Incredible Vintage Portraits by M. I. Boris (1887-1962)

M. I. Boris (Boris Majdrakoff) was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and educated in the studio of the pioneer Balkan photographer and Bulgarian freedom fighter Toma Hitrov by Hitrov’s widow, Elena Chernova. Boris eventually married their daughter Ivanka Hitrova, also a photographer. In 1922, in pursuit of Ivanka, and to evade retribution for shooting a man, he moved to New York.

Throughout the 1920s, he expanded into Society portraiture as a supplement to his theatrical and movie star projects. In the late 1930s, his style grew less painterly and more “straight” as he established himself as a fixture in the New York scene.

An adherent of Jungenstil, the proto-modernist aesthetic that reigned in Austria before the War, Boris developed a mode of portrait photography with sinuous profiles and backgrounds aswirl with quasi-abstract graphic patterning. He brought the style to New York in 1923. His pictures bear strong affinities with those of Orval Hixon, Homer K. Peyton, and William Mortensen in the aggressive manipulation of the negative and the concern with creating a synthetic image of great allure.

His vintage prints of the 1920s are among the rarest and most visually arresting of the portraitists of the inter-war years (source).

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Dorothy Phillips, by M. I. Boris

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Greta Nissen, by M.I. Boris c.1926

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Louise Brooks, by M.I. Boris c.1926

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Lois Wilson, by M.I. Boris c.1922

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Katherine Burke by 1923

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Marlene Dietrich in New York by Cecil Beaton (1937)

Cecil Beaton came to New York in 1928. Through personal connections he gained access to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars–including Marlene Dietrich (source).

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Portrait of Marlene Dietrich in New York by Cecil Beaton, 1937.

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Portrait of Marlene Dietrich in New York by Cecil Beaton, 1937.

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Frida Kahlo Photographed by Toni Frissell

Toni Frissell (1907 – 1988) was an American photographer, known for her fashion photography, World War II photographs, and portraits of famous Americans and Europeans, children, and women from all walks of life.

Her initial job, as a fashion photographer for Vogue in 1931, was due to Condé Montrose Nast personally. She later took photographs for Harper’s Bazaar. Her fashion photos, even of evening gowns and such, were often notable for their outdoor settings, emphasizing active women.

In the 1950s, she took informal portraits of the famous and powerful in the United States and Europe.

In later work she concentrated on photographing women from all walks of life, often as a commentary on the human condition.

The pictures of Frida Kahlo where taken during a Vogue Magazine photo shoot in 1937 entitled “Señoras of Mexico”, while Frissell was a staff photographer.

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Frida Kahlo seated next to an agave plant in 1937. For Vogue by Toni Frissell.

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Frida Kahlo standing next to an agave plant in 1937. For Vogue by Toni Frissell.

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Female Portrait Photographs by Carl Van Vechten

Carl Van Vechten (1880 – 1964) was an American writer and artistic photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.

In the 1930s, Van Vechten began taking portrait photographs.

Among the many individuals he photographed were Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Theda Bara, Harry Belafonte, Leonard Bernstein,  Karen Blixen, Jane Bowles, Marlon Brando, Truman Capote, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Ella Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Martha Graham, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Horst P. Horst, Mahalia Jackson, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Henri Matisse, W. Somerset Maugham, Elsa Maxwell, Henry Miller, Joan Miró, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Diego Rivera, Gertrude Stein, James Stewart, Alfred Stieglitz, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gore Vidal, Evelyn Waugh, Orson Welles and Anna May Wong.

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Frida wearing a Tchuantepee gourd by Carl Van Vechten (1932)

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Tallulah Bankhead by Carl Van Vechten (1934)

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 Anna May Wong by Carl Van Vechten (1935)

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Josephine Baker by Carl Van Vechten

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Gertrude Stein by Carl Van Vechten (1935)

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Lillian Gish by Carl Van Vechten (1937)

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Theda Bara by Carl Van Vechten (1939)

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Karen Blixen by Carl Van Vechten (1959)

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