Vaudeville—No other kind of entertainment is as uniquely American as vaudeville. No other kind of entertainment better evokes America’s Age of Innocence than does vaudeville. A unique fusion of the English Music Hall, the minstrel shows of antebellum America and the Yiddish theatre, vaudeville was America’s favorite form of entertainment in the early 20th century and could be found in small town America just as easily as New York’s Majestic Theatre.
George Mann (1905-1977) was one of the thousands who acted in vaudeville productions. He was best known as the taller half of the comedic and acrobatic dance act, Barto and Mann. This act toured up and down the West Coast until they were booked into the Palace Theatre in NYC in 1927. Mann would continue to perform in vaudeville, and then as vaudeville faded, on Broadway and on film.
By the 1930s. film was overtaking vaudeville as a place to go to be entertained, but all through the Depression years, America turned to vaudeville for laughs and relief. During this time, Mann was photographing this dying world. He would take over 12,000 black and white images over the course of the 1930s documenting the pizzaz, the sang froid and the grit of performers on stage and at rest. It is an extraordinary collection.
This collection had never been seen until Mann’s granddaughter began to collate and edit the collection. It includes images of the Three Stooges and other stars, the inaugural performance at Radio City Music Hall, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and luminous images of workaday actors, costume designers and choreographers rehearsing, on stage and at rest.
Lawrence Fine Art will open the initial exhibition of Mann's work, about 40 carefully selected and edited images, Saturday, August 23 at its East Hampton Gallery. This will be a "limited engagement" of approximately two weeks.
Lawrence Fine Art
37 Newtown Lane
East Hampton, New York
About Lawrence Fine Art
Lawrence Fine Art specializes in contemporary and historic-modern art.