Okay, after-midnight movie freaks! Can you spot Marlene Dietrich in her Blonde Venus wig? Hedy Lamarr in her Samson and Delilah robes? Joan Crawford in Our Dancing Daughters? Where’s Bette Davis?
Identifying who’s who is just part of the fun of Manhattan artist Ron Kron’s “portrait sculptures.” The rest is admiring the perfectly executed details—the hand-sewn seams on Joan Crawford’s nylon stockings, the fur coat on Tallulah Bankhead (made of mink feet), the intricate beading on Constance Bennett’s gown from Topper. “My beaded period was my favorite,” says Kron, 35, “but the most bothersome. I’ll never bead again.”
The verisimilitude continues when the clothes are removed; the figures are sexually complete. “Don’t call them dolls,” Kron insists. “They’re not playthings, but statues.” (Price: $100 to $400.)
Kron originally left his native Minnesota for Manhattan to try acting, failed and went to art school (Parsons). “I always liked marionettes as a child, and my teachers encouraged me to explore that unique form.” His first creation was a “boudoir doll” of Clara Bow, made of fabric. Eventually he moved on to hard latex, so he could paint the bodies and make the limbs movable.
Kron scours antique stores for fabrics (“old velvet hangs better on the figures”) and doll hospitals for East German-made eyes. He cuts and sews everything himself in his Greenwich Village studio. When he has to create a figure from still pictures, he tries to check out the subject’s movements on TV. It’s more satisfying, of course, to work from real life. Shirley Stoler, who played the sadistic commandant in Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties, posed for her own sculpture, which she now owns.
Have other originals stopped by to see themselves as Kron sees them? Marlene Dietrich did. “But she didn’t buy,” Kron says. “She wanted me to give it to her.”