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Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Penwith St Ives

Ida Car (Ида Карамян 8 April 1908 – 24 December 1974) in Truro;

“In 1960 Ida Kar (1908-74) became the first photographer to have a retrospective exhibition at a major London art gallery. Her portraits offer a fascinating insight into post-war cultural life and her subjects included some of the most celebrated figures from the art world of 1950s and 1960s Europe and Russia. A number of the artists Kar photographed also included artists from the St Ives School.” as it says at http://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/.mpu.ex.Ida

I saw this exhibition on Saturday and was truly moved at this small but fascinating exhibition and the sculptures that came with it which included Hepworth and Epstein. Lovely picture of Ida with Victor Musgrave with whom she lived in the 1940s in Cairo. Delightfully bohemian, her work is taken from the studios and ateliers of Paris and London. Even more exciting I found her photographs of St Ives in the 1950s. Her Braque portrait captures the essence of the artist-his eye sockets look as though they were a Picasso portrait brought to life. The portraits of Leach, Denis Mitchell whose reputation is still growing and Hepworth forming an armature from wire for a sculpture are all lively and moving. The original exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is reviewed at http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/mar/13/ida-kar-bohemian-photographer-review. There is a great review of her photographs at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11998337. Should you get to Truro Museum at the moment there is an intriguing collection, A Century of St Ives Art 1840-1940.

The Wharf, St Ives
The Wharf, St Ives
Ida with Victor Musgrave
Ida with Victor Musgrave
Categories
Art and Photographic History

Raising questions about Odilon Redon (1840-1916)

  • A_Edgar-Poe_(Devant_le_noir_soleil_de_la_Melancolie,_Lenore_apparait
    A_Edgar-Poe_(Devant_le_noir_soleil_de_la_Melancolie,_Lenore_apparait

    « L’artiste vient à la vie pour un accomplissement qui est mystérieux. Il est un accident. Rien ne l’attend dans le monde social. » What exactly did Redon mean by this remark? In general he had a penchant for the mysterious, the half defined, chiaroscuro and the symbolic image which might suggest several meanings at the same time. This very shy man sought for many years to gain recognition and attained it through his literary friends but not at first in the way that he had sought it. Perhaps he had a tendency not to want to gain recognition except in a manner which he found acceptable. This he attained quite late in life among the artists that are known as the Nabis.

  • For many years in his charcoals and lithographs he struggled to express inner fears and traumas that were the result of a difficult childhood with by his uncle. As the French version of Wikipedia expresses it:-  “D’une nature fragile, il est confié à une nourrice puis à son oncle, à la campagne, et passe son enfance entre Bordeaux et le domaine de Peyrelebade, près de Listrac dans le Médoc ; c’est là vers six ans « en plein isolement de la campagne » que les fusains voient le jour, dans cette nature pleine de clairs-obscurs et de nuances propres à éveiller chez le jeune garçon ce monde étrange et fantasmagorique, ce sentiment subjectif qui est l’essence même de son œuvre, et qui est encore aujourd’hui une énigme. ” The strange and suggestive charcoals emerged from his experience of life in the moist, atmospheric wine region that now produces bottles of fruity Médoc from €11.00 to €69.73.

    Peyrelebade by Redon
    Peyrelebade by Redon
  • The images which Redon made during his earlier “noir” period when his use of black and white was an attempt to struggle against a form of naturalism of which he disapproved. He might be considered a late romantic or on the other hand a very early surrealist. His imagery  reflected his obsessions with mortality and his interests in Hindu mysticism.
    Pierre Bonnard by Odilon Redon
    Pierre Bonnard by Odilon Redon

    Armand Clavaud his close friend was interested in botany and there is evidence of his influence in terms of images which might be viewed under the microscope. These were becoming capable of increasing resolution and chromatic aberration, which might have interested Odilon Redon might be compensated. After all this was the time when small micro-organisms were the subject of research in Paris by Pasteur.

    Maurice Dennis by Odilon Redon
    Maurice Dennis by Odilon Redon
  • Were the traumatic images in the charcoals and lithographs an early exloration that might be associated with some early form of psychoanalysis? In some way theredownload (3) appears to have been a kind of theraputic working through of dreams and images( part-objects) associated with infant trauma. The Zeitgeist of romanticism included a renewed respect for childhood fantasy and philosophers such as David Hartley (1705 – 28 August 1757) who was an English philosopher and founder of ideas of association and psychic structure. Of course Charcot  (Seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Martin_Charcot  )twas using hypnosis to treat hysteria at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital where Sigmund Freud was studying and researching in 1885. Charcot used drawings and photography widely in his, now shocking and unacceptable, observations of his patients.download (2)
  • Some of the spider imagery seems to evoke uncanny associations with Kafka’s work http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Verwandlung
  • What were the factors which moved Redon towards the brilliant and beautiful colours of his later pastels?

    Golden Cell
    Golden Cell
  • To quote Fr. Wikipedia again “Les années 1890 et le début du siècle sont une période de transformation, de mutation, c’est l’abandon de ses « noirs », il commence à utiliser lepastel et l’huile, et la couleur domine les œuvres du reste de sa vie. Eve est son premier nu féminin réalisé d’après modèle. En 1899, il est présenté parMaurice Denis aux Nabis, groupe d’artistes qui compte parmi ses membres Gauguin.”
Categories
Art and Photographic History

Dame Elisabeth Frink Drawings and Prints

Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) is best known for her sculpture who trained under Bernard Meadows was influenced by Henry Moore and Giacometti. She was also very keen on the work of Sir Jacob Epstein.E_Frink Her early work was done just after the war and it is clear that this expresses to some extent the horror of war itself. The sculpture is angular and scary; it expresses the fear of a child that has been subjected to aerial bombardment. The bird effigies are also those of which express the rigid terror visited from the sky whether from Luftwaffe attack or from V-Weapons. Small surprise that her work belonged to a group which became widely known as  the Geometry of Fear school – this included Reg Butler, Bernard Meadows, Kenneth Armitage and Eduardo Paolozzi._catalogueimg_lqcn20mxijw3kh453pkckh5528092009214700
Her sculpture is very well known but her prints and drawings are also impressive. There is an endearing 1981 You-Tube clip which shows a rather reticent St John-Stevas conducting an interview with Elisabeth Frink at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXNSsq0cklk and there is another interesting clip on a poster for Antony and Cleopatra at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQIH3FODbRA

The combat scene in the image below illustrates a continuous theme in Frink’s work which deals with classical themes from antiquity. These sometimes reflect her interest shown in her sculptures in the male form. The grey image is actually a wool tapestry weave for furnishing purposes first exhibited in 1961.

Wool tapestry weave
Wool tapestry weave

The colour etching of Antony and Cleopatra was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company for a performance in 1982 at The Other Place. Antony was played by Michael Gambon and Cleopatra by Helen Mirren. The engaging etching was produced in a series of 213 and portrays the interpretation appropriate to the style of these actors.

 

 

 

 

Anthonydownload

F1

Two other interesting websites showing this aspect of her work may be found at http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/elisabeth%20frink and of course at the Tate http://www.tate.org.uk/search/Frink

13442F4

images (7)

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Art and Photographic History Uncategorized

Vladimir Davidovich Baranoff-Rossine -the1907 Self Portrait

This portrait by Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine (1888–1944) was completed in St Petersburg and it shows a cubist influence, the dynamism associated with futurism as well as a colourful lyricism. The palette is already not dissimilar from Sonia Delaunay with whom he was later to co-operate in Paris in the development of Orphism. They were both Jewish emigrants from Ukraine anduntil 1914 he was a resident in the artist’s colony La Ruche. This  was an old three-storey circular structure- hence its name which is French for  ‘ The Beehive’- situated in the 15th Arrondissement on the Left Bank and originally designed by Gustave Eiffell as a temporary building in the decidedly colourful area called the Passage Dantzig.

Oil on canvas, 75x50 cm. Private collection, Paris.
Oil on canvas, 75×50 cm. Private collection, Paris.

According to the Oxford Art On-Line, “His proximity in the mid-1900s to the artists of the nascent avant-garde, especially David Burlyuk and Vladimir Burlyuk, was of decisive importance to his stylistic development. Contributing to The Link (Kiev, 1908) and their other exhibitions in Moscow, Kiev and St Petersburg, he supported their stand against Realism and the Academy, favouring a brightly coloured post-Impressionism reminiscent of Georges Seurat and Louis Valtat.”

Flamenco-singer-Sonia Delaunay-1916
Flamenco-singer-Sonia Delaunay-1916

Amongst those considered as key figures in the development of painting before Matisse is the painter and print maker, Louis Valtat. He was a close friend of the Nabis. The latter used  simple areas of pure colour and along with Gaugin, these influenced Valtat towards the purity of form, line and colour known as synthetism. His later work is also considered by some, notably Natalie Henderson Lee as proto-Fauvist. This was no doubt due to the time he later spent near the Mediterranean which intensified his use of colour.

Louis Valltat
Louis Valltat

Because Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine was fond of a bright coloured palatte it was said that he was influenced by the post-impressionism of both Seurat and Valtat. It is interesting how much information seems to have been flowing between Paris  and St Petersburg in the mid 1900s partly due to the influence of art magazines. It was also supported by the influence of the members of the group The Link (Zveno) the Burliuks organized an avant-garde exhibition in Kiev.

 The Ziger Macher (the watch mender-1914)
Nathan Altman The Ziger Macher (the watch mender-1914)

Rossine’s self portrait was painted when he was just nineteen. The work already shows his movement towards a orphic style although his palette is not that far away from the colours employed by Nathan Altman in his The Ziger Macher (the watch mender). The notes from Hammersite.com suggest that this particular portrait was painted about 1914 and go on to say,” The painting is from the period Altman exhibited with The Jack of Diamonds group and attempted to express Jewish national identity utilizing a contemporary style. “

1919 Portrait of the painter Kolesnikov
1919 Portrait of the painter Kolesnikov

When Rossine moved to Paris in 1910, he will have come into a situation where critics such as Apollinaire, Gleizes and Vauxcelles were developing and defining the Cubist project. In addition he was already associated with the rather more expressionist style from the Russian cities such as the Burluik brothers. It must have been a period of quite frenzied excitement leading to the many innovative works.The crescendo came in Paris by 1913. (See The Essay at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pt70h) Other interesting figures within this general ambit include Jean Metzinger, František Kupka, a Czech painter, David Sheterenberg and the Ukrainian Avant-Garde Sculptor, Alexander Archipenko. The latter possibly an influence on Rossine’s own sculptural work.

More Rossine paintings can be viewed at http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/Rossine/interesting/

David Shterenberg 1925
David Shterenberg
1925
Guillaume Apollinaire by Metzinger 1910
Guillaume Apollinaire by Metzinger 1910
Categories
Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Uncategorized

British Surrealism at Falmouth Art Gallery

Agar, Eileen (1899-1991): Untitled, signed, inscribed 18/75, lithograph, 75.5 x 57 cms. Presented by Tremayne Applied Arts, St Ives.

There has been a renewed interest in works of British Surrealism in recent years. In summing up an exhibition in The Independent on the 26th May 2008 at The Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art- http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/british-surrealists-minor-league-but-major-players-834236.html -Tom Lubbock wrote,” People have said that Britain was Surrealism’s original native land Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, William Blake, the gothic novel, Gulliver’s Travels etc. Perhaps we didn’t need the whole movement-and-manifesto thing. But it produced, slightly by accident, a group of very interesting pictures that ought to have a wider showing, and which the Sherwin Collection is willing to lend.” Clearly symbolism and surrealism have obvious links in mythology and archetypes and such matters were thrown into the generally creative and tempestuous furore which grasped interest in the period between the wars.This climaxed in in the organisation of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. There is some evidence of these issues in the paintings displayed in the current exhibition, mostly on loan in Falmouth from the Southampton Gallery. The artists on show include PAUL NASH,CECIL COLLINS, CERI RICHARDS, ROLAND PENROSE, JOHN TUNNARD, EILEEN AGAR &ITHELL COLQHOUN.

Some idea of the range of the Exhibition may be gained from the images to be found at this website, http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/pictures/Photos-British-Surrealists-Falmouth-Art-Gallery/pictures-16910494-detail/pictures.html

However, the most exuberant and baroque piece was a comparatively recent work by David Kemp – entitled “The Hanging Gardens of Basildon”. On his blog, Kemp comments, “It is one of a series of a dozen large plant forms, all influenced by “THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS” an enigmatic painting by the great Hieronymus Bosch, which  explored many  aspects of medieval life, many of which might still be seen as relevant to the human condition, in our modern world?” This comment on the fantastic botanical forms and the connection with Bosch is reminiscent of the work of the VienneseSchool of Fantastic Realism as explified by Arik Brauer whose interest in Bosch he derived from his own tutor, Albert Paris von Gütersloh.

Arik Erich Brauer Die Honigkaeuferin

No visitor can possibly fail to be impressed by the peculiar botanical drawing, named “Prophylactic sea-mouth” by Edith Rimmington. The haunting form appears as some kind of elongated mutation of a dogfish egg-case with a coiling eel like flagellum.

However, for those interested in the development of the work of Paul Nash, his oil painting, “The Archer” will doubtless attract attention both for its muted complementary colours and the charmingly odd bucolic setting. A friend comments in a personal communication, “The Nash is one of his complex compositions worked on for years with bits from all over the place.  There is a letter by Nash about it in Tate Archives. The central ‘archer’ feature was a structure he made from an old toy boat, glass tube, twig, seaweed etc.  I don’t think it exists anymore other than as a photo. It looks more compelling in the photo with strong echoes of surrealist sculptures by Giacometti, Man Ray etc.  He constructed (like Lanyon), collected and photographed sculptural objects from which he derived elements of his paintings.

Paul Nash The Archer

The ‘target’ is from Men-An-Tol of course + mirrors etc; the shadow of the girl bottom right, sampled from De Chirico etc.etc.  All very sexual with the ineffective arrow being merely the shadow of the archer….. I’m not convinced that he managed to get it to cohere as an image.  I wish he had left the landscape dominant as with ‘Landscape at Iden’ http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-landscape-at-iden-n05047 where the symbolic elements infuse the composition naturally.”

Those interested in Roland Penrose’s work can consult http://www.rolandpenrose.co.uk/works.aspx

Categories
Art and Photographic History

De Kooning and friends

 

This photograph of de Kooning and his wife, Elaine is engaging in its own right and may be found on a very useful and visually appealing website, at http://artistandstudio.tumblr.com/archive a site which includes self-portraits, painters and their models, their ateliers in pictures and photographs. Looking at this handsome couple prompts further work into abstract impressionism, its history and associated figures. The photograph is particularly engaging and was taken by Ibram Lassaw.

Willem de Kooning(April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997) was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and journeyed to New York at the age of twenty, he was a stowaway and was very taken by Jazz. He came to prominence when he painted the 105 public murals for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. As the Wikapedia article about him states,” As his work progressed, the heightened colors and elegant lines of the abstractions began to creep into the more figurative works, and the coincidence of figures and abstractions continued well into the 1940s”. At http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm it states of the couple,” Elaine and Willem de Kooning endured a long and, at times, very tumultuous marriage. As much as each artist benefited from one another’s paintings and teachings, they mutually suffered due to constant infidelities and struggles with alcoholism.”

Of particular interest is the abstract expressionism developed by de Kooning’s erstwhile colleague, whose fascinating work can be viewed at http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/adolph-gottlieb?before=1338654139 Gottlieb joined de Kooning and others, including Mark Rothko from 1935 to 1940 in a group known as “The Ten” http://www.louisschanker.info/tendisc.htm. Some of Gottlieb’s ouevre is somewhat reminiscent of Paul Klee.

 

Mariner
Man Looking at Woman by Adolph Gottlieb

Gravity
Gravity

 

 

Categories
Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Uncategorized

Michael Ayrton, William Walton and John Minton

Sir William Turner Walton by Michael Ayrton

This painting can be found in the National Portrait Gallery in London and shows the celebrated composer, Sir William Walton in 1948 in Capri where he was recovering from jaundice. Its atmosphere suggests recuperation and the date also reminds us that Europe was slowly convalescing from the devastation of war. Walton was to permanently settle the following year on Ischia, a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea some 30 km from Naples, of which it is a province. The painting with its remarkable diagonal composition and repeated dynamic lines is reminiscent of Wyndham Lewis, who was a significant influence on Ayrton and whose portrait he was to paint, a few years later in 1955; this is discussed at this link- http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ayrton-portrait-of-wyndham-lewis-t07133. It is perhaps interesting to compare Wyndham Lewis’s well-known portrait of Ezra Pound with Ayrton’s Walton. The subject in the latter case looking a good deal more awake and serenely pondering the pleasures of the view and the prospects of reloading his pipe from the tobacco pouch.

In the portrait, Walton almost seems to be couched against the rocky promontory which cascades down to the sea-where the line of the cliff appears submerged rather than reflected by the water surface. The pale tones in grey, purple, reds and blues convey serenity to the composition. The repeated folds and linear motif however add a contrasting energy to the figure that is captured as though by a camera and achieve a monumental charm at what might otherwise not seem a particularly significant moment. The subject has a contemplative gaze which will be prolonged, indeed deepened by the next twist from the “fragrant weed”. The glass, decanter and bill/slip of paper seem to encourage the viewer to share into his own pensive mood.

Ayrton photograph
Ezra Pound 1939 Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957
Lewis was inspired by Lewis

Ayrton’s body of work at the Tate can be viewed as a slideshow at: – http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/michael-ayrton-681

Verlaine and Rimbaud, Sketch by Ayrton

The Oxford Companion to Western Art, says this about English Neo-Romanticism, the movement which both Ayrton and as we shall see Minton both belonged, “Never more than loosely affiliated, its painters took inspiration from the early 19th-century landscapists: from SAMUEL PALMER and his circle at Shoreham, and from TURNER. They were also influenced by French post-CUBIST developments during the 1930s. The beginnings of the movement were dominated by GRAHAM SUTHERLAND and PAUL NASH, and, to an extent, by JOHN PIPER. Their conception of the anthropomorphic potential of natural landscapes and the objects within them had a powerful influence on the younger generation of artists who became popular in the early 1940s, developing a style of agonized and sinister landscape very different from their early exemplars. MICHAEL AYRTONJOHN MINTON, and John Craxton (1922– ) were the most expressive and innovative of the painters involved; others who shared the concerns of the movement for a time included Keith Vaughan (1912–77) and the Scottish artists Robert Colquhoun (1914–62) and Robert MacBryde (1913–66).”

Minton by Michael Ayrton

John Minton (1917- 57) was a talented but troubled teacher,painter and stage designer who trained at St John’s Wood School along with Ayrton who strongly influenced him. This period between 1935 and 1938 was a time when neo-romanticism seems to have flourished, again the Oxford Companion to Western Art writes of him, “British painter, graphic artist, and designer, born at Great Shelford (Cambs.). After studying in London at St John’s Wood School of Art, 1936–8, he spent a year in Paris, where he shared a studio with MICHAEL AYRTON (with whom he later collaborated on designs for John Gielgud’s production of Macbeth at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, in 1942). Among the artists whose work he saw in Paris, he was particularly influenced by the brooding sadness of Eugene Berman (1899–1972) (More information also at http://www.sullivangoss.com/eugene-berman/) and Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957). (There is a You–tube, in Italian at http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/aQpp6epASaQ-la-danza-delle-ombre-pavel.aspx) In 1941–3 he served in the Pioneer Corps, and after being released on medical grounds he had a studio in London at 77 Bedford Gardens (the house in which RobertColquhoun (1914–62), Robert MacBryde (1913–66), and Jankel Adler (1895–1949) lived), 1943–6. From 1946 to 1952 he lived with Keith Vaughan (1912–77). Minton was a leading exponent of NEO-ROMANTICISM and an influential figure through his teaching at Camberwell School of Art (1943–7), the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1947–8), and the Royal College of Art (1948–56).

John Minton Self-Portrait

He was extremely energetic, travelling widely and producing a large body of work as a painter (of portraits, landscapes, and figure compositions), book illustrator, and designer. After about 1950, however, his work went increasingly out of fashion. He made an effort to keep up with the times with subjects such as The Death of James Dean (1957; London, Tate), but stylistically he changed little. Minton was renowned for his charm and generosity, but he was also melancholic and troubled by self-doubt. He committed suicide with an overdose of drugs.”

It has recently come to my notice that Lucien Freud also painted John Minton in 1952.http://www.leninimports.com/lucian_freud_gallery_5.html and that Bratby painted at least two portraits, one of which, a watercolour sketch was up for sale at Bonhams in Jan 2011 see http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult–bratby-john-randall-1928-1992-portrait-of-john-minton-2824129.htm and another was available at this year’s International Art Fair and is shown below.

Minton by John Randall Bratby
Minton by John Randall Bratby

 

  John Minton as painted by Lucien Freud
Modern Stage by Eugene Berman
Categories
Art and Photographic History Poetry Uncategorized

Yeats and Yeats; The lake at Coole Park and the River Liffey in Dublin

The Wild Swans at Coole by W.B.Yeats 1917

Wild Swans

The trees are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths are dry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me

Since I first made my count;

I saw, before I had well finished,

All suddenly mount

And scatter wheeling in great broken rings

Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,

And now my heart is sore.

All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,

The first time on this shore,

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,

They paddle in the cold

Companionable streams or climb the air;

Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,

Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake’s edge or pool

Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day

To find they have flown away?

The portrait of the poet above is by his brother Jack Butler Yeats. An interesting analysis  and exposition of this poem may be found at cercles.com/occasional/ops2009/noirard.pdf

With Olympics in the news at present it is interesting to read about the Silver Olympic Medal awarded to Jack Yeats. He thus became the first Irishman to win an Olympic Medal.

Silver Olympic Medal received by Jack B. Yeats
1924

which can be found on the National Gallery, Dublin website at http://www.nationalgallery.ie/en/Research/Library_and_Archives/Libraries%20and%20Archives%20highlights/Jack%20B%20Yeats%20Olympic%20Medal%201924.aspx Here it mentions, “Jack B. Yeats (1871–1957) won this silver olympic medal for his painting ‘The Liffey Swim’  (NGI 941) in 1924.  Art competitions formed part of the modern Olympic Games during its early years, from 1912 to 1948 and medals were awarded for works of art inspired by sport.  Works were divided into five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.  The medals for the 1924 Olympic Games were designed by French medal artist André Adolphe Rivaud, (1892 – unknown).”

Jack Butler Yeats was strongly influenced by expressionism and was a friend of Samuel Beckett, J.M.Synge and the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka. He was a magnificent painter of horses and Dublin life in general.like the Liffey Swim (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Liffey_Swim). There is also an engaging video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGnbLXru-qw Here are just three paintings by Jack Yates:-

Baggot Street Bridge

Title:The Liffey Swim by Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)
Sketch of WBYeats
Categories
Art and Photographic History Poetry Uncategorized

The Parisian Paintings of Jean-Louis Forain (23 October 1852 – 11 July 1931)

la lettre et labsinthe vers-1885

With Maupassant’s new version of Bel Ami portraying the belle époque, having recently been released in the UK, Forain is certainly of current interest. The trailer may be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440732/ Of course the well-known previous version was released by director, Willi Forst inGermany in 1939.

Forain was a French Impressionist painter, lithographer, watercolorist and etcher and has recently been the subject of some interesting and charming exhibitions. About his drawing the Spaightwood gallery, Upton MA ( http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Forain2.html) says,”A participant in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886 and a close friend of Manet and Degas, Forain was considered one of the most important artists of the first few decades of the twentieth century, frequently compared to Rembrandt for his emotional power as an etcher. His drawings were regularly reproduced just as Daumier’s had been in the mid-19th century, but Forain’s not only ridiculed follies but sympathisize with the poor and the unfortunate. He was one of Ambroise Vollard’s stable of artists along with Renoir, Rouault, Chagall, Dufy, and many others.”

Forain was strongly influenced by both Daumier and Degas, the latter was a friend of some fifty years and acknowledged the closeness of their styles when he said, “He paints with his hands in my pockets”. Additionally Forain attended the famous heated debates which took place Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas at the Café de la Nouvelle Athènes. There is a particularly relevant and interesting discussion on the social history of such cafés and the development of the modernist movement at http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-0903102-153114/unrestricted/Dees_thesis.pdf

Au café circa 1872 Watercolour 19.5 x 19 cm

Certainly, Forain was an assiduous painter of the café scene as may be discerned from the early watercolour sketch “Au Café” circa 1872. The engaging atmosphere and general bonhomie of the scene, perhaps in Spring depicts clerks and businessmen taking a breather at lunchtime, lovers meeting and the overarching foliage providing the shelter to bavarder over a glass of wine. The poise indicated by the extended legs of the figure seated at the table completes the mood. The influence of Daumier is certainly present; Forain was about 22 or 23 years old.

As is well known, Jean-Louis Forain had a ready wit and was the associate of Rimbaud, Verlaine and in particular Joris-Karl Huysmans. It was Arthur Rimbaud who wrote in a fragment,” Le haut étang fume continuellement. Quelle sorcière va se dresser sur le couchant blanc? Quelles violettes frondaisons vont descendre ?” Which has been translated as.”The upland pond smokes continuously. What witch will rise against the white west sky? What violet frondescence fall?” This is reminiscent of a lovely painting by Forain entitled Young woman standing on a balcony contemplating the Paris Rooftops, 1890.It was completed in Watercolour with black Conté crayons, red chalk and brush on paper and is to be found in theVancouver Art Gallery. It is appears as an early prototype of the bandes dessinées and the woman’s left profile stance resembles the figure in Seurat’s roughly contemporaneous Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte,1884–1886.

An idea of the range of Forain’s work may be obtained from a suitable search such as http://www.flickr.com/search/show/?q=Jean+Louis+Forain&z=e

Seurat fragment fom La Grande Jatte
Young woman contemplating the rooftops of Paris
Categories
Art and Photographic History Uncategorized

Another interesting resource and paintings by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

The useful resource is http://www.flickr.com/photos/32357038@N08/collections/

It contains many paintings, portraits and sketches easily categorised under countries and covering the period from the early medieval but focuses strongly on recent times. It is very good on European art around 1900. There is a folder on Eastern European artists which itself contains some 6 folders with hundreds of images in each folder. In relation to Friedrich Hodler there is an amusing blog,”Bearded Blokes of the Belle Epoque” containing many Hodler self-portraits looking as the blog-author states, “His work had a clarity of light, color and structure that made his work both modern and timeless. He produced a series of uncompromising self portraits throughout his long career. Over the years Hodler’s strong weathered features seemed to peer stoically into the future.”

Hodler is an interesting figure and a prominent Swiss artist, born in Basle. One incidental fact is that his son Hector, as Wikipedia mentions,” was born in 1887, and founded the World Esperanto Association in 1908.” His worked traversed a number of changes from Symbolism and Art Nouveau in the 1890s to Expressionism by the time this self-portrait was painted in 1916. Ras Murley interestingly notes on his Flickr page that,” The latter works present firmly drawn nudes who express Hodler’s mystical philosophy through grave, ritualized gestures.”

Landscapes by Hodler may be seen at http://www.artinconnu.com/2008/06/landscapes-by-ferdinand-hodler-1853.html and some more images here http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/artist/960

An early portrait- prefiguring Dali?

A later composition