Mixed Media Collage Portrait of Kay Thompson
Knight, Hilary. New York, 2017. First Edition. Fine.
Signed and inscribed by Knight to verso of portrait. Photographic portrait of Kay Thompson by Richard Avedon, decorated by Knight with black marker and with additional jewel decorations, affixed to the top of a plywood cutout in Thompson's likeness, left arm with a simple hinge at the elbow, dressed in a black sequin top with jeweled cuffs and holding a coq feather fan, black tulle skirt decorated with a large embroidered illustration of Eloise cut from flannel cloth and similar illustrations of Eloise's pet dog and turtle. In fine condition. This collage portrait of Kay Thompson was constructed by longtime friend and illustrator Hilary Knight for the 2017 New York Public Library exhibit titled "Hilary Knight's Stage Struck World." Knight, who illustrated Kay Thompson's famous series of children's books featuring the young Plaza Hotel resident Eloise, is known for his whimsical, theater-inspired artwork, and has cited the theater as his single most important influence. Indeed, he spent part of his early career as a set designer working for the noted George Abbott, designed posters for shows like No, No, Nanette and Sugar Babies, and has published numerous theatrical illustrations for Vanity Fair magazine. For this exhibit, Knight created three-dimensional portraits, including this one of Kay Thompson. The portrait is made up of a number of different pieces related to Kay Thompson and her work. Notably, the skirt was originally designed for musician Phoebe Legere, who wore it to the Pink and Black Ball at the Plaza Hotel in October of 1999. The coq feather fan is the same one that appears in the Richard Avedon photograph, and was made by Knight in the 1950's, when the photo was taken. The full product is a charming and unique collage, not quite life size, but nonetheless evoking the combination of elegance and whimsy that can be found throughout Thompson and Knight's collaborations.