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Jean Tinguely

Today’s Artist Birthday: Jean Tinguely

Jean Tinguely (22 May 1925 – 30 August 1991) was an artist who worked in the Dada tradition, best known for his mechanical sculpture work, also known as kinetic art. He called his creations “Metamechanics,” which playfully mocked mass consumerism and the overproduction of material goods.

Jean Tinguely, 1976, in Basel. [Photo by: Helen Sager]
Jean Tinguely, 1976, in Basel. [Photo by: Helen Sager]
Born in Fribourg, Switzerland, Tinguely grew up in Basel. He attended the School of Arts and Crafts, though records indicate that he was not terribly fond of consistent attendance. He later had an apprenticeship as a decorator, until 1947 when he begins to spend a lot of time in the circle of the Basel anarchist Heiner Koechlin.

Heiner Koechlin, c.1960

In 1952 he moved to France with his first wife, Swiss artist Eva Aeppli, to pursue a career in art. They immersed themselves in the Parisian avant garde scene throughout the mid-twentieth century, and there he developed his distinctive, mischievous, and whimsical style.

Images of Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, 1958 in Paris
Images of Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, 1958 in Paris

At the beginning of 1955,  he moved into a studio in the Impasse Ronsin where one of his neighbors was the sculptor Constantin Brancusi. Later that same year, Tinguely takes part in the exhibition Le Mouvement at the Galerie Denise René in Paris, together with Pol Bury, Soto, Calder, Vasarely, Duchamp and other artists, where the concept of kinetic art plays a major role for the first time.

mouvement

In 1956, through his network of connections in the Parisian art scene, he meets the brilliant young artist Yves Klein, and the two quickly became great friends. In November of 1958, Tinguely and Klein collaborated on a joint exhibition entitled Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome, at the Galerie Iris Clert.

 

Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, 1958
Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, 1958
Tinguely and Klein, 1958

In 1959 in grand style, he scatters copies of his manifesto “Für Statik (For statics)” from an airplane over Düsseldorf, promoting the idea “Everything moves. Standstill does not exist …”.

Jean Tinguely, above the skies of Düsseldorf, about to scatter copies of his manifesto on the city below.
Jean Tinguely, above the skies of Düsseldorf, about to scatter copies of his manifesto on the city below. 1959

In October of 1960, he is one of the founders of the group “Nouveaux Réalistes” in Paris. Headed up by Klein, the group sets its goal as exploring new ways of perceiving reality. Aside Tinguely and Klein, the initial members were Arman, Martial Raysse, Pierre Restany, Daniel Spoerri, Francois Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Jacques de la Villeglé. The following year, they were joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Gérard Deschamps.

Jean Tinguely (far left) Niki and unidentified man, shooting paint at a nearly finished work, 1961 [photo: Shunk-Kender; © 2008 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, all rights reserved / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2012; photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Shunk-Kender]
Jean Tinguely (far left) Niki de Saint Phalle, and unidentified man, shooting paint at a nearly finished work, 1961 [photo: Shunk-Kender; © 2008 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, all rights reserved / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2012; photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Shunk-Kender]
In 1962 he completes his spectacular Study for an End of the World No. 2, a sculptural ensemble that completely self-destructs before an audience in the desert of Nevada, outside Las Vegas, USA. Earlier in 1960, he had attempted his first self destructing sculpture, Homage to New York, but the work did not completely self-destruct. What remains of that sculpture now resides in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1963-64, he created the monumental sculpture Heureka for the Expo 64 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Heureka," by Jean Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland. Created 19
“Heureka,” by Jean Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland. Created 1963-4

In 1966, Tinguely, along with Niki de Saint-Phalle and Per Olof Ultvedt, created the Hon-en-Katedrall (sometimes spelled “Hon-en-Katedral“) art installation exhibited at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The work was a large scale sculpture of a colorful pregnant woman lying on her back with her legs wide apart. The sculpture was 25–26 meters long, about 6 meters high and 11 meters wide. It was constructed of scaffolding and chicken wire, covered with fabric and fiberglass, then painted with brightly-colored poster paint. Visitors would enter the work through an opening in the location of the woman’s vagina, returning to the womb, as it were. Once inside, they were to find a screen showing Greta Garbo films, a goldfish pond and a soft drink vending machine, all the while being entertained by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, played through hidden speakers. The piece was exhibited from June 4 to September 9 in 1966, and during that time had over 80,000 visitors.

Installation of "Hon-en-Katedrall," Tinguely
Installation of “Hon-en-Katedrall,” created by Jean Tinguely, with Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Per Olof Ultvedt (pictured right to left).

One of his most celebrated works was created in 1970, when he and a group of friends create La Vittoria in front of the Milan Cathedral, in Milan, Italy. It was a giant golden phallus which, with much pomp and circumstance, burns to the ground as part of the festival celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes.

la vittoria 1
Phase 1 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.
la vittoria 2
Phase 2 & 3 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely. The sculpture is revealed and then set on fire. The event was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.
la vittoria 3
Phase 4 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely. The sculpture had been set on fire and now remains only the frame. The event was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.

In 1971, Tinguely married his second wife, his long time creative partner, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, 1966
Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, 1966

From the 1970’s until 1991, Tinguely worked continuously on his complicated and fantastical sculptures and exhibitions. His creative flow was intense and prolific, however the near-frantic pace of his creation may have taken its toll however.

Jean Tinguely in his studio, 1981
Jean Tinguely in his studio, 1981

On August 18, 1991 Jean Tinguely suffered a stroke and was taken to the Inselspital Hospital in Berne. He resisted death for nearly two weeks, but unfortunately never recovered. He would succumb to the complications of the stroke and passed away on August 30, at the young age of 66 years.Tinguely01

His funeral was held on September 4, 1991 in Basel. His 1979 tractor-like and drivable sculpture entitled “Klamauk,” was part of his funeral procession. That same sculpture still makes the rounds of Basel on “Tinguely Tag,” or “Tinguely Day,” a annual celebration of his life, remembering him each year on the anniversary of his death.


tinguely by vera isler, 1990
“Playing is art. So I am playing.”

Jean Tinguely

digital collage portrait created by 
Terri Maxfield Lipp
May 22, 2017


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Originally posted May 22, 2016
Updated on May 22, 2017 

Yves Tanguy

Yves Tanguy: painter

Yves Tanguy (January 5, 1900 – January 15, 1955) was in many respects the quintessential Surrealist. A sociable eccentric who ate spiders as a party trick, and a close friend of Andre Breton, he was best-known for his misshapen rocks and molten surfaces that lent definition to the Surrealist aesthetic. Self-taught but enormously skilled, he painted a hyper-real world with exacting precision. His landscapes, a high-octane blend of fact and fiction, captured the attention of important artists and thinkers from Salvador Dalí to Mark Rothko who admitted their debt to the older artist. Even Carl Gustave Jung used a canvas by Tanguy to illustrate his theory of the collective unconscious.

Tanguy, the son of a retired navy captain, was born at the Ministry of Naval Affairs on Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. In 1918, he briefly joined the merchant navy before being drafted into the Army, where he befriended Jacques Prévert. At the end of his military service in 1922, he returned to Paris, where he worked various odd jobs. He stumbled upon a painting by Giorgio de Chirico and was so deeply impressed he resolved to become a painter himself in spite of his complete lack of formal training.

Prévert and Tanguy, c. 1919
Tanguy and Prévert, c. 1924

Through his friend Prévert, in around 1924 Tanguy was introduced into the circle of surrealist artists around André Breton. he quickly began to develop his own unique painting style, giving his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1927, and marrying his first wife, Jeannette Ducroq, later that same year. During this busy time of his life, Breton gave Tanguy a contract to paint 12 pieces a year. With his fixed income, he painted less and ended up creating only eight works of art for Breton.

"Large Painting Representing A Landscape," 1927
“Large Painting Representing A Landscape,” 1927

In December 1930, at an early screening of Buñuel and Dali’s L’Age d’Or, right-wing activists went to the lobby of the cinema where the film was being screened, and destroyed art works by Dalí, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Tanguy, and others.

“Janvier,” 1930

Throughout the 1930s, he adopted the bohemian lifestyle of the struggling artist with gusto, leading eventually to the failure of his first marriage. He had an intense affair with Peggy Guggenheim in 1938 when he went to London with his wife to hang his first retrospective exhibition in Britain at her gallery Guggenheim Jeune.

"L'ennui et la tranquilité," 1938
“L’ennui et la tranquilité,” 1938

The exhibition was a great success and Guggenheim wrote in her autobiography that “Tanguy found himself rich for the first time in his life”. She purchased his pictures Toilette de L’Air and The Sun in Its Jewel Case (Le Soleil dans son écrin) for her collection. He also painted Peggy two beautiful earrings.

Peggy Guggenheim, c. 1950, wearing earrings painted by Tanguy
Peggy Guggenheim, c. 1950, wearing earrings painted by Tanguy
"Toilette De L'Air," 1937 - originally purchased by Peggy Guggenheim, now in the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany
“Toilette De L’Air,” 1937 – originally purchased by Peggy Guggenheim, now in the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany
"The Sun In Its Jewel Case," 1937 - Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
“The Sun In Its Jewel Case,” 1937 – Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy

The affair continued in both London and Paris and only finished when Tanguy met fellow Surrealist artist Kay Sage, who would become his second wife. After seeing and being very impressed by her work, the two began a unified and symbiotic relationship. With the outbreak of World War II, Sage moved back to her native New York, and Tanguy, judged unfit for military service, followed her. He would spend the rest of his life in the United States. Sage and Tanguy were married in Reno, Nevada on August 17, 1940.

Portrait of Yves Tanguy by George Platt Lynes, New York, 1940
Portrait of Yves Tanguy by George Platt Lynes, New York, 1940
Yves Tanguy with his wife and fellow Surrealist, Kay Sage
“The Water Seekers,” 1945

Toward the end of the war, the couple moved to Woodbury, Connecticut, converting an old farmhouse into an artists’ studio. They spent the rest of their lives there. In 1948, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Sage and Tanguy were inseparable throughout their 15-year marriage, sharing a studio in Woodbury, Connecticut and communicating only in French in their home. Both artists sought to create paintings that the French poet André Breton called “peinture-poésie,” a style influenced by poetry and dream-like imagery.

The home of Tanguy and Sage, 35 Old Town Farm Road, Woodbury, CT - built in 1830, seen here in 2004
The home of Tanguy and Sage, 35 Old Town Farm Road, Woodbury, CT – built in 1830, seen here in 2004

In January 1955, Tanguy suffered a fatal stroke at Woodbury. His body was cremated and his ashes preserved until Sage’s death in 1963. Later, his ashes were scattered by his friend Pierre Matisse on the beach at Douarnenez in his beloved Brittany, together with those of his wife.

“Boneyard of the World — Multiplication of the Arcs,” 1954 – The last known completed painting by Tanguy, now in the The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

“I cannot, nor, consequently, want to try to give a definition, even a simple one, to what I paint. If I did try, I would risk very much closing myself in a definition that would later become like a prison for me.” – Yves Tanguy

Edited from:


Yves Tanguy

Digital collage portrait by TMLipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
January 4, 1016
(click image for full resolution)

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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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Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
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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.

tumblr_nm9qjzf5o81u7jur8o1_1280

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”.
cupid-and-psyche-1889
In 1856, he married Marie-Nelly Monchablon and together they had five children, three sons and two daughters.

marie-nelly

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.

before-the-bath-1900
“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.

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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.

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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


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,
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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.