodel first shown to the public at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

 

Dr. George Hill Hodel homage to Man Ray’s Minotaure (1934 and Lover’s Lips (1934-5)
1947 Black Dahlia Crime Scene

 

 

William Copley homage to Dr.  Hodel    1961

 

 Man Ray homage to  Dr. Hodel

 

 

Duchamp homage to Dr. Hodel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Steve,
    I find the 1970 Lithograph unsettling , his last memory of her? anyone else feel the same way?

    • Steve Hodel says:

      Teresa M: Yes. He was 80 years old and would live another six years. I see it as a “he knew” public confession. Running out of time and wanted to make one more statement.

  2. Dan Lackey says:

    Steve,

    No doubt in my mind that the so called unk woman is ES. Man Ray paying homage to GHH.
    This coupled with the photo of Man Ray holding the Lovers painting with the all-knowing wink of the
    eye. So much of the paying homage back & forth and the homage from Copley & Duchamp, makes
    it all the more obvious that GHH was the BDA.

    Best Regards,
    Dan

  3. Eric Legay says:

    Hello,
    I do not know if you remember,
    I sent you this reproduction of a Man Ray painting:
    Celeste is east of the west. Céleste est à l’Est de l’Ouest (in french)

    Best regards
    Eric

  4. Eric: Merci. Seem to have lost the original Email on it? Are you referring to the 1969 Les Invendables Man Ray or the 1970 portrait of an Uknown Woman? steve

  5. Mark Bujdos says:

    My Interpretation of William Copley’s Birth of Venus (1953), Using a Thin Thread of logic and a lot of imagination, or, are you immune to visual puns? (don’t laugh)
    Dear Steve,
    I’m almost through with the book Exquisite Corpse, which owes its existence, I think it’s fair to say, to your first book. Having come across the intriguing idea in BDA 2, that Copley’s Il’est minuit…spells out the name Hodel, I couldn’t help but pause, coming to the reproduction of Copley’s the Birth of Venus on page 135 of the book. Now if Il est minuit…does spell a name, I admit some will think that far-fetched, but I for one have no trouble buying in to it. The foundation of my logic is this—if the surgical instruments of the 1961 painting spell, then the garden tools of the left half of the 1953 painting must spell. The authors of the book do not use the Birth of Venus to further their thesis, but use it only to introduce Copley’s style and point out that it alludes to Man Ray’s work Erotique voile. So what do the tools spell? I posit they spell “Jumelle” “the Twin” (though imagining the m is a little bit of a stretch), the women’s body constituting the twin L and the final (silent) e taken up in the machine in the right half. The book reproduces Man Ray’s 1939 painting “La jumelle” on page 53 The longer I stare at the Birth of Venus, the more fascinated I am with it. The repetition of visual motifs is quite amazing. The right and left halves of the painting mirror each other, also to an amazing degree. Almost everything has its double. The development of the motifs is as rigorous as a painting like Grant Wood’s American Gothic. In fact…I would go so far as to say that it refers to Wood’s painting and parodies it. It puns on that painting quite consistently, the pitch fork being but one example. Also the area of the woman spells “Wood” twice, whether you go up from the w of her arms and head, or down. But why? Why not say that Copley is trying to tell the story of another “American Gothic”. Everything in this painting engenders its double, it seems. Now let’s move on to the spectre of Elizabeth Short…and the name Hodel. I posit that Copley’s Birth of Venus also spells “Hodel” in the right half, and TWICE. If the authors tell us that the pose of the nude copy the ES’s death pose (quite parodically), then I missed it.
    Having gone this far I might as well go on—the Birth of Venus seems to depict the façade of the Sowden House. I went out to view the house just last week and was sufficiently creeped out. The Vs in the middle of the façade looked like they would eat up anyone brave enough to enter. Likewise the Birth of Venus is divided perfectly in half with an inverted V at the top and two Vs below (if you factor in the pubic hair). At any rate some kind of entrance way is more than implied. The middle horizontal line of the wall dissects the female figure just like the glass plate of La jumelle. The dissected figure as dissecting figure.
    The painting does indeed reference Erotique voile. But I will mention explicitly what the book mention implicitly—it also references and is the double of Man Ray’s photograph, Portrait of Dorothy Hodel (1944) on page 70. In fact, it is important to add, that an interpretation of the photo buttresses the theory of Il eest minuit… spelling Hodel. It represents the letter H taken up in the easel, and the same type of H (with an added vertical line) as in Il est minuit… And also the left hand of the reclining nude mimics the left hand of Dorothy.
    If Copley was not familiar with the 1944 Portrait of Dorothy Hodel in 1953 and 61, then my interpretation is lessened to a certain degree—so an important question for me is: did Copley have access to the photo?
    Mark Bujdos

    • Luigi Warren says:

      If you mentally bisect Venus at the waist, it becomes only too clear where the double L and the E that should be at the end of JUMELLE reside. I suspect the gray, featureless tool is a “blank” to make it less obvious (or for plausible deniability). Takes “Alphabet for Adults” to the next level. -LW

  6. Luigi Warren says:

    Mark, I think you are correct. As in the Zodiac puzzles such as the Halloween Card, the clues are amazingly subtle and highly distributed, but they add up. I think maybe the last E of “Jumelle” is given by the woman’s head and upstretched arms. I can see “HODEL” spelled out in the machine operated by the aristocratic sadist quite easily. I also get the subtle reference to the Sowden House facade. The ironic melding of “The Birth of Venus” and “American Gothic” to portray the Black Dahlia murder is perfect. -LW

    • Steve Hodel says:

      Mark B:

      As to your question of whether Copley has seen the photograph of Dorothy Hodel in ’44 I am confident he had. I expect Copley attended numerous parties with Man Ray at Sowden/Franklin House after GHH returned from China in late ’46 up until the incest arrest in Oct 1949. I expect that Man Ray, Copley and Teske “hung out” a lot during those three years. Recall Edmund Teske’s words:

      “It’s an evil place! (Hodel residence) Artists, philosophers, accountants and politicians we all played and paid there. Women were tortured for sport there. Murders happend there. It’s an EVIL place.”

      And, yes, as we know the surrealists were all about puns and word games included in their art. It was their way of having a secret language that only the initiated could read. What we would today call “inside jokes.”

      I think you may well be correct in your analysis. My main problem is that once I start interpreting using the eyes of a surrealist (an “insider”) it opens up a can of worms. I can see just about anything I want. The art becomes totally subjective, which is 180′ away from looking at as a trained objective investigator.

      But, once I decided to try and use my father’s mind, to think like him, then things began to fall in place.

      Thanks for the excellent observations Steve

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