Zelda by Herself: The Art of Zelda Fitzgerald
October 15 – December 18, 2005
Opening Reception:  Saturday, October 15, 6-8pm

Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art
Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263
No admission fee
(310) 506-4851 General information
(310) 506-7257 Museum staff
Contact, Brad White
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Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.; Closed Mondays and major holidays
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Zelda Fitzgerald, “The Queen's Croquet-Ground" ("Alice in Wonderland" series), n.d., watercolor.
Courtesy of Eleanor Lanahan.

MALIBU, CA—The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University is pleased to present Zelda by Herself: The Art of Zelda Fitzgerald, on view from October 15 to December 18, 2005. Zelda Fitzgerald is best known as the flamboyant wife of American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although often overshadowed by her more celebrated husband, she was herself a creative talent who not only studied ballet but also wrote plays, short stories, and a novel. She was also a dedicated artist. This exhibition includes 54 of her watercolors that were inspired by literature as well as by her life with Scott, providing a fascinating look into America’s Jazz Age.
Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald were famous in their day as the couple who embodied the fun, exuberance, and glamour of the 1920s. It was Scott himself who named the decade the “Jazz Age.” He also coined the term “flapper” to refer to a new breed of modern, independent woman—inspired in large part by the freethinking, strong-willed Zelda.
Zelda Sayre (1900–1948) was the youngest daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. When she met F. Scott Fitzgerald at the age of 18, she was deemed one of the most beautiful debutantes in Montgomery. After a long and tumultuous courtship, she married Scott in 1920, but only after his first book proved a success.

The phenomenal success of his early novels provided the couple with wealth and fame that captivated the nation. The Fitzgeralds lived as rich and privileged socialites, traveling freely between New York and Europe. Their exploits were covered in newspapers and newsreels. Zelda served as a model for the glamorous and worldly heroines of Scott’s novels.

But their sensational lives were far from perfect. Bitter over Scott’s chronic drinking, Zelda sought to rival her husband’s success and pursued numerous creative avenues of her own. With intense dedication, she wrote, studied ballet, and painted—but never received the recognition she craved.

At age 25, Zelda began painting—the one artistic expression that she practiced throughout her life. At 27, she became obsessed with ballet. Too old to become an accomplished dancer, she nevertheless embarked on a grueling routine that resulted in a nervous breakdown in 1930.

Zelda’s mental health slowly deteriorated and she soon was diagnosed as schizophrenic. She spent the last 18 years of her life in and out of institutions. Despite her illness, she remained lucid for long periods and spent the majority of her days painting. Ironically, in the 1930s she created some of her best work, including her only novel, Save Me the Waltz. In 1948, Zelda died tragically in a hospital fire at the age of 48.
When the Fitzgeralds moved to Paris in 1924, they became part of a circle of writers and artists that included Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Constantin Brancusi, and Gertrude Stein. Their influence may have inspired Zelda to begin painting seriously in 1925. She borrowed the distortions of form and brilliant color from modern art but drew her imagery from personal sources. Her paintings, mostly in watercolor, are all whimsical and at times fantastic. Subject matter reveals her appreciation of nature (landscape and flowers) and her wonderful sense of the absurd. A large group depicts fairy tales and offers dynamic reinterpretations of traditional children’s stories. After Scott died of a heart attack in 1940, she created a series depicting places in New York and Paris they had visited. Zelda’s granddaughter, Eleanor Lanahan (who will lecture at Pepperdine on November 22), describes the paintings as “theatrical. They’re like on a raised stage floor, and the characters are actors who are before you, waiting to perform.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, “Brooklyn Bridge,” 1944, watercolor. Courtesy of Samuel J. Lanahan.

Zelda’s paintings, though difficult to date precisely, are primarily from the 1930s and 1940s. These works were exhibited rarely in her lifetime—once in 1934 in a New York gallery and in a few private showings. After her death, many paintings were lost or destroyed and today they are relatively rare. The rediscovery of Zelda’s paintings began with a 1974 exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. A book on her paintings, Zelda: An Illustrated Life, was published in 1995. This is the first time this exhibition has been shown in California. This exhibition and tour was organized by International Arts and Artists, Washington, D.C.
a slide lecture on Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald
by Eleanor Lanahan, their granddaughter
Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 7 – 8 p.m., at Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University
The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University is pleased to present a slide lecture by Eleanor Lanahan, granddaughter of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, on Tuesday, November 22, from 7 to 8 p.m. at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre. There is no admission charge. Lanahan’s lecture will recount the fascinating lives of the Fitzgeralds, icons of America’s Jazz Age. Drawing upon family stories and extensive interviews with her mother, “Scottie” (the Fitzgerald’s only child), Lanahan will offer rare personal insight into the creative and personal relationships of America’s most celebrated literary couple.
Eleanor Lanahan is a published author, illustrator, and animator. Over the years she has made significant contributions to documenting the story of her fascinating family. Lanahan attended Sarah Lawrence College and Rhode Island School of Design. In 1995 she wrote a biography of her mother: Scottie the Daughter of...: The Life of Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith, published by Harper Collins. In 1996 she researched, edited, and contributed an introduction to Zelda: An Illustrated Life, published by Harry Abrams, Inc., the first book to examine Zelda’s long-forgotten paintings. In conjunction with this publication, she helped organize an exhibition of Zelda Fitzgerald’s paintings which has been circulated to museums across the United States under the auspices of International Arts and Artists. In 2002 she wrote an introduction to Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, edited by Jackson Bryer and Cathy Barks, published by St. Martin’s Press. Lanahan resides in Vermont.

Family Art Day:
Sunday, November 20, 3 – 5 p.m.

Pepperdine University Theatre Department presentation of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes:
Smothers Theatre
Thursday – Saturday, November 10 – 12 and 17 – 19, 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: Sunday, November 13, 2 p.m., and Saturday, November 19, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20; Box Office: (310) 506-4522
Lita Albuquerque
January 21 – March 26, 2006
Senior Student Exhibition
April 13 – April 29, 2006
Bible Lectures Exhibition
May 3 – May 5, 2006
On Location in Malibu 2006:
Paintings by the California Art Club
May 20 – July 16, 2006

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