Born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, he dropped out of high school and by age 16 he had started his first magazine, Blues(subtitled "A Bisexual Bimonthly"). Actress Ruth Ford (1911-2009) was his sister and only known sibling.
Not long after, he became part of Gertrude Stein's salon in Paris, where he met Natalie Barney, Man Ray, Kay Boyle, Janet Flanner, Peggy Guggenheim, Djuna Barnes and others of the American expatriate community in Montparnasse and Saint-Germain-des-Près. He went to Morocco in 1932 at the suggestion of Paul Bowles, and there he typed Barnes' just-completed novel, Nightwood (1936), for her.
With Parker Tyler, who would later become a highly respected film critic, he co-authored The Young and Evil (1933), an energetically experimental novel with obvious debts to fellow writer Djuna Barnes, and also to Gertrude Stein, who called it "the novel that beat the Beat Generation by a generation". The novel portrays a collection of young genderqueer artists as they write poems, have sex, move in and out of cheap rented rooms, and duck into the neighborhood's many speakeasies. The characters' gender and sexual identities are presented candidly; it was this candor which was reportedly the reason for its rejection by several American and British publishers. It was finally picked up by Obelisk Press in Paris.
Charles Henri Ford and Pavel Tchelitchew by Cecil Beaton
Pavel Tchelitchew was a Russian-born surrealist painter, set designer and costume designer. He left Russia in 1920, lived in Berlin from 1921 to 1923, and moved to Paris in 1923. In 1933 Charles Henri Ford traveled to Europe for the first time to meet artists and writers. In Paris he met Pavel Tchelitchew. Pavel, apparently dazzled by Ford, moved with Ford to New York City and thus began the stormy 26-year relationship that continued until Tchelitchew's death in 1957.
Charles Henri Ford [with Indra Tamang], 1989, by Robert Giard
Charles Henri Ford also had a long connection with Nepal, where he bought a house. He brought Indra Tamang, a young man of 21 from a Nepalese village, back to New York City to be his caretaker. Ford died in 2002. He was survived by his elder sister, actress Ruth Ford, who died in 2009. Upon her death, Ruth Ford left the apartments she owned in the historic Dakota Building on the Upper West Side to Indra Tamang, along with a valuable Russian surrealist art collection, making him a millionaire.
Charles Henri Ford by Carl Van Vechten
Charles Henri Ford by Cecil Beaton
Charles Henri Ford by Henri Cartier-Bresson
Charles Henri Ford and George Malanga
Ruth Ford by George Platt Lynes
The Gotham Book Mart was famous for its literary eminences. A December 1948 party for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of brightlights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart,Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart, New York City, November 9, 1948)
Ford returned to New York City in 1934 and brought Pavel Tchelitchew (Ford's life partner until the latter's death in 1957) with him. Ford's circle at the time included Carl Van Vechten, Glenway Wescott, George Platt Lynes, Lincoln Kirstein, Orson Welles, George Balanchine, and E. E. Cummings. Visiting friends from abroad included Cecil Beaton, Leonor Fini, George Hoyningen-Huene, and Salvador Dalí. (Picture: Parker Tyler)
He published his first full-length book of poems, The Garden of Disorder in 1938. William Carlos Williams wrote the introduction. In 1940, Ford and Tyler collaborated again on the magazine View, which was mainly concerned with avant-garde and surrealist art. It was published quarterly, as finances permitted, until 1947. It attracted contributions from such artists as Tchelitchew, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, André Masson, Pablo Picasso, Henry Miller, Paul Klee, Albert Camus, Lawrence Durrell, Georgia O'Keeffe, Man Ray, Jorge Luis Borges, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jean Genet, René Magritte, Jean Dubuffet, and Edouard Roditi.
In the 1940s, View Editions, an associated publishing house, came out with the first monograph on Marcel Duchamp and the first book translations of André Breton's poems. Charles Henri Ford's 1949 book of poems, Sleep in a Nest of Flames, contained a preface by Dame Edith Sitwell.
Ford and Tchelitchew moved to Europe in 1952, and in 1955 Ford had a photo exhibition, Thirty Images from Italy, at London's Institute of Contemporary Art. In Paris the next year he had his first one-man show of paintings and drawings. Jean Cocteau wrote the foreword to the catalog. In 1957, Tchelitchew died in Rome.
In 1962 Ford again returned to the United States and began associating with Pop artists and underground filmmakers. His 1965 exhibition of "Poem Posters" at Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery, New York, triggered a color-poster fad, and a film made of the show was chosen for Fourth International Avant-Garde Film Festival in Belgium.
Ford also had a long connection with Nepal, where he bought a house. He brought Indra Tamang (b. 1953), a young man from a Nepalese village, back to New York City to be his caretaker. With one other Nepali collaborator, Ford compiled a number of art projects using his art and Indra's photography. Ford left some paintings, and the rights to his book, Young and Evil, to Tamang.
He lived for many years in The Dakota apartment building on Central Park West. In 2001, Water From A Bucket: A Diary 1948-1957 was published. Also in 2001 he was the subject of a documentary, Sleep in a Nest of Flames, made by James Dowell and John Kolomvakis.
Charles Henri Ford died, aged 89, in 2002. He was survived by his elder sister, actress Ruth Ford, who died in 2009, aged 98. Upon her death, Ruth Ford left the apartments she owned in the historic Dakota Building on the Upper West Side to Indra Tamang, along with a valuable Russian surrealist art collection. Indra Tamang was 21 when he was brought from Nepal as a domestic help by Charles Ford.
Burial: Rose Hill Cemetery, Brookhaven, Lincoln County, Mississippi, USA
Charles Henri Ford by Robert Giard
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Pavel Tchelitchew (Russian Павел Фёдорович Челищев) (21 September 1898, Moscow - 31 July 1957, Rome) was a Russian-born surrealist painter, set designer and costume designer. He left Russia in 1920, lived in Berlin from 1921 to 1923, and moved to Paris in 1923. In Paris Tchelitchew became acquainted with Gertrude Stein and, through her, the Sitwell and Gorer families. He and Edith Sitwell had a long-standing close friendship and they corresponded frequently. In 1933 Charles Henri Ford traveled to Europe for the first time to meet artists and writers. In Paris he met Pavel Tchelitchew. Pavel, apparently dazzled by Ford, moved with Ford to New York City and thus began the stormy 26-year relationship that continued until Tchelitchew's death in 1957. (Picture: Pavel Tchelitchew, 1934, by Carl Van Vechten)
His first U.S. show was of his drawings, along with other artists, at the newly-opened Museum of Modern Art in 1930. In 1934, he moved from Paris to New York City with his partner, writer Charles Henri Ford. From 1940 to 1947, he provided illustrations for the Surrealist magazine View, edited by Ford and writer and film critic Parker Tyler. His most significant work is the painting Hide and Seek, painted in 1940–42, and currently on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He became a United States citizen in 1952 and died in Grottaferrata, Italy in 1957.
Tchelitchew's early painting was abstract in style, described as Constructivist and Futurist and influenced by his study with Aleksandra Ekster in Kiev. After emigrating to Paris he became associated with the Neoromanticism movement. He continuously experimented with new styles, eventually incorporating multiple perspectives and elements of surrealism and fantasy into his painting. As a set and costume designer, he collaborated with Serge Diaghliev and George Balanchine, among others.
Charles Henri Ford reads, Pavel Tchelitchew paints Peter Watson's portrait (1934), photo Cecil Beaton, Courtesy the Ransom Center, University of Texas and Cecil Beaton Estate, Sotheby's, London
Charles Henri Ford in a Poppy Field by Pavel Tchelitchew
Charles Henri Ford by Pavel Tchelitchew
Pavel Tchelitchew, 1938, by George Platt Lynes
Pavel Tchelitchew by George Platt Lynes
Among Tchelitchew's well-known paintings are portraits of Natalia Glasko, Edith Sitwell and Gertrude Stein and the works Phenomena (1936-1938) and Cache Cache (1940-1942). He designed sets for Ode (Paris, 1928), L'Errante (Paris, 1933), Nobilissima Visione (London, 1938) and Ondine (Paris, 1939), among other productions.
Burial: original burial place Campo Cestio, Rome, Lazio, Italy. Burial Place: Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, Ile-de-France Region, France
Edith Sitwell by Pavel Tchelitchew
Hide and Seek, 1940-1942, by Pavel Tchelitchew
My Penthouse by Pavel Tchelitchew
Phenomena, 1936-1938, by Pavel Tchelitchew
The Whirlwind, 1939, by Pavel Tchelitchew
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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