Although not as much as neighboring Cheviot Hills (which is cozier and off the beaten path, if there is such a thing in L.A.) I enjoy walking through Beverly Hills. Contrary to its name, around the actual town the streets are basically flat, the boulevards wide and to the most part shady, which makes them easy to stroll through. As you'd imagine, the houses are eye candy.
This David Hockney painting, from his "California Dreaming" series, was painted in 1966-67. Though entitled "Beverly Hills Housewife", I pick up a Palm Springs vibe. In the era in which this was painted, the nouveau riche were tearing down many of BH's original stately stucco estates and erecting post-modern monstrosities in their place, so yes, he aptly captured the mood of the times.
His model was Los Angeles art patroness Betty Freeman. I love the zebra-skin Corbusier chaise lounge, the expanse of manicured lawn, and her leisure gown. This housewife is thin and tanned, her hair a platinum halo. She seems to be in her middle years, which would mean she was have been in her youth during the 1930s, when that shade of hair was considered fashionable. Has she allowed herself to age gracefully, or is this a subliminal attempt to holding onto her youth? The wall of glass Hockney has painted around her would suggest the latter.
Impressionistic in style, we can't really see expression on her face, but the angle of her hand forms a hard claw. She has it all, but it's come at an emotional price.
Last year this piece sold on the auction block for $7.9 million
Today many of the older homes have been supersized and glamorized to some degree (just like many of the old stars that still live within their high, thick gated walls).
Another desperate housewife in a gilded cage?
Josie' s novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, is soon to be a dramatic TV series on ABC, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
(Simon & Schuster; ISBN: 9781439173176)