Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Scarier than "Jaws"...

May 23, 2008 - 12:15pm -- Carol Diehl this TV relic from 1956 [via Edward Lifson] where Charles and Ray Eames introduce their Lounge Chair on NBC. It’s interesting to consider that the media at the time knew that it was an historic moment, and treated it as such. The scary part, though, is the gender dance that takes place as the glamorous presenter, Arlene Francis, tries to play up to a dimpled and hunky Charles by belittling his wife, Ray. While Charles makes several valiant attempts to acknowledge Ray as a full co-designer, Ray knows better than to insist, and ultimately both succumb to their assigned roles.

We can gloat, but things may not have changed so much in the last 50 years. It wasn’t reported that I know of, but in 2005 Christo startled the international press (and Mayor Bloomberg) assembled in the Metropolitan Museum’s Sackler Wing, by beginning his part of the press conference for The Gates with a fiery blast at The New York Times for not equally acknowledging Jeanne-Claude. Even after that, while most allusions are to “artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” there’s still the occasional Times article that refers to “The Gates” as “Christo’s project” or “dreamed up by Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude.” One veteran news reporter told me he didn’t ascribe it to sexism as much as a decision made by headline writers because Jeanne-Claude’s name is so long. Perhaps. But if they’d been writing about, say, Simon and Garfunkel would they leave off Garfunkel for brevity’s sake? Or refer to them as “Simon, and his partner, Garfunkel?” Don’t think so.


Thanks for this post, Carol.

What's interesting is that in the few opportunities Francis gave to Ray to speak, she ultimately deferred to Charles. I'm not sure that was necessarily wise, but it does seem part of the fabric of the times. BTW, I have heard Charles and Ray Eames referred to as "brothers," so Ray has gotten pushed out of the picture in more ways than one.

Submitted by summer (not verified) on
anyone fascinated by gender relations of the past and how they have or have not changed should take in a few episodes of Mad Men - or the whole series for that matter - it is a brilliant, gorgeous and fabulously engaging/entertaining bit of television.

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