Archive | September, 2014

My Inspirations for September

29 Sep

This month my biggest inspiration was Romanticism. I’ve read The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe, A Hero of our Time by Lermontov and The Robbers by Schiller. I can honestly say that my mind is full of melancholic poems, Chopin’s Nocturnes, nature and above all Romantic heroes and heroines; from Pechorin, Werther, Karl Moor to Tatyana, Meri, Lotta and Amalia.

However, my attention was still preoccupied by Pre-Raphaelites and 1960s hippie fashion this time my focus was on Marianne Faithfull, Jean Shrimpton and The Stones.

1840s grand duchesses olga nicolaeievna et alexandra nicolaievna

1840s Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna by Christina Robertson

1830s Natalia Pushkina

1830s russian lady

1831. Portrait of Zinaida Volkonskaya by Amelie Munier-Romilly

1838. grand duchesses olga nicolaievna et maria nicolaievna 1

 

1790s Lotte at Werther's grave

1838. Wedding Gown, England, Jacquard silk, blonde lace & novelty gauze

1840. Duchess Zinaida Yussupova, by Christina Robertson

1856. The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis

1856. autumn leaves - John Everett Millais

Sasha Pivovarova hippie 4

1920s the brinkley girls

1960s Chrissie Shrimpton, Twiggy, Jenny Boyd, Samantha Juste

Irving Penn

1925. La Vie Parisienne, May

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1960s jean shrimpton 78

1960s jean shrimpton 89

1960s marianne faithfull 19

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1960s marianne faithfull 10

1960s Brian & Keith

Music Personalities. pic: circa 1967. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones group with one time girl friend, Swedish actress Anita Pallenberg.

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Millais’ Autumn Leaves

27 Sep

As the Autumn is approaching with its red falling leaves, cold misty mornings, endless rain and vivid dusk painted in golden and purple shades, this painting is becoming more and more dear to me.

1856. automn leaves - John Everett Millais

Painting Autumn leaves was painted in 1856. by John Everett Millais, a famous Pre-Raphaelite artist who also painted even more famous Ophelia of who I’ve written earlier. In painting Autumn leaves Millais wanted to depict a picture ‘full of beauty and without a subject’ according to his wife Effie. Art critic John Ruskin, responsible for promoting the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood in their beginning when everybody rejected their work, described the painting as ‘the first instance of a perfectly painted twilight’.

The painting depicts four girls collecting fallen leaves in the twilight. They are making a bonfire, but only the smoke is visible to the audience. The overall atmosphere of the painting is melancholic; Autumn as a subject is the saddest months when the nature is reaching the end, slowly dying, and the product of its death are red and yellow falling leaves, misty mornings and vivid twilights; Nature saying goodbye in a sorrowful way. The girl in the middle who is holding a bunch of leaves in her hand and gazing sentimentally and thoughtfully at the viewer while her long auburn hair dances on the dusky Autumn wind is Sophy Gray, Millais’ sister in law. The girl on the far left is Alice Gray, Sophy’s younger sister. A year and a half before this painting was exhibited in 1856, Millais married Effie Gray, former wife of the already mentioned art critic John Ruskin, and Sophy and Alice are Effie’s younger sisters. The little girl on the right is holding an apple, which may allude to the loss of childhood and could be a reference to the original sin.

Sophy is a beautiful girl, only thirteen at the time, yet verging into womanhood, her beauty blossoming like a spring rose. She modeled for Millais three times, but this was the first painting which she posed for him. Even at thirteen she looks stunning, leaving the other girls in the shadow of her beauty and charm. However, the painting is typically interpreted as a representation of transience of beauty and youth, the Autumn being a symbol of transience and death. Inspiration for the painting was Lord Tennyson’s poem Tears, Idle Tears, particularly one verse:

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking on the days that are no more.

I suppose this painting is Millais’ Ode to Autumn, which was inspirational to many artists before him, particularly in Romanticism. I can’t resist mentioning Keats’ same named poem or Emily Bronte’s poem Fall, leaves, fall. Autumn is a season of vivid colours, smells, cold mornings, rainy afternoons and melancholy.

Ode to Autumn

”Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.”

Fall, leaves, fall

”Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.”

Autumn Colours

23 Sep

1900. Dress by Worth worn by Queen Alexandrine of Denmark

1900. Evening Dress, House of Worth1900-05. Evening Dress, Gustave Beer

1903. peach ballgown 1

1909. green evening dress

1910. A Maison Worth Cobalt Blue Silk Velvet and Gold Lace Gown, cobalt blue underdress with a peach velvet inset to the V-neckline, gold lace and net overlay, with a velvet cummerbund and silk flower embellishment at the bust

1910. black dress with golden leaves embroidery

1910. evening dress, house of worth

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1911. Evening dress by Jeanne Hallee, peacock -simbol besmrtnosti,bogatstva i egzotičnosti

1911. Silk And Metallic Lace Belle Epoch Gown, winter, New York

1912, edwardian dress, detaisl

1912. Evening dress by House of Worth

1912. tunic dress

1913. Evening dress and matching shoes by Jeanne Hallée 2

1913. Evening dress of Queen Maud of Norway

4x5 original

1916. Cape, Evening Hickson1918. Negligée, detail, Silk

1915. Gold Lace Evening dress 3

Dark Shadows – Tim Burton meets Psychedelia

14 Sep

In August I’ve finally watched Tim Burton’s film Dark Shadows (2012) and it fulfilled all the expectations I have of this brilliant director.

dark shadows poster

Always expecting the best from one of my favourite film directors – Tim Burton, I naturally had great expectations out of this film. My high hopes have happily been fulfilled for I am very pleased what this movie has to offer; it’s very Burton styled, it has witty dialogues, great costumes designed by Collen Atwood and most importantly for me – it binds together typical Burton’s gothic aesthetics with psychedelia of the 1972, that is, the year the movie is set in. That’s a perfect combination for me, and I confess that, since I love 1960s and early ’70s hippie fashion, I’ve often wondered how would Tim Burton combine it, and that I’ve seen what kind of costumes did Collen design I am very much inspired in fashion sense. What’s very funny to me in the movie is Barnabas’ mindset that is trapped in the 18th century and his first meeting with the completely different culture of 1972. is hilarious. Barnabas is fascinated with things that are completely foreign to him at the same time; music, television, cars and hippie (the unshaven young people, as he calls them).

Collinswood is such a lovely estate, I would love to have been able to grow up in such an old mansion, especially if its wooden carvings would also come alive at night. Aesthetics of the movie are very inspirational for me; from costumes to the amazing decorations and family portraits. Collinswood is a mansion whose grand halls I would love to wonder through, whose candles I’d enjoy lighting, from whose windows I’d gaze to the wilderness. I can imagine myself having Carolyn’s bedroom; a psychedelic style decorated room with yellow carpet, vivid purple walls covered with posters of Iggy Pop and various other musicians of the time. It’s very bright, groovy, colourful and inspirational.

dark shadows poster

What’s also very interesting about the film are the characters that are all very personalised; they have minds of their own, and their fashion styles perfectly match their personalities. There are five femmes in the movie and all of them have a different fashion style, all of which I like except Angelique’s because hers is very bold and matches her evil, cruel personality.

Elizabeth Stoddard, Carolyn’s mother, is a Collins family matriarch and a very strong-willed and active woman, most of all loyal to her family. Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent in this role; she carried herself with dignity and elegance, while still being rather conservative, intuitive, stern and strict. Her fashion style goes in hand with her personality. Elizabeth certainly couldn’t be pictured wearing hippie garments her daughter is seen in, no, her style is quite the opposite; she almost all the time wears very 1940s revival dresses in solid colours. bishop sleeves and nice necklaces, accompanied by very stylish, also ’40s style, high heeled shoes.

Dark Shadows

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dark shadows michelle pfeiffer 6

Dark Shadows

Elizabeth’s fifteen year old daughter Carolyn is a typical teenage girl; isolated, rebellious and misunderstood. She is usually found listening to music or dancing on s0me psychedelic tunes, dressed in colourful and groovy hippie clothes. I very much like her style; her vivid coloured tights, big leather belts, floral printed shirts and dresses that usually have an interesting cut.

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dark shadows chloe 4

dark shadows chloe 6

dark shadows chloe 1

Victoria Winters is a polite, gentle, proper and introverted young lady, but only on the first sight. She actually has secrets of her own; she escaped a mental institution her parents placed her into because she had a gift of speaking with ghosts and is in fact some kind of reincarnation of Josette, Barnabas’ love from the eighteenth century. Victoria’s fashion style, again, reflects her personality; she’s usually dressed in neat, proper school-girl styled dresses and shirts.

dark shadows victoria 10

dark shadows victoria 8

dark shadows victoria 1

dark shadows victoria 2

dark shadows victoria 5

Julia Hoffman, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is rather vain and laid back family doctor, always sleeping one of her legendary hangovers. Her style matches the bohemianism and casual attitude connected to her personality and she’s often seen wearing interesting piece dresses, some of which resemble Biba style that was popular at the time in UK, combined with sunglasses, bold make up and sometimes a pair of knee high socks.

dark shadows helena 4

dark shadows helena 5

dark shadows helena 3

dark shadows helena 7

dark shadows helena 1

Pete Doherty – Musician, Poet, Artist, Babyshamble & Libertine

10 Sep

“I fall in love with Britain every day, with bridges, buses, blue skies… but it’s a brutal world, man.”– Pete Doherty

pete 1

Pete Doherty – an introverted, artistic, daring, kind and romantic Englishman is perhaps the most real person there is out there in the music business and that is one of the reasons the media portrays him as a substance user, bohemian lover and fake poet, at the same time neglecting and purposely ignoring the real Pete Doherty; a musician, a poet and an artist.

Pete Doherty is a product of a comfortable middle class family and though he showed an early interest in music when he started playing guitar in order to impress a school friend Emily whom he fancied, his primary interest was literature; at the age of sixteen he won a poetry competition. After achieving eleven GCSEs, 7 of which were A* grades, he was offered to study English Literature at Oxford; an offer he gladly turned down in favour of moving to his grandmother’s flat in London and working at a Willesden Cemetery where he filled graves. However, most of the time he spent reading and writing poetry while sitting on the gravestones; that really sounds atmospheric. He eventually did go to college Queen Mary to study English literature but he left the course after the first year. After leaving the university, he moved into a London flat with his friend, and a future band member, Carl Barat.

The Libertines is a band formed from a close friendship between Pete and Carl, a friendship Carl has described as having the obsessiveness and jealousy and all the things that come with first love. The Libertines had that kind of raw energy, spontaneity and liveliness so much needed on the British music scene in the first years of the 21st century. However, after the second album The Libertines the group split due to Pete’s increasing drug problems and all the unfortunate events caused by it. No one really sat face to face with Pete and told him that he was kicked out of the band, he had heard it on the radio, read it in the newspaper, and this left him feeling hurt and betrayed. What saddened him the most was the fact that Carl was his best mate and this left him contemplating what was the line people were prepared to go to in order to gain success or wealth. ‘I’d rather starve my guts than stab a friend in the back.’ he said. His response to this was a new band called Babyshambles.

It was in Babyshambles that Pete’s true artistic and poetic character came out of its shell and created an album Down in Albion filled with beautiful, dreamy songs. He did write songs in The Libertines but writing them with Carl has surely been different than writing them on his own. Various literal influences have come to the fore on many of the song featured on the album, most notably A Rebours (title taken from the same named nineteenth century novel by Joris-Karl Huysman). I can’t resist adding that A Rebours was the first song out of all Babyshambles’ that I fell in love with and is my favourite now still. I just can’t forget that line ‘…you ignore, adore, A rebour me..’

Sitting on the marble gravestones and reading books in the long Autumn afternoons, gazing at all those red and yellow falling leaves while the breezing wind brought anxiety and melancholy has surely been useful for Pete who listed his favourite novels as George Orwell’s 1984, Graham Green’s Brighton Rock and Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet along with complete works by Oscar Wilde. From poetry he mentioned Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire and works of Emily Dickinson. He also put particular emphasis on Romantic poets and also on existential philosophers. Judging by his song, the book A Rebours would also be on his list. The deepness of both his lyrics and his characters are often undervalued due to the extreme infatuation the media has with him as a drug addict and a rebel. Pete is a rebel; rebel against conventions, normality, simple-mindedness and elitist aspect of art. He said ‘I don’t really know what “intellectual” means, but if it means you’ve got a desire to learn, you’ve got a desire to look for things that haven’t been presented to you, then, maybe. I think that “intellectual” is quite an exclusive word. I think it’s just for anyone that has a thirst or a hunger to improve themselves, or a yearning to escape from somewhere to get to a better place.’

pete 3

On the first sight Pete probably does seem as shallow and fake as the media portrays him, but the real Pete; Pete the intelligent and humble poet, the artist, the libertine is a person worth being inspired by, worth listening too and worth giving respect to. A libertine is ‘one devoid of most moral restraints’ or ‘one who defies established religious precepts’; a freethinker and that’s exactly what Pete is; despite the odds he managed to stay oblivious to the public and media’s opinions and harsh judgements – “I’m not going to be hardened by these people, to these things, I’m not going to let them destroy my feelings or my emotions.” Seems like the public ignores, adores, a rebours him, leaves him washed up begging for more...

It’s important to stay ignorant to public opinions and just stay in your own world which is as beautiful, as romantic, as peaceful and interesting as you have created it. That’s what Pete does; he lives in his own world, leaving the harsh greyness of reality outside the door. He still has that rush, that desire, that absolute contamination of soul with melody and music. (‘I think I only needed something to hold on to. It has never been about depravity. It’s always been about melody. But melody and I met in many depraved situations. Meeting melody is the victory of the empty spiralling nightmare.’) He keeps living his life no matter how fucked up it is, not knowing what’s going to happen next, crossing the borders of reality into the unknown. In some terms Pete’s lifestyle could be compared to some nineteenth century bohemian poets. Every generation has its leader, it is the one who represents all the despair, coldness, alienation and sadness numerous young people feel. Pete sort of has that aura of bohemianism and romanticism about him; his intelligence, open-mindedness, his sensitivity and strangeness connected to him certainly help too in drawing people towards him. Pete is the icon of the 21st century romanticism, like a today’s Lord Byron; he escapes reality into his own world of imagination and praises individuality and honour.

Album Down in Albion is Pete Doherty’s world of imagination. Decision is yours whether you want to enter it or not. It’s a beautiful, melodic album, gentle and dreamy (compared to loud, noisy songs of The Libertines, but let’s not forget that Carl plays his guitar in punk style) and the songs sound so contemporary in a good way, something I can relate to, something touchable and real. Besides the already mentioned song A Rebours I also like songs Fuck Forever (‘And fuck forever/If you don’t mind/See I’m stuck forever/Oh I’m stuck in your mind, your mind, your mind…’), The 32nd of December and In Love with a Feeling. Song Killamangiro is very fast paced and vibrant. Song La Belle et la Bete also sounds very nice, and it’s a duet between Pete and his then girlfriend Kate Moss. I also have to mention one more song, though it’s not on this album it is written by Pete Doherty for The Libertine’s second album, and it’s the song ‘What Katie Did’; it’s very melodic and soft and lyrics are sweet (‘Oh what you gonna do, Katie?/You’re a sweet sweet girl/But it’s a cruel, cruel world/a cruel, cruel world. (…) …You won’t just leave me standing here/And don’t give in/Not to the darkest sins/Oh what you gonna do?/It’s up to you.’) However, on album Down in Albion there is a song called What Katie Did Next, I’m just saying.

Musically the album is seen as a move from The Libertines’ style of music; now we at least know what Pete and Carl’s musical preferences would be like. However, The Libertines are back together again and, wait for it, they are planning to release, what would be their third album, in 2015. This news came like a cherry on top, at least I hope. I know that I am very, very, very exited to hear that since I feel like I’ve missed out on lot of things in music and sometimes it’s nice to be able to listen and love and album released in your lifetime.

P.S. If you want to have more insight in Pete Doherty’s world of imagination, or you’ve been wondering what’s inside his whimsical mind, you can read his diary, or look at I should better say. It is really interesting. I would describe it as a sneak peak into Pete’s mind.

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 “If you’ve lost your faith in love and music then the end won’t be long.”

Kees van Dongen – Femme Fatale in Wild Colours

7 Sep

On the 31st October 1903. an exhibition called Salon d’Autumne first opened and showed works of Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Felix Vallotton, Henri Manguin, and with an homage to Gauguin who died seven months earlier. The exhibition was held the next year too but in 1905. rather different works were shown; most of the paintings exhibited were painted in bold, vibrant colours and the simplification of form was evident; Fauvism was born.

1905. Kees van Dongen, Femme Fatale1905. Kees van Dongen – Femme Fatale

Kees van Dongen, a Dutch painter who lived and worked in Paris, was famous for his sensuous and garish portraits of Parisian beauties. Growing up in the outskirts of Rotterdam, van Dongen studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown and there he worked with J. Striening and J.G. Heyberg. From the age of fifteen he was likely to be seen at docs, painting sailors, ships that came from afar and also prostitutes. In 1897. he came to Paris and stayed there for seven months. In December 1899. he came to Paris again, this time for good.

His name became well known after he exhibited three of his works at the controversial Salon d’Autumne in 1905. His paintings, displayed right next to the ones of Matisse, were boldly coloured, sensual and provocative. The exhibition was very well received, and despite some of the critics who deemed the painters as fauves (wild beasts), this proved to be merely a beginning for this new rising art movement – Fauvism. In those times van Dongen, as part of the new wave of avant-garde artists, thought that art needed to be updated, considering it stuck in neo-impressionism. However, Fauvism originated from an extreme development of Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism fused with Seurat’s Pointillism (other Neo-Impressionists’ pointillist tendencies, such as Signac’s, were influential). Soon Fauvism was transformed from a new avant-garde to a mainstream art movement until the Cubism became dominant, despite the comment of an art critic Camille Mauclair ‘A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public.

From all of van Dongen’s pots of colour, his Femme Fatale is the most appealing to me. Just look at those vivid reds, warm orange and yellow tones, hints of purple and magnificent greenish flesh; as if this femme fatale was an absinth fairy, enchanting and fatal to its consumers. The way she is holding her green toned breast with those long, jewellery decorated hands and gazing thoughtfully yet seductively at the viewer. Femme is dressed sumptuously in vivid red dress that is uncovering her so wanted treasure and despite all of those feathers in her raven coloured hair and all the heavy makeup and jewellery, she seems highly unimpressed. Centuries earlier gentleman were admiring sensual and plump Boticelli’s beauties, later they hopelessly gazed at Rembrandt’s, Fragonard’s and Winterhalten’s dames but this lady, this early twentieth century Femme Fatale is a modern women; sensuous, startlingly beautiful and – uninterested. This is the femme fatale from the same named song by Velvet Underground ‘Here she comes, you better watch your step/She’s going to break your heart in two, it’s true/It’s not hard to realize/Just look into her false colored eyes/She builds you up to just put you down, what a clown…‘ As everything in art ever was, at least for its time, this was provocative, this was the femme that real ladies were not expected to be, this femme was above social norms and classes, this femme belonged to van Dongen – his Femme Fatale in wild colours.

The Librarian – Triumph of Abstract Art in the 16th Century

3 Sep

If someone told me that this is an Expressionistic painting, I’d think it’s interesting, but not unusual. However, this painting was painted in 1566, at the peak of Renaissance, and knowing that, I think the painting The Librarian is extraordinary.

1570. Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Librarian

Giuseppe Arcimboldo is famous for creating numerous portraits made entirely of objects such as fruit, vegetables, roots, leafs, flowers, fish and most interestingly – books. Painting The Librarian is the one that caught my attention the most, out of all Arcimboldo’s paintings, because he created it by assembling books and with that succeeded in making an allegory.

Arcimboldo’s other works, such as his religious themed paintings, have now fallen into oblivion, due to the great interest that his other paintings caused. It was the individuality of these other paintings that made them popular so much. What Arcimboldo had painted in the sixteen century would be stunning and interesting even in the twentieth century. If you compare his work with the society, mentality and also other art at the time, it’s easy to see why his work, so daring and unconventional, remained popular throughout the centuries. The Librarian is described as a ‘triumph of Abstract art in the 16th century’. It is also described as both a celebration and satirical mocking of librarians and scholarship. This painting is an allegory too for it stands as a parody of materialistic book collectors who are more interested in acquiring books than reading them and valuing them for their content. In Renaissance the worth of an aristocrat man was valued by the amount of books he had read, or rather, had in his library, and Arcimboldo is mocking this conventional delusion of his time; the size of someone’s library mustn’t determine its value or knowledge, only possessing books is not enough, and real knowledge and wisdom can not be bought with money. This is exactly what is interesting about Arcimboldo’s paintings and what draws people towards his art, even Syd Barrett was inspired by his ‘vegetable man’ series of paintings, as I have written previously.

Books of Reader

Still, Art critics debate whether his paintings are whimsical and allegorical or a product of a deranged mind. I find his paintings highly individual, interesting, original, whimsical, allegorical, slightly bizarre and fascinating.