HAWAII. - A photograph album recording a visit to Honolulu, probably in the late forties or very early fifties.
[c1950?]. Oblong album 180x285mm with a limp leather front cover luridly colour printed with a scene of Diamond Head; in fine condition in what is obviously the original cardboard box (this with a bit of wear); black card leaves with 44 photos mounted on 23 leaves. These photos range in size from box brownie to 7x5 (inches that is); most are four and a half by three. The rest of the album is untouched. ¶ Forgive my enthusiasm but this is, in its way, one of the most perfect photo albums I've seen. It captures to a degree almost too good to be true not only a time and place but a notion - that of the 20th century American ideal of exotic adventure: a tropical paradise with upholstery, decent plumbing and tinted beauties. This is Honolulu just after the war when it began its metamorphosis from being the refuge of the eccentric and the shady, a resting spot for the artistic rich, the crime scene of Charlie Chan, to becoming an enticing and attainable dream of the middle class, maybe even working class. The album has enough snaps of the obligatory art deco palaces, the beach - a couple of surfing photos - and a lot is devoted to young ladies in grass skirts. My first impression when I opened this was that the owner had filled it with purchased studio souvenir snaps but on second look I realised these are all but one home made. The same women appear at the same location in different outfits and a few are an oddly amateur attempt at studio foolery. A short series shows a young lady reclining or posing invitingly (but wholesomely) against a fake grass hut and painted backdrop but our photographer has included the edges and beyond of the tawdry backdrop - the floor past the woven mat, the ceiling above the painted sky, the oil drum or bin off to the side. Hawaii seems to finish with the one studio picture of hula dancers; then comes a blank page with a loosely inserted clipped photo of Veronica Lake and one of John Payne; then come the brownies, eight of them, of landscape which seem to be taken from a train and the album finishes with two larger photos of what I take to be the Chicago Naval Armory. Can we presume that those waiting at home for him (it must be) didn't share his enthusiasm for underclad young women and so the album was put away in its box to await a new, less invested, audience?AUD 425.00 [Appr.: EURO 300 US$ 324.02 | £UK 260 | JP¥ 36075] Book number 9086
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