Orval Hixon

Portrait of Theda Bara (i)

Sepia toned photograph of Theda Bara. Theda Bara was an American actress in both silent film and the stage. Bara was cinema's original vamp, the dark, heartless seductress who lured men to their destruction. It was a persona that she and her studio also perpeturated off-screen. The daughter of immigrant Jews, Bara was born Theodosia Goodman in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Portrait Of Theda Bara (ii)

Theda Bara was an American actress known for her roles in both silent film and stage. Bara was cinema's original vamp. She was the dark, heartless seductress who lured men to their destruction. The persona was one that she and her studio perpetuated off the screen as well.

Portrait of Theodore Kosloff

Theodore Kosloff was a Russian-born ballet dancer, choreographer, and film and stage actor. He completed his ballet training at Moscow's Imperial Theater in 1901 and while on tour around the United States in 1909, became acquainted with Cecil B. De Mille. De Mille cast Kosloff's first acting role in his 1917 film "The Woman God Forgot" with Geraldine Farrar. Kosloff's acting career spanned the 1920's but was balanced with a steady involvement in ballet. After his acting career, Kosloff opened a ballet school in Los Angeles where he lived the rest of his life.

Portrait of Theodore Kosloff in Dance

Dancer and choreographer Theodore Kosloff (1882-1956) trained from a young age at the Imperial School of Dance in Moscow. His fame came when he began dancing in England and France before moving on to the United States. There, he started a nationally renowned school of dance in Los Angeles and performed in several Cecil B. DeMille films. In this portrait, Kosloff is posed as a virile warrior still reveling in either the spoils of a victorious campaign or the tragic woes of defeat. With his decidedly dramatic pose, he could have come straight off of a hellenistic period vase.

Portrait of Treat Head

Portrait of an unknown figure titled "Treat Head". The figure is captured in a sinister portrayal. The atmosphere is extremely dark, obscuring the model in shadows. Shadow effect is a major component of this portrait. As the figure is lit from below, casting the dark silhouette of their hands eerily on the model's face. The darkness of the scene and the lighting provide the face and hands a luminescence appeal. Surrounding the head of the figure is a high collared garment, possibly a cape, that has decorative aspects to it.

Portrait of Unidentified Fanchon & Marco Dancer

Orval Hixon photographed this unidentified Fanchon & Marco dancer in such a way that she simultaneously exudes both strengthen and vulnerability all in a 3/4 length pose. Her confident gaze to the viewer's left is belied by her left hand clutching a shibori-lined velvet drape to her chest. Her left hand rests on her left hip. She wears a form-fitting crinkled lame' dress. A large hat rests atop a floral scarf that is tied over her loosely curled dark hair. As was sometimes the case, Hixon manipulated this image in the darkroom.

Portrait of Unknown Man in Light Suit

This unknown figure is meticulously dressed in a light herringbone suit jacket and matching vest. His attire is accentuated by his knit tie and watch chain, that stretches across his chest coming to a rest in his vest fob pocket. This dapper character is fastidiously groomed, as apparent with his clean shaven visage, defined eyebrows and his neatly quaffed hair style. The figure is centered in the photograph gazing slightly upward to the right, wearing a hopeful smile. The background appears chemically enhanced, creating an illusion of stratus clouds behind the model.

Portrait of Unknown Subject

The evolution of abstract photography has primarily been driven by the pioneering explorations of individual artists. For this portrait, Orval Hixon used traditional methods to photograph the human form in a way that emphasized its abstract qualities. In this portrait of an unknown subject, we as viewers are invited to appreciate the ambiguity of abstraction. It is only through close observation that one's eye detects a human form standing alone in a dark space. The eye is drawn to a strongly lit profile and then quickly searches the remainder of the photograph for further clues.

Portrait of Unknown Subject

The addition of a whimsical pointed crown and ruffled white babydoll costume lends a playful lighthearted mood to this portrait of an unknown subject. She stands in ballerina slippers with her left foot on pointe and her right leg extended at a 90 degree angle. Her left hand delicately caresses the ruffles of her costume and she holds her right arm suspended in the air. She smiles at the camera as she appears to emerge from the darkness. Hixon Studio KC MO is signed in the bottom left corner of the photograph.

Portrait of Unknown Subject

This unknown figure stands confidently with hands on her hips and directing her gaze to the right with a slightly bemused smile. The model is dressed in a dark jacket embellished with light colored scroll work on the long cuffs, pockets, and fur lined collar. Her simple "V" necked dark dress, is accentuated with a double looped string of pearls. The model has the iconic 1920’s bobbed haircut that is partially covered by a wide brimmed dark hat. The light background ensures the figure has complete prominence.

Portrait of Unknown Vaudevillian Actor with Bolero and Cigarette

A number of Orval Hixon's photographs include figure studies and portraits of unknown vaudevillian performers. This portrait of a young unknown vaudevillian actor is a great example of Hixon's playfulness. The young man stares directly at the viewer. While his facial features and the decoration of the hat are well lit and in detail, his shirt and the strap of the bolero are blurred. The focus appears to be on the eyes, nose, and lips of the young man. Dangling from his well defined lips is a cigarette.

Portrait of Unknown Vaudevillian Actress in Black

This portrait of an unknown vaudevillian actress offers plenty for the eye to explore. A layer of black tulle is draped over her head, creating a loose hood that encloses the rest of her torso. The folds and shadows of the material distort her percieved nude figure beneath while also inciting intrigue. The material does not obscure her face, however, which looks up and away while offering the viewer a profile of her contemplative expression.

Portrait of Unknown Woman

This portrait features an unknown woman looking away from the camera. She has a bob-haircut, wears a string of pearls and an embellished dress. Beading along the swooped neckline mirrors the pearls above, while rows of the same beading radiate out from beneath. The photographer signed "Hixon Studio K.C.M.O." at the bottom center of the photograph.

Portrait of Valeska Suratt Holding Necklace

Valeska Suratt was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. She became known as “The Vampire Woman” on the silent screen and appeared in vaudeville with Billy Gould. She began acting in film after being noticed by producer Edward Edelston. The “flapper age” put an end to her obsolete vampy style resulting in her early retirement from the stage. In this photograph, she wears a black coat over a white satin blouse that billows out from under her coat sleeves. Her headwear rests directly above her eyes, taking the place of her eyebrows and enhancing her direct expression.

Portrait of Valeska Suratt with Chains and Skull

Valeska Suratt was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. She became known as “The Vampire Woman” on the silent screen and appeared in vaudeville with Billy Gould. She began acting on film after being noticed by producer Edward Edelston. The “flapper age” put an end to her obsolete vampy style resulting in her early retirement from the stage. In this full-length portrait, Suratt turns her back to the camera with arms constrained to her side by linked chains. She looks over her shoulder with a slight distressed expression.

Portrait of Valeska Suratt with Lace Head Covering

Valeska was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. She became known as “The Vampire Woman” on the silent screen and appeared in vaudeville with Billy Gould. She began acting on film after being noticed by producer Edward Edelston. The “flapper age” put an end to her obsolete vampy style resulting in her early retirement from the stage. In this portrait, her face is wrapped in a band of black lace that singles out her facial features from the rest of her body, emphasized by the contrasting texture of her smooth skin beneath the lace.

Portrait of Vera Beresford

Vera Beresford was born to two successful performers, Kitty Gordon and Harry Beresford. She appeared in three films including, "Paid In Full" (1919), "A Daughter Of The Old South" (1918) and "The Devine Sacrifice" (1918). She assumes a confident pose in this photograph with gaze turned directly to the camera while she holds a painter's palette to her side. The palette and her voluminous hair mirror each other in form and together frame her face thus emphasizing her striking features.

Portrait of Vivian and Rosetta Duncan

The Duncan Sisters were American actresses and motion picture figures of the 1920s. They were 12 and 14 when they entered vaudeville in 1914. They performed, as the Duncan Sisters, and were noted for their radio personas, “Topsy and Eva”. Later Rosetta and Vivian would find greater success, as a stage duo, with the act “Topsy and Eva”. Rosetta played the part of Topsy. In a contemporary context, this character is viewed as an insensitive role, as the persona was portrayed in blackface. Her older sister Vivian played the more subdued and innocent Eva.

Portrait of Vivian Duncan

Vivian Duncan was an American actress and motion picture figure of the 1920s. She performed with her sisters Rosetta and Evelyn as the Duncan Sisters. Later Rosetta and Vivian would find greater success as a vaudevillian duo with the stage act Topsy and Eva. Rosetta played the role of Topsy. In a contemporary context, this character is viewed as an insensitive role as the persona was portrayed in blackface. Her older sister Vivian played the more subdued and innocent Eva.

Portrait of Wallace Reid

American silent film actor Wallace Reid was referred to as “the screen’s most perfect lover.” Reid born in St. Louis, Missouri, had theatrical roots stemming from both sides of his parentage. Reid’s mother, Bertha Westbrook, was a stage actress, and his father, James Halleck Reid, was a playwright and actor. Reid’s noted good looks and physique allowed his career in front of the cameras to flourish. Though happy to be an on-screen presence, Reid was just as comfortable behind the scenes as writer, cameraman and director.

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