Friday, January 18, 2019

Salvador Dalí - A Love Story

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Salvador Dalí, Argus in Color, 1963

Salvador Dalí, Argus in Color, 1963
(ACA Galleries)


ACA Galleries in New York will present Salvador Dalí, a solo exhibition featuring selected etchings, Aubusson tapestries and drawings from the Argillet Collection, from January 10 to March 9, 2019.

Dalí and Pierre Argillet began working together in 1959 and produced nearly 200 etchings over a 15 year period. They are noted for their attention to detail with wide-ranging themes such as mythology, Faust, bullfights, as well as the writings of Apollinaire, Chairman Mao, and Don Juan among others. The prints they produced during this fertile collaboration have been shown at museums throughout the world including Musée Boijmans, Rotterdam; Musée Pushkin, Moscow; Kunsthaus, Zurich; Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart; Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo; and Daimaru Art Museum, Osaka, among others.

Salvador Dalí was a Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist and designer who joined the Surrealist movement in 1929. One of the most legendary and eccentric of the group, Dalí formulated the methodology of Critical Paranoia which encouraged artists to unlock their subconscious. He lived in the United States from 1940 – 1955 before returning to Spain. There are two art museums dedicated to Dalí: one in Figueras, Spain and the other in St. Petersburg, Florida.



Salvador Dalí, Bullfight, tapestry
ACA Galleries

Salvador Dalí (b. 1904 – 1989) is regarded as one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century and with good reason. His art was multi-faceted and trailblazing and his personal life was riddled with unlikely twists. From being expelled from art school (twice) to his little-known collaboration with Chupa Chups lollipops (the logo he designed for them in 1969 is still used to this day), Dalí’s life has proven to be rich with both stories and masterworks that still capture a modern audience’s imagination.
In fact, Dalí even experienced such fame during his own lifetime that he often treated large groups of friends to dinner by settling the check with a drawing on the reverse—knowing that even a small doodle by his hand would likely prevent the check from ever being cashed.
This degree of fame was not accidental. Dalí was arguably the first modern artist to cultivate a personal brand in any contemporary sense and his talent for doing so proved remarkably skillful. Dalí displayed a natural knack for courting controversy and intrigue. He once duped Yoko Ono into buying a single strand of his moustache for $10,000 dollars that was, in fact, a dried blade of grass from a nearby park. It was anecdotes like this which endeared him to the fashionable set of Café Society in Europe in the 1950s.
Yet perhaps the most enduring story of Dalí’s life—and most closely tangled up with the genre-defining art he produced—is the story of his love affair with neé Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, styled more commonly by the single name: Gala.
Apollinaire Woman With Guitar
Salvador Dalí was not Gala’s first love affair with a famous Surrealist artist, nor would he be her last. When Dalí met his future wife, muse, and business manager she was already married. Her husband, Paul Éluard—a French poet and founding member of André Breton’s original Surrealism movement—had met Gala when they were seventeen and convalescing at the same sanitorium in Switzerland. They married shortly before Éluard left to fight in World War I and afterwards moved to a suburb of Paris.
It was at their house in Saint-Brice that the famous Surrealist painter Max Ernst would eventually relocate, leaving behind his wife and son to move in with Gala and Éluard and enter into a ménage-à-trois that would last three years, from 1924 to 1927.
Mythology Suite: Judgment of Paris
Two years later Gala met Dalí when he was visiting Paris, about to collaborate with Luis Bruñuel on Un Chien Andalou, the Surrealist film that would be Dalí’s first large-scale artistic success and launch his career—much of which Gala would oversee and steer. The connection between the two was instant and would endure the remainder of their lives despite their numerous affairs, unusual sexual arrangements, and periods of estrangement.
Gala was ten years Dalí’s senior and the age difference enraged Dalí’s father who was already incensed by a particular work of Surrealist art in which Dalí included the inscription: “Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother’s portrait.” Dalí’s relationship with his parents had always been fraught. His birth came just nine months after his older brother’s death, who was also named Salvador, and when Dalí was five-years-old his parents had taken him to his brother’s grave and explained that Dalí was a reincarnation of the child they had lost—an idea he continued to accept throughout his adult life.
When Dalí and Gala entered into their civil partnership, Dalí was banished from his paternal house in Cadaqués and disinherited. The couple responded by renting a fisherman’s cabin in nearby Port Lligat, which they gradually expanded by buying up neighbouring cabins as well, quilting them into a much beloved villa as Gala deftly guided them away from financial insolvency. Over the next five years until their marriage in 1934, Dali would often sign his paintings not with his own name but with Gala’s, writing: “It is mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures.”
Fantomes Magic Circle
During the summers, Dalí painted at the villa. Many of his most influential works were created there, including the Persistence of Memory and his recurring motif of melted clocks. During the winters, Gala and Dalí travelled to Paris and New York, where Gala organized dinners, meetings, and balls with collectors, gallerists, and other artists who would prove to be essential to Dalí’s growth.
As Dalí’s fame increased abroad, tension began to mount with Breton’s Surrealists, among whom Dalí had got his start. 1934—the same year during which Dalí and Gala were wed—saw both Dalí lauded by socialites in New York at a “Dalí Ball” and rebuked by his artistic contemporaries at a “Dalí Trial” organized by Breton himself in order to determine whether Dalí should be permitted to remain a member of the Surrealists. The group was becoming ever more communist in its sensibilities and Dalí was and would continue to remain apolitical throughout his life—often returning to Spain even during Franco’s dictatorship during when many of the cultural elite fled.
Hippies Corridor of Katmandu
In response to his trial, Dalí notoriously replied: “The difference between the Surrealists and I is, I myself am Surrealism.” And this was true. As Dalí became closer to Gala, he also drew closer to developing a style that put him farther away from the other members of Surrealism.
Unlike many relationships between artists and their muses, that between Dalí and Gala would not expire as she grew older. Instead, Dalí went on to use Gala as a model for works well into her seventies and her name often appears in the titles of works in addition to her image. In 1968 he bought her a derelict castle in Pubol, Spain, where she would spend her retirement until her death and where Dalí, fascinatingly, was not allowed to visit without her explicit permission in writing.
“The difference between the Surrealists and I is, I myself am Surrealism” – Salvador Dalí
Dalí not only accepted the rules surrounding Gala, her privacy, and her young male lovers—many of them artists—he romanticized them, describing their arrangement as “the neurotic ceremony of courtly love.” However, Dalí was never more direct in his explanation of the role his love affair with Gala played in both his art and life than in his memoirs, rapturously titled The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí.
In them, he compares her to Gravid, the title of a book by W. Jensen, the main character of which was Sigmund Freud, another significant influence in Dalí’s work. In the story, the character of Gravida brings psychological healing to Freud. Dalí describes her presence in his own world as such: “She was destined to be my Gravida, the one who moves forward, my victory, my wife.” And it is this love story that still captures the imaginations of Dalí admirers today. In a life so richly packed with intriguing detail, the narrative of Dalí and Gala—and both of their relationships to his art—stands out.
Caroline Calloway, Courtesy ACA Galleries

POLITICS AND PAINT: BARBARA BODICHON AND THE PRE-RAPHAELITE BROTHERHOOD


A hooded Procession, not dated.  Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891).  Watercolor on paper, 10 1/16 × 14 9/16 inches.  Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library.

A hooded Procession, not dated. Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891). Watercolor on paper, 10 1/16 × 14 9/16 inches. Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library.

    February 3, 2019 at Delaware Art Museum.



    Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891) was an early female painter in the Pre-Raphaelite movement and ardent women’s rights campaigner. Landscape was Bodichon’s preferred genre, and her style reflects Pre-Raphaelite principles of careful observation and detailed rendering. Bodichon traveled widely and exhibited at the Royal Academy and Gambart’s French Gallery in Pall Mall, London, among other venues.

    Throughout her life she was a tireless reformer and champion of women’s rights. In 1854, she published her A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women , which was later used to promote the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act 1882. In 1858, she set up the English Woman’s Journal and in 1866, with Emily Davies, developed a strategy to extend university education to women, resulting in the founding of Girton College, Cambridge.

    An inheritance from her father, radical Whig politician Ben Leigh Smith, allowed her an independence that was almost unheard of for a woman of the Victorian age. She was a true original spirit, ignoring class and gender restrictions. Rossetti described her as “blessed with… enthusiasm, & golden hair, who thinks nothing of climbing up a mountain in breeches or wading through a stream in none, in the sacred name of pigment.”

    In 2016, the Delaware Art Museum acquired the watercolor Ventnor, Isle of Wight (1856), which became the inspiration for this exhibition. Bodichon’s working process will be examined and feature watercolor sketches and drawings from her travels.


     
    Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Miss Barbara Bodichon, née Leigh Smith (1827-1891). Watercolour and bodycolour with scratching out, 28 x 42.5 inches; signed, inscribed and dated 1856. Provenance: Christopher Wood, London Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1956, no. 913; Manchester City Art Gallery, November 1997: 'Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists.'

    In 1856 the artist, then Barbara Leigh-Smith (she married the next year), stayed with her friend Anna Mary Howitt, also an artist, on the Isle of Wight and painted this picture. Howitt had attended Henry Sass’ art academy in 1846 with Holman Hunt and Rossetti, and the Pre-Raphaelites were regular visitors to her house in Highgate. Barbara Leigh-Smith was the illegitimate daughter of the radical Whig politician Ben Leigh Smith and Anne Longden, a milliner from Alfreton. Her first cousin was Florence Nightingale. Well educated, intelligent and forceful, Leigh-Smith became with Howitt one of ‘The Ladies of Langham Place’ that met regularly in London to discuss women’s rights. In 1854, she published her Brief Summary of the Laws of England Concerning Women, which was later used to promote the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act 1882. In 1858, she set up the English Women’s Journal, concerning employment and equality issues for women. In 1866, with Emily Davies, she came up with a scheme to extend university education to women. The first small experiment in this at Hitchin developed into Girton College, Cambridge, to which Mrs Bodichon gave liberally of her time and money.
    The picture was well received at the Royal Academy; W M Rossetti described it as a ‘capital coast scene, full of real pre-Raphaelitism’.
    Robin McInnes has identified the viewpoint to near Luccombe, just to the east of Ventnor, looking northeast across Shanklin Bay to Culver Cliff in the far distance, and suggested that the headland in the middle distance (which has been placed where it should not be) is Woody Point to the west of Ventnor, transposed for artistic effect.
    The Maas Gallery, 15a Clifford Street, London W1S 4JZ has most generously given its permission to use in the Victorian Web information, images, and text from its catalogues, and this generosity has led to the creation of many valuable documents on painting and drawing. The copyright on text and images from their catalogues remains, of course, with the Gallery. Readers should consult their website to obtain information about recent exhibitions and to order their catalogues. [GPL]


    The approximately 30 works are drawn from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware and recent acquisitions in the Museum’s permanent collection.

    This exhibition is organized by the Delaware Art Museum with financial support provided, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

    Wildflowers, not dated.  Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891).  Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 11 9/16 × 8 3/4 inches.  Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017.

     Wildflowers, not dated. Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891). Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 11 9/16 × 8 3/4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017.

    Pear, not dated.  Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891).  Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 9 13/16 × 6 3/4 inches.  Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017.

    Pear, not dated. Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891). Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 9 13/16 × 6 3/4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017.

     Parasol pink mountains sky background pink, not dated. Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827–1891). Watercolor on paper mounted, 8 1/8 × 14 1/4 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2017:

    Thursday, January 17, 2019

    More on Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Master Paintings on 30 January



    – Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Master Paintings on 30 January will offer one of the most important work s by 18 th -century French artist Elisabeth -Louise Vigée Le Brun ever to appear at auction. 
     https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/Mohammed_Dervish_Khan_by_Elizabeth_Vigee_Lebrun.jpg

    Offered with an estimate of $4/6 million, her life -sized Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan will headline The Female Triumphant – a group of masterworks by trailblazing female artists of the Pre -Modern era, being offered across Sotheby’s Masters Week auctions this January in New York.

     As the most widely -recognized female French artist of the 18th century, Vigée’s popularity has prop elled in recent years, most notably as the subject of a blockbuster exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2016. A precocious and talented artist from a young age, she succeeded in gaining entrance to the Académie de Saint -Luc at just 19 – a remarkable accomplishment for a woman at the time. By the late 1770s, her reputation as a painter had become well established, as she was commissioned to paint a portrait of the young Queen Marie Antoinette. The tremendous success of this portrait led to a number of royal commissions and the continued patronage of the Queen and her circle. It was this special Royal connection that granted Vigée the ability and power to capture the portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, a Muslim ambassador from India, which stands today as a symbolic testament to the relationship between Pre -Revolutionary France and India. 

    In July of 1788, Tipu Sultan, the powerful ruler of Mysore in southern India, sent three of his ambassadors to France to seek the support of Louis XVI in his goal of driving the British out of India. The French had militarily supported Tipu in the early 1780s, in his quest to resist British colonialism and the British East India Company – but after the American Revolution , France signed a peace treaty with England and retreated from India. Eager to re -engage the French both militarily and commercially, in 1786, Tipu began planning the delegation to France, in which he would ask for the support of Louis XVI and the French army and woo them with commercial goods to bring French artisans back to the Mysore Court. The three ambassadors led a grand and impressive embassy, causing a sensation in Paris as they made their way to Versailles. 

    Most Parisians had never seen a person from India, much less Mysore, and local newspapers like the Journal de Paris reported on the ambassadors’ whereabouts almost daily. They attended plays and operas, toured French silk and wallpaper factories, and did not shy away from romances with local wom en. 3 By 1788, Vigée Le Brun’s fame and influence was flourishing – she had been painting Marie - Antoinette for a decade and was well -ensconced in the powerful elite of Paris and Versailles.

     When the artist saw the ambassadors at the Opera, she knew she had to paint them, as she wrote her in memoirs : “I saw these Indians at the opera and they appeared to me so remarkably picturesque that I thought I should like to paint them. But as they communicated to their interpreter that they would never allow themselve s to be painted unless the request came from the King, I managed to secure that favour from His Majesty.” As Muslim men, the idea of having themselves represented pictorially – let alone by a female artist – was unheard of. Vigée’s tenacity and resourcefulness in achieving the sitting was a remarkable feat. After the request came from the King, they agreed to sit for her at their hôtel in Paris. 

    The intensity in which Dervish Khan is portrayed is unlike any other portrait by Vigée, whose oeuvre tends more towards a sympathetic portrayal of handsome and elegant royal courtiers. 

    The life-size portrait is an extraordinary reflection on a French woman’s perception of a powerful Indian man, painted with exceptional skill and delicacy. Dervish Khan is imposing and formidable, clutching and displaying his curved sword, showing off his power both physically and culturally. He wears the traditional costume that so enamored the French men and women who encountered his embassy and were fascinated by the fabrics whic h were making their way into French fashions. 

    Vigée’s decision to focus the painting on Dervish Khan’s luxurious clothing brings a feminine note to the otherwise very masculine painting and provides an interesting commentary on French fascination with exotic goods and luxury fabrics from outside the continent. 

    When the paintings had finished drying, Vigée sent for the works but was refused – Dervish Khan had hidden his portrait behind the bed. As Vigée enthusiastically wrote, she strategically convinced his servant to steal it back for her, only to later hear that Dervish Khan had then planned to murder the servant for this transgression. Luckily, an interpreter convinced the ambassador that murdering  your valet was not acceptable practice in France, and he falsely claimed that it was the King who wanted the portrait . 

    The painting, along with that of Dervish Khan’s fellow ambassador Osman Khan, was exhibited at the Salon of 1789 in August and was received by the public with immense curiosity and critical acclaim. Two months later, Vigée had fled Paris in fear of her life after mobs had invaded Versailles. Given that the painting next appears in 1841 in the estate sale of her husband, Jean -Baptiste Pierre Le Brun, it can be assumed that she kept the work i n her personal collection but left it at home in France when she went to Italy. The painting was featured in the family collection of Louis -Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, the founder of the orange -flavored liqueur Grand Marnier for over a century, before be ing offered by the present owner.



    Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Mrs. Spencer Perceval, née Jane Wilson (1769-1844), Bust-length, signed and dated lower right: LeBrun / 1804, pastel on paper, 19 by 14 3/4 in.; 48 by 37.5 cm. Estimate $150/250,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.
     



    ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI Rome 1593  – circa -1656 Naples 


    Artemisia’s oil on canvas  of  Saint Sebastian , an impressive  recent  addition  to the artist’s  oeuvre (estimate $400/600,000). 
    With Artemisia Gentileschi the concept of the true “woman -artist” appeared for the first time in the  history of painting, a field which had previously been dominated by men. The daughter of the famous  painter Orazio Gentileschi, she liberated herself to claim her artistic independence after having  learned the secrets of the trade from her father. Though she was raped by a tutor hired by her  father, and underwent a historically famous court case, she did not let the experience stop her from  pursuing painting . She called upon the style of Caravaggio – but with her own distinct brushstrokes.  Her paintings were celebrated by the noble and powerful families of Rome and Naples, as well as the  ruling Spanish viceroys, and fetched high prices. As her success grew, Artemisia became a valued  member of society, attending the Florentine court of the Medici, as well as a friend of Galileo Galilei  and of the learned Cassiano del Pozzo. She was so respected that she became the first woman in  history admitted to the prestigious Accademia del Disegno, founded by Giorgio Vasari. 
      
    Sometimes presented by latter -day scholars as a  proto-feminist, Artemisia reveled in depictions of  female heroines such as Judith and Sisera, as well  5as more traditional subjects such as Cleopatra, Danaë, and female personifications of allegories.  Here, she once more celebrates female virtue by showing Irene and Lucina giving relief to the Roman  deserter Sebastian, after he had been repeatedly wounded by arrows.  

    MARIE-VICTOIRE LEMOINE
    Paris 1754 - 1820

    Marie-Victoire Lemoine is said to have studied under Vigée Le Brun. While many artists – including Le Brun – fled France during the Revolution given their associations with the court, others like Lemoine stayed and enjoyed fresh opportunities from the upheaval. In 1791, the new government opened up the biannual Salons to all artists, including women like Lemoine who had previously been held back by the Académie Royale’s restrictions on women members. Her breakthrough came in 1796 when she first exhibited at the Paris Salon, where she would go on to find success. Though she never married, she was able to support herself entirely by her painting – a remarkable feat at the time.

    This sumptuous portrait of a young and attractive girl depicts Madame de Genlis, a writer who later became the first female governess to the royal princes, charged with the education of the sons of Philippe, duc d'Orléans (estimate $60/80,000). Marie-Victoire Lemoine painted Madame de Genlis with a soft yet commanding beauty, elegantly and directly looking out at the viewer in this sensual depiction of the young writer, alluding more to her role as mistress to the duc d'Orleans rather than as a formidable governess. The Female Triumphant also will offer the vibrant Still life of spring flowers in a basket – the only known, pure still life by Lemoine (estimate $80/120,000).

    FEDE GALIZIA
    Milan 1578 - 1630

    Daughter of the miniaturist and painter, Nunzio Galizia, Fede Galizia trained under her father. Her precocious talent was already on full display as a young teenager, and by the age of 20, she had achieved international renown as a painter of portraits and devotional compositions. Although early modern female artists rarely received commissions for major history paintings, Galizia was best known in her lifetime for devotional works and commissioned portraits. While most 17th-century painters specialized in a single genre, she produced a diverse body of work – an especially unusual feat for a woman artist. While her still lifes were virtually unknown to scholars until the 20th century, it is now apparent that Galizia was one of the female artists who would play a vital role in the emergence of the relatively new genre of still life. Although she produced fewer than 20 refined, naturalistic still life compositions on panel, these works inspired followers in her lifetime and are now considered her most important paintings.

    Fede Galizia’s A glass compote with peaches, jasmine flowers, quinces, and a grasshopper (estimate $2/3 million) is a beautiful example of the revolutionary female artist’s contributions to the Italian still life genre, which she helped to invent in the early 17th century. Exhibited internationally, the work was described as one of Galizia’s finest paintings in the second edition of Flavio Caroli’s definitive monograph of the artist’s work. Despite the intimate size of the panel, Galizia has created a sense of monumental scale with her placement of objects. Her close observation of details – such as the softness of the peaches, the modulations in the green on the leaves, and even the stripes on the grasshopper’s abdomen – continues to enchant viewers today.

    GIULIA LAMA
    Venice circa 1681 - 1747

    Bold in her art, refined in her intellect, yet reserved in her nature, Giulia Lama is one of the most enigmatic and fascinating figures of Venice in the early 17th-century. As an artist, poetess, embroiderer and scholar, she transcended the boundaries placed upon women during her lifetime. Born in 1681 as the eldest of four children, she remained close to her family her whole life, never marrying and largely living a life of seclusion. She was lauded for her intelligence, and her skills as a poet were stylistically linked in style to Petrarch. Economically independent, she supported herself financially through her creative talents, including her fine lacework and paintings, which ranged from large and dramatic altarpieces to mythological scenes and sensitively executed portraits.

    Unlike the Rococo style of her contemporary Rosalba Carriera, Giulia Lama executed large, energetic, and naturalistic compositions, often turning to subjects and techniques considered unconventional for women at the time. The present pair of canvases – which share a simple setting, restrained color palette, and a dramatic diagonal arrangement with each other – illustrates two lesser-known stories from the Old Testament: Joseph Interpreting the Eunuchs' Dreams and Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar consoling Job (estimate $400/600,000). Untraced until recently, these two paintings serve as visual testaments to her unwavering character and artistic prowess that for many generations was overshadowed by her male contemporaries.

    ANGELIKA KAUFFMANN
    Coira 1741-1807 Rome

    One of the most cultured and influential women of her generation, Angelika Kauffmann holds a place of particular importance in European art history. A talented musician, she was both a brilliant history and portrait painter. Born in Switzerland and trained in Rome, she first came to England in 1766. In London she quickly became a close friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who she is rumored to have nearly married at one point, as well as many of the most prominent cultural figures in England, including David Garrick. Fluent in English, French, Italian and German, her charm, wit, intelligence and skill attracted much attention. As a result, she was highly sought after as a portraitist by many of the foremost connoisseurs of the day – including members of the Royal family. In 1768, Kauffmann cemented her status by becoming one of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy. In her later years, following her marriage to the Italian decorative painter Antonio Zucchi, she returned to Rome where her studio became a popular stop for fashionable visitors on the Grand Tour, including artists, writers, aristocrats and dealers from across Europe. Her clients included many of the crowned heads of Europe, including Catherine the Great of Russia, and she was close friends with international luminaries such as Goethe, Canova and Sir William Hamilton.

    One of the wealthiest families in England, the young generation of Spencers likely depicted in Angelika Kauffmann’s Portrait of Three Children were prominent figures in the English aristocracy, and amongst the artist’s earliest British patrons (estimate $600/800,000). Seated at left with a handful of flowers is Georgiana Spencer, later Duchess of Devonshire upon her marriage to William, 5th Duke of Devonshire in 1774. As Duchess, she became one of the most famous and powerful women in 18th-century British society. Her sister, Lady Henrietta Frances, later the Countess of Bessborough, is depicted at the center holding an arrow. To her right is George John, Viscount Althorp, later 2nd Earl Spencer, who would become a Member of Parliament for Northampton and later for Surrey.

    MICHAELINA WAUTIER
    Mons 1604 - 1689 Brussels

    Born in 1604 in Mons, Wautier was the only daughter in a family of nine children, and appears to have begun her career later in life, around age 39. Her brother Charles was also a painter, and the two moved to Brussels in 1645, where they both remained unmarried and shared a studio. Michaelina’s absence from the art historical canon is all the more surprising given that she worked in multiple genres: portraiture, floral still life, genre painting, and history painting. The latter was the most unusual feat for a woman artist as it was considered the genre of highest importance and typically required studying live models, from which women were barred. After her death in 1689, most of her works remained with her family. This fact, combined with a lack of documentary evidence about Michaelina, led to her paintings being incorrectly attributed to others, with her artistic impact forgotten – until a recent monographic exhibition in Antwerp in 2018 introduced her work to the public for the first time.

    This recently discovered Study of a young boy turned away with a red cloak over his shoulders, turned almost in profile to the left, displays Wautier’s ability to convey both the naturalistic appearance of her subjects as well as their internal mood (estimate $60/80,000). The addition of this sensitive head study to Wautier’s oeuvre reveals the careful modeling, inventive use of color and chiaroscuro, and compassionate treatment of young subjects that earned Wautier success in her lifetime and the long overdue attention she has finally received. Wautier also excelled in other genres, including still lifes, as seen in her Garland of Flowers, Suspended Between Two Animal Skulls, A Dragonfly Above (estimate $200/300,000). Drawing inspiration from her Flemish contemporaries as well as from ancient Roman iconography, the work stands out as one of only two still lifes known by her hand.
     
     

    Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    Egon Schiele: In Search of the Perfect Line

    Galerie St. Etienne
    November 1, 2018, through March 2, 2019




    Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Brown Background, 1912. Gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper. Signed and dated, lower left. 12 3/8" x 10" (31.4 x 25.4 cm). Kallir D. 1177. Kallir Family Foundation. 


    Egon Schiele died on October 31, 1918, of the Spanish flu. He was twenty-eight years old and only just beginning to enjoy professional success. One hundred years later, museums in Boston, Linz, Liverpool, London, New York, Paris and, of course, Vienna have presented exhibitions celebrating the artist’s remarkable achievements. The Galerie St. Etienne, which mounted Schiele’s first American one-man show in 1941, is likewise marking the occasion with a commemorative exhibition, as well as a digital update of gallery co-director Jane Kallir’s catalogue raisonné, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works.



    Egon Schiele
    Self-Portrait. 1906. Pencil on gray paper. Inscribed "Selbstbild," lower left and dated ”10.IX.06," lower center. 7 1/2" x 5 1/2" (19.1 x 14 cm). Kallir D. 26. Private collection.


    Egon Schiele ranks among the greatest draughtsmen of all times. Line played a key structural role in his oils and is, naturally, the dominant element in his drawings and watercolors. Whereas drawing was, for most artists at the turn of the twentieth century, subordinate to painting, Schiele’s works on paper stand on their own as complete artistic statements. Drawing almost daily, he used the medium to record his fluctuating responses to the basic problems of human existence: sexual desire, personal identity, the tenuousness of life and the inevitability of death. Over the course of his brief career, Schiele’s drawing style changed frequently—sometimes several times in a single year. He was constantly searching for the perfect line: that split-second of transcendent clarity, when inner emotions and outward appearances become one.

     
    Egon Schiele
    Portrait of a Lady (The Artist's Mother). 1907. Charcoal on heavy cream wove paper. Signed and dated "21.11.07," lower right. 9 1/2" x 7 1/8" (24.1 x 18.1 cm). Kallir D. 91.


    Schiele drew like a racecar driver drives: very quickly. Even as a boy, he clocked himself. At the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied from 1906 to 1909, the students were given forty-five-minute assignments. Schiele, during that time, could complete as many as eight drawings. Bored by the curriculum and disdainful of his conservative professor, Christian Griepenkerl, he frequently cut class. Once, after an absence of about a week, Schiele returned to find the students feverishly engaged in a “competition” project. Sitting down almost at the last minute, he executed from memory a breathtakingly detailed drawing of the Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof. When Schiele’s mother asked Griepenkerl whether her son had talent, the professor replied, “Yes, much too much. He disrupts the entire class.”


     
    Egon Schiele
    Portrait of a Lady in Profile Facing Right. 1907. Charcoal on heavy cream laid paper. Signed and dated "20.11.07," upper left, and signed again, lower left. 20 5/8" x 13 5/8" (52.4 x 34.6 cm). Kallir D. 94.


    At the end of the spring semester in 1909, Schiele’s disagreements with Griepenkerl culminated in a formal letter of protest; he and several like-minded classmates withdrew from the Academy shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, in some respects Schiele and Griepenkerl were not so far apart. In addition to their shared appreciation of speed, the entire Academy program emphasized the primacy of drawing. Indeed, it is sometimes said that Schiele never formally studied painting. So far as work from the years 1906-09 can be linked to class assignments, it appears he followed the prescribed curriculum, which began with copying plaster casts and progressed to life drawing, portraits and nudes. The aim of these exercises was to produce an accurate three-dimensional likeness, using interior modeling to suggest volume, light and shadow. Schiele was fully capable of creating such work, and to the end of his career, his drawings remained rooted in visible reality. However, he was at this early stage far more interested in contour than volume.

    Among Schiele’s most important formative influences was Jugendstil design: the illustration style popularized by the Munich periodical Jugend. A more figural offshoot of French Art Nouveau, Jugendstil reduced all pictorial elements to flat, monochrome planes, in the process equalizing the treatment of subject and background. Jugendstil was ubiquitous in fin-de-siècle Austria and Germany, influencing every aspect of graphic design, posters and advertising. Schiele could scarcely avoid it, and one sees the style reflected in his teenage illustrations. His Gymnasium art teacher, Ludwig Karl Strauch (a far more sympathetic mentor than Griepenkerl) encouraged Schiele to break subjects into block forms, stimulating a lasting sensitivity to the interplay of positive and negative space. Line became for Schiele not merely a descriptive tool, but a crucial aesthetic and metaphorical boundary marker.

    It was just a short jump from the essentially decorative linearity of Jugendstil design to Schiele’s so-called Expressionist breakthrough of 1910. All that was necessary, really, was to replace the ornamental neutrality with a more emotionally inflected use of line and color. The unnatural, acrid yellows, reds, and greens typical of early 1910 were often applied selectively to key body parts, such as faces and hands. Other sections of a drawing might remain uncolored or be omitted entirely. Somehow Schiele always managed to maintain a perfect equilibrium between the colored and uncolored areas, which in turn were balanced within a tightly structured overriding matrix of negative and positive elements. Even signatures were strategically placed so as to balance the whole.

    People often forget that Schiele was only nineteen in early 1910, when he executed his first fully mature artworks. To a large extent, the content of these works—the endless questing—reflects the preoccupations of late adolescence. Why, people sometimes wonder, did Schiele (who was genuinely handsome) depict himself in such an ugly manner? Surely, they think, this must be a sign of mental derangement. But in fact, there are many Schieles visible in the artist’s self-portraits: ugly, yes, at times; but also angry, proud, confrontational or pensive. Sometimes several of these “alter-Egons” appear in a single work. Schiele was play-acting: attempting to create external visual correlatives for internal emotional states. Simultaneously, he was trying on different selves, as teenagers do, to see which ones fit.


     
    Egon Schiele
    Male Nude, Back View. 1910. Watercolor and charcoal on on paper. Initialed and dated, lower right. Estate stamp, verso. 17 5/8" x 12 1/4" (44.8 x 31.1 cm). Kallir D. 649. Private collection.


    Coming to terms with budding sexual urges is another key developmental task of late adolescence. And here, too, Schiele’s varying approaches may be seen as experimental. In early 1910, he created a series of watercolors depicting grotesquely distorted, brightly colored male nudes. Because these so-called “red men” relate to three contemporaneous self-portrait oils, they are often assumed to be self-representations. However, the evident viewpoint (from behind or above) in the studies makes it highly improbable that the artist himself could have posed. The subjects’ almost invariably concealed identities, furthermore, belie Schiele’s customary artistic treatment of his own persona.

    Egon Schiele
     
    Reclining Male Nude. 1910. Watercolor and black crayon on paper. Signed and dated, lower left. 12 3/8" x 16 3/4" (31.4 x 42.5 cm). Kallir D. 663. Private collection.


    The fact that two of the artist’s closest friends at the time, Max Oppenheimer and Erwin van Osen, were, respectively, gay and bisexual, gives the “red men” a possible homoerotic subtext. It is likely that one or both of these friends modeled for the male nudes. Much to the dismay of Schiele’s mentor, Arthur Roessler, Osen exerted a strong influence on the artist in the summer of 1910, when they were together in Krumau. Needless to say, open homosexuality was deeply taboo in fin-de-siècle Austria, which could be the reason Schiele hid his models’ faces.


     
    Egon Schiele
    Seated Nude Girl with Arms Raised Over Head. 1911. Watercolor and pencil on paper. Signed and dated, center right. 19" x 12 3/8" (48.3 x 31.4 cm). Kallir D. 927. Private collection.


    Schiele’s most reliable female model in the first half of 1910 was his sister Gerti: a compliant and totally unthreatening subject. However, toward the end of the year, he developed relationships (sexual as well as professional) with two other young women. They were clearly friends with one another, and may have been sex workers—at the time, there was little distinction between modeling and prostitution. As Schiele embarked on his first serious heterosexual adventures, his nudes betrayed marked feelings of ambivalence: a volatile mix of voyeuristic excitement and undisguised terror not seen in the art of older men.

    Schiele’s nudes and semi-nudes defy every convention that historically defined a genre created to titillate male subjects while neutralizing the female object. Tradition held that female nudes be depicted in passive, frequently recumbent poses; that all imperfections be smoothed away; and often that the pubic area be discreetly masked. There was no masking in Schiele’s nudes, nor were his women—marred by unnatural color, broken lines and missing limbs—especially beautiful. Instead of submitting passively, his nudes were often boldly confrontational. Yet it is impossible to know whether these images record the women’s reactions to Schiele, or his reaction to them. It is not clear who is subject and who is object. The foregoing stratagems, singly and cumulatively, serve to undermine the authority of the male gaze and to affirm the autonomous power of female sexuality.

    Schiele’s nudes effectively breach the implied fourth wall that separates illusory artistic space from real space. Rather than receding comfortably into the distance, the figures appear to jump out at the viewer. Often the artist heightened the sense of spatial dislocation by failing to include supporting props or signing drawings of recumbent figures vertically. The equalizing of negative and positive forms—a legacy of his Jugendstil grounding—creates a tension between the figure and the edge of the picture plane that calls into question the ability of the latter to contain the former. Schiele creates a liminal zone—neither wholly abstract nor conventionally representational, both of this world and beyond it—that allows him to explore alternative emotional and spiritual realities.

    Schiele’s spiritual concerns are most directly expressed in his allegorical paintings, but they are also evident in his landscapes. The artist believed that natural subjects were equivalent to human ones. “Above all I observe the physical movements of mountains, water, trees and flowers,” he wrote. “Everywhere one is reminded of similar movements in human bodies, of similar manifestations of joy and suffering in plants.” Here, as in the more overt allegories, Schiele was highly cognizant of life’s fragility: a sunflower withering in autumnal light, the inexorable decay of human-built structures. This is why he was repeatedly drawn back to Krumau, his mother’s birthplace. He referred to the ancient town as “the dead city.” Still, in drawing and painting these crumbling walls, Schiele attested to the persistence of human civilization. People die; art survives.

    Schiele’s basic existential concerns did not change significantly over the course of his brief career, but his attitude shifted as he grew into adulthood. Most obviously, his treatment—personal and artistic—of women evolved. In mid-1911, he began a relationship with Walburga (Wally) Neuzil, the first of his lover/models to be identifiable by name as well as face. Like all his best models, Wally was a skilled collaborator, and Schiele routinely acknowledged the equality of their partnership in his work. The artist’s new appreciation and understanding of the female psyche is evident not just in his more formal portraits of Wally, but in other contemporaneous portraits of women.

    People today often express dismay that the artist did not marry Wally. By the standards of their time, however, she would have been considered too far beneath him in social class to make a suitable wife. The closeness of their relationship was, in itself, exceptional. Schiele, quintessentially bourgeois despite his rebel posturing, instead chose as his bride the genteel Edith Harms (like himself, the child of a railroad employee). Their letters make it clear that, at least initially, the two were madly in love, but Edith had difficulty adjusting to her husband’s bohemian lifestyle. A palpable sadness often pervades her portraits.

    Egon would not be able to duplicate with Edith the professional partnership he had enjoyed with Wally. Less out of prudery than embarrassment, Edith was reluctant to pose naked; she feared, understandably, being recognized by the couple’s family, friends and acquaintances. Even in blouse and bloomers, she appears uncomfortable, and on several occasions, she made her husband obscure or disguise her facial features.

    Partly as a result of these circumstances, Schiele’s 1917-18 nudes and semi-nudes, are, on the whole, more impersonal than his earlier iterations of the subject. Working with a changing retinue of paid models, he was less interested in exploring sexual response than in trying out poses for contemporaneous paintings. Nevertheless, the late nudes continue to demonstrate an untoward degree of autonomy. These are some of the first modern women in art: the first to command their own sexuality.

    Stylistic changes accompanied Schiele’s personal maturation. The exaggerated, angular silhouettes of 1910 gave way, over the course of 1911, to more sinuous, ethereal lines and softer colors. Blankets, garments and drapery morphed into ambiguous shapes that attempted to mediate between figure and background void. Throughout, Schiele’s orientation remained essentially twodimensional; little attempt was made at interior modeling. Rather, he emphasized the plasticity of the paint on its own terms, manipulating the flow of pigment with his brush and achieving wet-on-wet effects that would have defied a slower artist. The tension between the figure and the edges of the picture plane was echoed by animated colors that pushed against but were contained within surrounding pencil lines. Schiele’s palette corresponded to his own universe of tonal associations, rather than slavishly mimicking the visible world.

    Despite his sensitivity to line and color as expressive elements in their own right, Schiele never entirely renounced realistic representation. Recognizable subject matter was irreplaceable if one wanted to comment on the human condition. The artist took great liberties with regard to accuracy, but he had a profound instinctual understanding of anatomy. He managed to get away with degrees of distortion that would, in a lesser artist, be ascribed to ineptitude. Sometimes, it is clear, the anatomical errors in his drawings were due to speed of execution. Like a racecar driver, he occasionally veered off course. Schiele never erased. If he made a mistake, he ultimately managed to incorporate the errant lines into an organic whole that worked emotionally and aesthetically even when it did not entirely make sense anatomically.

    From 1913 on, Schiele was inexorably pulled in the direction of greater representational verisimilitude. His lines grew bolder, and he switched from watercolor to more opaque gouache. Solid, relatively abstract blocks of drapery were offset against sparsely colored flesh, which despite the persistent use of unnatural color, acquired a greater sense of three-dimensional substance. The trend continued in Schiele’s 1914 drawings and watercolors. Erratic crosshatching, though superficially abstract, added bulk to the figures. Principal contours were often edged with dense, narrow bands of color, which was then brushed inward in thinner veils. Darker in the shadows, lighter on protruding surfaces, these translucent veils alluded to the subject’s internal musculoskeletal structure. Little bursts of opaque pigment, in bright colors like green and red, were superimposed over the more translucent tones, either to reinforce the underlying modeling or to highlight inflection points like elbows or knuckles.

    During the final two years of his life, Schiele reverted to an almost classical realism. Not without reason, a former Academy classmate accused him of succumbing to Griepenkerl’s doctrine. In tandem with the dimensional refinement of his coloring style, Schiele’s lines had by 1917 grown smoother and rounder, capable of suggesting volume without any further embellishment. Negative and positive space were still perfectly balanced, but the contrast between the two was exaggerated by increased figural verisimilitude. A residual tension undermines the soothing classicism of the artist’s late works. Real beings presented for observation in a manufactured space, his subjects are impaled somewhere between the viewer’s world and the contemplative realm of art.

    Schiele’s premature death leaves hanging the tantalizing question: what would have happened next? His oeuvre, comprising roughly 3,000 works on paper and over 300 paintings, may be interpreted as a visual coming-of-age story. Marked by the indelible stamp of youth, his work follows the path toward maturity and records faithfully the growing wisdom of adulthood. Like many adolescents, the artist sought answers to the most basic mysteries of human existence: what does it mean to live, to love, to suffer and to die? Whether or not he ever found the answers, it is the process of asking, the search itself, that gives meaning and poignancy to his art. In many respects, Schiele reached the height of his powers in 1917-18. The solipsism of adolescence had been replaced by a more empathic humanism, which in turn was facilitated by greater stylistic realism. The artist’s hand had never been surer, more capable of grasping, in a single breathtaking sweep, the complete contour of a figure. In the best of his last works, Schiele had finally found the perfect line.


    The above essay is adapted from Jane Kallir’s contribution to the catalogue for the exhibition Egon Schiele at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (October 3, 2018, through January 14, 2019). Kallir also wrote catalogue essays for the exhibitions Egon Schiele: Pathways to a Collection at the Lower Belvedere, Vienna (October 19, 2018, through February 17, 2019), and Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (November 4, 2018, through February 3, 2019). Copies of these catalogues may be ordered from the respective institutions. As of November 5, the newly updated Schiele catalogue raisonné can be accessed free of charge at www.egonschieleonline.org.
     

    Tuesday, January 15, 2019

    Modern American Realism


    Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950.
    Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950. Oil on canvas, 34 1/8 x 40 1/4 inches. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation.

    OCT 20, 2018 – APR 28, 2019
    A selection of treasured artworks from the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Modern American Realism encompasses the range of what can broadly be called modern realism—from sociopolitical to psychological, from satirical to surrealist. Drawn from works collected by the Sara Roby Foundation, the exhibition includes 44 paintings and sculptures from the 1910s to 1980s by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Arthur Dove, Edward Hopper, Wolf Kahn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, Reginald Marsh, and Honoré Sharrer, among others.Sara Roby (1907-1986) believed that the most effective way to encourage the visual arts in the United States was to acquire the works of living artists and exhibit them to the public. The Sara Roby Foundation began collecting American art in the mid-1950s, and during the next 30 years assembled a premier group of paintings and sculpture by the country’s leading figurative artists.


    Philip Evergood, Dowager in a Wheelchair, 1952, oil on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.90

    The resulting collection captures both the optimism and the apprehension of the years following World War II. Many of the works are poignantly human, such as Dowager in a Wheelchair (1952) by Philip Evergood, while others, by artists such as Robert Vickrey, challenge us to decipher meanings imbedded in complex, sometimes enigmatic scenes.

    Sara Roby refused to be bound by current trends when she began collecting in the 1950s. She championed realism at a time when critics celebrated abstract expressionism and “action painting.” Yet, she was unwilling to be constrained by her own collecting criteria. In addition to obtaining masterpieces by Edward Hopper, Paul Cadmus, and their contemporaries, the Foundation showed cultural range by purchasing key works by Stuart Davis and Louise Nevelson, and regional breadth by collecting works by Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, both preeminent Northwest Artists.

    Images


    Reginald Marsh, George Tilyou's Steeplechase, 1932, oil and egg tempera on linen mounted on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.60



    Reginald Marsh, Coney Island Beach, 1951, oil on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.96 

    •  
    • Robert Vickrey, Fear, 1954, egg tempera on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.82

     
    Charles Burchfield, Night of the Equinox, 1917-1955, watercolor, brush and ink, gouache, and charcoal on paper mounted on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.86 
     

     
    Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Strong Woman and Child, 1925, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.50  

     
    Kenneth Hayes Miller, Bargain Hunters, 1940, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © 1940, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.65 
     

     
    Guy Pene du Bois, Shovel Hats, 1923, oil on plywood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.27  

     
    Paul Cadmus, Night in Bologna, 1958, egg tempera on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.87 
     

     
    Jack Levine, Inauguration, 1956-1958, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.54  

     
    George Tooker, In the Summerhouse, 1958, egg tempera on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.100 
     

     
    Ben Shahn, After Titian, 1959, tempera on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.78 


    Will Barnet, Sleeping Child, 1961, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.1


    Dreams No. 2


    Jacob Lawrence, Dreams No. 2, 1965, tempera on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.95


    Wolf Kahn, High Summer, 1972, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.42



    Katherine Schmidt, Man with Coffee Cup, 1935, pen and ink and pencil on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.77


    Paul Cadmus, Preliminary sketch for Subway Symphony, 1973, pencil, casein, crayon, and chalk on paper mounted on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.88 




    Arthur Dove, Oil Tanker II, 1932, watercolor and conte crayon on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.25


    Isabel Bishop, Artist's Table, 1931, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.6


    Raphael Soyer, Annunciation, 1980, oil on linen, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.98

    Artists included