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

Categories
Art and Photographic History Uncategorized

Self Portraits 1900-1912 (4) Stanisław Wyspiański

Self-portrait, 1902

“Stanisław Wyspiański (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf vɨˈspjaɲskʲi]; 15 January 1869 – 28 November 1907) was a Polish playwright, painter and poet, as well as interior and furniture designer. A patriotic writer, he created a series of symbolic, national dramaswithin the artistic philosophy of the Young Poland Movement. Wyspiański was one of the most outstanding and multifaceted artists of his time in Europe. He successfully joined the trends of modernism with themes of the Polish folk tradition and Romantic history.” This is how Wikipedia introduces the man who is referred to as being the fourth Polish Bard; this must refer to Wyspiański’s literary skills since the other three are poets. The self-portrait that accompanies the article shows Wyspiański at the age of 33 in 1902. Why is this such an interesting portrait?

The Wawel on the left bank of the Vistula River in Kraków

It is executed in pastels and measures just 35cm by 35cm. It makes fine use of the whiteness of the paper to produce a crystalline, pellucid effect. This is clearly a symbolist work and shows his constant predisposition to add elaborate and striking floral designs. The self-portrait is to be found in the National Museum, Warsaw. However,he only visited Warsaw once.As is quite well-known, Stanisław Wyspiański came from Kraków, in whose general history and culture Wyspiański was deeply immersed. He was responsible for the design of furniture and interiors, and the development of Wawel, the astonishingly beautiful palace on a limestone hill overlooking the Vistula. In 1904 just before the emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, gave the order to withdraw troops from Wawel, Wyspiański and the architect Władysław Ekielski worked on plans to develop the Warwel Akropolis. This is a location that he knew well.” His father, Franciszek, a sculptor, had an atelier at the foot of the Wawel hill, home to a cathedral rich with evidence of the strength of the former Polish state, and to a royal castle, by then an Austrian army barracks.” (http://www.culture.pl/web/english/resources-visual-arts-full-page/-/eo_event_asset_publisher/eAN5/content/stanislaw-wyspianski)

  Stanisław Wyspiański is associated with the movement which was referred to as “The Young Poland Movement”. It appears that some of its members attended the St Anne’s Secondary School in Kraków. Here the students were the pupils were taught in Polish-something which was unusual since the area was under Austrian domination and German used by the dominating power. Lectures were delivered upon Polish history and thus a counter-culture was inculcated.

A lovely presentation with a Chopin track can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpxtIs_aQhw

 

 

Portrait of Ireny Solskiej.1904. Pastel. 48 x 62 cm. Muzeum Narodowe, Poznań.
Categories
Art and Photographic History Uncategorized

Puvis De Chevannes The Poor Fisherman – Oil on canvas, 155 x 192.5 cm (5′ 1″ x 6′ 3 3/4″); Musee d’Orsay, Paris

The Poor Fisherman - Oil on canvas, 155 x 192.5 cm (5' 1

According to the Web Museum in Paris,”He had only modest success early in his career (when a private income enabled him to work for little payment), but he went on to achieve an enormous reputation, and he was universally respected even by artists of very different aims and outlook from his own. Gauguin, Seurat, and Toulouse-Lautrec were among his professed admirers. His reputation has since declined, his idealized depictions of antiquity or allegorical representations of abstract themes now often seeming rather anaemic. He remains important, however, because of his influence on younger artists.

His simplified forms, respect for the flatness of the picture surface, rhythmic line, and use of non-naturalistic color to evoke the mood of the painting appealed to both the Post-Impressionists and the Symbolists.”

Categories
Art and Photographic History Uncategorized

Self-Portraits 1900-1912 (3) Zinaida Serebryakova

This portrait, At the Dressing Table was painted in 1909 and is remarkable for the dynamism of its composition; it also looks thoroughly modern as does Zinaida, who having been born in 1884, was then just 25. The sweep of the hair which extends from the mirror behind, combined with the arms adds to the energy and sense of novelty in the portrait. The hat pins in the foreground are splayed and are perhaps a reminder that this is a painting that according to the fashions, is indeed some hundred years old. This is a candid and charming, beguiling portrait. The lightness of the colours, the contrast and the surrounding items all engage the attention as does the intimacy and immediacy of the artist herself.

At the Dressing Table 1909

Zinadia Serebryakova was born on  December 10, 1884into what is now the Ukraine, on the estate of Neskuchnoye near Kharkov. Her maiden name was Lanceray. She was born into the cultured and artistic family known as the Benois – a fascinating family of architects, musicians, painters and sculptors. Her name in Ukranian is Зінаїда Євгенівна Серебрякова; and the Benois were the descendants of the French confectioner Louis Jules Benois, who came to Russia in 1794 after the French Revolution. More information can be easily found  about the talented Benois at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benois_family. There is also a moving piece about her on another wordpress blog at http://01varvara.wordpress.com/tag/zinaida-serebyakova/

Self-portrait 1921

In 1901, Zinadia studied painting under the famous Russian artist, Ilya Yefimovich Repin, also a Ukranian artist perhaps most famous for the grandeur of his panoramic realistic paintings like the “Religious Procession in Kursk Province“, 1880–83. He also painted an interesting portrait of Tolstoy and the chemist, Dmitry Mendeleyev, who made the discoveries which led to the Periodic Table. After studying under other portrait painters, Serebryakova, went to Paris in 1905 after visits to Italy. It was the year in which she married her first cousin, Boris who became a railway engineer.

Maxim Gorky reading in “The Penates” his drama Children of the Sun. Compressed charcoal and sanguine on paper. 28 × 49.5 см.(1905)
Medeleeff by Ilya Repin

She must have felt stimulated and perhaps at home in Paris, where she was later to return and forced to stay when exiled in 1924. In the intervening period she was to experience the full force of the repression following the October Revolution. Her husband died in a Bolshevik jail in 1919. However, the period of 1906 to 1916 were happy and productive. She lived in St Petersburg and Moscow  as well as upon her country estate. She was a wonderful painter of the countryside and of children, especially her own. Having been widowed and with the family estate plundered she was sadly left responsible for raising her four children and caring for her mother at a time of penury and impinging civil strife.

On the terrace in Kharkov-1919

In fact what is remarkable about Serebryakova’s work is its variety and its elegant peacefulness. It would seem that her work has become much more recognised in Russia with more frequent exhibitions. She lived in Paris without seeing her older two children for some 36 years and only achieved recognition in the Soviet Union in 1966. However, her innate zest for life and her inner serenity shines through her work and in the treatment of her sitters. An awesome selection of 411 of her works may be seen as a slideshow at http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/zinaida-serebriakova.Another interesting website in French may be found at http://femmes-russes.russian-women.net/femmes-russes/Zinaida-Serebriakova.shtml. There is also an intriguing short photographic sequence in colour circa 1910 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ8VRxS4nkE.There is a very useful and detailed link at http://artoftherussias.wordpress.com/category/ukraine/zinaida-serebriakova/-enjoy!There is also a short new You Tube Clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=Wo8v6EWrUmk If you are interested in her ballet paintings and want to improve your Russian there is also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot17l5na1Zw

Portrait of Katya the Artist
Soviet Union Stamp 1988

Sketch of Anna Akhmatova