Steven Arnold (1943–1994)


images and information taken from http://stevenarnoldarchive.com and wikipedia!

Steven Arnold (1943–1994) was a California-based multi-media artist, spiritualist, gender bender, and protegee of Salvador Dali[1]. His work consisted of drawings, paintings, rock and film posters, makeup design, costume design, set design, photography, and film.

Steven also played an instrumental role in giving “The Cockettes“, the famed psychedlic San Francisco drag troupe, their first chance to perform on stage in exchange for free tickets to his “Nocturnal Dream Show” – which was among the first-ever Midnight Movie showcases.[2] This launched The Cockettes into underground fame.[3] Early in his career, Steven also nurtured a prolific creative relationship with pioneer of the wearable art movement Kaisik Wong which lasted until Kaisik’s death in 1989. Their work together included the production and design of a play titled “Dragonfly”, and several tableaux vivant photography collaborations. 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, Jay Leno, The Cars, George Harrison, Blondie‘s Debbie Harry, John Waters‘ star Divine, and Warhol Superstar Holly Woodlawn.[4] 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 Dali, and Andy Warhol, among others. In fact, Dali 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 Dali Theater-Museum in Figueres, Spain.[5] “Luminous Procuress” was edited and scored by electronic music forefather Warner Jepson. The film continues to be screened worldwide, including showings at the Tate Modern, London [6], and CPH:DOX, Denmark [5]. Steven’s films have been recently featured Museum of the Moving Image, the Tate Modern, London, and the List Visual Art Center Film Night at MIT[8].

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. Steven Arnold’s works are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany; the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, France; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MoMA); the Oakland Museum of California; and the Cincinnati Art Museum. His works are in the private collections of: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ellen Burstyn, Cher, Salvador Dali, Goldie Hawn, Yves St. Laurent, Diana Vreeland, and many others.[9] Steven published three books of photography during his lifetime: “Reliquaries”, with foreword by Ellen Burstyn[10], “Epiphanies”, with afterword by James Leo Herlihy[11], and “Angels of Night.”[7]  Steven Arnold Stemmle Edition, a photographic retrospective, was published posthumous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s