Creole Cognac, Perfect Popovers, Abu Ben Goulash Sugar Cake and Cabbage Soup. 1970’s nude sketches and recipes from “The Newd Cookbook” featuring Cleo Dorman, perhaps the world’s longest serving nude artist’s model.
The very little known Cleo Dorman, (1908-1990) was an artist’s model in Los Angeles, California.
The subject of paintings and sculpture by artists ranging from the famous (Sister Mary Corita Kent) to those known best for other talents like the actor Peter Falk and singer, Nelson Eddy. Cleo would often accept a painting or piece of sculpture in lieu of a fee and amassed a collection worth a small fortune.
Born Essie Cleo Dorman, May 16, 1908, she was forced into modeling as a teenager by her family’s dire economic straits. She began work in Chicago in the early 1930s and modelled at a number of art schools, among them the Cranbrook Academy, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Student’s League, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Otis Art Institue in Los Angeles and at various university art schools.
In a modeling career that lasted six decades, Cleo displayed her supple figure to literally tens of thousands of wanna-be and actual artists. In 1971, she collaborated (at age 63) with artists from the Torana Art League in Santa Ana, California to model for and produce her own artistic work – “The Newd Cook Book” from which the following drawings are (‘scuse the pun) drawn.
Cleo had what must surely be the longest nude artist’s modelling career in history. The Smithsonian hold 50 (currently unavailable unfortunately) photographs of Cleo and friends at an exhibition called “Cleo: Fifty Years as an Artist’s Model” held at the Otis/Parsons Art Institute, Los Angeles, in 1990, and 3 photographs of Cleo modeling, age 72 in 1980!
“I was like an actress,” said Cleo in a 1989 interview with The LA Times, shortly after she announced she would sell her personal accumulation of art treasures to finance art scholarships for minority students.
Cleo, who married and divorced twice but had no children said, “My paintings are like my children, when I’m on the model’s stand, there is a spirit that comes over me. To be needed after all these years. I cannot think of anything more wonderful.”