I was born in Los Angeles during 1966. It was this time photographer Wingate Paine published his boudoir book of muses 'Mirror of Venus.' It's been noted that Paine burned and destroyed all the negatives after the publication. It has also been said that the models were all friends and lovers.
I held little charm with my biological parents at this time, two mythological persons I call the Bios. You see, after three months with me they left me with the nuns where I was quickly claimed by a lovely Dutch couple who showed me the world so that the Bios could go on with their life. All that's known of them barely fill page in a profile of feedings and sleep habits. It's been written that he was a poet and she a clerk. He was dark and small in stature. She was tall with long red hair and big blue eyes. So why do I think of the Bios at a time like this? I'll get to that.
Almost forty three years later Wingate Paine's images of muses were celebrated once again in a lovely little vintage clothing store called Resurrection on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood last month. Designs by Katy Rodriguez, walls adorn by the women of Wingate Paine. The images captured theses beauties in intimate moments that give you that feeling of a time filled with morning luminosity after the surrender when the mood is light and warm. A time between the purity of the 1950's and the sexual revolution of the 1960's. Rodriguez designed a collection inspired by this celebration of female openness and femininity and is quoted in saying, " The book is “fashion without clothes,” whose designs have a lot of Paine’s girlishness to them." The collection was donated from private collectors. The exhibit ran from May 21 to June 15 this year under the title "Venus Revisited."
Viewing and admiring the frivolity of these moments of women playfully running nude on the beach, laughing in the bath and posing within clean white sheets I began to speculate the relationship of the Bios. Was she the muse of his creativity? Did he destroy the remnants of words as he blatantly threw me away? Did she in fact survive the artist muse relationship? My entire existence in fact based on question and query, never to be answered. However, not worth tormenting oneself. I now posses a sense of romanticism when it comes to the Bios. Maybe he wrote of a smile and pleasant afternoon that seized him with a passion to burn all that was lost.
"Wingate Paine, 1915 – 1987, was a member of a Mayflower New England family with ties to law, banking and the ministry. He broke from those traditions and became a Marine captain, connoisseur of French wine, devotee of Hatha-Yoga and finally a gifted photographer and filmmaker. Described as his “visual valentine to feminine beauty,” Paine’s series of female nudes were published in his 1967 book Mirror of Venus. This 1960s classic was printed in ten editions and features text written by Federico Fellini and Françoise Sagan. Paine later abandoned photography for sculpture. Mirror of Venus represents the culmination of his photographic career."
Written for Imeem August 23, 2009.
Photography by Wingate Paine.