Earlier this month, my friend Trey texted me from his vacation in Barcelona, Spain, with this photo and text:
“3 rooms in the Museu Picasso devoted to the friendship between this photographer from kcmo and Picasso and the photos he took of the artist and his wife.”
The photographer was David Douglas Duncan, born this day in 1916 in Kansas City. A graduate of Southwest High School, he grew up to become one of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century. A photographer friend, Robert Capa, had promised to introduce Duncan to Pablo Picasso, but Capa died before the introduction could be made. So in 1956, when Duncan’s overseas work found him passing through Picasso’s home city of Cannes, on the French Riviera, the photojournalist decided to make a call to Picasso’s house in the hopes of dropping Capa’s name and simply greeting the artist. Picasso’s then-lover and future wife, Jacqueline, invited Duncan to the house. He was led through the home and into Picasso’s bedroom, where he found the artist nude in the bathtub. Picasso welcomed him in, and it started a close friendship that would last until Picasso died in 1973. In those 17 years, Duncan took an estimated 50,000 photos of the artist and his works. In 2013, Duncan donated 161 photographs to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. He died in 2018 at age 102 at his home in Grasse, France.
On this date in 1812, the smallest of the three New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquakes struck Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and beyond around 9:15 a.m. Because the rural epicenter was sparsely populated at the time, historians believe that there were probably few, if any, deaths caused by the 7.5-magnitude quake. There were, however, significant alterations to the landscape and likely some damage to human-made structures.
Tuesday marks the birthday in 1957 of actress, comedian, singer, and activist Jenifer Lewis, born in Kinloch, St. Louis County, the oldest African-American community to be incorporated in Missouri. She worked as a backup singer to Bette Midler before appearing in movies and voicing characters in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (Mama Odie) and Pixar's Cars series (Flo). Since 2014, she has starred as Ruby Johnson, the sassy grandma in the ABC comedy series Black-ish. She attended Webster University in Webster Groves and was awarded an honorary degree from the college in 2015.
Saturday the 29th is the birthdate in 1825 of Zerelda Elizabeth Cole James Simms Samuel in Woodford County, Kentucky. She married Robert James when she was 16, and they moved to Missouri where he helped found William Jewell College in Liberty. In 1843 she gave birth to her first son, Alexander Franklin and four years later to another son, Jesse Woodson—Frank and Jesse James.
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The Chiefs’ divisional playoff game tonight against the Buffalo Bills will have a little extra Missouri flavor: Halftime show by Nelly (St. Louis) and B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover by Whiteman Air Force Base (Knob Noster).
“Well, I'm from Kansas City, so it was very symbolic for me to be
on the Missouri.”
—Missouri-born and raised photojournalist David Douglas Duncan, speaking about his opportunity to photograph the Japanese surrender ceremony aboard the battleship USS Missouri at the end of World War II in 1945
Thanks for reading and sharing this Pure Missouri Post. Don’t forget to check out The KC Downtown Loop, too. In the meantime, be well and stay in touch.