Archive | June, 2014

My Inspirations for June

30 Jun

Things that have inspired me this month were paintings by Boris Kustodiev, Echo and the Bunnymen, 1960s psychedelic fashion, Brigitte Bardot, Kate Moss and the amazing movie Une Femme est Une Femme; not to mention that I’ve been quite inspired by Anna Karina’s lovely outfits. I’ve also watched the movie The Libertine and I quite liked it.

I’m having my Swinging London summer of love this summer, I’m listening to Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Yardbirds, llittle bit of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles’ album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Jimi Hendrix Experience all the time while gazing longingly at the beautiful dresses worn by Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull and Twiggy. I’ve relished in movies such as A Hard Day’s Night and Tonight Let’s All Make Love in London. If you love the ’60s you must see them! For me, right now it’s 1967. and I’m enjoying.

1918. Merchants Wife - Boris Kustodiev

1910s By the green lamp - nikolai bogdanov belsky

1882. Nude with a Japanese Umbrella - Aimé Morot

1968. Christian Dior, Couture in Vogue UK, March, by David Bailey

1968. dior

1968. Vogue, March, Sue Murray, Photo David Bailey

1960s tweed suits

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1960s The women of the Beatles, Patty Harrison, Cynthia Lennon, Maureen Starr, with Jenny Boyd

1964. Pattie Boyd with The Rolling Stones

1960s the rolling stones

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une femme est une femme 2

une femme est une femme 1

une femme est une femme 3

1960s brigitte bardot 20

1960s brigitte bardot 19

1960s brigitte bardot 21

kate moss 17

kate moss 9

 

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Syd Barrett – Vegetable Man

29 Jun

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From mid to late 1967. Syd’s erratic behaviour was becoming more and more apparent, and not only did it effect the band but it also served as a prelude to his eventual breakdown. Large quantities of LSD proved to be his undoing and at the peak of London’s summer of love, in August 1967. when Pink Floyd’s debut album was released, Syd had obviously gone a step into madness. The outcome was that his main contribution on the second album was a song Jugband blues, compared to the first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn where almost all the songs where written by Barrett.

However, at the time they were recording their second album A Saucerful of Secrets, Syd had come up with three songs; Jugband Blues, Scream Thy Last Scream and Vegetable Man, of which only Jugband Blues was featured on the album while the two others were recorded but discarded for they were deemed ‘too dark and disturbing’. Pink Floyd’s manager, Peter Jenner, wishes the song was released. He said: ‘I always thought they should be put out, so I let my copies be heard. I knew that Roger would never let them out, or Dave. They somehow felt they were a bit indecent, like putting out nude pictures of a famous actress: it just wasn’t cricket. But I thought they were good songs and great pieces of art. They’re disturbing, and not a lot of fun, but they’re some of Syd’s finest work – though God knows, I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through what he’s gone through to get to those songs. They’re like Van Gogh.’

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Though dark, this song stands as a reminder of Syd’s state of mind at the time; a recording of Syd’s monumental breakdown as an artist and as a person. Lyrics are chilling and express alienation from the band and rest of the world. Syd felt lost and lonely where ever he went. (I’ve been looking all over the place for a place for me/ But it ain’t anywhere/ It just ain’t anywhere.) A vegetable man is Syd himself, and, just like a scarecrow (from the first album) Syd can’t seem to find a place for himself (It’s what you see/ It must be me/ It’s what I am/ Vegetable Man.)

In my opinion, the song should have been released for it brilliantly captures the fleeting optimism and hedonism of ’60s London and, in a way, it stands as a document not just to Syd’s downfall but to ’60s downfall. Vegetable Man is a prelude to Syd’s debut solo album The Madcap Laughs where the themes of loneliness, alienation and sadness would be even more elaborated. Musically the song is striking as well, and my favourite part is where Syd sings Ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha and you can hear the echo; I love how noisy and distorted the sound is in general. It sounds spooky and haunting at the same time because after this part comes the chilling confession about not finding a place for himself (It ain’t anywhere/ It just ain’t anywhere.)

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However, the name of the song, Vegetable Man, is based on a 1572. painting Summer by an Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo who created imaginative portraits made entirely of vegetables, fruits, flowers, fish, tree roots and books. His original approach to portrait painting is impressive, especially if we considered that he lived in the sixteenth century. His paintings were based on elements and seasons, but the painting Summer was the one that intrigued Syd the most while he was still in Camberwell College of Arts. Summer featured a composite man made from intricate painted vegetables; a vegetable man, if you will. Syd even appeared in a promotional photo with spring onions tied to his head, a knowing wink to Arcimboldo, not to mention Rene Magritte’s Son of Man.

1572. Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Summer1572. Summer – Arcimboldo

Ren? Magritte, The Son of Man, 1964, Restored by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009  øðä îàâøéè, áðå ùì àãí, 1964, øñèåøöéä ò"é ùîòåï éðåáéõ, 20091964. Son of Man – Rene Magritte

The Madcap Laughs

22 Jun

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Syd Barrett first entered the studio as a solo artist on 30th January 1968; just ten days after his last show with Pink Floyd, for what would be an unfruitful session. Sessions resumed in June and July produced songs Late Night, Octopus and Golden Hair; all featured on The Madcap Laughs. Peter Jenner, who had worked on these sessions claimed that they had not gone smoothly although he got on well with the singer. Shortly after July sessions Syd suddenly stopped recording, breaking up with his then girlfriend Lindsey Corner and then going off a drive around Britain in his Mini only to end up in psychiatric care in Cambridge.

By the start of ’69 Barrett, somewhat recovered, resumed his music career and started working with another engineer Malcolm Jones, after both Jenner and Norman Smith (Pink Floyd’s producer at the time) had declined his request to work on the album. Over four sessions beginning on April 10th 1969. Syd had recorded songs Opel (a beautiful misty ballad that would not see the light of day until 1988), No good trying, No man’s land, Here I go and Love you. The sessions all together were not very productive because in those days recording four or five songs on just guitar in four or five hours wasn’t considered very productive. It was something the engineers tried to avoid.

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The Madcap laughs was released on January 3rd 1970. and it warmly received by the public. The Madness of King Syd seemed to have touched a nerve with a generation who had seen the end of the decade take a darker turn; failure of hippie revolution, Altamont and the bombing of Vietnam. The Madness of King Syd was something that attracted people to Syd; it seemed as if those around him wanted to drink from his spring of creativity and ingeniousness; they wanted to see what he sees, hear what he hears, venture into unknown area of mind. If anything the dark romance of a beautiful young Englishman gone mad certainly increased his allure. By late ’68 Syd was directionless and spent his time hanging out with west London hippie scene. He was taking copious doses of LSD daily and that proved to be his undoing.

During the recording of the album Syd was also on Mandrax and he’d sit on a stool and then fall off it. Barrett and his friends were taking the infamous LSD-25, a powerful psychiatric drug still legal in UK those days. It was almost a religious-like experience for Syd, and many others who indulged. Syd really did believe the psychedelic revolution was flowing through him. The world was changing and he thought we should all be perfect beings, cool and groovy. Syd began taking acid regularly with enthusiasm many found alarming. It was in May 1967. that his eyes crazed.  At the time of The Madcap Laughs Syd had already completely surrendered.

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The Madcap Laughs is an album filled with long forgotten symbolism. The songs are a mirror of Syd’s mental state of the time and in them he expressed, perhaps deliberately perhaps not, his loneliness and growing alienation. Though some of them have a cheerful rhythm like Love you, one can feel a spark of melancholy. In song Terrapin for example Syd shows his love of the blues while some of the songs sound more like a concept rather than a finished and polished songs. This album features some almost child-like songs with optimistic melodies and ostensibly cute themes (Love you and Here I go) through darker and deeper subjects (Dark globe, Golden Hair and No man’s land) to melancholic cries for rescue from his loneliness, alienation, hopelessness and feeling lost. Besides melancholy, most of the songs have a dreamy feel to it; psychedelic guitar work, most notably Late night. Song Golden Hair is actually based on a poem by James Joyce.

This album and the following Barrett reflect not just his state of mind but also the atmosphere at the time, sorrowful end of the sixties whose optimism, innocence and mind-expanding ideas had faded away. By that time the hedonistic atmosphere of the Swinging London was long lost. Perhaps albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett are a remembrance of the ’60s for they were created at the dusk of this beautiful era; era which Syd belonged to and sadly died with.

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Since loneliness pervades every corner of this album it’s no wonder that the album sleeve, that has contributed to a myth of a musician, is a portrait in alienation. Lyrics such as And I wondered for those I loved still (Long Gone), Inside me I feel alone and unreal (Late night), not to mention the haunting You feel me, away far, so empty, oh so alone, I want to come home (Feel) show how he felt at the time and what was on his crazy mind, and they also show that after all he was still acutely self-aware; aware of how lost he actually was, lost and lonely, alienated from the people that were his dear friends since teenage days.

The album sleeve is mysterious and intriguing as the album itself. It shows Syd alone in his room with painted floor and a vase of daffodils. By the time of The Madcap Laughs Syd found refuge in an apartment in Wetherby Mansion near Earl’s court, far away from excesses of his previous home on Egerton Court. Syd’s apartment was far from being impressive; it had nasty electric fireplace, a few mobiles and there were only his bed, a desk with a record player and some canvases piled against the wall, some of which were started by a watery idea. A drab and sad place to be, lonely above all. In reality, his bohemian lifestyle masked his growing alienation prior to the subsequent complete withdrawal.

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The photo session for the album cover took place in spring 1969, most likely in March when Syd painted his floor in orange and purple stripes and then, proud of his work, invited his friend Mick Rock to come over and take some photos. At that time Syd lived with Iggy The Eskimo who was a friend of his ex-girlfriend Jenny Spires. Iggy and Syd weren’t lovers but she was a good company. She answered the door to Mick completely naked (usual thing for hippies and students of the time) who had just arrived that day only to find Syd in bed, still in his underpants; a moment he captured with his new camera Pentax he had just recently bought. After he’d got up, Syd donned a pair of trousers with colour stains on them; from the floor paint. Iggy then added kohl to his eyes to achieve that elegantly wasted look.

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Anyways, the photos came natural all together; Mick worked with elements he had: a painted floor, a vase of daffodils, nude Iggy in the background and a huge Canadian car parked just in front of Wetherby Mansion. None of it was planned. Later that day, Storm Thorgerson arrived and his solo focus was the floor. He shoot photos in fading light placing a wide angled lens millimeters of the ground to achieve an Alice in Wonderland effect, giving the floor elastic quality. Syd just crouched by the fireplace and he looked natural; he spontaneously adapted to the background. His pose suggests defiant exhaustion and a dark edge of ‘knowing’. Syd looked like a poete maudit; something that came out of Rimbaud. There was only one corner of the room that Syd hadn’t painted and that was the only clean angle if you didn’t want to expose this ‘set’ for what it was; a drab living room with a nasty electric fireplace. As long as he occupied his island-mattress surrounded by striped painted floor, reality and a world of possibilities remained outside his door. The photo that would eventually be the cover photo was also taken by Thorgerson.

1875. Les Raboteurs de parquet - Gustave Caillebotte

The most interesting element of the photo is the painted floor and a story lies behind it too. Syd approached things as a painter, and he did that for the rest of his life. He was inspired to paint his floor in alternate stripes of orange and purple colours by Gustave Caillebotte’s 1875. painting Les Raboteurs de Parquet or Wood Floor Planers. Caillebotte was a French Impressionist artist though he painted in more realistic style then the rest of the Impressionists. The painting depicts men scraping wood floors in striated patterns; something that shows Caillebotte’s interest in everyday life and perspective. Syd admired that painting while he was still in Camberwell College of Arts; back in the 1964. when all the Pink Floyd psychedelia and LSD were ahead of him. Now, in 1969. he was crouching in the shadow of a human condition; from cheerful and dreamy psychedelic boy whose witty mind was behind The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Syd’s look in late ’69 mirrored the dark mood that had begun to engulf him.

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Also, grainy quality of the photo brings nostalgia and serves as a barrier between psychedelic vivid colours of the ’60s to more drab and sad reality that came with the ’70s. Long gone is the multicoloured glamour of the ’60s Swinging London psychedelia and instead the cover of The Madcap Laughs suggests the ’60s decadence exposed and photos have that sad party’s over feel.

Gimme Shelter – The End of The 1960s

18 Jun

There’s no doubt that the 1960s are my favourite decade of the 20th century. It’s a decade that symbolizes the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and hippie movement. For me it’s a wonderful decade inspiring in both musical and fashion sense. However, nothing lasts forever and so this decade came to an end but what it created culturally, musically and artistically can’t be erased.

1964. Pattie Boyd with The Rolling Stones

The year 1965. was year zero for rock and roll. It was the year everything begun. In the early ’60s music for teenagers was sweet, safe and slightly soulless. Radio stations were filled with manufactured pop created by song writing teams in pop factories. Teenage girls’ idols were nice, proper white kids singing pop with a little beat such as Bobby Vee and Bobby Vinton who would went to American Bandstand and lip synched. That sound was manufactured by the American market for the British market. However, people were getting tired of it. The new generation of British teenagers craved for music with more raw, rebellious edge. They found what they were looking for in blues; music of the American black underclass, music emerged from suffering. British working class totally identified with the black America. Blues had that element of underground rage, something which British teens craved for.

Out with the old and in with the new. By 1965. a generation of rebellious teenagers who had grown up listening to black American blues had invented their own adrenaline charged sound: Rock. The Who brought attitude and volume. The Rolling Stones brought swagger and sex. The Kinks came on the music scene with their distorted guitar sound. Even Bob Dylan was inspired by the new sound and with his leather jacket and hairstyle he was almost like a Rolling Stone wanna-be.

1960s the rolling stones

It was playing blues that melted the emotional polar frost of the 1950s post-war English austerity. Because of its emphasis on improvisations it unlocked the creativity in young artists playing it. In 1962. a band was formed in suburb west London – The Rolling Stones when the singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards bonded over a shared love of the blues. When The Stones became more well known they stopped playing at venues such as The Crawdaddy Club. Instead, they gave up their place for the new band whose sound would be the first to denote the true Rock sound – band The Who.

The Who combined the rebellious spirit, Mod-scene image with the bold self-expression of the Pop Art. They were also very interesting because they made fashion statements with their clothes. Guitarist Pete Townshend wore particularly bold and memorable gear. He wore a jacket made out of a flag, for example and the drummer Keith Moon wore Pop Art T-shirts with targets and hearts. Pop Art was popular because it was not as confined as other art movements and consequently became an important part of 1960s culture, and an important part of Swinging London as well.  With The Who exploring more provocative imagery and ideas, it was clear that the new music movement was taking shape.

floyd 18.tif

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Swinging London or the capital of cool, as it was sometimes called, was a place to be in the 1960s. After the initial blues-inspired Rock came something more avant-garde, Rock evolved and psychedelic-art rock emerged from the sound of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett exploring what he could do with his guitar. In 1967. Pink Floyd released a single Arnold Layne, a song about a clothes-stealing transvestite, introducing a new concept in Rock music – psychedelia. This was rock meets the mad hatter’s tea party. Pink Floyd’s debut album The Piper at The Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967; at the peak of London’s Summer of love. Pink Floyd had previously recorded a single See Emily Play on 23rd May 1967, and released it less than a month later. The song was about a psychedelic schoolgirl whom Syd Barrett had reportedly seen after taking acid and falling asleep in the woods. Characteristics of psychedelic rock in this song are use of echo and reverb, whimsical lyrics and the slide-guitar work done by Syd using a plastic ruler.

Syd Barrett enrolled in Camberwell College of Arts in London in summer of 1964. to study painting. Camberwell proved to be a hothouse of ideas. Actually, art schools developed what we today know as the 1960s Swinging London for they were the place where the creativity came from. Education authorities put those who did not fit in elsewhere into art collages. Entrance qualifications were vague, with academic scores waived when portfolios showed promise. Art schools produced gifted painters, promising fashion designers, artists and musicians. Even in art schools, the ground for psychedelia was set with drab post-war colours discarded in favour of violent pinks, aquas and reds. Art college students liked their music likewise amplified; sharp, short and shocking. Syd felt that art was made of the moment and the springboard to the next work and next moment. Other notable musicians that were attending art schools were Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Ray Davies.

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So at around 1967. psychedelic culture prevailed over the Mod culture that dominated during the first half of the decade. The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released in June 1967, just before the peak of summer of love, marks the transition between pop to the more psychedelic sound. Psychedelia might have opened minds to new ideas, sounds and images but it also propelled rock music into world of hedonism and excess. The Who came to America in summer of 1967. They shocked the hippies with their destructive and aggressive performance but Monterey soon established the festival as an arena for rock ‘n’ roll music, but it also represented the climax of summer of love for the optimism of the ’60s gave way to more volatile and uncertain times.

Utopia of the ’67 could not possibly last for it was not universally accepted. Psychedelic youth and hippies were only one segment of society, and only one fragment of it. You could just feel the change in the air; the atmosphere changed and it all became much more politicized. The Woodstock ’69 festival would see the sun set on the sixties hippie dream. By that time the business started to be more in control of the music; the freedom of the sixties was lost forever. It was a beginning of something; a beginning of the end.

the rolling stones 2

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The Rolling Stones quickly dragged inspiration from the changing mood and uncertainty of those times. They were one of the few bands that found creative zeal in the darkness. There was a new world going on but The Stones weren’t afraid to embrace it. They channeled all that darkness with morbid relish in one song; Sympathy for the devil. It was the theme that fascinated them since they dipped into blues. However, The Stones would be plunged into the darkness of their own in a year marked by controversy and tragedy, from the mysterious death of the guitarist Brian Jones to the murderous chaos of the Altamont festival in California in December 1969. when they recruited Hell’s Angles to provide the security. Hell’s Angels soon caused turmoil and the man was murdered as the cameras rolled. The innocence of the ’60s was lost forever.

In the song Gimme shelter it seems as if The Stones were asking for a shelter, some place safe from the turmoil, darkness and uncertainty that overshadowed the Sun like the dark clouds. (The floods is threat’ning/ My very life today/ Gimme, gimme shelter/ Or I’m gonna fade away) Another song from the same album Let it Bleed released in ’69 called You can’t always get what you want also reflects the atmosphere of the time. Each verse discusses a topic relevant to the ’60s: love, politics and drugs. The song captures the essence of the initial optimism and the eventual disillusion, followed by the resigned pragmatism of the chorus. (I saw her today at the reception / In her glass was a bleeding man / She was practiced at the art of deception/ Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands.) Rock provided a soundtrack for the changing times. It had become an incredible political and artistic force. It had given music volume and attitude.

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Still, the dark atmosphere at the dusk of the sixties had impact on other artists, such as Syd Barrett. Compared to Pink Floyd’s first album The piper at the gates of dawn that mirrors the optimism and decadence of the Swinging London, Syd’s main contribution to the second album was the song Jugband blues whose lyrics show that inside his mind he was still acutely self-aware despite the madness and darkness that had begun to engulf him. The dusk of the sixties proved to be a fruitful period not just for The Rolling Stones but for Barrett as well for its product was his solo album The Madcap laughs.

The Madcap laughs, released in January 1970. but recorded between 28. May 1968. and 5. August ’69, was Barrett’s debut solo album. It was warmly received and the madness of king Syd seemed to have touched a nerve with a generation who had seen the end of the decade take a darker turn with Altamont, the bombing of Vietnam and apparent failure of hippie culture. Its lyrics are introspective and range from lovely, almost child-like songs about love and friendship (Terrapin: I really love you/ And I mean you/ The star above you/ Crystal blue) to deeper and darker subject that mirrored what he was feeling at the time; I’ll take Dark Globe as an example; its a cliche to say that the opening lines are memorable, no, they are much more than that, they are haunting and loveable and strange, dark and crooked at the same time. (Oh where are you now/ Pussy willow that smiled on this leaf/ When I was alone/ You promised to stone from your heart.) In other songs he expresses his sadness and loneliness (You feel me/ Away far/ Too empty/ Oh so alone, I want to come home), something which young people at the time could relate to for they felt slightly betrayed and lost at looking at the ’60s the golden years of their youth gone by.

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1960s faded away, but they left us with achievements that cannot be denied. They produced numerous good bands, ventured into unknown areas of music, brought new and daring fashions and shaped attitudes and ideals that had not been forgotten despite the time gone by.

Gustave Courbet’s Muse

14 Jun

Joanna Hiffernan was an Irish artist’s model and a muse to a French painter Gustave Courbet.

1862. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1-The White Girl (girl is Joanne Hiffernan)

Joanna Hiffernan met Gustave Courbet in 1860. and went on to have a six-year relationship with him. During this period she often posed as a model for him. Though she was physically striking; tall and red haired Irish beauty, her personality was even more impressive. She was first a muse to an American-born, British-based painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler whose friends said of Joanna:  ‘She was not only beautiful. She was intelligent, she was sympathetic. She gave Whistler the constant companionship he could not do without.’ The painting above is a portrait of Joanna painted by Whistler.

However, Joanna is better known as a muse to Gustave Courbet, a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th century French painting. During the 1860s, Courbet painted a series of erotic paintings and Joanna modeled for many of them. During his three-month stay in Trouville in 1865, he attracted a following as a portraitist among the society women in this fashionable resort on the Normandy coast. There he met Joanna through acquaintance with fellow artist James Whistler who was also working in Trouville. In 1865. Courbet wrote about ‘the beauty of a superb redhead whose portrait I have begun’ and he was talking about his portrait  Portrait of Jo (La belle Irlandaise).

The portrait shows beautiful Irish red-haired women; Joanna, gazing longingly at the mirror which she’s holding in her left hand while she’s touching her long, curly red hair with her other hand. Melancholy and disappointment protrudes from her eyes as if she, although young, had not achieved what she was hoping for. She’s looking at her face; waning beauty slowly disappearing, and asking herself ‘where have the days gone?’

1866. Gustave Courbet - Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl1865-66. Portrait of Jo (La belle Irlandaise)

Le Sommeil, translated as The Sleepers or Sleep is an erotic painting painted by Courbet in 1866. Because it depicts lesbianism, the painting is also known as Two Friends (Les Deux Amies) and Indolence and Lust (Paresse et Luxure). Though originally commissioned by the Turkish diplomat and art collector Halil Serif Pasa, who was living in Paris at that time, it was not permitted to be shown publicly until 1988. as it was deemed provocative and improper. His other painting L’Origine du monde experienced the same destiny.

The painting shows two naked women lying on a bed in an erotic embrace. One of the women is brunette and the other is blonde but her hair has a reddish glow. No doubt that Joanna was the model for the blonde. Also, their skin tones are different and that just emphasizes the women’s curves and their overlapping bodies. This painting is interpreted as a realist painting for the bodies are detailed but the imperfections are not concealed.

Le Sommeil was inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s poem ‘Delphine et Hippolyte’ from his collection Les Fleurs du mal.

1866. Le Sommeil (The Sleepers) by Gustave Courbet

Boris Kustodiev’s Ideal of Beauty

5 Jun

I became acquainted with Kustodiev’s work through exploring the Slavic mythology and I couldn’t be more happier with what I have discovered because Kustodiev’s paintings are enchanting with their vivid colour palette and choice of subjects.  In this post, I shall focus on his painting The merchant’s wife painted in 1918.

1918. Merchants Wife - Boris Kustodiev

Boris Kustodiev’s first impressions of the way of life of the provincial merchant class were formed at an early age when his family rented a small wing in a rich merchant’s house after his father had died. Boris later wrote ‘The whole tenor of the rich and plentiful merchant way of life was there right under my nose… It was like something out of an Ostrovsky play.’ He later recalled his childhood memories through his paintings, using water colours and oils to recreate the lively atmosphere of the merchant’s life he witnessed as a child.

In the painting above, called The merchant’s wife, we see a beautiful and plump Russian lady in a luxurious surroundings. Looking at this painting I feel an irresistible need to look at it again and again. There’s something so appealing in those vivid colours, opulent decorations and abundance of details; bright sky, town and trees in the background, lots of lavish food; grapes, watermelon, apples and bread, along with finely embroidered tablecloth, richly decorated pottery; all interwoven with Russian tradition. Modernism of the merchant world intermingled with Russian tradition, world of values and ideals.

1920s Merchant’s Wife - Boris Kustodiev

Kustodiev’s inspiration did not stop on one painting for he painted three more, also named The merchant’s wife. The one above also displays the merchant’s wife in a luxurious surrounding, however, here she is painted nude, which shows her beauty; Russian beauty later developed in his painting named Russian Venus. The merchant’s wife is depicted as plump, fair and gracious with hair gold as wheat, eyes blue like the sky and lips soft, delicate and red like a cherry. She is lying on a bed, surrounded by shiny pink bed-linen while her hand rests on a snowy white cotton pillow.

Wallpapers in vivid blue with red roses print emphasize the richness and luxury surrounding this lady whose beauty is negligent and in conceited. She’s not vain, rigid or uptight, quite the opposite, she simply enjoys the comfort of merchandise life; a simple minded, innocent soul whose moral values cannot be tainted by earthly treasures and cheap pleasures – that shows her strength and loyalty to the Russian tradition. Her spirit belongs to Russia and she’s not able, nor she wishes to let herself to pompous life popularized by aristocrats.

1924. Boris Kustodiev - Merchant’s Wife