This Beautiful Vision,
The Artistry of Alexander Bogardy
Co-Directed by Marsha Gordon + Louis Cherry
Produced by Margaret Parsons
Edited by Kevin Wells
Graphic design by Robin Vuchnich
On a fall morning in 1972, self-styled gypsy artist Alexander Bogardy boarded a Greyhound bus in Washington D.C. and headed to the Havre-de-Grace, Maryland outdoor art fair, where he displayed a dozen of his recent paintings. Arranged in a symmetrical display that included a vintage 33-1/3 rpm portable turntable playing records of Hungarian classical music, these paintings attracted the attention of folklorist Gerry Parsons of the Library of Congress and art historian Margaret Parsons of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Parsonses struck up a friendship with Alex that day. As they learned in the years to come, this former U.S. Naval Gun Factory machinist from Hungary had lived a colorful life including time spent as a violinist (who studied at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore), featherweight boxer (nicknamed the “Baltimore Kid”), hairstylist and cosmetologist, inventor (of a patented oval hairclip), author (of “The Hair and Its Social Importance,” self-published in 1962), castanet-player, and devout Catholic who attended Mass every day.
The Parsonses recorded several hours of audio in which Bogardy discusses his life, his passions, and his art; they also recorded their observations about Bogardy’s universe. This audio forms the backbone of our whimsical documentary exploration of Bogardy’s life and art, supplemented by animations derived from his sketches and paintings as well as by the ideas he laid out in his writings on boxing, hair, society, and religion.
A brief biographical sketch: Alexander Bogardy was born in Hungary and emigrated with his parents to Baltimore, MD. He spent his adult years living on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, residing there until his death on April 29, 1992.
Largely self taught, Bogardy made at least ninety paintings from the mid 1950s through the mid 1980s, which now reside in private collections, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Although religious imagery is a dominant motif of Bogardy’s paintings, he also made obsessive drawings, notes, and sketches about cosmetology. He studied cosmetology in professional classes offered by Clairol and displayed his many certificates in his apartment, some of which appear to be forged. He kept sketch books filled with color pencil renderings of women’s faces, including detailed instructions about applying make-up and proper hair care.
Bogardy stopped painting when he took up castanet lessons in the 1970s. For a period of time, castanets and Spanish flamenco dancing became his passions. He was always happy to perform for an audience, usually guests in his small apartment, which was hung floor to ceiling with his art and certificates.