Picture of the Week #1: Ivan Albright’s Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray

Because it’s Friday, here’s a new quick n’ easy regular feature, showing off an interesting image that has crossed my path in the last seven days. Tuesy really enjoyed the new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which she watched in preparation for a visit to Matthew Bourne’s production in Cardiff tonight, though I’m not there to join her for either show, alas. We were both reminded of Ivan Albright‘s painting of Dorian Gray that was used in the 1945 film adaptation. We saw it at the Chicago Institute of Art last year, and it’s really a standout, not least for its garish grotesquerie. It certainly looks pretty striking even here on my little blog.

It was interesting to see in a gallery a painting that had been designed to have a particular impact onscreen; the black and white movie switches to three-strip Technicolor just for two shots of the painting, first in its original form, then in Albright’s aged and corrupted version. The painting is round a corner in one of the galleries, so you can’t see it from other rooms – it’s a real jolt to the eyes when it appears in front of you. Above is the photo I took of it in Chicago, hopefully preserving most of the colour. The blistering effect reminds me of the way film decays.

Albright’s twin brother was originally asked to paint the earlier picture of Dorian, but in the end Henrique Medina came up with this:

Henrique Medina's Portrait of Dorian Gray

John Coulthart has more about these paintings, including a picture of the Albright twins preparing their portrait from a dummy of the decayed Dorian at his blog. Well worth a look.


7 thoughts on “Picture of the Week #1: Ivan Albright’s Dorian Gray

  1. Are you going to make picture of the week a regular feature on your blog?

    I haven’t read Dorian Gray but I did see the new DG movie before watching the ballet. I loved Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray! So now I’ve downloaded The Picture of Dorian Gray e-book on my iPhone to read. After, can you show me the old DG film? :-)

    • Picture of the Week will be a regular feature, probably every Friday. People can poke me with sticks if I forget.

      I hesitated before posting the Dorian painting – it’s the best moment in the film – but it looked so striking on my blog, which normally has demure little screen grabs on it. You’ll like the Dorian Gray book, and if you fancy seeking out other versions, there’s also Will Self’s updated version where Dorian’s painting is a video installation, and he inexplicably survives an AIDS epidemic. In other words, it makes obvious all of the hints and subtexts of the original.

  2. I was working at a photo lab in costa mesa , calif and we got the deteriorated painting in one day and were asked to make a copy slide of the painting. Think we did an 8 x 10 slide ( maybe 4 x 5)

    That must have been around 2000 ? The owner at that time must have been living in southern calif/ Newport beach. I think I have a file of the scan because we had to make a few prints for the owner.

    Hope this helps. It was quite impressive and the prints we made did NOT do it justice.

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