If you know me at all — even if you only know me through my fiction and blog posts — you’ve probably realized I go to museums in search of inspiration. Sometimes I strike it lucky and come home from a museum or gallery with an entire story. Other times, I’m simply struck by some odd, little tidbit that may, eventually, find its way into my fiction.
Last week I went to MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art in New York City) to see the Bill Brandt exhibit. It’s a marvelous show. If you are in NYC and you have any interest at all in photography you must go. If you are interested in WWII era London, in portraits, street scenes, in the way the world has changed since the mid-20th Century, you should see this show.
I was enchanted, fascinated and charmed.
I discovered that a scrapbook of Brandt’s early photos (on display in the first room of the show), collected by a young girl who traveled with Brandt and his soon-to-be wife in the late 1920s, was donated by a Tango dancing friend. I’ve got to talk to him about it the next time I see him at a dance!
I was drawn into a very pleasant conversation with a perfect stranger — one with an excellent eye for the composition of photos.
AND, I stumbled on a ghost story!
In the section of the show that featured Brandt’s portraits of writers, I went directly from the portrait of Robert Graves (best known for his novel “I Claudius”) to the article in “Picture Post” the British magazine that used the photo to accompany an article entitled “What I Believe About Ghosts.” There I was, bending over the cabinet with the old magazine, straining to read the article written by Graves.
I scribbled the following from the text:
“Interpretation is difficult partly because scientists no longer agree on the old distinction between subjective and objective experiences, party because ghost are not good subjects for laboratory experiments.”
It was from an article Graves wrote about Christmas holiday ghost stories. As I ‘m a huge fan of “A Christmas Carol” I started to muse about Scrooge as a scientist. A new take on Jacob Marley…what do YOU think?
MoMA Brandt Show Link