The Ageless Allure of Josephine Baker
There are special moments in the Gallery that we unwrap a tube, and simply have to gasp at the treasure we find inside. It's like finding out a secret, saved over the years for our eyes to discover. One such moment happened this week, when a long anticipated Josephine Baker poster arrived. Measuring in at ten feet and five inches tall, we unrolled (and unrolled, and unrolled) to reveal the timeless image of Josephine, mid-dance, scantily clad, and enticing us to see her in person at the famed Folies Bergere. Printed in 1936, it is simply a knockout is every sense of the word:
What's more, the poster happens to be in excellent condition. Printed on two sheets (due to it impressive size), Josephine is a sight to behold. The poster measures 46.5" wide, by 124.75" tall.
Josephine Baker (June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975) was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the "Black Pearl," "Bronze Venus" and even the "Creole Goddess". Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine later became a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French. Baker dropped out of school at the age of 13 and lived as a street child in the slums of St. Louis, sleeping in cardboard shelters and scavenging for food in garbage cans. Her street-corner dancing attracted attention and she was recruited for the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show at the age of 15. She then headed to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, performing at the Plantation Club and in the chorus of the groundbreaking and hugely successful Broadway revues Shuffle Along (1921) with Adelaide Hall and The Chocolate Dandies (1924). She traveled to Paris, France, for a new venture, and opened in "La Revue Nègre" on October 2, 1925, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. In Paris, she became an instant success for her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage. After a short while, Baker was the most successful American entertainer working in France. Ernest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw."