Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse: painter, sculptor, printmaker

Henri Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a revolutionary and influential artist of the early 20th century, best known for the expressive color and form of his Fauvist style.


My choice of colors does not rest on any scientific theory; it is based on observation, on sensitivity, on felt experience.” —Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse was born December 31, 1869, in Le Cateau in northern France. Over a six-decade career he worked in all media, from painting to sculpture to printmaking. Although his subjects were traditional—nudes, figures in landscapes, portraits, interior views—his revolutionary use of brilliant color and exaggerated form to express emotion made him one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

matisse at work

Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869, and was raised in the small industrial town of Bohain-en-Vermandois in northern France. His family worked in the grain business. As a young man Matisse worked as a legal clerk and then studied for a law degree in Paris in 1887-89. Returning to a position in a law office in the town of Saint-Quentin, he began taking a drawing class in the mornings before he went to work. When he was 21, Matisse began painting while recuperating from an illness, and his vocation as an artist was confirmed.

In 1891 Matisse moved to Paris for artistic training. He took instruction from famous, older artists at well-known schools such as the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts. These schools taught according to the “academic method,” which required working from live models and copying the works of Old Masters, but Matisse was also exposed to the recent Post-Impressionist work of Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh while living in Paris.

Matisse began to show his work in large group exhibitions in Paris in the mid-1890s, including the traditional Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and his work received some favorable attention. He traveled to London and to Corsica, and in 1898 he married Amélie Parayre, with whom he would have three children.

Matisse and his wife Amélie, 1913
Matisse and his wife Amélie, 1913

By the turn of the 20th century, the young artist had come under the more progressive influence of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, who painted in a “Pointillist” style with small dots of color rather than full brushstrokes. Matisse stopped exhibiting at the official Salon and began submitting his art to the more progressive Salon des Indépendants in 1901. In 1904 he had his first one-man exhibition at the gallery of dealer Ambroise Vollard.

"Dishes And Fruit," 1901
“Dishes And Fruit,” 1901

Matisse had a major creative breakthrough in the years 1904-05. A visit to Saint-Tropez in southern France inspired him to paint bright, light-dappled canvases such as Luxe, calme et volupté (1904-05), and a summer in the Mediterranean village of Collioure produced his major works Open Window and Woman with a Hat in 1905. He exhibited both paintings in the 1905 Salon d’Automne exhibition in Paris. In a review of the show, a contemporary art critic mentioned the bold, distorted images painted by certain artists he nicknamed “fauves,” or “wild beasts.”

"Luxe, calme et voluptè (Luxury, Calm and Pleasure)," 1904
“Luxe, calme et voluptè (Luxury, Calm and Pleasure),” 1904-05
“Open Window,” 1905
“Woman With A Hat,” 1905

Painting in the style that came to be known as Fauvism, Matisse continued to emphasize the emotional power of sinuous lines, strong brushwork and acid-bright colors in works such as The Joy of Life, a large composition of female nudes in a landscape. Like much of Matisse’s mature work, this scene captured a mood rather than merely trying to depict the world realistically.

"The Joy Of Life," 1905
“The Joy Of Life,” 1905

Between 1905 and 1906, Matisse painted four different copies of the same scene in “The Joy of Life,” (translated from the original French, “Le Bonheur de Vivre“). Two of the copies are at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, one is at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and one is at the Museum of Copenhagen. The copy at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has maintained a vibrant yellow pigment that fills in the spaces between the reclining nudes in the middle the masterpiece. But a copy at the Barnes Foundation is gradually but steadily reacting with light and air and fading to a dull ivory color.

The copy of Matisse's "The Joy Of Life" at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been steadily losing its vibrancy due to the chemistry of the paints the artist used.
The copy of Matisse’s “The Joy Of Life” at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been steadily losing its vibrancy due to the chemistry of the paints the artist used.

Researchers took samples from one of the copies at the Barnes Foundation. “If we want to study the full paint layer, we take a scalpel and remove a tiny sample of the painting” that is equivalent to the size of a period at the end of a sentence of a Times Roman 10-point font, said one of the scientists involved, Jennifer Mass. The research found that when that top layer was exposed to air, the water-resistant, bright-yellow cadmium sulfide Matisse (and many other artists at the time) had used, oxidizes into cadmium sulfate. The binder, an oil paint used to make the paint stick to the canvas, can degrade to beige cadmium carbonate and cadmium oxalate. As for why one copy was not fading, Mass suggests Matisse most likely had substituted another pigment rather than cadmium yellow.

Research on, and conservation of, "The Joy Of Life," was led by Jennifer Mass, a senior scientist at the Winterthur museum in Delaware who was enlisted by the Barnes Foundation.
Research on, and conservation of, “The Joy Of Life,” was led by Jennifer Mass, a senior scientist at the Winterthur museum in Delaware who was enlisted by the Barnes Foundation.

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Matisse also made sculptures and drawings that were sometimes related to his paintings, always repeating and simplifying his forms to their essence.

http://art-matisse.com

After finding his own style, Matisse enjoyed a greater degree of success. He was able to travel to Italy, Germany, Spain and North Africa for inspiration. He bought a large studio in a suburb of Paris and signed a contract with the prestigious art dealers of Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris. His art was purchased by prominent collectors such as Gertrude Stein in Paris and the Russian businessman Sergei I. Shchukin, who commissioned Matisse’s important pair of paintings Dance I and Music in 1909-10.

“Dance 1,” 1910
“Music,” 1910

In his works of the 1910s and 1920s, Matisse continued to delight and surprise his viewers with his signature elements of saturated colors, flattened pictorial space, limited detail and strong outlines. Some works, like The Piano Lesson (1916), explored the structures and geometry of Cubism, the movement pioneered by Matisse’s lifelong rival Pablo Picasso. Yet despite his radical approach to color and form, Matisse’s subjects were often traditional: scenes of his own studio (including The Red Studio of 1911), portraits of friends and family, arrangements of figures in rooms or landscapes.

“The Piano Lesson,” 1916
“The Red Studio,” 1911

In 1917 Matisse began spending winters on the Mediterranean, and in 1921 he moved to the city of Nice on the French Riviera. From 1918-30, he most frequently painted female nudes in carefully staged settings within his studio, making use of warm lighting and patterned backgrounds. He also worked extensively in printmaking during these years.

“Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window,” 1922
“Interior At Nice,” 1919

The first scholarly book about Matisse was published in 1920, marking his importance in the history of modern art as it was still taking place.

"Woman Seated on an Armchair, Open Robe," 1920
“Woman Seated on an Armchair, Open Robe,” 1920

In his later career, Matisse received several major commissions, such as a mural for the art gallery of collector Dr. Albert Barnes of Pennsylvania, titled Dance II, in 1931-33. He also drew book illustrations for a series of limited-edition poetry collections.

“The Dance II,” 1933 – at the wonderful Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
Detail from “The Dance II,” 1933

Matisse was diagnosed with duodonal cancer in 1941, and after surgery that same year, he was often bedridden. However, he continued to work from a bed in his studio. When necessary, he would draw with a pencil or charcoal attached to the end of a long pole that enabled him to reach the paper or canvas.

His late work was just as experimental and vibrant as his earlier artistic breakthroughs had been. It included his 1947 book Jazz, which placed his own thoughts on life and art side by side with lively images of colored paper cutouts.

This project led him to devising works that were cutouts on their own, most notably several series of expressively shaped human figures cut from bright blue paper and pasted to wall-size background sheets (such as Swimming Pool, 1952).

“Swimming Pool,” now located at the New York Museum Of Modern Art
One of Matisse’s most well known images, “Blue Nude (I),” from 1952.

In one of his final projects, Matisse created an entire program of decorations for the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence (1948-51), a town near Nice, designing stained-glass windows, murals, furnishings, and even sacred vestments for the church’s priests.

Henri Matisse suffered a massive heart attack and died on November 3, 1954, at the age of 84, in Nice. By his side were his daughter Margarite, and his longtime model, muse, friend, personal assistant and eventual caretaker, the painter Lydia Delectorskaya.

Marguerite Mattise, the artist’s daughter, speaks with Queen Elizabeth II, in London, 1966
Lydia Delectorskaya
Lydia Delectorskaya and Henri Matisse

 

Henri Matisse was buried at the Monastère et Cimetière de Cimiez, in Nice, France.

The artist’s sons, Pierre Matisse (L) and Jean Matisse (R), walk beside their mother Amélie at the funeral of the great artist
The funeral procession of Henri Matisse, Monastère et Cimetière de Cimiez, Nice, France

Edited from:

Barnes Foundation Matisse painting undergoes analysis to explore color changes


Henri Matisse

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
December 31, 2016
(click image for full resolution)

 


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Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat: painter

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist. He first achieved notoriety as part of SAMO©, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s where the hip hop, post-punk, and street art movements had coalesced. By the 1980s, he was exhibiting his Neo-Expressionist paintings in galleries and museums internationally. The instant fame and wealth took a toll on the sensitive young man, who was to succumb to the weight of his success and pass away tragically, at the age of 27.

1986, New York, New York, USA - Image by © William Coupon/CORBIS
1986, New York, New York, USA – Image by © William Coupon/CORBIS

Basquiat’s work focused on “suggestive dichotomies”, such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience, He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.


Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a “springboard to deeper truths about the individual”, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.


Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960, shortly after the death of his elder brother, Max. He was the second of four children of Matilda Andrades (July 28, 1934 – November 17, 2008) and Gérard Basquiat (1930 – July 7, 2013). He had two younger sisters: Lisane, born in 1964, and Jeanine, born in 1967. His father, Gérard Basquiat, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and his mother, Matilde Basquiat, who was of Puerto Rican descent, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Matilde instilled a love for art in her young son by taking him to art museums in Manhattan and enrolling him as a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Basquiat was a precocious child who learned how to read and write by age four and was a gifted artist. His teachers, such as artist Jose Machado, noticed his artistic abilities, and his mother encouraged her son’s artistic talent. By the age of 11, Basquiat was fully fluent in French, Spanish and English. In 1967, Basquiat started attending Saint Ann’s, an arts-oriented exclusive private school. He drew with Marc Prozzo, a friend from St. Ann’s; they together created a children’s book, written by Basquiat and illustrated by Prozzo. Basquiat became an avid reader of Spanish, French, and English texts and a more than competent athlete, competing in track events.


In September 1968, when Basquiat was about eight, he was hit by a car while playing in the street. His arm was broken and he suffered several internal injuries, and he eventually underwent a splenectomy. While he was recuperating from his injuries, his mother brought him the Gray’s Anatomy book to keep him occupied. This book would prove to be influential in his future artistic outlook. His parents separated that year and he and his sisters were raised by their father.

Jean-Michel with his sisters, circa 1967
Jean-Michel with his father, c. 1985

The family resided in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, for five years, then moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1974. After two years, they returned to New York City.
When he was 13, his mother was committed to a mental institution and thereafter spent time in and out of institutions. At 15, Basquiat ran away from home. He slept on park benches in Tompkins Square Park, and was arrested and returned to the care of his father within a week.

Jean-Michel’s father, Gérard Basquiat, years after his son’s death

Basquiat dropped out of Edward R. Murrow High School in the tenth grade and then attended City-As-School, an alternative high school in Manhattan home to many artistic students who failed at conventional schooling. His father banished him from the household for dropping out of high school and Basquiat stayed with friends in Brooklyn. He supported himself by selling T-shirts and homemade post cards.

One of Basquiat’s postcards

In 1976, Basquiat and friend Al Diaz began spray painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. The designs featured inscribed messages such as “Plush safe he think.. SAMO” and “SAMO as an escape clause”.

At the age of 17, in 1978, Basquiat worked for the Unique Clothing Warehouse, in their art department, at 718 Broadway in NoHo and at night he became “SAMO” painting his original graffiti art on neighborhood buildings. Unique’s founder Harvey Russack discovered Basquiat painting a building one night, they became friends, and he offered him a day job. On December 11, 1978, The Village Voice published an article about the graffiti. When Basquiat and Diaz ended their friendship, The SAMO project ended with the epitaph “SAMO IS DEAD”, inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings in 1979.

SAMO (for “same old shit”) marked the witty sayings of a precocious and worldly teenage mind that, even at that early juncture, saw the world in shades of gray, fearlessly juxtaposing corporate commodity structures with the social milieu he wished to enter: the predominantly white art world. ”— Franklin Sirmans, In the Cipher: Basquiat and Hip Hop Culture


In 1979, the 18 year old Basquiat appeared on the live public-access television cable TV show TV Party hosted by Glenn O’Brien, and the two started a friendship. Basquiat made regular appearances on the show over the next few years.

That same year, Basquiat formed the noise rock band Test Pattern – which was later renamed Gray – which played at Arleen Schloss’s open space, “Wednesdays at A’s”, where in October 1979 Basquiat showed, among others, his SAMO color Xerox work. The band produced one album on Plush Safe Records, entitled “Shades Of.” Gray also consisted of Shannon Dawson, Michael Holman, Nick Taylor, Wayne Clifford and Vincent Gallo, and the band performed at nightclubs such as Max’s Kansas City, CBGB, Hurrah and the Mudd Club.

In 1980, Basquiat starred in O’Brien’s independent film Downtown 81, originally titled New York Beat.  Downtown 81 featured some of Gray’s recordings on its soundtrack.

That same year, Basquiat met Andy Warhol at a restaurant. Basquiat presented to Warhol samples of his work, and Warhol was stunned by Basquiat’s genius and allure. The two artists later collaborated.

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat also appeared in the 1981 Blondie music video “Rapture,” in a role originally intended for Grandmaster Flash, as a nightclub disc jockey. (You can spot the young artist in the video at timestamp 1:50.)

Before his career as a painter began, he produced punk-inspired postcards for sale on the street, and became known for the political–poetical graffiti under the name of SAMO. On one occasion Basquiat painted his girlfriend’s dress with the words “Little Shit Brown”. He would often draw on random objects and surfaces, including other people’s property. The conjunction of various media is an integral element of Basquiat’s art. His paintings are typically covered with text and codes of all kinds: words, letters, numerals, pictograms, logos, map symbols, diagrams and more.


The early 1980s were Basquiat’s breakthrough years. In June 1980, Basquiat participated in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition sponsored by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab) and Fashion Moda. Other artists in the show included David Hammons, Jenny Holzer, Lee Quiñones, Kenny Scharf and Kiki Smith. The show was held in a vacant building at 41st Street and Seventh Avenue, New York.

In September of the same year, Basquiat joined the Annina Nosei gallery and worked in a basement below the gallery toward his first one-man show, which took place in March 1981 with great success. Quickly thereafter, he was showing regularly alongside other Neo-expressionist artists including Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi. He was represented in Los Angeles by the Gagosian gallery and throughout Europe by Bruno Bischofberger.

“Untitled,” 1981

In March 1982 he worked in Modena, Italy, and from November, Basquiat worked from the ground-floor display and studio space Larry Gagosian had built below his Venice, California, home and commenced a series of paintings for a 1983 show, his second at Gagosian Gallery, then in West Hollywood. He brought along his girlfriend, then unknown aspiring singer Madonna.

Gallerist and star-maker, Larry Gagosian in 2012

During this time he took considerable interest in the work that Robert Rauschenberg was producing at Gemini G.E.L. in West Hollywood, visiting him on several occasions and finding inspiration in the accomplishments of the painter.

Robert Rauschenberg’s “Mona Lisa,” 1982

In 1983, Basquiat produced a 12″ rap single featuring hip-hop artists Rammellzee and K-Rob. Billed as Rammellzee vs. K-Rob, the single contained two versions of the same track: “Beat Bop” on side one with vocals and “Beat Bop” on side two as an instrumental. The single was pressed in limited quantities on the one-off Tartown Record Company label. The single’s cover featured Basquiat’s artwork, making the pressing highly desirable among both record and art collectors.

Cover of “Beat Bop,” by Jean-Michel Basquiat

At the suggestion of Swiss dealer Bruno Bischofberger, Warhol and Basquiat worked on a series of collaborative paintings between 1983 and 1985. In the case of Olympic Rings (1985), Warhol made several variations of the Olympic five-ring symbol, rendered in the original primary colors. Basquiat responded to the abstract, stylized logos with his oppositional graffiti style. The collaborative show is still touring the world today, though smaller, as numerous works have been sold or are in museums.


Basquiat was known for often painting in expensive Armani suits and would even appear in public in the same paint-splattered clothes.


Basquiat’s canon revolves around single heroic figures: athletes, prophets, warriors, cops, musicians, kings and the artist himself. In these images the head is often a central focus, topped by crowns, hats, and halos. In this way the intellect is emphasized, lifted up to notice, privileged over the body and the physicality of these figures (i.e. black men) commonly represent in the world.” — Kellie Jones, Lost in Translation: Jean-Michel in the (Re)Mix


Fred Hoffman hypothesizes that underlying Basquiat’s sense of himself as an artist was his “innate capacity to function as something like an oracle, distilling his perceptions of the outside world down to their essence and, in turn, projecting them outward through his creative acts.” Additionally, continuing his activities as a graffiti artist, Basquiat often incorporated words into his paintings.


A middle period from late 1982 to 1985 featured multi-panel paintings and individual canvases with exposed stretcher bars, the surface dense with writing, collage and imagery. The years 1984–85 were also the main period of the Basquiat–Warhol collaborations, even if, in general, they were not very well received by the critics.

“Tenor,” 1985

A major reference source used by Basquiat throughout his career was the book Gray’s Anatomy, which his mother had given him while he was in the hospital at age seven. It remained influential in his depictions of internal human anatomy, and in its mixture of image and text. Other major sources were Henry Dreyfuss’ Symbol Sourcebook, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, and Brentjes’ African Rock Art.


Basquiat doodled often and some of his later pieces exhibited this; they were often colored pencil on paper with a loose, spontaneous, and dirty style much like his paintings. His work across all mediums displays a childlike fascination with the process of creating.


Like a DJ, Basquiat adeptly reworked Neo-expressionism’s clichéd language of gesture, freedom, and angst and redirected Pop art’s strategy of appropriation to produce a body of work that at times celebrated black culture and history but also revealed its complexity and contradictions.” — Lydia Lee


According to Andrea Frohne, Basquiat’s 1983 painting Untitled (History of the Black People) “reclaims Egyptians as African and subverts the concept of ancient Egypt as the cradle of Western Civilization”. At the center of the painting, Basquiat depicts an Egyptian boat being guided down the Nile River by Osiris, the Egyptian god of the earth and vegetation. On the right panel of the painting appear the words “Esclave, Slave, Esclave”. Two letters of the word “Nile” are crossed out and Frohne suggests that, “The letters that are wiped out and scribbled over perhaps reflect the acts of historians who have conveniently forgotten that Egyptians were black and blacks were enslaved.” On the left panel of the painting Basquiat has illustrated two Nubian-style masks. The Nubians historically were darker in skin color, and were considered to be slaves by the Egyptian people. Throughout the rest of the painting, images of the Atlantic slave trade are juxtaposed with images of the Egyptian slave trade centuries before. The sickle in the center panel is a direct reference to the slave trade in the United States, and slave labor under the plantation system. The word “salt” that appears on the right panel of the work refers to the Atlantic slave trade, as salt was another important commodity traded at that time.


Another of Basquiat’s pieces, Irony of Negro Policeman (1981), is intended to illustrate how African-Americans have been controlled by a predominantly Caucasian society. Basquiat sought to portray how complicit African-Americans have become with the “institutionalized forms of whiteness and corrupt white regimes of power” years after the Jim Crow era had ended. Basquiat found the concept of a “Negro policeman” utterly ironic. It would seem that this policeman should sympathize with his black friends, family, and ancestors, yet instead he was there to enforce the rules designed by “white society.” The Negro policeman had “black skin but wore a white mask”. In the painting, Basquiat depicted the policeman as large in order to suggest an “excessive and totalizing power”, but made the policeman’s body fragmented and broken. The hat that frames the head of the policeman resembles a cage, and represents how constrained the independent perceptions of African-Americans were at the time, and how constrained the policeman’s own perceptions were within white society. Basquiat drew upon his Haitian heritage by painting a hat that resembles the top hat associated with the gede family of loa, who embody the powers of death in Vodou.


However, Kellie Jones, in her essay Lost in Translation: Jean-Michel in the (Re)Mix, posits that Basquiat’s “mischievous, complex, and neologistic side, with regard to the fashioning of modernity and the influence and effluence of black culture” are often elided by critics and viewers, and thus “lost in translation.”

“Self Portrait,” 1983

The art historian Olivier Berggruen situates in Basquiat’s anatomical screen prints, titled Anatomy, an assertion of vulnerability, one which “creates an aesthetic of the body as damaged, scarred, fragmented, incomplete, or torn apart, once the organic whole has disappeared. Paradoxically, it is the very act of creating these representations that conjures a positive corporeal valence between the artist and his sense of self or identity.”


By 1986, Basquiat had left the Annina Nosei gallery, and was showing at the Mary Boone gallery in SoHo. On February 10, 1985, he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in a feature titled “New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist”. He was a successful artist in this period, but his growing heroin addiction began to interfere with his personal relationships.


When Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his heroin addiction and depression grew more severe. He made a sincere attempt at sobriety taking an extended trip to Maui, Hawaii, and for a while, it seemed he had beaten the demons. His health began to return, and those close to him say that he seemed happy.

Poloroid of Basquiat during his stay in Hawaii (photo credit: Paige Powell)

Unfortunately this was not to be the case for long, and the brilliant artist died on August 12, 1988, of a heroin overdose at his art studio at 57 Great Jones Street in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood. He was 27 years old. A plaque dedicating his life was placed on July 13, 2016 by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

From Basquiat’s last exhibition
1988

Jean-Michel Basquiat was interred in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, where Jeffrey Deitch made a speech at the graveside. Among those speaking at Basquiat’s memorial held at Saint Peter’s Church on November 3, 1988, were Ingrid Sischy who, as the editor of Artforum in the 1980s, got to know the artist well and commissioned a number of articles that introduced his work to the wider world. Suzanne Mallouk recited sections of A. R. Penck’s Poem for Basquiat and Fab 5 Freddy read a poem by Langston Hughes. The 300 guests included the musicians John Lurie and Arto Lindsay; the artist Keith Haring; the poet David Shapiro; Glenn O’Brien, a writer; Fab 5 Freddy and members of Basquiat’s band Gray. In memory of the late artist, Keith Haring created Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat (1988).

Created shortly before his own death, Basquiat created “Man Riding With Death,” in 1988
Haring’s tribute “Pile Of Crowns”

Major exhibitions of Basquiat’s work have included Jean-Michel Basquiat: Paintings 1981–1984 at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (1984), which traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 1985); the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (1987, 1989). The first retrospective to be held of the his work was the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art from October 1992 to February 1993. It subsequently traveled to the Menil Collection, Houston; the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama, from 1993 to 1994. The catalog for this exhibition, edited by Richard Marshall and including several essays of differing styles, was a groundbreaking piece of scholarship into Basquiat’s work and still is a major source. Another exhibition, Basquiat, was mounted by the Brooklyn Museum, New York, in 2005, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. From October 2006 to January 2007, the first Basquiat exhibition in Puerto Rico took place at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR), produced by ARTPREMIUM, Corinne Timsit and Eric Bonici. Brooklyn Museum exhibited Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks in April–August 2015.

In May 2016, Basquiat’s Untitled had a record breaking sale at Christie’s selling at auction for $57,285,000.

“Untitled,” sold in 2016 for $57,285,000.00

 


Edited from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Michel_Basquiat


Jean-Michel Basquiat

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
December 22, 2016
(click image for full resolution)


TML Arts aims for accuracy in content and functionality in posts.
Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
or additional relative information.

See something? Say something.



Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images. 


William Bouguereau

William Bouguereau: painter

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honors, and received top prices for his work. As the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionist avant-garde. By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art fell out of favor with the public, due in part to changing tastes. In the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to a rediscovery of Bouguereau and his work.

portrait_of_william-adolphe_bouguereau

William-Adolphe Bouguereau was born in La Rochelle, France, on November 30, 1825, into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. He seemed destined to join the family business but for the intervention of his uncle Eugène, a Roman Catholic priest, who taught him classical and Biblical subjects, and arranged for Bouguereau to go to high school. He showed artistic talent early on, and his father was convinced by a client to send him to the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, where the young artist won first prize in figure painting for a depiction of Saint Roch. During this time, in order to earn extra money, he designed labels for jams and preserves.

"Equality Before Death," 1848 - one of the artist's rare early works
“Equality Before Death,” 1848 – one of the artist’s rare early works

Through his uncle, Bouguereau was given a commission to paint portraits of parishioners, and when his aunt matched the sum he earned, Bouguereau went to Paris and became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. To supplement his formal training in drawing, he attended anatomical dissections and studied historical costumes and archeology. He was admitted to the studio of François-Édouard Picot, where he studied painting in the academic style.

"L'Idylle," 1850
“L’Idylle,” 1850

Academic painting placed the highest status on historical and mythological subjects and Bouguereau won the coveted Prix de Rome at age 26 in 1850, with his Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes. His reward was a year at the Villa Medici in Rome, Italy, where in addition to formal lessons he was able to study first-hand the Renaissance artists and their masterpieces, as well as Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities. He also studied classical literature, which influenced his subject choice for the rest of his career.

"Zenobia Discovered by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes," 1850
“Zenobia Discovered by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes,” 1850

Bouguereau, painting within the traditional academic style, exhibited at the annual exhibitions of the Paris Salon for his entire working life. An early reviewer stated, “M. Bouguereau has a natural instinct and knowledge of contour. The eurythmie of the human body preoccupies him, and in recalling the happy results which, in this genre, the ancients and the artists of the sixteenth century arrived at, one can only congratulate M. Bouguereau in attempting to follow in their footsteps … Raphael was inspired by the ancients … and no one accused him of not being original.”Raphael was a favorite of Bouguereau and he took this review as a high compliment. He had fulfilled one of the requirements of the Prix de Rome by completing an old-master copy of Raphael’s The Triumph of Galatea. In many of his works, he followed the same classical approach to composition, form, and subject matter.

Bouguereau's "Triumph of Galatea," 1852 - after Raphael
Bouguereau’s “Triumph of Galatea,” 1852 – after Raphael
The original "Triumph of Galatea," by Raphael, 1511
The original “Triumph of Galatea,” by Raphael, 1511

Bouguereau’s graceful portraits of women were considered very charming, partly because he could beautify a sitter while also retaining her likeness. He gained wide fame in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and in the United States, and commanded high prices. In his own time, Bouguereau was considered to be one of the greatest painters in the world by the academic art community, and he was simultaneously reviled by the avant-garde for his traditionalism.

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Bouguereau’s career was close to a direct ascent with hardly a setback. To many, he epitomized taste and refinement, and a respect for tradition. To others however, he was a competent technician stuck in the past. Degas and his associates used the term “Bouguereauté” in a derogatory manner to describe any artistic style reliant on “slick and artificial surfaces”, also known as a “licked finish.” In an 1872 letter, Degas wrote that he strove to emulate Bouguereau’s ordered and productive working style, although with Degas’ famous trenchant wit, and the aesthetic tendencies of the Impressionists, it is possible the statement was meant to be ironic. Paul Gauguin loathed him, rating him a round zero in his book Racontars de Rapin, and later describing in Avant et après (Intimate Journals) the single occasion when Bouguereau made him smile on coming across a couple of his paintings in an Arles’ brothel, “where they belonged”.
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In 1856, he married Marie-Nelly Monchablon and together they had five children, three sons and two daughters.

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By the late 1850s, he had made strong connections with art dealers, particularly Paul Durand-Ruel (later the champion of the Impressionists), who helped clients buy paintings from artists who exhibited at the Salons. Thanks to Paul Durand-Ruel, Bouguereau met Hugues Merle, who later often was compared to Bouguereau. The Salons annually drew over 300,000 people, providing valuable exposure to exhibited artists.

"Song Of The Angels," 1881
“Song Of The Angels,” 1881

Bouguereau’s fame extended to England by the 1860s, and with his growing income he bought a large house and studio in Montparnasse, an area of Paris popular with artists to this day. Although relatively little is known about it, Bouguereau’s private life was less than idyllic. He and his family lived together with his domineering mother in a purposely-built large house and studio at 75, rue Notre-Dame des Champs.

The house of Bouguereau, Paris (photo by robh)
The house of Bouguereau, Paris (photo by robh)

Bouguereau was a staunch traditionalist whose genre paintings and mythological themes were modern interpretations of Classical subjects, both pagan and Christian, with a concentration on the naked female human body. The idealized world of his paintings brought to life goddesses, nymphs, bathers, shepherdesses, and madonnas in a way that appealed to wealthy art patrons of the era.

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“Before The Bath,” 1900
"Le Guêpier (The Wasp's Nest)," 1892
“Le Guêpier (The Wasp’s Nest),” 1892
"The Wave," 1896
“The Wave,” 1896
"Les Deux Baigneuses (The Two Bathers)," 1884
“Les Deux Baigneuses (The Two Bathers),” 1884

Bouguereau employed traditional methods of working up a painting, including detailed pencil studies and oil sketches, and his careful method resulted in a pleasing and accurate rendering of the human form. His painting of skin, hands, and feet was particularly admired. He also used some of the religious and erotic symbolism of the Old Masters, such as the “broken pitcher” which connoted lost innocence.

"The Broken Pitcher," 1891
“The Broken Pitcher,” 1891

Bouguereau received many commissions to decorate private houses, public buildings, and churches. As was typical of such commissions, Bouguereau would sometimes paint in his own style, and at other times conform to an existing group style. Early on, Bouguereau was commissioned in all three venues, which added enormously to his prestige and fame. He also made reductions of his public paintings for sale to patrons, of which The Annunciation (1888) is an example. He was also a successful portrait painter and many of his paintings of wealthy patrons remain in private hands.

"Virgin Of The Lillies," 1999
“Virgin Of The Lillies,” 1999
"Pietà," 1876
“Pietà,” 1876
"Annunciation," 1888
“Annunciation,” 1888

From the 1860s, Bouguereau was closely associated with the Académie Julian, and in 1875 began teaching there. The Académie was a co-ed art institution independent of the École des Beaux-Arts, with no entrance exams and with nominal fees, where he gave lessons and advice to art students, male and female, from around the world. During several decades he taught drawing and painting to hundreds, if not thousands, of students.

Atelier of Bouguereau, women's class, late 1800's
Atelier of Bouguereau, women’s class, late 1800’s

Many of them managed to establish artistic careers in their own countries, sometimes following his academic style, and in other cases, rebelling against it, like one of his most famous students, Henri Matisse.

Matisse (center, seated) while a student of William Bouguereau
Matisse (center, seated) while a student of William Bouguereau

Throughout the years, Bouguereau steadily gained numerous honors of the Académie, reaching Life Member in 1876, Grand Medal of Honor in 1885, Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1885, and Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1905.

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In 1877, both his wife and infant son died. At a rather advanced age, Bouguereau was married for the second time in 1896, to fellow artist Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau, one of his pupils. He used his influence to open many French art institutions to women for the first time, including the Académie Française.

Elizabeth Jane Goodall Bouguereau (n/d)
Elizabeth Jane Goodall Bouguereau (n/d)

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Near the end of his life he described his love of his art: “Each day I go to my studio full of joy; in the evening when obliged to stop because of darkness I can scarcely wait for the next morning to come … if I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable.” In his lifetime, he is known to have painted 826 paintings, the whereabouts of many are still unknown.

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In the spring of 1905, Bouguereau’s house and studio in Paris were burgled, with much vandalism and a number of his works stolen. Having suffered from heart disease for some years already, the stress of this event took its toll on the aged master. His heart, now broken emotionally as well as physically, stopped beating on August 19, 1905. Bouguereau was 79. He was buried at the Cimetière de Montparnasse, in Paris.

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In 1974, the New York Cultural Center staged a show of Bouguereau’s work partly as a curiosity, although curator Robert Isaacson had his eye on the long-term rehabilitation of Bouguereau’s legacy and reputation. In 1984, the Borghi Gallery hosted a commercial show of 23 oil paintings and one drawing. In the same year a major exhibition was organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. The exhibition opened at the Musée du Petit-Palais, in Paris, traveled to The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and concluded in Montréal. More recently, resurgence in the artist’s popularity has been promoted by American collector Fred Ross, who owns a number of paintings by Bouguereau and features him on his website at Art Renewal Center.

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The great master Salvador Dalí was also a collector of Bouguereau’s work later in his life, and one can easily see the influence that the traditionalist had on the most famous surrealist in history. This influence is notable in the piece left unfinished at Dalí’s Port Lligat home in Spain. Dalí left the home upon the death of his beloved wife Gala, and never returned to finish what certainly would have been another in his long series of masterpieces.

"Baigneuse," 1870, now located at the Musée Gala-Salvador Dali, Figueres, Spain
“Baigneuse,” 1870, now located at the Musée Gala-Salvador Dali, Figueres, Spain
Unfinished work by Salvador Dalí, in Port Lligat, Spain (photo by TMLipp)
Unfinished work by Salvador Dalí, in Port Lligat, Spain (photo by TMLipp)

Since 1975 prices for Bouguereau’s works have climbed steadily, with major paintings selling at high prices: $1,500,000 in 1998 for The Heart’s Awakening, $2,600,000 in 1999 for Alma Parens and Charity at auction in May 2000 for $3,500,000.

"Leveil du coeur (The Heart's Awakening)," 1892
“Leveil du coeur (The Heart’s Awakening),” 1892

Notre Dame des Anges (Our Lady of the Angels) was last shown publicly in the United States at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. In 2002 it was donated to the Daughters of Mary Mother of Our Savior, an order of nuns is affiliated with Clarence Kelly’s Traditionalist Catholic Society of St. Pius V. In 2009 the nuns sold it to an art dealer for $450,000, who was able to sell it for more than $2 million dollars. The nuns were subsequently found guilty of libel in 2012 by an Albany, New York jury of defaming the dealer in remarks made in a television interview.

"Our Lady Of The Angels,"
“Our Lady Of The Angels,” 1893

Edited from:


William Bouguereau

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:
(click image for full resolution)

bouguereau-feat


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Carlo Levi

Carlo Levi: painter, writer, activist

Dr. Carlo Levi (November 29, 1902 – January 4, 1975) was an Italian-Jewish painter, writer, activist, anti-fascist, and doctor. He is best known for his book Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli), published in 1945, a memoir of his time spent in exile in Lucania, Italy, after being arrested in connection with his political activism. In 1979, the book became the basis of a movie of the same name, directed by Francesco Rosi. Lucania, now called Basilicata, was historically one of the poorest and most backward regions of the impoverished Italian south. Levi’s lucid, non-ideological and sympathetic description of the daily hardships experienced by the local peasants helped to propel the “Problem of the South” into national discourse after the end of World War II.

carlo-levi
Levi was born in Turin, Piedmont, to wealthy Jewish physician Ercole Levi and Annetta Treves, the sister of Claudio Treves, an important socialist leader in Italy. Levi graduated from high school (Liceo Alfieri) in 1917. Upon graduation, Levi attended the University of Turin, where he studied medicine and, in 1924, graduated with high marks. While at university, Levi had become friends with Piero Gobetti who sparked Levi’s interests in political activism that would continue throughout his life. Soon after graduation from the University of Turin, Levi exhibited some of his works at the XIV Venice Biennale.

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Levi never completely abandoned his medical studies and served as assistant to Prof. Micheli at the University of Turin’s Clinic from 1924 to 1928, working on research involving hepatopathy and diseases of bile tract. From 1924 to 1928, Levi continued his specialization studies in Paris with Professor Bourguignon among others, although by 1927 Levi had decided to dedicate his life to painting.

Self portrait
Self portrait

Levi’s early time in Paris, as a painter and as a student of medicine, brought him into contact with many notable personalities of the 20th century, including Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Alberto Moravia, Giorgio de Chirico, and others. Levi lived almost exclusively in Paris from 1932 to 1934.

"Nudo Sdraiato," 1934
“Nudo Sdraiato,” 1934

In 1929, along with Carlo and Nello Rosselli he founded an anti-fascist movement called Giustizia e Libertà, becoming a leader of the Italian branch along with Leone Ginzburg. He also joined with Francesco Menzio in the famous Gruppo dei Sei (Group of six), all painters in Turin, including Jessie Boswell, Gigi Chessa, Nicola Galante and Enrico Paulucci.

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As a result of his activism and involvement with anti-fascist movements, Levi was arrested and exiled to Aliano (Gagliano in his book), a town in a remote area of Italy called Lucania from 1935 to 1936. There he encountered a poverty almost unknown in prosperous northern Italy. While there, Levi worked on the side as one of the doctors for the villagers, although he had never practiced medicine after graduating from medical school. During his exile he spent much of his time painting.

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Levi (seen here on far left), while in exhile in Aliano
Levi (seen here on far left), while in exile in Aliano

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After his release, he moved to France and lived there from 1939 to 1941. In 1941, he returned to Italy, and was later arrested in Florence and imprisoned in the Murate prison. He was released following Benito Mussolini’s arrest and sought refuge across the street from the Pitti Palace, where he wrote his now famous book, Cristo si è fermato a Eboli.

cristo-si-e-fermato-a-eboli
After World War II, he moved to Rome and from 1945 to 1946 he served as the editor of L’Italia Libera, the publication of the Partito d’Azione, an anti-fascist organization that grew out of the republican tradition. He continued to write and paint, exhibiting in Europe and the United States. His written works include L’Orologio (The Watch) (1950), Le parole sono pietre (Words Are Stones) (1955), and Il Futuro ha un Cuore Antico (The Future has an Ancient Heart) (1956).

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In 1963, he was elected to the Senate as an independent on the Communist Party ticket; he was re-elected to the Senate in 1968 and served there until 1972.

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Author Alberto Moravia, Novelist Elsa Moranti, Author Carlo Levi and Carlo Muscetta, chatting in Levi's private studio
Author Alberto Moravia, Novelist Elsa Moranti, Author Carlo Levi and Carlo Muscetta, chatting in Levi’s private studio

Carlo Levi died of pneumonia in Rome on 4 January 1975. He is buried in Aliano. The ‘Persiana’ Gallery in Palermo exhibited his last work, Apollo and Daphne, executed on a goatskin drum the day before he was admitted to hospital.

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Edited from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Levi


Carlo Levi

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
(click image for full resolution)

levi-feat


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Erté

Erté

Erté (23 November 1892 – 21 April 1990) was a Russian-born French artist and designer. He was a diversely talented 20th-century artist and designer who flourished in an array of fields, including fashion, jewelry, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theatre, and opera, and interior decor.

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Erté was born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov (Роман Петрович Тыртов) in Saint Petersburg, to a distinguished family with roots tracing back to 1548. His father, Pyotr Ivanovich Tyrtov, served as an admiral in the Russian Fleet.

St. Petersburg, as seen in the late 1800's
St. Petersburg, as seen in the late 1800’s

In 1907, he lived one year in Paris. He said about this time “I did not discover Beardsley until when I had already been in Paris for a year”. In 1910–12, Romain moved to Paris to pursue a career as a designer. He made this decision despite strong objections from his father, who wanted Romain to continue the family tradition and become a naval officer. Romain assumed his pseudonym to avoid disgracing the family. He chose the the pseudonym Erté, from the French pronunciation of his initials.

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From 1913-1914, he worked for famed fashion designer, a master couturier, Paul Poiret. In 1915, he secured his first substantial contract with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, and thus launched an illustrious career that included designing costumes and stage sets.

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Between 1915–1937, Erté designed over 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar, and his illustrations would also appear in such publications as Illustrated London News, Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Vogue.

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Erté is perhaps most famous for his elegant fashion designs which capture the art deco period in which he worked. One of his earliest successes was designing apparel for the popular French singer and dancer Gaby Deslys who died in 1920, a victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic of that time.

Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys
Gaby Deslys

He was also a designer for Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was later convicted of being a spy and executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.

Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari

Erté’s delicate figures and sophisticated, glamorous designs are instantly recognizable, and his ideas and art still influence fashion into the 21st century. His costumes, program designs, and sets were featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923, many productions of the Folies Bergère, and George White’s Scandals.

Erté in one of his designs
Erté in one of his designs

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On Broadway, the celebrated French chanteuse Irène Bordoni was often seen in Erté’s designs.

Irene Bordoni
Irene Bordoni
Irene Bordoni
Irene Bordoni

In 1925, Louis B. Mayer brought him to Hollywood to design sets and costumes for the silent film Paris. There were many script problems, so Erté was given other assignments to keep him busy. Hence, he designed for such films as Ben-Hur, The Mystic, Time, The Comedian, and Dance Madness. In 1920 he designed the set and costumes for the film The Restless Sex starring Marion Davies and financed by William Randolph Hearst.

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Costume for "The Mystic"
Costume for “The Mystic”
Ballroom design for the film, "The Restless Sex"
Ballroom design for the film, “The Restless Sex”

By far, his best known image is Symphony in Black, depicting a somewhat stylized, tall, slender woman draped in black holding a thin black dog on a leash. The influential image has been reproduced and copied countless times.

at-the-theatre-symphony-in-black
Erté continued working throughout his life, designing revues, ballets, and operas. He had a major rejuvenation and much lauded interest in his career during the 1960s with the Art Deco revival. He branched out into the realm of limited edition prints, bronzes, and wearable art.

Twiggy photographed by Bill King for the cover of Queen magazine, December, 1967. Hair by Michael at Leonard, Make-up by Guerlain, styling by Erté.
Twiggy photographed by Bill King for the cover of Queen magazine, December, 1967. Hair by Michael at Leonard, Make-up by Guerlain, styling by Erté.
Jacket by Erté
Jacket by Erté
Bronze figurine, 1960's
Bronze figurine, 1960’s

A major turning point in his career came in 1965, when he met Eric and Salome Estorick, the founders of Seven Arts Ltd. of New York and London. Seven Arts remained the exclusive agent for Erte’s work until his death.

The Estoricks
Salome and Eric Estorick

In 1998, he created seven limited edition bottle designs for Courvoisier to show the different stages of the cognac-making process, from distillation to maturation. In 2008, the eighth and final of the remaining Erte-designed Courvoisier bottles, containing Grande Champagne cognac dating back to 1892, was released and sold for $10,000 a piece.

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A slightly built man with a shock of white hair, he fell ill with kidney problems during a vacation on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, in March of 1990. He was flown back to Paris and died two weeks later at the Cochin Hospital, at the age of 97.

Image by © Sergio Gaudenti/Kipa/Corbis
Image by © Sergio Gaudenti/Kipa/Corbis

Erte was known for his ability to turn his talent in many directions. He reportedly painted only once in oils, preferring the gouache or tempera medium. He accepted commissions to design jewelry, lamps, furniture and interior decor.

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Today, his work may be found in the collections of several well-known museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); as well, a sizable collection of his work can be found at Museum 1999 in Tokyo.


Edited from:


Erté
From Artist Birthday Series: November 23, 2016

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:
(click image for full resolution)

erte-feat2

 


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Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images. 


artist of ever changing hues