15 November 2011
The Cooper Union
Gary Cooper, photographed by Cecil Beaton, Hollywood, 1931
Gary, Malibu, 1937
Rocky Cooper, Los Angeles, 1933
Gary, Los Angeles, 1940
Rocky & Gary, Southampton, NY, 1934
Gary, Van Nuys, 1933
Gary, Santa Barbara, 1937
Rocky, Colorado Springs, 1942
Gary, Colorado Springs, 1942
Rocky & Gary, Van Nuys, 1934
Gary photographed by Robert Capa, Sun Valley, 1942
Robert Capa, Sun Valley 1942
Ingrid Bergman, Gary & Clark Gable, 1940
Gary, on set, year unknown
Gary & Ernest Hemingway, Sun Valley, 1942
Rocky & Gary, Beverly Hills, 1959
David Douglas Duncan photograph of Pablo & Jacqueline Picasso, Gary & Maria Cooper, Cannes, 1956
Gary, Athens, 1956
Rocky & one of many championship Sealyham Terriers bred by the Coopers.
I first saw proofs of 'Enduring Style' last Febuary during a visit to the publisher. The small B&W images didn't look like much -- until you got close. Close enough to see an intimacy family snaps share. Imperfect exposure. Worn edges. Tape residue. The simplicity of a pose for a spouse or a friend. A happy terrier chases a ball with the shadow of Gary Cooper in the corner. If you love to look at pictures...I mean really look at pictures -- for the stories in the details --you will love looking at this book.
Enduring Style is a return of G. Bruce Boyer during a time when 20 somethings are hoisted sockless up fashion media's flagpole. Finally... there's something to salute. The book is slip cased, monograph-ed and written by three experts. Ralph Lauren contributes the introduction and sums up with a feeling about 'Coop' that proves even Mr Lauren can't always get what he wants.
Maria Cooper Janis, Gary & Rocky's daughter, writes of the charmed, but in no way entitled life of America's premiere movie star who told her, "There ain't never a horse that couldn't be rode, there ain't never a rider that couldn't be throwed." Rather than 'celebrity' and 'star', her description of her father is 'average,' 'good mannered' with 'natural elegance.'
What the photo's leave out, G. Bruce Boyer fills in. The history, the career, the marriage. Like Cooper, Bruce keeps it simple with an eye for detail. Cooper's tailors, shoemakers, colors and jeans. Boyer underlines the contrast between Cooper's celebrity and, 'your average Joe' from Montana.
No doubt Cooper took great care in his appearance and had a passion for the cloth. A vanity that must come with the occupation. But his understanding of what he was doing is breathtaking. Even if he stayed a cowboy extra, his presence in a photograph would tell anyone a hundred years later that this man had something.
The lesson? Style is everywhere, but your inner compass must be followed. Stay true to yourself and with time as your judge, like Gary Cooper, your tie will never be too short, your trouser break never too long and your shoes will never have too many buckles. Simplicity was Cooper's mantra. In the roles he selected and in the way he lived his life. He wasn't a god. He just looked and lived like one.
Enduring Style is available for pre order on Amazon here. Limited advance copies are also available tonight at a book signing. Join G. Bruce Boyer and Maria Cooper Janis at Leffot, 10 Christopher Street, at 6:30 PM.