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Articles on this Page
- 02/24/14--01:00: _Édouard Detaille: W...
- 02/26/14--01:00: _Logan Maxwell Hageg...
- 02/28/14--01:00: _John Singer Sargent...
- 03/03/14--01:00: _Jules Joseph Lefebv...
- 03/05/14--01:00: _Joseph DeCamp Portr...
- 03/07/14--01:00: _Aeropittura: Futuri...
- 03/10/14--01:00: _El Paseo Art Scene,...
- 03/12/14--01:00: _Seen at 2014 La Qui...
- 03/14/14--01:00: _Harry Grant Dart's ...
- 03/17/14--01:00: _Giuseppe Amisanti: ...
- 03/19/14--01:00: _Jupp Wiertz Poster Art
- 03/21/14--07:30: _The Test of Time: P...
- 03/24/14--01:00: _James Montgomery Fl...
- 03/26/14--01:00: _Peter Ellenshaw Mat...
- 03/28/14--01:00: _Eric Sloane: Illust...
- 03/31/14--01:00: _Terence Cuneo's Rai...
- 04/02/14--01:00: _Roaring Twenties Il...
- 04/04/14--01:00: _Harvey Wiley Corbet...
- 04/07/14--01:00: _Joe Jones: 1930s Po...
- 04/09/14--01:00: _William Merritt Cha...
- 02/24/14--01:00: Édouard Detaille: War Artist of the Third Republic
- 02/26/14--01:00: Logan Maxwell Hagege's Retro Deco Southwest
- 02/28/14--01:00: John Singer Sargent: Same Subject, Different Media
- 03/03/14--01:00: Jules Joseph Lefebvre: Godiva and Other Ladies
- 03/05/14--01:00: Joseph DeCamp Portraits
- 03/07/14--01:00: Aeropittura: Futurism Takes to the Skies
- 03/10/14--01:00: El Paseo Art Scene, 2014
- 03/12/14--01:00: Seen at 2014 La Quinta Arts Festival
- 03/14/14--01:00: Harry Grant Dart's Circa-1908 Multi-Winged Future
- 03/17/14--01:00: Giuseppe Amisanti: Portrait Art
- 03/19/14--01:00: Jupp Wiertz Poster Art
- 03/21/14--07:30: The Test of Time: PoMo vs. Velvet Elvis
- 03/24/14--01:00: James Montgomery Flagg, Illustrator
- 03/26/14--01:00: Peter Ellenshaw Matte Art
- 03/28/14--01:00: Eric Sloane: Illustrator of Rural America
- 03/31/14--01:00: Terence Cuneo's Railroad Paintings
- 04/02/14--01:00: Roaring Twenties Illustrations
- 04/04/14--01:00: Harvey Wiley Corbett Style Cities of Tomorrow
- 04/07/14--01:00: Joe Jones: 1930s Political Artist
- 04/09/14--01:00: William Merritt Chase's Studio Scenes
Even though France was humiliated in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War, paintings featuring military subjects were popular in France during the early decades of the Third Republic. Perhaps the most prolific artist of that genre was Jean-Baptiste Édouard Detaille (1848-1912), who had a reputation for thorough research on details of uniforms, weapons and battles of both the Napoleonic era and 1870 and its aftermath. His Wikipedia entry is here.
Perhaps because he churned out so many drawings and paintings, a few being huge dioramas, I find them not usually satisfying as works of art. I mostly prefer the work of his contemporary, Alphonse de Neuville, who I wrote about here.
Here he is, dabbing away on a huge canvas. Many human figures, horses and other items to depict, and he probably didn't have the time to paint them with thought and care. Yet this sort of painting was what he was known for, so he kept making them.
This immense painting was on display at the Musée d'Orsay when I visited last September. It shows bivouacing contemporary (or 1870) French soldiers dreaming of the gloire of their Napoleonic forebears. Despite its size, it doesn't seem to have been as rushed as some of his other works, which is perhaps why the Orsay displayed it.
Saluting the wounded.
I don't know if this was an elaborate sketch or a finished work. Regardless, as best I can tell from this digital image, it's nicely done. Apparently when he wasn't painting vast action scenes, Detaille was able to focus and show us what he was capable of.
Another portrait of sorts, but a crowd of soldiers and horses manage to intrude as background.
Do you have a soft spot for those 1920s vintage railroad posters from the likes of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads? I certainly do.
That also seems to be the case for Los Angeles based artist Logan Maxwell Hagege, who has made a great many paintings in the spirit of those posters. His web site is here, and a short biographical sketch here.
Hagege's images are carefully designed, often making use of profile views of his subjects (it can be easier to turn a profile into design elements than trying the same from, say, a three-quarter view). And since he returns often to the same subjects, viewing a large number of his paintings at once can cause a fall-off of interest. However (not having seen one of his paintings in person), I think having only one hanging in a suitable wall, might be quite nice for some of us retro fans.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) probably needs no introduction to Art Contrarian readers. A painting of his that I would really like to see in person is the subject of the present post.
Perhaps even more embarrassing, in recent times I was unaware that Sargent created some studies for it, including a watercolor now held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. I've visited the Gardner, but (once again!!) failed to notice it (that is, if it had actually been on display at the time).
Here it is:
A rambling discourse on Sergent's painting and the substance ambergris is here, and some supporting images are here.
The large image above is of the huge "Lady Godiva" (1890) by Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836-1911) that was displayed at, among other places, Paris' Grande Palais during the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It was recently restored, and now hangs in the Musée de Picardy in Amiens, according to this article (in French).
Lefebvre was a noted painter in his day, as this brief Wikipedia entry indicates. The link also contains a fairly long list of his works. For more biographical information, click here on the Art Renewal Center site. Included is an extensive list of Lefebvre's students, where one will find names such as Frank Benson, Childe Hassam, Fernand Khnopff and Edmund Tarbell.
Lefebvre was no slouch with his brush, having won the Prix de Rome early in his career. He favored pretty women subjects, as can be seen below.
Rokeby Venus - Velázquez - c. 1947-51
The variety of posing positions for the human body has limits, so some duplication (or near-duplication, in this case) can be expected. Yet the similarity between Lefebvre's and Velázquez's nudes struck me. I think the reason is the similarity in body builds as well as the general pose.
In a way, it's surprising that there were plenty of portrait artists plying their trade in the early decades of the twentieth century. After all, photography was well established by then, so the basic need for likenesses of people was adequately and economically served by that medium. But wealthy people were willing to commission portraits anyway. Several reasons for this can be proposed, including the comparative durability of oil and canvas, family or social tradition, matters of social prestige, and more.
The very best portrait artists gravitated to places where wealth and tradition were firmly in place -- Paris, London, New York City and Boston are prime examples. Joseph DeCamp (1858-1923) came from Cincinnati, studied under Frank Duveneck in Munich, but made his career in Boston. A short Wikipedia entry about him is here, and a more detailed biographical note can be found here. Apparently DeCamp painted many landscapes early in his career, but most of these were destroyed in a studio fire.
Besides painting commissioned portraits and teaching -- his main sources of professional income -- DeCamp created many paintings for his own purposes, many having beautiful women as the subject. They were often very good, as can be seen below.
My guess is that this was inspired by Vermeer; note the similar room arrangement.
Hitler's Nazi Germany tried to wipe out modernist "degenerate art" and replace it with Aryan naturalism. Stalin's Communist Soviet Union discarded post-Revolutionary art "isms" in favor of Socialist Realism's farm tractors and heroic workers. And Mussolini's Fascist Italy? Modernism was just fine with Il Duce's crowd, and plenty of modernist artists were just fine with Fascism.
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's Futurism was the prime home-grown modernist movement in Italy, and its focus on dynamism was in synch with the dynamism that Mussolini attempted to impart to Italian society after he assumed power. Futurism was pushed along over time via manifestos and other means of rejuvenation. Around the end of the 1920s, one form of this emerged in something called Aeropittura -- aviation pictures.
Perhaps the best of the Aeropittura painters was Tullio Crali, who I wrote about here. There were others, and I think it might be interesting to look at some of their works along with a couple of Cralis.
I seem to find myself in the Palm Springs, California area every March while my wife is at the Indian Wells tennis tournament. When not being her taxi driver, I goof off various places, including the El Paseo, a fancy shopping street in Palm Desert. There are plenty of art galleries there, and my visits sometimes serve as grist for blog posts such as here and here.
I tend to focus on representational paintings, so while browsing on a Friday Art Walk evening, I took notes on names of artists whose work caught my attention for one reason or another. Not all the images shown below were on display when I went gallery-hopping; but I want to indicate what those artists were currently doing.
A number of Bowles' paintings at first glance seem to be color-field exercises. But on closer examination, they are actually abstracted landscapes.
I wrote about Saltarelli here, but thought it worthwhile to show you something more recently displayed. He dashes things off, including sketchiness with more painterly passages, to put it in artist jargon.
Hyper-realism probably based on a photo (note the reflections he incorporates on the side of the fender). But I'm a car guy and an automobile history buff, so what's not for me to like here.
The lack of facial detail on the subjects bothers me, despite whatever rationalizations are offered for this.
Cody has painted a number of small paintings such as this, dealing with small-town scenes from Texas or the mountain states.
Kowalski paints in the same subject vein as Cody. But the painting above is a bit different. I viewed the original, and was impressed by the brushwork Kowalski used to build the image.
Joaquin Sorolla's Valencia beach scenes must resonate seriously with some Spanish painters. A while ago I posted about Ginar Bueno, whose work struck me as being both too similar to Sorolla and definitely inferior to the master's work. Segrelles uses the same subject matter, but his style is more solidly constructed than Sorolla's, making his paintings easier for me to accept than Bueno's.
I dealt with Carson's change of style here, but thought I'd include an image of a painting of his I saw at the most recent Art Walk.
One of the major outdoor art shows in the western United Sates is the La Quinta Arts Festival held every March in California's Palm Springs area. I usually write about it, because attending gives me something to do while not driving my wife to and from the Indian Wells tennis tournament that's also held in the area in March.
My interest is paintings, but those comprise a distinct minority of what is on display (and for sale). The rest includes, among other things, photography, jewelery, sculpture and clothing. Some paintings are abstract art, which I generally don't blog about. So I'll mention some artists whose work is at least somewhat representational. I divided the paintings according to whether they dealt with people as subject matter or else were landscapes. There were a few still life artists, but they are ignored here.
Most of the images below are not what I saw at La Quinta. Instead, I grabbed them from here and there on the Internet with the intention of presenting something representing the artists' styles.
This is little more than a cartoon, but Barnes cranks out a lot of paintings in the same vein, so there must be a market for it.
Gal's works are often cluttered with expressionist takes on people. They don't appeal to me.
Almost-abstract humans here. Given the colors and composition, I'm guessing that Golkar is a Matisse fan.
More cartoonishness. It must sell well enough, perhaps because of all those colors.
I wonder if Diaz was influenced by Chuck Close, in that he builds up images from fairly uniform little shapes. In this case, the shapes are little circles about the size and shape of reinforcement stickers used for punched paper placed in ring binders.
The style here is 1920s, where the subjects are partly outlined. Retro, but pleasant.
Lots of strong color here along with some expressionist brushwork. Restrained, contemporary Fauvism? Whatever it is, something is wrong (I blame all that magenta and red).
More overdone reddish tones, but more acceptable than the previous painting. Still, the colors are too fake, and the sun angle implied by the mountain shadows isn't carried over in the foreground.
Wilson also really likes magentas and purples, but she deals with them better than Hanson and McClary.
Yes, it's possible to paint hard-edge landscapes. Swimm's work is little too crisp for me, but he is a competent painter in that style.
I thought Teresa Saia was the star of last year's show, as I wrote here. And that charming lady does it again in 2014.
Harry Grant Dart (1869-1938) was an illustrator and cartoonist active in the early part of the last century. Around 1907-10 he created a number of scenes depicting what he saw as future developments in aviation. The illustration above, "Going into Action," is from 1907, and shows aerial combat of a form curiously like a naval action on the ocean's surface. Bear in mind that the Wright Brothers had flown for the first time less that four years before and the Great War was seven years in the future, so his conjecture can't be strongly criticized.
In any case, it's an exciting scene, with deck guns blazing and crewmen maneuvering a craft using what looks like a ship's wheel. The aircraft are not the boxy, kite-like affairs found in 1907. Instead, they have sleek fuselages surmounted by dragonfly-like wings or else are bird-like monoplanes. Missing is a lot of maneuvering in the vertical plane, but in 1907 the airplanes he knew about were content to be flown at a pretty constant altitude.
Dart's brief Wikipedia entry is here, and a link dealing with his cartoon work is here.
Night sea battles were a rarity, and suggesting that aircraft might be part of the mix was an audacious prediction by Dart.
Another future combat scene. Shore-based artillery in the foreground. Battleships toward the horizon. What might be submarines or high-speed torpedo boats near the shore (it's hard to tell what Dart was depicting here). And that large aircraft sprouting wings in every direction. Oh, and I see something that could be a rocket or missile. Dart was really cookin' when he dreamed this up.
Hard to say what's going on here. The aircraft doesn't seem to have crashed. More likely it landed on the mountaintop so that men could climb off and do some exploring or research nearby.
Note the swept-back wings on this job. Very sleek, but like the rest of his imaginary creations, unflyable in reality.
Huge wings and delicate frameworks, not to mention a boat-like fuselage with a small fore-deck for observers.
The portrait above of actress Maria Melato was by Giuseppe Amasanti (1879-1941), an Italian artist who specialized in portraying women. He studied at a technical school, switched to art, briefly abandoned the field, attained some success, then traveled a good deal during the 1920s (Egypt, Brazil) before returning to Italy. That's what I glean from Wikipedia entries in Dutch and Portuguese -- entries in English and (surprisingly) Italian are little more than placeholding stubs.
Amasanti's style does not neatly fit major categories. He painted realistically in terms of drawing, his colors were sometimes exaggerated as best I can tell from Internet images, and his brushwork was almost always visible, but ranged from relatively subdued to strong.
Market interest in his paintings seems limited, for now. Apparently one can buy a Amasanti at auction for only a few thousand dollars.
Here are more examples of his work.
Amisanti also portrayed men.
Actress Borelli posed for Amisanti several times.
The biographies linked above do not say who Riri was. A wife?
This seems to be from the 1930s.
A lot of artistic talent and effort went into poster design and illustration during the first several decades of the twentieth century, especially in Europe. I have already written about German artists Ludwig Hohlwein and Werner Axster-Heudtlass. The present post deals with Jupp Wiertz (1888-1939), another capable German illustrator. Unfortunately, I could find little about him in English, but his Wikipedia entry in German is fairly substantial.
Wiertz was versatile, as the images below indicate.
Just an idle thought, here. Nothing profound, as usual. I was thinking about something I wrote about in my e-book Art Adrift, and this odd idea popped into my head. Let me explain it.
An Art Adrift contention is that much modern and probably even more postmodern art lacks staying power. That's because, especially for the postmodern case, subject matter and presentation fashions are too rooted in the current scene, and universals of humanity tend to be ignored. Ironic takes on cultural references replace emotions such as joy, sorrow, wistfulness and such. Centuries, or even decades from now, how many viewers of paintings will have any idea what such paintings are about, especially if images are considerably distorted from everyday reality? We can relate to paintings by Rembrandt, but will folks 400 years from now (to use a similar time scale) be able to relate to one of Willem DeKooning's messy paintings of women?
Now for my (insightful? crazy? silly?) thought. A couple of hundred years from now, would a painting of Elvis Presley on black velvet be better appreciated than postmodern paintings of certain types? Consider the following:
I found these images near the top of a Google seach.
Clearly Elvis is a 20th century cultural icon / artifact/ whatever. Few in the distant future are likely to know about him. But he is a fellow human, and a viewer of even an on-velvet Elvis might well be interested in viewing it for its human aspects. The Murakami painting might be recognized as some kind of cartoon, and the painting of a man wearing a hat could well be dismissed as not interesting or informative. As for the artist Samoa's painting showing Barack Obama, it is highly likely that it will simply be a puzzlement, its (poorly drawn) subject and accompanying iconography without meaning.
To be clear: I don't contend that Elvis paintings are or will be necessarily considered great art; but I suggest they'll be easier to relate to than much postmodernism.
James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) was one of America's most popular illustrators from early in the twentieth century through the 1930s, and to a lesser extent beyond, as his sketchy style fell out of synch with illustration fashion.
A brief Wikipedia biography is here, but more useful sources are here (for details) and here, where you can scroll to view examples of his work.
I am ambivalent regarding Flagg's art. That might be because it's a little too loose and too stylized for me. Let me elaborate. The looseness could drift towards a lack of control. As for stylization, his faces sometimes came off more Flagg-like than how peoples actually appeared. I'll point out examples below. On the other hand, he was quite capable of "nailing it," and I'll point that out too.
This is by far Flagg's most famous work: iconic to this day.
Flagg could paint in oils, but that was done mostly when he wasn't illustrating.
Much of Flagg's illustration work was for magazine interiors, rather than covers. Before the 1920s, he often used pen-and-ink, as did many other illustrators at that time. (This illustration seems to be from the 30s, however, so he continued to use a pen when he could get away with it.)
By the 1920s and 30s, he had largely switched to water media. The girl is nicely done, but the Rolls-Royce in the background is far too sketchily done (inaccurately drawn) to suit me.
But here Flagg shines. Not the whole illustration, but with the seated women. Especially the expression on her face.
This is an example of Flagg-style taking over bits of portraiture. Yes, it looks like Harlow. And yes, there's no mistaking who drew her.
More Flagg intrusion, especially his treatment of the subjects' noses and the general sketchiness that detracts from what many people expect from a movie poster. Flagg's treatment of Ronald Colman's right shoulder is just plain wrong.
Peter Ellenshaw (1913-2007) is considered a major master of the specialized art of matte painting. A left-handed artist, he was born in England and worked in the matte trade there until he was 40, when he moved to the United States and spent much of his later career at Disney.
Ellenshaw's brief Wikipedia entry is here. The Ellenshaw family website is here (Peter wasn't the only Ellenshaw matte artist). A good source for information about matte art is "NZ Pete," whose site is here; I grabbed several of the images below from Pete.
I don't know if this painting was done for Ellenshaw's personal enjoyment or whether it was related to a movie project. In either case, it shows him as a landscape artist.
Besides mattes, Ellenshaw was sometimes involved with concept art for film projects.
"Mary Poppins" was a major project for Ellenshaw. Being an Englishman, creating a London panorama was probably easier than it might have been for an American.
Live action was located where the crowds are seen; the rest was largely or entirely painted.
The black area at the bottom of the upper detail image is part of the area reserved for live action. Note how freely Ellenshaw painted some of the indidental buildings.
Disney called upon Ellenshaw to paint clusters of sailing ship masts on more than one occasion.
Eric Sloane, born Everard Jean Hinrichs (1905-1985) was a prolific and popular illustrator and writer of books dealing with rural life, largely in New England and the northeastern United States. I was well aware of his publications when I lived in Upstate New York and he was still active.
His Wikipedia entry explains why he used a pseudonym to launch his career. Some other sites with biographical information regarding Sloane are here and here.
Sloane's illustrations are rather tightly drawn or painted, probably because he thought it necessary to document how the components of the structures he was depicting were assembled. He was more lyrical when it came to the buildings' settings -- particularly skies and other atmospherics.
Sloane spent time in Taos, New Mexico as well as in the Northeast, but the images presented below deal with the latter, because that region was his main focus.
I was never a railroad buff. Perhaps should have been, given that my grandfather and uncle on my father's side were railroad men. Maybe that is why, when I think of Terence Cuneo (1907-1996), a famous British illustrator and painter in his day, what comes to mind are his wartime, aircraft and automobile works rather than the railway paintings that seem to be what he is best remembered for. That memory was manifested in a statue of him placed in London's Waterloo Station a few years ago.
No doubt some -- or even many -- readers are train fans. So with that in mind, I'm presenting examples of Cuneo's railway art. Some are simply portraits of famous locomotives, other works deal with various aspects of train travel.
Information on Cuneo can be found on his Wikipedia entry, this post on Lines and Colors blog, and his daughter's comments here.
Some portraits of famous locomotives of times past.
This is a huge painting that can be seen at the National Railway Museum in York, England.
For reasons I don't really understand, and therefore can't explain, I've been fascinated by the 1920s for most of my life. So when I surf the Internet and stumble across interesting paintings or illustrations depicting that era, I'll copy them on the hard drive of my desktop computer.
Today's post presents some illustrations I've collected. They were done by artists who are not now well known here in America. I might feature one or more another time, but for now will simply display the images without any supporting information.
Architect Harvey Wiley Corbett (1873-1954) didn't invent the concept of multi-level separation of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, but he did much to popularize the concept in the early decades of the twentieth century. His Wikipedia entry is here, and a discussion of his city planning ideas is here.
The idea of separating rail, street vehicle and pedestrian traffic has both rational and idealistic appeal, and the twentieth century up to around 1940 was a time when bold concepts of the future were entertained and even given serious consideration. Offhand, I can't think of any actual large-scale implementation of those ideas, because the cost and scale would have been immense. A small-scale implementation was in the General Motors pavilion at the 1939-40 New York Worlds Fair (the link has a photo).
Logic and idealism aside, I find it hard to image a real-world city of that kind. I'm not sure that drivers would have enjoyed being channeled between stark building walls or, in some cases, roaring along hundreds of feet above ground level. And pedestrians would be breathing exhaust fumes rising from all those cars, trucks and busses running below.
A French concept of multi-level traffic.
This is a well-known early example of a utopian future New York City.
Internet sources say this drawing was based on Corbett's thinking, but I can't confirm that he was at it as early as 1913.
This is a modest version of a multi-level traffic city.
Here Corbett proposes a city with everything packed into skyscrapers including schools, playgrounds and (scary thought!) airfields.
A future city in the Corbett idiom.
This image shows traffic pulsing along some 30 or 40 floors above ground level. What always intrigued me about this rendering is the party taking place on the terrace of the building to the right.
Political art is a form of lipstick on the newspaper editorial page cartoon genre. Or so I think. Messages are brought to the fore, usually in a heavy-handed manner, while artistic merit is subordinated to The Cause.
Which brings us to the interesting case of Joe Jones (1909-1963). He was a self-taught painter from St.Louis who was swept up by Communism in the 1930s and ended up painting innocuous covers for Time Magazine not long before he died. His Wikipedia entry is here.
Considering his lack of formal art training, by the time he was in his early 20s Jones was surprisingly proficient in the Social Realism style of the 1930s. And he abandoned this by the time World War 2 was over. Nevertheless, it was his 30s work, both political and American Scene, that serves as the basis for whatever notoriety he has today.
These two paintings fall into the American Scene category. Note the simplified forms, a popular, yet tepid form of Modernism popular at the time.
Now Jones gets into cartoon-style paintings dealing with causes.
And back to American Scene.
Information regarding the mural and its restoration can be found here.
A cartoon-like take on the Dust Bowl; the farmer who for some reason does not care for his land.
What Jones ended up painting.
William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was a leading American painter during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as his Wikipedia entry indicates. Highly prolific, he often would paint whatever was at hand when he wasn't teaching or doing commissioned work. Such subjects included family members and even scenes of his studio, the subject of this post.
Here are some of Chase's studio scenes.
This is a photo of Chase's studio on Tenth Street in New York City.