John Barrymore, First Abstract Expressionist

The snapshot below from the movie “Twentieth Century” shows actor John Barrymore throwing a bucket of paint onto the advertising flat of his wife played by Carole Lombard. Premiering in 1934 at the Broadhurst theatre in Manhattan and directed by Howard Hawks (who was considered a “macho” director despite this movie’s screwball comedy tone) the movie was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.

In this scene “Oscar” is obliterating all references to his famous wife “Lily,” who left him because he’d been spying on her and tapping her phone. Later in the scene he is brushing out her likeness and name by using a fat brush and black paint, very passionately and abstractly! Maybe Jackson Pollock who moved to New York City from Los Angeles in 1929  caught this flick along with his other artistic brethren; an early example of the art world imitating Hollywood?

john barrymore oscar

1 thought on “John Barrymore, First Abstract Expressionist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *