Only Lovers Left Alive — Adam’s wall of heroes
I finally watched Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive last night, and I’ll write more about the film later, but for now I want to talk about the wall of portraits of Adam’s “heroes” on the wall in his house in Detroit. I paused the movie a few times while Eve is looking at the portraits, and my girlfriend and I identified as many people as we could, and then after the movie was over I went back and grabbed screen captures of all of them. I’ve jotted down the ones I could identify myself; about half of them (below). (Marlowe is another story; I didn’t recognize him but Eve names him when she’s looking at his portrait.) I’d love to figure out who all of these people are! (See UPDATE below; looks like we’ve got all of them!) Please leave a comment below if you want to help, and I’ll update this post with your additions. Also, I should mention, there’s certainly a chance I’ve gotten some of these wrong, so please let me know!
Below is the full wall of portraits, which I stitched together in Photoshop. Click to see it at full size. You may need to click a second time to make your browser display it at 100% size.
The next three images are the same huge image, broken up into three smaller parts. Click to see them at full size.
The next five images are the various closeups of the portraits that we see briefly in the film. Click to see the full-size images.
UPDATE: After a few weeks of work, we’ve got just about all of them, or maybe all of them! I’ve located as many of the actual images on Google image search as possible. The ones marked with a * are ones where I was unable to locate the exact portrait that’s on the wall, but I’m very confident we’ve correctly identified them; if you can find any of the exact portraits I’d love to update these!
1. Joe Strummer
2. Johann Sebastian Bach
3. Claire Denis
4. Mary Wollstonecraft
5. Aki Kaurismäki
6. Bo Diddley
7. Franz Schubert
8. Chrissie Hynde
9. Franz Kafka
10. Edgar Allen Poe
11. Bruce Lee
12. RZA – Appeared in Jarmusch’s films Coffee and Cigarettes and Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.
13. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Screamin’ Jay appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s film Mystery Train.
14. Gustav Mahler
15. Henry Purcell
16. Tom Waits – Tom Waits did the music for Jim Jarmusch’s film Night on Earth, and he appeared in a couple of Jarmusch’s other films (including Coffee and Cigarettes, in a scene with Iggy Pop, who’s also featured on Adam’s wall). Waits and Jarmusch are founding members of The Sons of Lee Marvin. Of course, while we’re on the subject of vampire movies, Tom Waits also played Renfield in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
17. Charles Baudelaire – Note to self, remember to post about the huge bat-shaped monument to Baudelaire in Paris’ Montparnasse Cemetery.
18. Luis Buñuel
19. William S. Burroughs
20. Sitting Bull
21. Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning
22. Robert Johnson
23. Buster Keaton
24. Nikola Tesla
25. Rumi – Jim Jarmusch mentions Rumi in this interview about Only Lovers Left Alive.
26. William Blake – Interestingly, Johnny Depp’s character in Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man was named William Blake (unrelated to the poet), and the film has a few references to the real Blake’s poetry.
27. Arthur Rimbaud
28. Hedy Lamarr
29. Patti Smith
30. Charley Patton
31. Emily Dickinson
32. Jean-Michel Basquiat – Of course, Jeffrey Wright, who appears in Only Lovers Left Alive as well as Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers, played Jean-Michel Basquiat in the film Basquiat.
33. Robby Müller – Cinematographer for Jim Jarmusch’s films Down by Law, Mystery Train, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and the “Twins” segment of Coffee and Cigarettes.
34. John Coltrane
35. Mark Twain
36. Isaac Newton
37. Marcel Duchamp
38. Fritz Lang
39. Naomi Klein*
40. Frank Zappa
41. Iggy Pop – Appears in Jarmusch’s film Dead Man, as well as Coffee and Cigarettes (in a scene with Tom Waits, who’s also featured on Adam’s wall). According to IMDB, Jim Jarmusch is currently working on a documentary about Iggy and the Stooges.
42. Thelonious Monk
43. Harpo Marx
44. Susan Sontag
45. Black Elk
46. Rodney Dangerfield
47. Christopher Marlowe*
49. Samuel Beckett
50. Jane Austen
51. John Keats
52. Oscar Wilde
53. Jimi Hendrix
54. Nicholas Ray*
55. Hank Williams
56. Billie Holiday
57. Neil Young – Neil Young did the music for Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man, and Jarmusch also did a concert documentary about Neil Young and Crazy Horse called Year of the Horse.
Indirectly related reading: If you like poring over screen captures of beautifully-filmed things, check out my posts about all of Hannibal’s suits from the tv series Hannibal — season one and season two.
#9 is Franz Kafka
#25 is Rumi?
Thanks Rukiye! I’ll add those now…
#2 is J.S. Bach
#7 is Franz Schubert
#14 is almost certainly Gustav Mahler
I got you covered on classical composer, obv.
Thanks! Adding now…
#20 is Sitting Bull, I think.
#12 is definitely RZA. Note that he also appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.
Ah, of course! Will add a note…
#50: Jane Austen
#51: John Keats
#15 is Henry Purcell.
Wow, first one I really don’t know anything about!
He’s probably best known for his opera Dido & Aeneas, which is one of the first English-language operas. And he was pretty much THE British composer of note for 300 solid years. You might recognize this little Klaus Nomi number – it’s by Purcell. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hGpjsgquqw
I’m deciding that #8 is Johnny Thunders, mostly based on the guitar and his legendary status. Can anybody help confirm?
#26: William Blake
Do you think #18 is Max Beckmann?
Max Beckmann “self portrait with cigarette”
It looks like it but I am not 100% sure
#28 might be Hedy Lamarr.
Good call! I’m finding lots of pictures of her with big ridiculous hats like this, but not this exact one! I’m sure you’re right though! I’ll keep looking.
#5 is … not fair! With that hairline, it might be James Garner … or Jack Kerouac … or …
#45 is probably the Dalai Lama. If not this one, then the previous one.
Ah, see, I was Googling a million variations on “old samurai portrait,” “last living samurai,” etc, because I was certain there was some connection to Ghost Dog!
#4: Mary Wollstonecraft
Nice! I’m surprised her daughter ain’t here, and Shelley and Byron and them other clowns. Why Keats and not the others?
I kinda think #5 is Jonathan Winters. Cannot prove this, just have a feeling…
Also, #37 might be Noel Coward.
#21 is a photograph of Max Ernst & Dorothea Tanning. Please send my prize to the address above.
#3 isn’t Marie Curie, it’s the filmmaker Claire Denis.
Thank you, Nick! Corrected.
YESSSS!!!! That was the hardest one, because it’s so hard to make out the face! I knew it would take someone who recognized that exact photo/pose. Thank you! Will add now…
#37 Marcel Duchamp
These photo are driving me nuts. I’m looking at them and #18 & #44 are so damn familiar but it’s just not coming to me. I’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night with the answer.
RIGHT??? #18 in particular has been killing me for weeks! I know I know that exact photo! But from what??
Thanks for #37!
Hi, nice to see I’m not the only one fascinated by that wall.
18 = Luis Buñuel
Thank you!!! Just added.
You’re welcome. About #44. It’s just a hunch but have you thought about Susan Sontag? (Alas I don’t have the time to do a picture search at the moment).
Wow, that was a long shot. I just thought I recognized that famous grey streak. 🙂
The last one is extremely difficult though.
Wow, we’re currently down to just one that’s a complete mystery (45), and three that I put question marks on because I think we know who they are but can’t find a match for the particular photo (8, 28, 39). Good work everyone!
8 is too vague. Thunders would make sense but most of the times he had wilder/bigger hair.
It could be Keith Richards with that haircut and guitar (but there’s millions of pictures of the man).
Alternative: Jeff Beck? Not so vamperic but one could understand Adam’s respect for the man.
Very interesting! I just went through a few pages of Google image search results for both young Keith Richards and Jeff Beck; something I noticed is that Keith Richards never ever wore a sleeveless t-shirt like that, and that alone is enough for me to rule him out. Jeff Beck, on the other hand, does appear in several photos dressed in that style, although I can’t find this specific pic (or him with that specific guitar). For now I think Jeff Beck is a strong contender!
Hi, I asked around and I got a very interesting suggestion for nr.8: Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. She does have a Telecaster and the pose does make sense (also notice how the arms are fairly thin and the guitar is large in proportion to the body).
Whoa! I’m certain you’re right! Check out her guitar here! I’m going to work on finding the exact photo, but I’m 99% sure that’s gotta be her. Will investigate a bit more and update the page. Thank you!
GOT IT! (link.) Nice work!
Now for the elusive #45. This is a total long shot: I somehow get a strong Dada vibe. Maybe you could look in that direction. They did stuff with weird masks and poses. Certainly would make aesthetic sense.
Word on the streets is that #45 is Black Elk. Plenty of information if you google. Obviously very Jarmusch.
Confirmed! Thanks a million for your help. I’m going to throw together a gallery of all the pics I’ve found from Google image search. I just need to confirm or correct 28 and 39…
# 28 http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/classic-movies/images/6711609/title/hedy-lamarr-photo
Amazing, thank you! I’ll remove the question mark now…
39 is for sure Naomi Klein. She writes about the perils of capitalism, commercialism and brand culture. I can see why Adam has her on his wall.
Thank you, M!
Great work! <3
Also Tom Waits and Iggy Pop have a scene together in "Coffee and Cigarettes". Another movie by Jim Jarmusch. Always loved that scene. <3
Ah yes, of course! Thanks for the reminder! Will add a note about that now.
Hi! I’m fascinated by the great work you’ve all made to identify each of the portraits on Adam’s Wall of Heroes. I’m still reading about every one of them. It ‘s so interesting!
Is there a chance to have the stitched wide-screen image without the numbers? I would really appreciate it if you could share it. Please? 🙂
yeah excellent work, most of them are my heroes too.
It would be very kind of you to let us have the stitched wide-screen image without the numbers? 🙂
Hello everyone, great movie and fun guess that hero… but I can tell you for future ease (and certainly less keff, but still keff) you can right-click on any image and “Search Google for this image”—takes you there immediately… but your way was more fun, Manning!
I wish it were that simple! All the nice, clear portraits at the bottom of this post were located after everyone worked together to identify these people from the small, often blurry pictures in the screen captures from the film. They’re never shown any larger or clearer than that in the film, so there was no way to perform a Google image search for them. I actually tried cropping a few of the clearer ones out of the screen captures and doing an image search with them, but they’re just not larger or detailed enough for that to work.
Ah… I feel much better… deduction is a great love of mine, too bad I missed it—I’ll check back for future kef (ahem,one “f”; I found spelling it with two means something waaaay different)
Happy spring, all.
sorry for the mess but we were asking only for the image without the numbers,just as it is.
Hello! Sorry, I just checked and I don’t have it anymore. Sorry!
are you certain #33 isn’t Jackson Pollock?
24. Nikola Tesla – In Coffee and Cigarettes Jack White shows Meg White his Tesla coil that he says he built himself and waxes intellectual on the achievements of Nikola Tesla.
Bellísimo trabajo, Gracias. (Thanks)
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Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
Quite agree, a fantastic piece of detective work!
Joe Strummer was in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train too (& namechecked him on his solo album).
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i need this photo stitched with PhotoShop, without those numbers in, please
Amazing job! Thank you! I would also like this photo, without the numbers, if it’s possible 🙂
I’ve had images of many of the same people; litarary, music scientific and artistic on the wall behind my work desk for years.
Hello there, fantastic Job identifying all of them.
If possible, i’d also love to get the picture without the numbers.
Are there any indications in the film of heroes before photography? Plato for example. Or pharaohs, etc.
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I know this post is several years old now, but I just saw Only Lovers Left Alive for the first time last night (wonderful film) and today I decided to see what I could learn about Adam’s portrait wall. I was quite delighted to find all the information I sought here in one place! Then, when I noticed that you do not have the complete set of all original images, I decided to return the favor of information access and do what I could to find them. I actually do a lot of reverse image searching in my line of work, so I know a few tricks, and those really came in handy. I was able to conclusively find all but three of your missing portraits:
6. Bo Diddly: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/bo-diddley-poses-for-a-portrait-with-his-trademark-square-gretsch-picture-id74261260
14. RZA: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/photo-of-wu-tang-clan-and-bobby-digital-and-rza-picture-id85510393
19. William S. Burroughs: https://www.nme.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2014WilliamBurroughsGetty107402470040214-3.jpg
21. Buster Keaton: https://s00.yaplakal.com/pics/pics_original/7/1/6/9853617.jpg
33. Robby Müller: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/06/08/arts/08iht-muller07-a/08iht-muller07-a-superJumbo.jpg
39: Naomi Klein: ?
41. Iggy Pop: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/late-1960s-michigan-detroit-iggy-pop-picture-id73909055?s=2048×2048
46. Rodney Dangerfield: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/comedian-and-film-star-rodney-dangerfield-poses-during-a-1987-beverly-picture-id72553769
47: Christopher Marlowe: ?
54: Nicholas Ray: ?
For Naomi Klein and Nicholas Ray, I am of the opinion that the photos you have came from the same photo shoots as those used for each in the film, but I was unable to find the originals. With Klein, I even wonder if you *do* have the correct photo, but her image in the film is so small and shadowed that it only appears to be different. While this may or may not be the case, I can say with virtual certainty that you do have the right identification for both her and Nicholas Ray.
As for Marlowe, I am almost entirely convinced that the image used in the film is an edited version of the common portrait painting that you have here. I made an overlay of the two in Photoshop and everything from the neck down matches almost identically. It is only the facial features and hair-obscuring darkness that differs. Given that the original is a period painting, I find it unlikely that there would be a slightly different, rarer version floating around somewhere (like another photo in a photo shoot, as with Klein and Ray). Rather, I hypothesize that the image was altered to make Marlowe appear a bit more remorse and to obscure his somewhat comical hair, so as to be more in keeping with the aesthetic and mood of the film. Purely supposition, so take that for what it is.
I hope the other links are helpful! Thank you again for curating all this information in the first place. The time I spent finding the remaining missing images was far less than I would have spent identifying every image on the wall had you not made this post years ago.
Hey Obie, this is fantastic work! Thank you! I’ve just added the pics you found and removed those asterisks. I agree with your thoughts about the Naomi Klein and Nicholas Ray pics. As for Marlowe, I bet you’re right; I wouldn’t be surprised if the filmmakers added their own painting of Marlowe’s face, maybe to make him resemble John Hurt a bit more. Thanks again! It’s a huge relief to have so many of these covered now!
Just rewatching this film, and wanted to finally research the wall, and found your post. I don’t know if it interests you, but I found it intriguing that Tom Hiddleston, who plays Adam, would play Hank Williams in the film, I Saw The Light just two years later.
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How did his music he was in the process of writing get out into the world? I know Ian was helping him distribute somethings, like the album at the bar I assume is one of Adam’s recordings. But the song he was in the process of writing is the song that played everywhere throughout the movie, even when they got to Eves town but with added vocals. My theory was the way he created electricity from the atmosphere, it worked backwards as well and transmitted.