French Folk Music from America

Listening to tracks on You Tube I came across two groups who were entirely new to me but both of which I found appealing:-

First – Reina del Cid

Secondly – The Avalon Jazz Band

From a Jazz Day at Trerife (Near Penzance)

Jazzman August 2006

 

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Baron Pierre Paulus de Châtelet- a Belgian Expressionist Painter (1881—1959)

Upon first seeing these paintings by Pierre Paulus I was put in mind once again of the dark and dramatic work of Kaethe Kollwitz (1867-1945) about whom I posted recently. Then the chunky expressive style depicting largely industrial scenes reminded me of Zola’s Germinal which was written between April 1884 and January 1885. The broad lines and dark colours seems well-suited to the scenery of cranes, docks and canals. The dark buildings, however contrast with the white snow-so the expressive aspect is sometimes conveyed through this wintry aspect. Paulus too is a great painter of the intensity of heavy industrialisation-human figures huddled under gigantic mills or stark against Blakean forges. The clip below is enlivened by Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.

Pierre Paulus was born in Châtelet in 1881 into a family of artists. He studied architecture at the Academy of Brussels, where having graduated he dedicated himself to painting, his only true passion. At the age of 15, he already had a considerable mastery of painting. It was not until  he was 25 , however, that he became the painter we remember today, the painter of the Black Country, with its industrial and industrialized environments: mines and islets on the banks of the Sambre, steel factories throwing their flames and the background smoke … he also painted nature, people, still life and everyday scenes.
He met the acclaim in 1911 at the Charleroi exhibition of the general public, and his notoriety began to grow. During the First World War, he took refuge in London.
The interwar period was released in Europe and the United States. He devoted his whole life to Expressionism but also to other forms of art such as lithography and posters.
In 1913 he drew the rooster used as the flag of Wallonia. (With thanks to Inesvigo)

 

A Trainee Nurse’s pay at the outset of World War Two

A historian friend has written me about a Jewish woman who left Berlin, and saved her life, coming to England and starting her training in 1939. She had free board and bed and earned just 36/- per month. That is £3 and 6s. By November 1943 she was fully qualified and working in a General Hospital and her new salary became £5 and 5s-nurses were considered professionals before the NHS was formed and  were paid in Guineas (I Guinea= £1 and 1s). In order to fathom what this might have bought I looked up some figures in a couple of hours in a local newspaper archive. The following is what I discovered there.

Image result for Nurses Uniform in 1940

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser  Feb 8th 1940    Price 2d
(12d= i/- (shilling) and 20/- equals £1 (a pound) )
Cockerels £1 per 100
Rental for a 2 bedroom house, sitting room, kitchen and scullery in Richmond Terrace in Truro £20 per annum
500 stamps 2/6 i.e. 2 shillings and 6d= 1/8 of a Pound
Cure for corns on feet 9d per bottle or 10 and 1/2d by post
Newly soiled Army boots 6/6 approx 1/3 of a Pound
soled and heeled 7/-
Unbleached bed sheets -double bed sized 7/11 and 1/2d (So it doesn’t seem 8 shillings!)
Turkish towels 1/11 and 1/2d
Unused 30 horsepower Electric Motor secondhand cost 50/- (Two and a half pounds) for sale at 30/-
Graham Piano in a walnut case £14 and 14/-
Other modern pianos in part exchange £7 and 10/-
Ginger wine 3/- for a bottle
Port styled wine (i.e. not real Port) a quarter bottle 9d
Full bottle of Sherry 2/6= 30d
Large oval bottle of port styled wine 3/6
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser  Feb 12th 1940    Price 2d
 
Truro City Band – Grand Dance -admission 1/3 (obviously haf of half a crown!)
Kidney Pills on offer 1/3 and at 3/- and at 5/-
The Cornishman Dec 28th 1939 
 
Weekend Return Fare to Isles of Scilly 12/6 from Penzance!
New Agricutural Wages Act 1924 Update-comes into force on 1st Jan 1940
Minimum Wage for Male over 21 at 37/- (up from 34/-)
                                                14 year old  11/6
                           for Female over 20 6d per hour
                                                14-15 3d per hour
An advert 14 inches by 16 inches (half page) cost £18
80 word advert for 3 weeks cost 7/3
(It announces in this edition that overworked Nazis will be getting 3 weeks extra holiday next year and those cancelled in September will have their holidays restored}
(Also British Contraband seize 7000 tons of goods of contraband of which…
4000 tons are petrol
600 tons of foodstuffs and beverages
200 tons of tin
100 tons of rubber
Image result for Russo-Finnish War in 1940
and in North Finland 5000 Russians captured by Finns
Berlin Wireless announces Hitler to visit Western Front)
Wife’s Maintenance set by Camborne Court after husband’s pretty clear adultery = 15/- per week
Fees for a Girl’s School relocated from Isle of Wight-Westwing- to open in Jan 24th 1940
£30 and 30/- under 8 years boarding and £35 and 35/- boarding
Kindergarten £5 5/- per term.
The other authority on prices at this moment in time was, of course, George Orwell’s account of the reasonable cost of reading compared to smoking and drink. Sadly, it appears that so-called Agency nurses may be reasonably paid but if Jeremy Hunt’s pronouncements are anything to go by, nurses are scarcely likely to have a much better time in the forthcoming period. The long shadow of Brexit has already, as is well known made for a severe shortage of staff. The Conservative Party are great believers in the so=called free market, except of course when it applies to Public Sector Pay!

Koloman Moser (1868-1918)

Koloman Moser (1868 – 1918) was an Austrian artist who exerted considerable influence on graphic art and many the most important artists of the Viennese secession. In the early 1890s he began to develop a highly innovative and individualistic Art Nouveau style, while working as an illustrator. He designed books, postcards, stamps, vignettes for magazines, stained glass, porcelain, ceramics andjewellery, etc. He was born in Vienna and studied at the Vienna Academy and at the School of Applied Arts, where he taught from 1899. As co-founder of the secession of Vienna, he joined Gustav KLIMT, Josef Hoffmann, and others, to establish a new form of art, moving far away from the academy. He was editor of the newspaper Ver Sacrum, and graphic designer for several years. In journalism he covered art and literature. In 1905, together with Gustav Klimt’s group, he separated from the secession of Vienna. The same year it married Editha Mautner von Markhof, daughter of one of the owners of one the large industrial fortunes of Austria. It will be noted that his work was heavily influenced by the Swiss painter,Ferdinand Hodler: who also ifluenced Gerstl and Giacometti.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Hodler

Image result for Koloman Moser

Albin Egger-Lienz (1868-1926)

Albin Egger-Lienz was born in the village of Stribach near Dölsach in the Tyrol. He received his first training from his father, painter and photographer Georg Egger. He then moved to the Munich Academy to continue his training, where he met Franz von Defregger, who strongly influenced his art. Ferdinand Hodler and Jean-François Millet were important models for him to follow. Even as a child, Egger-Lienz was receptive to religious sentiments; The peasant world, with its hard daily life and structured by Catholicism, became a basic theme of his artistic creation. In 1899, Egger-Lienz moved with his wife to Vienna, where he remained up to 1911. In 1911 he received lectures at the Saxon High School of Fine Arts in Weimar. He left the Vienna Academy in 1918. It was also in Vienna that Egger-Lienz had conflicting experiences as an artist. His important work “Totentanz”, which was exhibited in the Künstlerhaus of Vienna, received contradictory reactions, and Egger-Lienz was not given any public contracts. During the First World War he became a painter of the conflict. The four years of war proved to be a defining feature of his future life. In 1918, Egger-Lienz moved his permanent residence to the Tirol. Later work of Egger-Lienz comprised many religious motifs, peasant scenes, stories of the fight of the freedom and the horrors of the war itself. Under the influence of Hodler, Egger-Lienz managed to simplify his  imagery with a monumental expressiveness.

 

Derain, Balthus and Giacometti in Paris

This exhibition is currently showing at Le Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville in Paris until the 29th of October and comprises some 350 works which depict the friendship between these three artists. Their friendship which began in 1933 shows their joint fascination for classical Italian masters, formal clarity and experimentation with both still life and open air painting.

Derain, in particular, emerges as the significant and productive painter in this innovative and energetic period and naturally, a truly brilliant colourist. Here we see his later work and not his fauvist period. This exhibition shows their cross fertilisation between the three and their enthusiasms which clearly ricocheted off each other. In addition they shared models, friendships, collectors and in particular their interests in all aspects of contemporary drama. They were, until after the war, energetic in their correspondence, although without clear transcripts, their letters are not always easy to read even if the visitor is a fluent in French. An impressive self-portrait by Giacometti dominates the entrance, which calls to mind a certain likeness to Duncan Grant. Grant and Derain were post-impressionists deeply influenced by Matisse and Cezanne and indeed both were acquaintances of Gertrude Stein.

When comparing these three artists, each of whom are creative masters, it is worth considering their dates:- Derain (1880-1954), Giacometti(1901-1966) and Balthus(1908-2001). Derain was then their guiding light and already very well-known. He was in recovery from his years of military service but ready to move beyond fauvism towards a new classicism. He found time however to design for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe.  He studied the masters of the early Renaissance and then Pompeian art. It was one particular still life that attracted the penetrating attention of Giacometti with one work- a sombre work from 1936 Nature morte aux poires.

Giacometti is currently on show at the Tate Modern until the 10th September and a few weeks later a new film appears with the Australian actor, Geoffrey Rush playing Giacometti. However, this Paris exhibition shows the cultural hinterland of this key modernist and his interest in working with Beckett, for example in the minimalist staging of Waiting for Godot.

The range of Balthus’s work is illustrated including the disquieting suspense filled eroticism of his depiction of reading, languorous adolescents. Balthus’s East-European ancestry has been the subject of much controversy but it seems that his mother was Jewish and romantically involved with the poet, Rilke. His work shows a deep knowledge and interest in literature. He had moved to Paris in 1933 from Morocco and formed a circle of friends which included the foremost poets and playwrights of the period. The range of his work is shown here and it is unsurprising to learn that the controversial psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan was a major collector of his oeuvre.

The work on show includes some thought provoking portraits, sculptures, stage sets and photographs. It is not difficult to discern the disquieting political atmosphere of the times. As is well known, Derain stood accused on account of his visit to Berlin during the German Occupation. Nevertheless, Derain appears to have offered protection to members of Balthus’s family.    These works which include the magnificent etiolated sketches, almost carved into the background, by Giacometti, evidence the frenzied artistic activity situated between Saint-Germain and Montparnasse.

 

Their friendships included writers and poets like Artiste Arnaud, Max Jacob, Jean Cocteau together with Breton, Camus and Malraux. Surrealism was penetrating the dramatic experiments of the evolving “theatre of cruelty” with projects by Sartre and Jean-Louis Barrault. The world of fashion with Doucet and Dior, too was an occasional involvement. This is an exciting exhibition and prospective visitors require a minimum of two hours to get their money’s worth.

 

 

Moody girls with shiny noses……..and…..Jazz!

“Inesvigo” (Inconsequential) on YouTube is a constant source of pleasure. The combination of paintings with a musical backing gives a short journey into the imagination and concerns of each artist that he chooses to portray. For instance, I have just discovered the bohemian, metropolitan world of Milt Kobayashi.

Image result for Milt Kobayashi.

These paintings by Kobayashi give a glimpse of what I assume to be New York and perhaps Hawaii. They are interesting as a documentation of a historical and social context which is as vivid of the era as, for instance, Christian Schad is of the Weimar Period. The execution is quite different however and very expressive and not dissimilar from the Plymouth painter, Robert Lenkiewicz. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lenkiewicz 

It is clear that his work is much influenced by the famous French Painters like Degas, Lautrec and Manet. Perhaps indeed some were painted in Paris as the bottles and tablecloths seem to intimate. Often the subjects, treated with moving sympathy seem filled with melancholy -that the Germans call “Wehmutig”.

This is what Inesvigo writes:-“He was born in New York but soon moved to Oahu, Hawaii with his family. At age eight he went to Los Angeles. After graduating from the University of California in 1970, he began working as an illustrator. In 1977 he returned to New York and when he visited the Metropolitan Museum his artistic career changed when he saw a portrait of Velazquez’s Juan de Pareja. He began to study the work of Whistler, Chase and Sargent, who had Velazquez’s influence. Then he studied Japanese painting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The perspective of Japanese art provided harmony in color, composition and drawing – Kobayashi has received two important awards: the National Academy of Design’s Ranger Purchased Award and the Allied Arts Silver Medal. His work has appeared in the magazines Forbes, Fortune and Reader’s Digest”