Monday, October 31, 2005

June On A Bike In Rue Visconti, 1928

Henry Miller first visited Paris in 1928. His new wife, June Mansfield, accompanied him. They stayed at the Hotel de Paris at 24 rue Bonaparte, near which is the rue Visconti.

Henry wanted to make a tour of France on bicycle. June was less certain that this was a good idea; after all, she'd never ridden a bike before. Henry bought them bicycles in Paris and took on the task of teaching her to ride, using the one-way alley lane of the rue Visconti as their practicing ground.

The rue Visconti (seen above) was so-named in 1864, after having previsouly been called Marais-Saint-Germain. Visconti had been the architect who'd designed Napoleon's tomb. Over the years, Balzac and the artist Delacroix have lived and worked on this street. You can read the entire history of this street at the Metropole Paris website (from which I've borrowed the photo of rue Visconti).

When Henry was ready to depart, June still lacked confidence in her riding abilities. She was afraid of riding beyond the Visconti alleyway and into the bustling Paris streets; so Henry, June, and the bicycles boarded a train for the more rustic Fontainebleau, 50 k south of Paris. Their two-wheeled tour of France would begin from there in September 1928.

Take a look at this photograph of Rue Visconti.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Alfred Perles - Renegade & Writer (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my summary of the content found in Douglas Stone's short Alfred Perles biography, Alfred Perles: Renegade & Writer (1974).

Page 8 - An analyisis of his writing style in Sentiments Limitrophes: "a loosely structured, seemingly random narrative concerned primarily with a personality in the process of self-discovery."

Pages 9-11 - Henry Miller's role as a character in the biographical Sentiments Limitrophes. Amongst other adjectives and metaphors, Perles describes Miller as having the "spirit of civilized man, primitive man, a sentimental artist, and a debauched scholar." Besides reverence for his friend, Perles writes "You possess everything in order to be great: intelligence, generosity, talent, openness, skill -- all of these you have. Poor Henry, he lacks the one essential, he lacks love. I pity you. How without love, can you ever hope to be great." [all translations of Perles' words made by Douglas Stone]. Miller apparently copied this passage into his own journal.

Perles also speaks of a character named Pieta, who was in fact Anais Nin, with whom he was secretly in love. He writes a long, gushing paragraph in honour of her hands. Nin wrote about Sentiments in her diary, describing it as being "as delicate as a water colour." (Diary 1931-1934, p.93).

Page 12/13 - Stone's critique of Sentiments. "[The] style of Perles's writing, sometimes reminiscent of Miller in Cancer in its torrent of descriptive words, is certainly solid enough. It is a thorooughly readable book."

An analysis of his next novel, Le Quatour en Re Majeur (1938), also biographical. After seeing the same restaurant napkin ring for the past 15 years, Perles is triggered to mourn the loss of youth and life, and to pathetically state: "I am old and I have not lived [...] I have not lived, and winter is quite near. Thus, you understand, I have regrets." [translation by Stone]

Page 14 - Analysis of a story in Quatour in which Perles recounts a childhood moment of existential angst; this anecdote recounted by Miller in Remember To Remember, and described by him as "a masterly piece of cortical dissection."

Page 15 - Further analysis of Quatour: it is biographical, steeped in memories of his early years of poverty in Paris, and his near execution for cowardice during WWI. The style of Perles is compared to that of Goethe, for whom Perles had great admiration.

Page 16 - The importance of Perles' work in context of the French literature at the time (a mix of fragmentary Proust and Surrealism).

Page 17 - The styles of Perles and Miller are compared. "Perles himself best expressed these [differences] when he describes himself as being 'far too civilized' to possess the 'inchoate force' which was Miller's strength as a writer."

A brief analysis of Perles' next novel--and first written in English--The Renegade. It is still biographical but contains a more traditional style and plot structure.

Page 18 - Quoting Georges Wickes and Samuel Putnam, Stone compares the mutual influences Perles and Miller had on each other in life and art. "Nevertheless," Stone concludes, "the fact remains that as an important writer on his own right, Perles has largely been ignored."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Alfred Perlés - Renegade & Writer (Part 1)

Alfred Perles interests me very much. He's so prominent a figure in a great chapter of Henry Miller's life (he is 'Carl' in Tropic Of Cancer), yet practically no one seems to have created a comprehensive Perles biography or translated his novels into English.

The single publication that devotes itself to Perles as Subject is Alfred Perlés: Renegade & Writer. The 19-page booklet was published by Village Press (London) in 1974 (and printed by Villiers Publications Ltd), when Perles was 77. It was researched and written by Douglas Stone, who also translated passages from Perles' French novels.

"This essay is the first real attempt to rectify the inexplicable neglect of Alfred Perles, a significant contemporary writer. His reputation has hitherto derived mainly from his biography of Henry Miller and his close personal relationship with the American writer. But, as Douglas Stone argues, the present neglect of Perles will be remedied as soon as certain readers and scholars "become aware of his important contribution to the literature of his time."
(back cover, Alfred Perles: Renegade & Writer).

Here's an encapsulated rundown of this essay:

Page 3 - Perles has been frequently mentioned in reference to Miller, yet never as "a writer of significant interest in his own right," except by Miller in issues of The Booster. A couple of quotes by Miller from The Booster, relating to Perles' French novels Sentiments Limitrophes (1936) and Le Quatuor En Re Majeur (1938).

Page 4- Perles as a writer in many languages (French, English, and his native German). Besides the two French novels mentioned above, he also wrote a bit of poetry (in The Booster); My Friend Henry Miller; My Friend Lawrence Durrell; The Renegade (1943); The New Instinctivism manifesto (with Miller); many columns in the "Port Edition" of the Chicago Tribune; several short stories, essays and letters, incl Allez Sans Retour, Londres; critical essays (i.e. on Rilke) in The New Review; Art And Outrage (with Durrell).

Page 5 - Biographical information (which I will cover later), including a quote in which he describes his sense of rootlessness.

Page 6 - Relationship and collaborations of Perles and Miller in Paris, motivated by "food, sex and writing."

Page 7/8 - Despite his ability to be clownish with Miller, Perles took his art seriously. "The mission of man on earth is to remember." Sentiments Limitrophes was written "in the vein of Tropic Of Cancer." A portion of the book's preface (translated by Stone) in which Perles rejects the notion that the book should meet any preconceptions ("I don't promise anything.").

In this preface, Perles also references several of his own failed projects: Luxurette (destroyed in a fit of insecurity); Leuchtraketen (left with a hotel manager in Berlin as a pawn for debt owed); Title to follow ("long agonized in a drawer").
To be continued ...

The book cover image on this 1984 edition of Sentiments Limitrophes is a detail from a Brassai photograph.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Miller's First Stay At Villa Seurat, 1931

[This post was updated after discovering Villa Seurat references in Letters To Emil]

A year after arriving in Paris on his serious endeavour to be a real artist, Henry Miller found himself couch-surfing from flat to flat. It was his good fortune to meet another ex-pat American in March 1931: Walter Lowenfels.

Lowenfels--a poet--lived on Villa Seurat. After meeting Henry, he felt that he and his writer neighbour, Michael Fraenkel, would hit it off. Upon hearing about Miller, Fraenkel invited him to his home at 18 Villa Seurat.

Henry ended up sleeping in Michael's living room for a few months. In a letter to his great New York friend Emil Schnellock that summer, Henry felt the need to mention that the "beautiful" Villa Seurat was once home to the artist Andre Derain and where "still lives Foujita" (Foujita would leave later that year). The domestic chores at 18 Villa Seurat were tended to by a maid named Greta. Once a week, Michael invited Henry to dine with him. At other times, Henry went through his list of generous dinner hosts and invited himself to their tables.

Miller lived with Fraenkel until July 1931. "Suddenly [Fraenkel] got a telegram," reported Miller to Schnellock several weeks after the fact, "and we all had to blow -- that very day." Mary Dearborn's Miller biography says that Fraenkel needed to sublet the apartment and asked Henry to leave. Miller again found himself at the Hotel Central, living off the good graces of his new best friend, Alfred Perles.

Despite his poverty during these months at 18 Villa Seurat, Miller looked back at this brief stay with fondness. In letters to Schnellock over the next few years, Miller would state that "the process of losing myself began at the Villa Seurat" ... "ever since [then], my genie is expressing itself." ... "During that sojourn at the beautiful Villa Seurat with Michael Fraenkel, when I had never a cent in my pocket [...], I was never happier in my life. I was living!"

Henry Miller would return to live at 18 Villa Seurat three years later.

The photograph of the Villa Seurat street sign was taken by Kimberly Kradel and was borrowed from the website Artists At Large. This particular link offers a quote from Miller describing his mornings at 18 Villa Seurat. It also contains an anecdote of a personal visit to 18 Villa Seurat by the photographer, Ms. Kradel.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Villa Seurat - The Beginning

The rue Villa Seurat was contructed from 1924-26. It had been officially conceived as an neighbourhood of artists, with many studio spaces made available. It was named in honour of the French artist Georges Seurat, who died in 1891.

The main architects of this street were André Lurçat and the brothers Auguste and Gustave Perret. I haven't been able to confirm which of these men built #18 Villa Seurat in particular, but they are usually credited with being the authors of this street.
Lurcat [pictured below, right] was the one to convince the original landowner to allow his property to be sold in smaller lots (at least that's what paris-anglo says).

A listing of Auguste Perrier's work can be found here. The same may be found for Lurcat here (both at the website).

Lurçat's brother Jean Lurçat was an artist and one of the first residents of rue Villa Seurat (at #3). More on former residents of Villa Seurat in a future post.

Most of these homes, including #18, were designed in a French Modernist style, or "international style." The Archinform site has extensive listings of buildings done in this style, along with 100 thumbnail photographs of buildings done in this style.

The government of France has this description of Villa Seurat. Many of the buildings on the street were historically protected in 1975 ... but not Miller's #18. [the street photo above is from this website].

I found a couple of bits of information for this posting from Emile Lahner: The Book, which mentions that Lahner lived on this street in 1927.

Some time before 1931, artist Michael Fraenkel occupied 18 Villa Seurat. Henry Miller's first stay at Villa Seurat would happen that year.

Here's a PDF map file from the French government, which locates Villa Seurat and the surrounding streets of the 14th arrondisement.

To get an idea of the studio spaces offered inside these Villa Seurat homes, take a look at these contemporary photographs of a Villa Seurat apartment space, now available for rent [one pic is at left]. Live on Henry Miller's former street for "just" 1820 € a week for a massive three-bedroom space (that's 606 € per person ... did I mention that rent is due every week?).

Or save your hard-earned money, and take yourself on a tour of the street instead.

The photo of 18 Villa Seurat--at the top of this post--was apparently taken by Taro Igarashi and was found on this website.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Quest For 18 Villa Seurat

In September 2003, I visited Paris for the first time. It goes without saying that I sought out a few Henry Miller landmarks. It was a sunny Thursday morning when I set out to find 18 Villa Seurat, the location of so much Miller myth and merry making. Miller lived at this address from 1934 to 1939. [My own photo of the house is above].

The Villa Seurat street--in the 14th arrondisement--is tiny and easy to miss. I did a few circles in the neighbourhood trying to find it. Once I hit the rue des Artistes, I thought for sure Villa Seurat would be nearby. After a while, I even thought that, perhaps, Villa Seurat had been renamed the appropriate "rue des Artistes" (besides Miller, artiists like Dali and Soutine have also lived there). I took a rest and scrutinized the circle I'd made on my internet-printed map. I cross-referenced with the map in my Paris travel book, but it hadn't even bothered to include Villa Seurat.

Finally, my eyes halted at the Villa Seurat street sign. I must have smiled -- it was an exciting moment. [my photograph of the entrance to rue Villa Seurat from rue de la Tombe Issoire is below]. #18 stands out like a white bone on muddy ground. I have to admit, it wasn't what I was expecting. It looked too nouveau, too modern for the romantic conceptions I had in my head of Henry Miller's important Paris address. I even doubted that I had the right place. I think I expected something older, more ornate, more classically Parisian.

Once I finally decided that this was indeed the destination of my pilgrimage, I let it all sink in. All of the fragments of images from Miller's works and life became vivid in my mind's eye; at least as tangible as very convincing ghosts. Miller walked through this space of air, I thought to myself (come on, you've had one of these petty personal moments too, admit it). I was especially transfixed by the cobblestoned street, imagining Miller and Nin on a night stroll, hand in hand; Miller coming home with a drunken stagger; Miller and Durrell pausing to debate on the street (so intense was the line of dialogue that one could not walk and think at the same time).

I stood in front of #18, looking up at the windows. I wasn't bold enough to knock on the door ("C'est qui? Un autre maudit touriste!"). In fact, I half-expected an irate Frenchman with a pitchfork to drive me away from their quiet little lane (which is clearly marked as "private.") I stole away maybe 15 minutes in total, in silent contemplation, then finally retreated past the rows of Citrons and explored the rest of the quaint neighbourhood.

Read the entry on Villa Seurat, which includes its location on a map and a tour of other Miller spots in the neighbourhood.

Read Cecily Mackworth's account of 18 Villa Seurat.

If anyone else has made this visit, please feel free to add your anecdote in my Comments section.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Miller's Log Cabin at Nepenthe, 1944

"I have much work to finish and am seeking peace and isolation."
-- Henry Miller to Anais Nin, in a letter, March 1944

Outside of being a native New Yorker and expatriate Parisian, Miller is also an honorary resident of Big Sur, California. He lived there for many years, willed his ashes to be scattered there upon his death, and is immortalized there through the existence of the Henry Miller Memorial Library. A quarter mile from the Library stands the spot where Miller's Big Sur life chapter began, in a log cabin off of Route 1, overlooking the southern coast of Monterey County.

While Miller lived a lean existence in cramped quarters at Beverly Glen in 1943, he was visited by a friend: the artist Jean Varda. (Varda had responded to Miller's mass written request for assistance, called Open Letter To All And Sundry; these letters will be covered another time). Seeking a bit of peace and quiet, Miller took up Varda's offer to stay with him and his wife in New Monterey in February 1944.

Through Varda, Henry met a local writer named Lynda Sargent. Sargent offered to put Henry up in an unused servant's room in her log cabin. The solitude of the location, the natural wonder of Big Sur, and the spectacular surrounding view convinced Henry to accept the offer. He stayed here for March and April of 1944 until he could find "a vacant house to take over."

In March, he wrote to James McLaughlin, telling him that he was considering taking a job as "an overseer at the Sulphur Baths establishment 16 miles down the coast." (Henry Miller and James Laughlin: Selected Letters (p.43)

In April, he wrote James again, telling him "I am out scouting every day for a place of my own in this vicinity. They are hard to find, livable places." (p. 43)

In May 1944, Henry was forced out of Nepenthe by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. But I digress...

Here's the story of the Log House above Nepenthe:

In 1925, a contingent of Christian Scienists from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois came to California. They had a three-story log house built on a Big Sur cliffside south of Carmel, at which they planned to use as a private resort during horseback riding excursions. It would be called the Coastland Trails Club (or, the Trail Club Of Jolon). It was built by a local master woodsman named Sam Trotter.

During the early 1940's, the cabin was not being used by the Trail Club, so it was rented out to a local writer named Lynda Sargent. Sargent was an aspiring novelist who wrote as well for the weekly Carmel Cymbal newspaper. Henry and Lynda lived as perfectly platonic flatmates. Some internet accounts suggest that he and Lynda didn't get along (this, for example), though the Miller biographies Happiest Man Alive and Henry Miller: A Life make no such claims.

In May 1944, their peaceful writers' retreat was invaded by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, who, at the time, were married. There are two variations of the story. The one told today on the Nepenthe website suggests that the movie stars stumbled across the location, fell in love with it, and pulled $167 out of their pockets for a down payment towards the cabin. The other version, as told in A Wild Coast And Lonely: Big Sur Pioneers by Rosiland Sharpe Wall, suggests that Welles' business manager bought the cabin as a gift for Hayworth, and that the famous couple did not in fact ever see the place.

Three things are certain: 1) It was Welles--directly or indirectly--who purchased the cabin; 2) Welles and Hayworth split up soon afterward and never lived in it; and, 3) the cabin was purchased from the owners, the Coastland Trails Club, who, in turn, gave Henry and Lynda their walking papers.

A Wild Coast notes a "furious invective and curse against the intruders" which Miller apparently wrote in response to his movie star eviction, but I'm not sure what letter or essay is being referenced here. Anyone else know?

Lynda helped Henry find other cheap accomodations in Big Sur (he rented from a former mayor of the area). He would remain in Big Sur for another 18 years.

With Welles and Hayworth as absent owners, the cabin remained vacant until 1947, when Bill and Lolly Fassett bought it, renovated it, and turned it into a popular local restaurant and the centre of the Big Sur artist community. Even Henry returned to become a frequent customer.

References: Pelican Network - Nepenthe; Nepenthe: 50th Anniversary article; Big Sur government document on history of the area [in PDF]; A Wild Coast And Lonely: Big Sur Pioneers by Rosiland Sharpe Wall (searchable on Amazon); Big Sur (Images Of America) by Jeff Norman (searchable on Amazon).

The Henry Miller photo (excerpt) above is of him circa 1943/44 at Beverly Glen, from the University Reserach Library at UCLA. The log cabin graphic is used only for artistic purposes. It is NOT an image of the actual cabin discussed here. The graphic on the left is a view from Nepenthe.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Henry Miller Cuts A Record, 1949

"Louis, I'm going to try to give you something from Black Spring. I'm getting a little tired of reading and reading text."
--Henry Miller ad-libbing on his 1949 recording, before reading from his book.

In June 1949, Henry Miller hooked up a wire recorder and cut a record of himself reading. He was 58 years old, married to Janina Lepska, with a three-year old daughter (Valentine) and a young infant, Tony, who'd just been born last August. The family lived in rugged isolation at Partington Ridge in Big Sur. He had just recently finished writing Plexus.

The recording was made at Nepenthe, a tiny community in Big Sur, and the one closest to Henry that had electricity. From this recording session came some rare recordings: Henry Miller reading New York, Third Or Fourth Day Of Spring, Jabberwhorl Cronstadt, and A Jazz Passacaglia (from Colossus Of Maroussi, p. 136). It's a casual session of narration, with preambles, pauses, ad-libs and creaking chairs.

This recording was released for sale on LP as Folio I/II. It's currently available for sale on CD through and ebay (purchase at your own risk). I don't own this packaged CD, but it appears to have a booklet with it that, I would guess, offers more detail about the actual recording than I am able to do here. That is one benefit of ordering an actual disk.

However, I am very glad to direct you to on-line MP3's of these recordings, for your listening pleasure. I found them at the website for The Bouquiniste, under their sub-heading Audio Poetry. [*UPDATE: This link appears to be dead. Go to UBUWEB instead]. The Miller material is part of an impressive collection of MP3's of writers reading their works. Of interest to Miller fans are clips by Lawrence Durrell, Louis Ferdinand Celine, and Blaise Cendrars.

"Calling Henry Miller. Calling Henry Miller....This is a long distance call from Villa Seurat." --Lawrence Durrell and Alfred Perles on a recording for Henry, 1952

At the end of this 1949 recording, on both the packaged CDs and the on-line MP3s, is a 1952 record sent to Henry by Lawrence Durrell and Alfred Perles. If you've never heard this before, it's a real treat, because it allows us into the intimate sphere of Henry's friendship with these two men. Larry and Fred--possibly drunk--do some seemingly half-rehearsed, half-improved bit, heavily laden with inside jokes. It moved Henry so much to hear this recording while his friends were in Europe and he in Big Sur, that he left for Paris later that year.

In response, Henry wrote the following to Fred ('Joey') [From Henry Miller, Happy Rock (p.4)] - "What a message! I laughed and I cried! Never had I felt so happy, nor so alone and melancholy. When you started speaking French, the robust and vulgar street slang of old pals and even of the one-legged whore of Montmartre, I almost had an attack. The effect it had on me was like champagne and caviar, and was diabolical on top of everything! Never had Paris been at once so close and so far away."

This recording is known as "Letter From London" and can be found at the end of the Jazz Passacaglia clip at 20:40.

Miller's improvisation about the act of recording and the future of communication can be found during the last ten minutes of the New York clip.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Henry Miller On Film

enry Until A&E is prepared to have Harry Smith narrate the word "fuck," an A & E Biography about Henry Miller is not likely any time soon.

In the meantime, let's look at the modest collection of Henry's film appearances (film adaptations of his work and TV appearances will be handled later).

The best all-round documentary about Miller is probably Robert Snyder's The Henry Miller Odyssey (1969). This one-hour doc has recently been issued on DVD (but still on VHS) through Masters And Masterworks (both graphics here belong to their website; Snyder directs Miller [below, right]).

You can view a clip of this documentary on their Miller page. (Quicktime)

Odyssey contains a copious amount of footage of Henry, plus interviews with Anais Nin, Alfred Perles, Lawrence Durrell and others. Henry even goes back to Paris to show us around his former haunts, don'tcha know. Great stuff.

Read this Harvard Crimson newspaper review of the film from 1969, the year it was released.

You'll notice that the Masters & Masterworks page also contains two more Miller docs: the companion to Odyssey, called Henry Miller: Reflections On Writing; and something that seems to me to have been recently hauled out of the vaults, Henry Miller Reads And Muses. Both are films by Snyder (who died, incidentally, in 2004). The latter appears to be Henry reading from Sexus, Tropic Of Cancer and Black Spring, while sitting at a roll-top desk. As I haven't seen it, you can get a better description from this cached page from the now-inactive Henry Miller Library Forum.

A couple of used VHS copies of Odyssey with the old cover artwork still seem to be available on Amazon.

One of Robert Snyder's assistants on Odyssey was Tom Schiller, who later became a Saturday Night Live writer and filmmaker. In 1973, Schiller directed Henry Miller: Asleep And Awake (currently available from Kultur), an intimate half-hour portrait of Henry at age 81, lounging at home (bathroom, really) and speaking freely. This website suggests that he also apprenticed for a film called The Life And Times Of Henry Miller (1969) [of which I know nothing]. A biography about Schiller, called Nothing Lost Forever, contains a chapter called Schiller And Miller. I haven't read it, but if you'd like to order it, visit the website.

A bit of a mystery to me is the French documentary Henry Miller, Poete Maudit, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974 (sorry, this last link's not worth the effort). This German site states that it is also called Henry Miller, Virage a 80, and was produced by Parafrance Films and directed by Michele Arnault. Lawrence Durrell also makes an appearance in this documentary.

Robert Blaisdell began making a documnetary in 1962, on the subject of Big Sur, California and the bohemian types who were drawn there. Henry Miller appears in the eventual finished product, Big Sur: The Way It Was. The documentary was "lost" for 20 years before being remastered and released in 1994. The entire film may be viewed on its website [linked above].

Miller apparently also appears in scenes with Anais Nin in Anais Nin Observed. I haven't seen it, however, so I can't be sure that these scenes--also directed by Robert Snyder--aren't simply taken from Odyssey.

Finally, Miller made cameos in two motion pictures: Tropic Of Cancer (1970) in which he is credited as 'Spectator'; and Warren Beatty's Reds (1981) in which he appears as a 'Witness.'

An overview of Miller's film appearances can be found on-line in an article by Jim Knipfel. The piece seems a bit sloppy, what with the actor portraying Henry in Henry & June being referred to not as Fred Ward but as Fred Willard ! (what a scary thought). The piece, incidenatlly, is posted on the Blue Underground website, distributor of the 1970 film version of Quiet Days in Clichy (you can watch a clip of the film too).

I do not personally endorse any of the companies I refer to in this posting.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Abe Rattner's Paris

In order to give more context to the intersection of the lives of Abraham Rattner and Henry Miller, I offer this overview of Rattner's Paris years, 1921-1939.

Rattner was a New York native, having been born in Poughkeepsie in 1895. After high school, he pursued an education in Architecture, but studied Art as well. He served in France during WWI, in a camouflage division.

Back in the U.S., he was awarded a scholarship to study art in Europe. In 1921, at age 26, he settled in Paris for several years.

As an art student, Rattner first studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian (1921-23). He spent part of 1922 painting in Giverny, France--the impressionist landscape of Monet [whom he would later meet in Paris].

Rattner returned to Paris in 1923 and studied at the Academie Ransom for a year. Fete Bretonne (below) was painted in 1923.

1924 was an eventful year for Abe. He began exhibiting his work in Paris, at the Salon D'Automne and the Salon des Independents. He also married an art student named Bettina Bedwell, who became a Paris fashion correspondent for American media.

During a stay at Le Pouldu inn [link here to see Gauguin's view of it] in Brittany in 1924, Rattner made an artisitic discovery: an original Gauguin work from 1890, painted on a wall of the inn and covered up by wallpaper. Rattner bought the entire wall and had it shipped to Paris (he sold it in 1965; it's value today is approximately $2,000,000). By the end of 1924, Abe was studying at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, followed by the Sorbonne in 1925.

In 1927, Rattner became a member of a prestigious artistic group called Minotaure, which included the likes of Picasso, Miro, Braque, and Dali. In 1931, Rattner's Fire [top] accompanied a Dos Passos article in Verve magazine.

After several more years of living as an artist in Paris, Rattner finally had his first solo exhibit in 1935, at the Galerie Bonjean. That same year, Rattner's Card Party was purchased by the Louvre. His first one-man show in the U.S. followed the next year.

I'm not sure exactly when Abe met Henry Miller in Paris, but it was at least by March 1937, when Anais Nin noted in her diary that "[Henry's] friends, the Rattners, were invited to celebrate [the signing of a contract for a translation of Tropic Of Cancer]. Abe Rattner paints like Rouault." Rattner was 42; Miller, 45. Rattner had been in Paris for 16 years; Miller for 7. The Rattner-Miller letters in the Rattner archive begin in 1937, further suggesting that this was indeed the year they became friends.

Miller's interpretative work on Nin's dreams, called Scenario (A Film Without Sound), was published in a limited edition of 200 by Obelisk Press in 1937; Rattner provided the illustrations. In September 1937, Abe also lent an illustration for the debut Miller-Perles edition of The Booster.

In 1939, with war looming and France under threat of invasion, Miller left for Greece and Rattner left for the U.S. Abe kept paying for his Paris apartment throughout the war, and held onto it his whole life, returning to Paris many times throughout.

Rattner wrote about Paris in a 1945 article called An American In Paris, published in Magazine Of Art.