Thursday, October 10, 2013

Art in the movies

The history of painting portraits has been pretty one sided and a he-paint-she-sits kind of thing. And yet every now and then the roles have been (kind of) reversed. Take the case of Tanya Czoraki better known as Acquanetta. This New York model turned to the movies starring in B grade flicks like Tarzan and the Leopard Woman and TV like Dead man’s eyes (a Twilight Zone story in which “Born into a life of wealth and privilege, Laurel Janus has always gotten exactly what she wants. But with the murder of her husband, Laurel's life of luxury has been shattered. Now, all she wants, is to see justice done. A justice that can only be found in the Twilight Zone.”). And it was in Dead man’s eyes that Acquanetta played opposite Lon Chaney as artist David Stuart.

Maybe it was this brief brush with art in the movies that gave her a taste for being painted. A few years after filming DME, at age 29 she married Henry Clive, an Australian ex-magician (The Great Clive) turned movie celebrity painter who often used her as a model. The marriage (his sixth) only lasted a year when she left him a few months after his 71st birthday. But the experience of modelling for Clive clearly touched Acquanetta deeply. One of his paintings shows her dressed as a Cheyenne Indian with long braids. It was a look she would keep for the rest of her life.
Images: top Acquanetta is ‘painted’ by Chaney and lower with Henry Clive