Anaïs Nin as Inspiration

Anaïs Nin was the subject of artists from the time she was very young, when she posed for portraits. Her unique looks and delicate beauty were reproduced in many forms—paintings, sketches, sculpture, magazine cover art—over the years. Among the many artists who captured her image are Charles Dana Gibson (noted for his “Gibson Girls,” and whose renderings of Nin appeared in a Cuban newspaper in 1923) and Don Bachardy, who made one of his famous ink sketches of her some fifty years later in Los Angeles. For Nin’s impressions on being a young model, read The Early Diary of  Anaïs Nin, Vol. 2, 1920-23.

Gibson's drawing of Nin entitled "Little Mother"
Gibson's drawing of Nin entitled "Little Mother"

Nin’s image is also the of film, photography, and other media, including the photomontages of Val Telberg, whose art adorns the Swallow Press edition of House of Incest.

Nin was not always present during the time when artists tried to compose her image. For example, Henry Miller rarely composed his watercolors of Nin while with her, and neither did Swedish visual artist Karl Köhler (1919-2006), whose portrait of Nin appears below. Köhler, who was influenced by French literature and studied in Paris from 1950-1952, also composed an abstract ode to Henry Miller, having been inspired by the Rosy Crucifixion trilogy. This portrait is currently being auctioned.

"Anais Nin" by Karl Köhler
"Anais Nin" by Karl Köhler (Image courtesy Henry Kohler)


We welcome any and all tips to other obscure images of either Nin and Miller. If you know of any, please contact us via e-mail or leave a comment.

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