January 3, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
As the clock struck twelve and we entered into a New Year, I was wondering just how long it would be before a “new clew” was discovered in one of the many serial crimes attributed to my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel. Would it be a week? Two? A month?
And, to which of his many serial crimes might it be related? The Black Dahlia or one of the many L.A. Lone Woman Murders; The Chicago Lipstick Murders; Manila’s Jigsaw Murder; the San Francisco Bay Area Zodiac Murders; or might it help add to the solution of one of the two dozen, “Early Years Crimes” from the long ago?
Well, my answer came much faster than I had thought.
Here it is, just two days into the new year. The crime? Elizabeth Short, “The Black Dahlia Murder”- Los Angeles 1947.
Sixth Visual Clew Discovered – A Quick Review of 1-5:
Through the years and in the chapters of my previous eight publications, I have presented the Man Ray clews and linkage revealing (during his decade of residency [1940-1951] known as Ray’s “Hollywood Years.”) his and his good friend surrealist’s, (William Copley), knowledge of and connections to George Hodel as the Black Dahlia killer. Here is a brief reminder of those five previous links as a preface to my newest discovery, the sixth visual clew. Consider them as structural building blocks, much like those used by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. to construct and hold together the walls of his most famous architectural work, “Hollywood’s SowdenHouse” at 5121 Franklin- The actual residence of Dr. Geoge Hill Hodel and family from 1945-1950 and the likely 1947 crime scene of LA’s most infamous murder, that of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short.
Sowden/Hodel residence 1945-1950
Man Ray Linkage No. 1
L’Equivoque painting 1943
Man Ray’s L’Equivoque painting (1943) obviously preceded the murder of Elizabeth Short by four years, still, it is my belief (later substantiated by and documented in the LADA/LAPD Hodel Black Dahlia Files) that Man Ray and George Hodel knew the victim and the painting helps to establish her identity and the fact that she was known to both men. Evidence that Elizabeth Short likely posed for this painting in 1943 has been detailed in my previous writings. As shown above, it is my belief that during the 1947 torture/murder that occurred at the Franklin House, George Hodel copied and surgically carved the above geometrical figure into the victim’s right hip in imitation of the crosshatching in the painted figure’s face in Man Ray’s L’Equivoque painting (1943) along with additional posings and crime signatures referencing other Man Ray artworks such as: (The Minotaure, The Loves Lips). (Above photo right shows victim’s body at LA Coroner’s autopsy.)
Man Ray Linkage No. 2 & No.3
Man Ray/William Copley Secret Linkage/”Alphabet For Adults”-Q for Quarrel
In the 1940s Man Ray and California surrealist William Copley became close friends and Copley opened an art exhibition house, “The Copley Galleries” at 257 N. Canon Drive, in Beverly Hills.
Rene Magritte and Man Ray exhibitions at Copley Galleries, 1949
Included in this exhibition was Man Ray’s painting (above left), Observatory Time, The Lovers (1936) which showed the Paris Observatory with a pair of Man Ray’s former lover, Lee Miller’s lips suspended in air, floating across the horizon.
Lee Miller and Man Ray
Copley’s gallery venture was short-lived his gallery closed within six months. However, his relationship with Man Ray remained active. In 1948 Copley collaborated with Man Ray to publish an art book, “Alphabet for Adults”, containing whimsical illustrations by Man Ray which included each letter of the alphabet.
Of particular interest to us is the book’s letter Q.
Man Ray writes, “Q is for Quarrel.
Graphic by Author/Dallas PD officer (ret.) Robert Sadler
Man Ray Clew No. 3
The drawing upper left depicts “Q” for Quarrel as it appeared in the original 1948 book. It shows a couple in profile, “quarreling” inside the courtyard of Dr. George Hodel’s Sowden/Franklin House, 5121 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood. Also, included is the drawing of a woman’s lower torso with Man Ray’s 1944 sculpture “Object of my affection- The Occulist”, positioned to represent her vagina, as well as an “all-seeing eye, and witness to the couples, “quarrel.”
Man Ray gifted this sculpture to his good friend Dr. George Hodel in 1948 just a year after the Black Dahlia murder.
L’Occuliste on display at Dr. Hodel’s headquarters in Manila, Philippines.
William Copley Clew No. 4
“It’s Midnight Dr. _______.” William Copley (1961)
Graphics by author Robert Sadler
Surrealist William Copley, following his good friend Man Ray’s lead, created his own homage to Dr. George Hodel showing him about to perform the surgical bisection of Elizabeth Short at the Franklin House residence. His “clews” included the actual name HODEL spelled out as surgical tools and the use of simulated tiles to form the painting’s background. Also, we see in the enlargement of the doctor’s hatband the possibility that Copley has again, spelled out the name George Hodel.
Master tiled bathroom at Hodel residence.
Copley went even further by not only copying the master bathroom tiles for the painting’s background but, also cleverly disclosing the murder location’s address. (Note: LAPD believed the surgical bisection occurred in a tub at a private residence where the body could be washed clean, as found posed at the vacant lot.) Copley accomplished this disguised disclosure by making the background a grid of tiles twelve wide by fifteen high or 12×15 which, read backward is: 5121-the actual address of the Hodel residence on Franklin Avenue.
Man Ray Clew No. 5- The Minotaur (1969)
Man Ray lithograph 1969
Man Ray’s drawing of the minotaur shows blood flowing out from the lower torso to form the creature’s body and feet. An artistic visual metaphor referencing the 1947 Black Dahlia bisection and posing by Dr. George Hodel.
Now, with this backgrounding of the five surrealists “clews” let’s take a look and the newly discovered 6th clew, in which Man Ray again takes us directly back to the Hodel residence/crime scene and by name identification to his earlier drawings. NOTE: in French, L’Equivoque can be translated to English as The Equivocation or The Confluence. Both translations at once become enigmatic metaphors for both surrealist expression and surrealist criminal acts.
Man Ray Clew No. 6- L’Equivoque 1950
Man Ray drawing 1950
Man Ray’s 1950 sketch, in my opinion, reinforces his earlier 1943 and 1948 visual revelations and again embodies and entombs (literally) victim Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short as part of the architecture of the George Hodel Sowden/Franklin House. Here again, Man Ray shows us his earlier referenced nude woman, though in this 1950 sketch her head and “hair’ appear to match or simulate the residence’s superstructure, becoming part of it. Not unlike the use of the Sowden House’s interior courtyard’s facade in “Q for Quarrel”.
To the left of her naked body (above) we see dark lines that to my mind resemble “dripping blood.” The original sketch shows Man Ray chose the color burnt sienna, a reddish brown (below right) to depict the outlines of her body and the lines at the side, which is about as close to the color of real blood as one can get.
Agreed, art is subjective, as to the intent of the artist (if the artist’s intent has not been personally revealed) and the interpretation is left to each viewer. However, when taken holistically this 6th clew, (drawn in 1950, the very year that his good friend was tape-recorded by the DA/LAPD confessing to the Black Dahlia Murder and was about to be arrested and fled the country) must be considered among Man Ray’s winks and nods to his fellow surrealist’s acknowledging Dr. George Hill Hodel’s 1947 murderous masterpiece of the macabre. That is to say, Man Ray, through his own art, acknowledges George Hodel and pays homage to him as the creator of the ultimate example of Murder as a Fine Art.
To those who might find these Man Ray links to the Sowden/Hodel residence farfetched, I here add my good friend LW’s blog comment and insight in response.
Luigi Warren 1/6/23:
“That melding of a human figure with architectural features, e.g., the battlements of a castle, crops up a few times in MR’s drawings. Other examples: Les Tours d’Eliane, Le Point Neuf and his Imaginary Portrait of D. A. F. de Sade.” -LW