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Art and Photographic History Penwith

Ponderings on Nostalgia in paintings

Clearly, that which we personally find nostalgic, pertains to ourselves alone but are there paintings which evoke in general this kind of mood state in the viewer? One painting which possibly does is this Matisse. It is discussed in detail on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxe,_Calme_et_Volupt%C3%A9

Matisse-Luxe.jpg

The fact that the title comes from Baudelaire is partly evidence to this state of mind-

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

This lines are from a poem called L’Invitation au voyage and certainly the second stanza has a definite cosy feel to it even when google translated into English-

Shiny furniture,
Polished by the years,
Would decorate our room;
The rarest flowers
Mixing their smells
With the vague scents of amber,
The rich ceilings,
Deep mirrors,
Eastern splendor,
Everything would speak there
To the soul in secret
His sweet native language.

Returning to the painting itself, the colours invoke a sense of delicious and delicate luxury, as does the seaside setting and the recumbent nude figures. The sailing boat with its gaff rig beneath the boughs of the tree, which itself offers a protective quality, suggests that the shore may be quitted should ennui prove too troublesome.

On a personal level, my interest in this technique was stimulated by a term we did in the third year with our art teacher, Charlie Mac, when he suggested we paint using pointillist technique to give our work a more lively quality. We did some nice work from the end of the harbour pier in Penzance. However in the above m, Matisse was following the suggestions of Signac and creating a seminal work of Fauvism. The wild beasts are here in a somewhat pussycat or kittenish era even Louis Vauxcelles, who used the term, the following year in 1905 might grudgingly admit.

Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf and the power of sisterhood | Art UK

This portrait by Roger Fry of Virginia Woolf has I think a somewhat similar pointillist character. However, it evokes nostalgia because I can remember from childhood people dressing in warm woollen jumpers and staring pensively into the distance. This painting is on loan to Leeds Gallery from its owner.

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Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews

Musee Antoine Bourdelle- Montparnasse -Entry Nine Euros

I did not know when I arrived here that students in the 18th Century used to stand on a nearby hill  and recite their poems. Hence the nickname Mount Parnassus. Like many a modern flaneur, however. I associated the quartier with the jazz loving Americans of the 1920s. The habitués of the Café du Dôme rubbed shoulders with the ‘crowd’ as they called themselves; Ernest Hemmingway, Sylvia Beach, John Rodrigo Dos Passos and Ezra Pound. This was the Lost Generation fleeing prohibition living it up in cheap dodgy hotels – later to be followed by Henry Miller. These fading lyrical echoes in the shade contrasted with the undistinguished entrance to the hidden charms of the Musee.

Once into the museum, you enter the creative space of Antoine Bourdelle(1861-1928), the pupil of Rodin and the teacher of both Matisse and Giacometti. It was in 1926 that this typical Parisian atelier was to be turned into a museum. The quiet sanctuary of the front garden gave me the first glimpse of four sculpted figures including La Victoire (Victory) and l’Eloquence (Eloquence) surrounded by a secluded peristyle. At the time of my visit, I was unaware that there were over 500 works of art here. I simply sat and made a few sketches of the first few of these impressive statues.

Passing into the Great Hall, which was built in 1961, for the centenary of the artist’s birth, I encountered an impressive array of magnificent figures some of which towered way above the visitors. Interspersed between these at the further end were brightly colourful dresses by famous contemporary couturiers. This museum has frequently had special exhibitions and this focussed on the fashion of dresses from the back. (Dos à la mode}.However my attention was taken by the famously energetic sculpture of Hercules the Archer.

Bourdieu made some 12 versions of this dynamic sculpture. The model was a certain athletic Commandant Doyen-Parigot who twisted his muscular body into the required difficult posture. He contorted his body in demanding fifteen-minute sessions. Bourdelle also famously used his rather primitive Kodak camera to facilitate his project. A wealthy financier, Gabriel Thomas was deeply impressed by this statue of Hercules in 1910. Thomas together with Gabriel Astruc, the impresario that brought Rubenstein, Caruso, Toscanini and famously Diaghilev to Paris, set up a real estate company to build a new theatre. This became the Theatre des Champs-Elysee, the façade and inner atrium were, under Thomas auspices, to be decorated by Bourdelle. This was to be the debut of Art Deco style, a feature of the new modernism.

Returning through the studios there were many fine sketches by Bourdelle including those he made of the dancer Isadora Duncan. Proceeding through an outlying corridor I came across the Beethoven heads. These imaginative and expressive works began around the time he started his association of 15 years with Rodin. Altogether he made some 40 of such masterpieces.

In the tranquillity of the ivy leafed inner garden I encountered a huge and towering bronze. This was the statue of Centaure Mourant. From just where I stood, I could not see more than the torso of the horse and only by moving gingerly around the piece could I discern the twisted direction in which the head lay. Inspired by classical myth and considering its construction in 1914, Bourdelle was asked why does the centaur die? Bourdelle replied in Nietzschean mode, “He dies like all the gods- because no one believes in him any more.”