Shock the Monkey



Handbill-1-Steven Arnold

Handbill for The Colours and Blue Cheer-1967

Today, in advanced photography, I am presenting my multimedia piece entitled “Windows 70” (which I will post tomorrow). I am also introducing the class to the work of Steven Arnold.

Steven Arnold (1943–1994) was a California-based multi-media artist, spiritualist, gender bender, and protegee of Salvador Dalí. His work consisted of drawings, paintings, rock and film poster art, makeup design, costume design, set design, photography, and film.

Steven Arnold with Salvador Dali

Steven Arnold with Salvador Dali

Throughout his life, Steven’s eccentric modes of expression led him to the upper-crust of both coasts, including encounters, in some cases lifelong friendships, with the likes of Vogue’s Diana Vreeland, actress Ellen Burstyn, psychedelic explorer Timothy Leary, wearable art pioneer Kaisik Wong, Jay Leno, The Cars, George Harrison, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, electronic music forefather Warner Jepson, John Waters’ star Divine, and Warhol Superstar Holly Woodlawn. Among Steven’s most notable early works is a rarely seen film gem titled “Luminous Procuress,” starring Pandora and featuring The Cockettes, which was lauded by Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol, among others. In fact, Dalí was so impressed with the film, that he invited Steven, Pandora (Steven’s muse, and the film’s star), Kaisik Wong, and their entourage to help him open his Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, Spain.

Although his early film work garnered him much attention, Steven was best known for his exquisite, surreal, black & white tableau vivant photography produced from the old pretzel factory he called Zanzibar Studios in Los Angeles. His photography has been exhibited at the Tate Modern, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; among others.

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