14 October 2014

Hedy Lamarr's art choice

Austrian-born Hedy Lamarr is an actress I never knew that much about. Only recently I've learnt that, apart from being an actress, she was also an inventor. In 1941, Lamarr and composer George Antheil co-invented 'frequency hopping', which would serve as a basis for modern technology like WiFi and Bluetooth. The letter for this post has nothing to do with this invention, but I simply had to mention it. Hedy Lamarr, a glamorous Hollywood actress, contributed to WiFi --how cool is that!

And now, to the matter at hand. The following letter tells us a little bit more about Hedy Lamarr, i.e. her taste in art. Apparently Lamarr was a lover of abstract expressionism, and on 15 July 1959 she wrote a letter to New York artist Franz Kline whose work she admired. The two would meet later that same year attending some of the same celebrity parties. (And Lamarr is also said to have bought one of Kline's paintings.)

Franz Kline photographed in his New York studio by Fritz Goro in 1954

Transcript

614 No. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, Calif.

19 July 1959

Dear Mr. Franz Kline:

When I first saw one of your paintings, done about 1950, I had to sit down because it did something to me.

Since then I've found out that you're one of the leading forces in contemporary American painting. This by itself wouldn't at all influence me to get anything of yours unless I really otherwise respected your guts.

But, there is something I'm anxious to find out: Are you by any chance of Austrian descent- since I am.

Please do let me know.

Fondly,

(signed)

Hedy Lamarr

P.S.
Incidentally I do have a small 1953 picture of yours done on a telephone book page which I cherish very much.

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