Archive | July, 2014

My Inspirations for July

31 Jul

I watched a lot of movies/TV-shows in July and I’ve discovered some new ones too; I’m in love with the sitcom Blakcadder, nothing better than British humor, Only Fools and Horses (which I basically watch once a year) and Merlin; I’ve never really noticed this show but it’s amazing and I’m on the season four now. I’ve also watched an old movie The Women (1939) starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Joan Fontaine (and I’m telling you, the clothes are amazing). Ans yes, I’ve finally watched the movie Barbara (2012) which James Dean Bradfield recommended on a concert; it stars Nina Hoss (vocals on Europa geht durch Mich by Manics) and it’s set in 1980. in the East Germany; the movie really captured the atmosphere and it’s interesting to see the other side because in movies like Christiane F: Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo you see the West Berlin. I’ve read a book named Tristessa by Kerouac and it’s very interesting and sad, though filled with vivid descriptions of Mexico City. Next: Satori in Paris. As far as art goes, no doubt that this was the month of Van Gogh; I’ve written three posts about him and I honestly sympathise with this man, I wish I could have met him; that amazing soul that left us with this peculiar paintings.

P.S. I’ve bought a book by the name Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: The Dark Globe and I’m super excited (it really is the best literature regarding Syd Barrett)

merlin 1

merlin 2

merlin 3

1890. Bal au Moulin Rouge  - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

syd barrret

1888. Starry Night Over the Rhone - van gogh

1889. The Starry Night - van gogh

1890. Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh

barbara

barbara 2

 

the women 1

the women 3

the women 5

 

Van Gogh – Wheatfield with Crows

29 Jul

”The sadness will last forever.”

1890. Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh

On 29th July 1890, at the peak of summer, van Gogh had finally succumbed to the extreme sadness that had tortured him for the most of his life. Two days earlier van Gogh shot himself and the untreated wound infection proved to be his undoing.

Months prior to his death were, at the same time, the saddest and the most creative days of his life. A year prior to his death, van Gogh stayed at the asylum at Saint-Remy where he was constantly getting bored and this led to a frustration. Despite his numerous nervous breakdowns, his time there proved to be the most productive time of his entire life having painted the most of his paintings two years before his death. Shortly before leaving Saint Remy, van Gogh expressed how depressed he felt “The surroundings here are beginning to weigh me down more than I can say… I need some air, I feel overwhelmed by boredom and grief.”

After returning to Auvers, his health was still fragile, however, by 25th May 1890. he had recovered, writing to his brother Theo “I can do nothing about my illness. I am suffering a little just now — the thing is that after that long seclusion the days seem like weeks to me.” His creativity flourished again and, quickly reaching out for brushes and canvases, he painted numerous landscapes, exploring the ‘wheat’ theme he considered to be interesting. His improvement continued throughout June, the nightmares vanished and he seemed to be less depressive, looking brightly at the future, actually. His desires to paint were tremendous and his creativity, flair and ideas thrived. In a letter he informed his brother about his painting ideas “I would like to paint some portraits against a very vivid yet tranquil background. There are the greens of a different quality, but of the same value, so as to form a whole of green tones, which by its vibration will make you think of the gentle rustle of the ears swaying in the breeze: it is not at all easy as a colour scheme.”

1890. Wheatfields at Auvers under Clouded Sky - Van Gogh, July1890. Wheatfield at Auvers under Clouded Sky, painted in July

“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”

cropped-1890-wheatfield-under-thunderclouds-van-gogh-painted-in-july.jpg1890. Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds, painted in July

Painting Wheatfield with Crows is one of van Gogh’s last works (possibly the very last painting). The sky appears so vivid and yet so tranquil, lonely and sad at the same time; that’s something in common with all of van Gogh’s paintings, no matter what colour he uses, whether it’s a vivid or dark shade, he manages to paint in a way that everything takes a sad tone. This painting is a dramatic landscape out of which emerges almost horrifying despair, sadness and alienation. He writes to his brother ‘I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness.’ However, he added ‘I’m fairly sure that these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words, that is, how healthy and invigorating I find the countryside.’ 

Van Gogh felt that he succeeded in expressing his extreme loneliness (de la solitude extrême). Concerning the painting, he also expressed that he feels like a bird in a cage, perhaps trapped in the agony of his own mind. Since he incorporated the crows in his painting they create an all together symbol of the constraint he felt; he felt constrained by his surrounding and powerless regarding his art; he created with such flair and lived with even greater passion, yet nobody ever understood him or his paintings. Crows are a symbol of death and rebirth, or of resurrection, but on this painting they express both his enormous sorrow and sense of his life coming to an end. He wrote to Theo on 2th July 1890. “I myself am also trying to do as well as I can, but I will not conceal from you that I hardly dare count on always being in good health. And if my disease returns, you would forgive me. I still love art and life very much…” Later, on 10th July he writes in despairing tone ”And the prospect grows darker, I see no happy future at all.”

1890. Undergrowth with Two Figures - van Gogh, June1890. Undergrowth with Two Figures, painted in June

“I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.”

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”

1890. Wheat Fields after the Rain (The Plain of Auvers)- van Gogh1890. Wheat Field after the Rain, painted in July

Vincent van Gogh was a man of passion greater than life, so devoted to his art until the very end; end of the life burdened with sorrows, illnesses, loneliness and a lack of understanding; life of extremes… His quote ‘I’d rather die of passion than of boredom’ is his best testimony. His art was the purpose of his life, and the cause of his eventual collapse. Today Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest artists and his work influenced the 20th century Modernists, but, at the time of his death his work was known to only a handful of people. Van Gogh wanted to be remembered as a ‘man who feels deeply, that man who feels keenly’ and he expressed his feelings; his bleeding agony and struggles in his art. His paintings are now appreciated for their rough beauty, bold colours and their brutally honest emotional facet.

Vincent van Gogh died on the 29th July 1890, in the summertime, aged just thirty seven. As he was lying on his death bed, this man, at the peak of his creativity, at the peak of his artistic life and already facing the end of it; end of the life already rife with sad events, whispered his last words to Theo, his brother and a faithful companion to the end, ‘La Tristesse Durera’ meaning ‘The sadness will last forever.’  At the peak of summer Van Gogh had finally succumbed to the sadness.

 

Klimt’s Golden Beauties

25 Jul

This very afternoon boredom almost suffocated me until I stumbled upon Klimt’s wonderful paintings that captivate the optimistic and decadent atmosphere of the turn-of-the-century Vienna.

1907. gustav klimt - Adele Bloch-Bauer I,

1907. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Gustav Klimt really knew how to live and his paintings are painted the same way. Born in poverty stricken family, to a mother Anna whose musical ambitions stayed unrealised and a father Ernst, unsuccessful gold engraver from Bohemia, Gustav grew up with his two brothers showing artistic talent early on. Having studied in the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts and worked as a mural painter, the name Gustav Klimt became well known in Vienna. However, in 1892, at the dawn of the Vienna’s Jugendstil, his father and brother died, leaving Gustav to care for his family. This tragedy affected not only his private life but also the artistic one and Klimt soon moved to a more personal style.

Gustav’s fortunes changed, for his life coincided with the golden age of Vienna at the turn of the century. It was the time of artistic renewal and artistic bunt and also the beginning of Modernism. New art, Art Nouveau, brought confidence and decadency in art and literature, alongside came a strong fascination with eroticism. Vienna that Klimt lived in was Sigmund Freud’s Vienna; from the outside still in the spirit of Victorian moral, while the decadent behaviour was the topic of the gossips. Enthusiasm for eroticism that ruled in Vienna appeared as if it was made for Klimt for no other painter praised and emphasised Eros; the god of love and passion, and above all – women whom he considered his muses and the final purpose in life.

1908. The Kiss (Lovers) by Gustav Klimt1908. The Kiss (Lovers)

Klimt’s paintings are filled with naturalistic depictions of eroticism and he strived to fill his canvases with intricate decorations, often with little gold leaves that were carefully placed on the canvas in order to achieve the luminous effect. Typical for the personal style he developed at the turn of the century, Klimt’s paintings such as The Kiss (considered to be the most popular one) combine sentiments and excess decoration in magnificent way. Model for the latter painting was Emilie Louise Floge; fashion designer, Klimt’s companion and his muse. She designed artistic dresses that were loose-fitting and worn without corset; the decadency and optimistic spirit of Vienna was captured in the garments she designed. However, the clientele was small because her designs were rather provocative for those times, even for Vienna, but Klimt often found her clients through his job as a portrait painter for the Vienna bourgeoisie circles.

Klimt’s ‘Golden phase’ gained him positive reaction from the critics and helped to popularise his previous works. Inspiration for his golden phase was the travels to Ravenna and Venice; cities famous for their mosaics that date from the Byzantine period. In his private life, besides his infamous love adventures and enormous passion for women, Klimt was an introverted man, spending his days at home, painting and often chatting with his models. The simplicity of his life was emphasised by his choice of garments; at home he wore sandals and loose-fitting robe without undergarments. His private life was somewhat reserved; he lived devoted to his family and art, avoiding cafes, public appearances and communication with other artists. His affairs were also very discreet and kept private in order to avoid scandal. His paintings mirror his inner world and beauty and sensuality he saw in women.

1907. Gustav Klimt - Hope1907. Hope

Gustav Klimt died in Vienna on 6th February 1918; just a few month before the complete collapse of Austro-Hungarian Empire and the world as he knew it. His paintings stay as a monument to the Zeitgeist of the decadent society of the turn of the century Vienna.

“I have the gift of neither the spoken nor the written word, especially if I have to say something about myself or my work. Whoever wants to know something about me -as an artist, the only notable thing- ought to look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do.”

Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

22 Jul

Manics’ new album called Futurology was released this month. The songs I have heard by now sound promising, fresh and intriguing; Europa Geht Durch Mich, Walk me to the Bridge and Futurology.

Song ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’ is, in my opinion, brilliant and it makes me proud of being a European. It can loosely be translated as Europe passes trough me which makes me think of all the beauty and glory of nature, history, art, culture and languages Europe has to offer. In modernistic way (since the title is Futurology) the meaning could be that Europe is united through European Union and in that way it passes through me, that is, every European; we’re connected on this little continent and we share the richness of history, art, music and literature. The song also features vocals of Nina Hoss, a German actress who starred in movie Barbara that was recommended by James Dean Bradfield himself on a concert.

Walk me to the bridge was the first song I’ve heard from their new album, on the 28. April; the day they released the video. I’m looking forward to their new album for I knew, once I’ve listened to this song, that it’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to hear more of their new songs such as Sex, Power, Love and Money; the title sounds intriguing. But, back to this song.

Though the lyrics such as: ‘We smile at this ugly world/ It never really suited you (…) So long my fatal friend…’ undoubtedly remind me of Richey, Nicky said, well I might as well quote him:

‘People might have the idea that this song contains a lot of Richey references but it really isn’t about that, it’s about the Oresund Bridge that joins Sweden and Denmark. A long time ago when we were crossing that bridge I was flagging and thinking about leaving the band (the “fatal friend”). It’s about the idea of bridges allowing you an out of body experience as you leave and arrive in different places.’

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the song’s lyrics worth a thousand meanings. Still, this verse ‘The roads never end, the motion starts/ Reality gives no romance’ reminded me of something Nicky once said in an interview: ‘We’re romantic realists, we’re always aware we’re not blinded by too much flowery aesthetics. Our romance is always based on where we come from anyway. A desire to escape boredom.’

However, verse ‘Still blinded by your intellect’ is still haunting me and it doesn’t leave my head for it so reminds me of Richey, as if the Manics are still blinded by his intellect. Since Nicky has explained the true meaning of the song I can only say that I’m still blinded by Manic Street Preachers’ intellect.

Van Gogh’s Wheatfield

19 Jul

Ever since I’ve written about van Gogh’s paintings of starry skies, his other paintings greatly caught my attention. However, this one, called Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds, appeared particularly interesting to me.

1890. Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds - van Gogh, painted in July

This painting, painted in July 1890. (the very same month Vincent van Gogh died), is a part of his wheatfield series painted on double-square canvases. Painted with thick, relief coat, dark and cloudy sky seems threatening and suggests the upcoming sorrow; no black crows here but the lonely landscape does give indication of the depressing state van Gogh was engulfed in those days. With simple setting of the painting, which features only a wheatfield and the sky; no houses, trees or a river there, van Gogh tried to express the loneliness, sadness and alienation he felt at the time.

A letter of around 10. July 1890. says: “There – once back here I set to work again – the brush however almost falling from my hands and – knowing clearly what I wanted I’ve painted another three large canvases since then. They’re immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies, and I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness …”

The simplicity of the painting only added depth to it: wilderness with a wheatfield; so lonely and so alone, solitary as long as the view stretches; from the tiny red flowers that grow in the near to the line where the field is mingled with the troubled sky; no landscape could possibly express loneliness better than this, on the first sight, ordinary wheatfield. Just looking at this painting is so inspirational to me; give me such delight and fires my imagination. Also, van Gogh’s emphasis on brush strokes is very appealing to me.

Van Gogh’s Starry Nights

12 Jul

When I first saw the painting Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw; it was on the last New Year’s Eve and I remember being captivated by the magical beauty that allures from the indigo sky sprinkled with golden stars; night in the eyes of van Gogh. Now it is clear to me that that thought was rather impulsive, but still, this painting kept haunting me and here I am, seven month later, thinking of it and writing of it.

1888. Starry Night Over the Rhone - van gogh1888. Starry Night Over the Rhone.

This painting, painted in September 1888, shows van Gogh’s interest in nocturnal. Painting at night, however, proved to be a challenge for him, and he put emphasis on capturing the reflections of the gas lamp on the glimmering blue water of the Rhone. Painting this in only two colours; blue and yellow, van Gogh managed to evoke the river waves mingled with the golden light of the street lamps by the Rhone in Arles. Vibrancy and heavy brush strokes are absolutely alluring and magical.

It’s amazing how detailed he is with a brush and what effect he created using only two colours, yet carefully blending them to achieve the enchanting effect of glimmering light and the shadows on the Rhone. Depicting colours was extremely important to him and, in letters to his brother Theo, he used to describe objects in his painting in terms of colours. When depicting day scenes, he used earthy tones, but when painting the nighttime landscapes he used blues which he blended in such a refined way with thick, but small brush strokes. Van Gogh explored the colours and its opportunities in a rather different way than other painters of the time; he focused on one colour and how to get the most shades out of it whilst other Post-Impressionists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin explored colours by using as many of them as they could.

1889. The Starry Night - van gogh1890. The Starry Night

Nocturnal atmosphere with its night sky and changing effect of light at night proved to be inspirational for van Gogh, as he painted Cafe Terrace at Night, a few weeks earlier and later another beautiful painting called The Starry Night. Painting The Church at Auvers, painted in June 1890. is also a very good example of van Gogh’s night scenes. The later painting, shown above, is a bit more playful than the previous one that I’ve shown you, and, to me, maybe even more beautiful.

Van Gogh painted The Starry Night in June 1889. when he was staying in a sanatorium in a small town Saint-Remy-de-Provence located in the south of France. The painting depicts the view from his room, and, although it depicts a night scene, it was painted during the day from a memory. What appeals me the most about this painting is the playfulness of the stars; the way they dance in their golden apparel, drawn to the Moon, shining brightly at a small town. The sky is painted in van Gogh’s characteristic thick, relief brush strokes, whilst the vividness and sparkle of the stars is depicted with dashed lines and in that way it literary seems the sky is moving and the stars are actually dancing.

However, van Gogh was not satisfied with the painting, writing his brother Theo ‘The first four canvases are studies without the effect of a whole that the others have . . . The olives with white clouds and background of mountains, also the moonrise and the night effect, these are exaggerations from the point of view of arrangement, their lines are warped as that of old wood.’ Van Gogh was very shy and insecure regarding his work, as were many artists. Little he knew that a hundred years later people will be admiring and studying his art. In an episode of Doctor Who, the doctor traveled to past and met, well, who other than van Gogh and after spending some time with him, the doctor took him to present day gallery. After van Gogh saw his paintings and the popularity of them, tears of joy came down his cheek. I confess it made me cry from happiness too.

1888. Cafe Terrace at Night -van Gogh

1888. Cafe Terrace at Night

Vincent van Gogh entered the asylum at Saint-Remy in May 1889. Despite his numerous nervous breakdowns, his time there proved to be the most productive time of his entire life having painted the most of his paintings two years before his death. Painting The Starry Night is a result of his fascination with the nocturnal and also of his observation of the beautiful landscapes surrounding the asylum.

In early 1890. van Gogh suffered yet another crisis, his life now consisting of fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work and long, clear and productive months between them in which he could and did paint, driven by extreme visionary ecstasy. One of his last paintings, possibly the very last, Wheatfield with crows, painted the same month he died, is a dramatic landscape that depicts dark, cloudy and troubled sky filled with crows over a wheatfield. The painting shows a sense of isolation, uncertainty, sorrow and a sense of his life coming to an end. Van Gogh was falling deeper and deeper in his despair and misery, writing to his brother about the later painting ‘I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness.’ However, he added ‘I’m fairly sure that these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words, that is, how healthy and invigorating I find the countryside.’

1890. Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh1890. Wheatfield with Crows

On July 27th 1890. van Gogh shoot himself and died due to an untreated infection less than two days later. As he was lying on his death bed, this man, at the peak of his creativity, at the peak of his artistic life and already facing the end of it; end of the life already rife with sad events, whispered his last words to Theo, his brother and a faithful companion to the end, ‘La Tristesse Durera’ meaning ‘The sadness will last forever.’  At the peak of summer Van Gogh had finally succumbed to the sadness.

Theo’s health deteriorated in the months following Vincent’s death and in January 1891. he died, succumbing to the desperate sadness of reality, finally joining his beloved brother.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

9 Jul

I’ve been enchanted and intrigued by Toulouse-Lautrec’s work ever since I’ve first set my eyes on his painting Salon Rue des Moulins. His usage of vivid colours and theatrical approach to subjects created elegant, exciting, intriguing and provocative images depicting the decadency of late nineteenth century Parisian artistic community Montmarte.

1894. Salon Rue des moulins  - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, pastel

Henri, already drawn to Montmarte, settled there when he started studying painting under the acclaimed portrait painter Leon Bonnat. Studying in Montmarte put Henri in the heart of this artistic community famous for its bohemian lifestyle and haunt of artists, painters, philosophers and writers. Henri rarely left Montmarte for the next twenty year and he met other interesting artists there as well, forming a lifelong friendship with painters Emile Bernard and Van Gogh. In 1882. he moved to the studio of Fernand Cormon, after his previous patron Bonnat took a new job. Toulouse-Lautrec’s family were Anglophiles and Henri spoke English well enough to be able to travel to London. There he met and befriended Oscar Wilde. When Wilde was imprisoned, Henri supported him and painted a portrait of him.

Throughout his career, which spanned less than twenty year, Lautrec created more than 700 canvases and numerous watercolours, prints and posters, drawings and an unknown number of lost works. Though Henri was a Post-Impressionistic painter, his debt to Impressionists, particularly more figurative ones such as Manet and Degas, is evident in his paintings. Parallels between Degas’ theatre scenes and Manet’s painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergere is evident in Henri’s work. Still, Post-Impressionism developed from the Impressionism, and the roots of this late nineteenth centruy French avant-garde is in the painting The Luncheon on the grass by Manet.

His work is particularly interesting for its detailed depiction of people in their working environment; courtesans, bars, theatres, dances and plein-air scenes; night life of Montmarte striped of its glamour and presented in a realistic but exciting way. His paintings seem more like drawings with visible brush strokes and clear contour lines; the latter being the reason of his detailed depiction of people on the paintings (at that time, individuals were recognised on the paintings because of the contour lines.) Many of his work can be described as drawings in coloured paint. I love Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s work because it’s like a window to late nineteenth century lives of the artists from Montmarte bohemian community. Lautrec’s paintings are realistic while dreamy, elegant and sentimental at the same time. His paintings capture the vibrant and decadent spirit of society during the fin de siècle and stand as a statement to the century that had started with Napoleonic wars, evolved from Romanticism with Victor Hugo, Realism with Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Baudelaire and Rimbaud’s Symbolism and Impressionism to Lautrec as a final dot on the canvas of the nineteenth century in France.

1895. At the Moulin Rouge by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec captures the vibrant and decadent spirit of society during the fin de siècle

1895. At the Moulin Rouge by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

1890. Bal au Moulin Rouge  - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

1890. Bal au Moulin Rouge

1894. The Medical Inspection at the Rue des Moulins Brothel - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

1894. The Medical Inspection at the Rue des Moulins Brothel

1889. La Toilette - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

1889. La Toilette

1893. Prostitutes - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

1893. Prostitutes

1893-95. Ces dames au réfectoire - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

1893-95. Ces dames au réfectoire

However, Henri was an alcoholic for most of his adult life. He drowned his sorrows, concerns and humiliation in absinth, as did many artists of his time. In 1893. alcohol began to take its toll, and, in addition, rumours circulated that he had contracted syphilis. Henri died in September 1901, less than two months away from his thirty seventh birthday. A painter of the Parisian night life, famous illustrator, inventor in usage of perspectives, a magician with lines and colours, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was the man who painted the French la Belle Epoque. If David Bailey is called the man who shot the 1970s, than I say that Toulouse-Lautrec is the man who painted the 1890s.