Archive | July, 2016

My Inspiration for July III

31 Jul

This month I was inspired by 17th century portraits, colour yellow, painters Anne Redpath and Jan Vermeer, Brighton pier, and some beautiful yellow-blue paintings by van Gogh. I read some interesting books such as Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and discovered some new authors – Norwegian writer Lars Saabye Christensen; I’ve read his book Maskeblomstfamilien which was very interesting, weird, poetic, morbid and most of all intriguing – I read it in two days, and Cardiff-based writer John Williams; I’ve read his book Cardiff Dead and Five pubs, Two Bars and a Night Club; he opened a whole new world for me, a world of modern Cardiff, Butetown specifically, with bars, prostitutes, ska music…

I finally watched two films that a fellow blogger has recommended to me; Love and Friendship (2016) and Tale of Tales (2015): I liked both films, the former has great costumes and the latter brought my attention to 17th century art and fashion, and it was very very imaginative and dark. And I watched Blackadder and Doctor Who again, series 5 and 6 in particular, and it was smashing!

1658. Jan Vermeer van Delft - Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window

Tale of Tales (2015) 5 Tale of Tales (2015) 6

Tale of Tales (2015) 7

Redpath, Anne; Still Life of Flowers and a Teapot; National Trust, Fenton House; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/still-life-of-flowers-and-a-teapot-217649

1950s Anne Redpath - Painting 4

Redpath, Anne; Corsican Village; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/corsican-village-85811

sharon tate1888. Vincent van Gogh, The SowerMake up at DSquared2 Spring 2012 Larme d'Or by Anne Marie Zilberman

1635. Anthony van Dyck - Portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria1899. Max Kurzweil, Dame im gelben Kleid1669-70. The Love Letter (Dutch De liefdesbrief) by Jan Vermeer1636-38. Anthony van Dyck - Princess Henrietta Maria of France, Queen consort of England1640s Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669) by John Russell 1669. Anne Julie de Rohan-Chabot, Princesse de Soubise1600s Portrait of Anne Carr by Anthony van Dyck

Rubbish May be Shot Here 1937 by Julian Trevelyan 1910-1988  queenie 2 1888. John William Waterhouse - The Danaides

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

me without you 3

Port Talbot, Wales 1

1554-56. Veronese - Juno Showering Gifts on Venetia, 1554-56 detail 121528-30. Decorated Text Page, France, Medium Tempera colors and gold paint on parchment

Brigitte Bardot et Pablo Picasso dans l'atelier de la villa "Californie" a Cannes en 1956 pendant le festival de Cannes Neg:CX24335--- Brigitte Bardot and Pablo Picasso during Cannes festival 1956 in villa "Californie" in Cannes

1899. Summer Evening at Skagen beach. The artist and his wife - Kroyerdoctor who series 5 i

Advertisements

Fashion Icons: Uschi Obermaier

28 Jul

1960s Uschi Obermaier 49

Uschi Obermaier (b. 24 September 1946) is mostly remembered for being a groupie and a sex symbol of the ’68 generation. She really led a ‘wild life’, so it’s very appropriate that they named the film about her Das Wilde Leben or Eight Miles Heigh (2007), and she’s played by Natalia Avelon. I think the film captured the spirit of the times, and her clothes are wonderful. Her life was one big adventure, but it wasn’t always like that. In the early 1960s she was a bored and miserable teenager living in drab suburbs of Munich, just waiting for something fun to occur. She started modelling and for some time she was a member of an art bend/commune called Amon Düül. There she met Rainer Langhans and the rest is history. In 1969 she was already living in a commune in the capitalistic West Berlin with students and ‘rebels’ who praised socialism and sexual freedom.

Uschi and Rainer soon became ‘the star protagonists in a bizarre political experiment involving group cohabitation that was explicitly designed to shock Germany’s corseted conservative establishment to the core. Commune 1, as it was called, was Germany’s answer to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, but it had a seriously Teutonic streak. The gang of long-haired, dope smoking Maoist students who started the experiment by occupying a spacious turn-of-the-century apartment in central West Berlin, were out to explode and revolutionise the moribund values of post-war German society.‘ (source)

1960s Uschi Obermaier and Rainer Langhans 1

Uschi Obermaier and Rainer Langhans, c. 1969

After the Kommune 1, Uschi spent some nights together with Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and even Mick Jagger. She went on The Rolling Stones 1975 tour. From 1973-1983 she was in a relationship with Dieter Bockhorn and the two of them travelled in a bus through Asia, where they married in India, then Mexico and U.S. Uschi’s style is very psychedelic and rock chic. In my collages I used some photos from the film as well as pictures of Uschi herself.

You can read more about her here and here. You can watch a short footage of Jimi Henrix and Uschi in Berlin in 1969 here.

Fashion Icons - Uschi 1 text

Fashion Icons - Uschi 2 text

Fashion Icons - Uschi 3 text

Yellow Stands for the Sun: Vincent van Gogh – The Sower

25 Jul

My life project is making my Mondays happy. Well, one of my life projects. Yellow is a cheerful colour and lately I’ve been fixated on artworks with yellow colour, and of course Vincent van Gogh was the first artist that came to my mind.

‘How lovely yellow is, it stands for the sun.’ (Vincent van Gogh)

1888. Vincent van Gogh, The SowerVincent van Gogh, The Sower, 1888

Vincent van Gogh loved yellow colour. He adored it. He worshipped it. After all, he said that yellow stands for the sun, and, like many artists before and after him, Vincent found his artistic haven under the sun of Provence, in Arles, where he would paint some of his most famous works such as The Sower. Whether painting stars, wheat fields or sunflowers, Vincent used yellow in abundance, but this painting in particular has that pure, intoxicating, magnificent shade of yellow that makes it so special. The painting shows a sower as a small blue figure against the vast field and sky that surrounds him. There’s a narrow path in the foreground that leads nowhere. A few crows are present. Van Gogh will reprise both of these elements in his beautifully intense and sinister painting Wheatfield with Crows, which was to be one of his last works. Mood of The Sower is different however – there’s still hope.

Vincent’s joy and ecstasy for living is woven into every tiny detail of this painting; from the soil, painted in warm brown tones with dashes of blue to the row of bright orange wheat behind the sower, crowned with magnificent, protruding amber yellow – the sun. Rays of sun are so pervading that the sky lost its blueness and became a golden oriental rug or a dress on one of Klimt’s ladies. Such is the beauty and importance of the sun in this painting. Whenever van Gogh painted in yellow or orange colour, he used blue as well. Blue and yellow were a match made in heaven according to Vincent, and you’ll see this in many of his paintings. In this painting, van Gogh switched the natural colours with his own expressionistic vision; blueness of the sky wowed itself into the soil, and the sun coloured the sky with such intensity that it seems to be burning rather than shining.

In the book Lust for Life, Irving Stone vividly describes Arles and Vincent’s thoughts upon arriving at that hot, incredibly and unbearably hot place where cruel sun and mistral drive people to madness. He describes the architecture of the town, river Rhone, and how the houses were all made with bright red tiles but their redness exceeded into light lavender, orange or brown colours under the strong rays of Provence sun. May I add that Vincent spent hours painting outdoors, in wheat fields often not even wearing a hat. The sun eventually drove him crazy too but for some time it was simply a muse that helped him create some of his finest paintings.

And now some beautiful paintings with yellow colour from various art periods:

1888. Summer Evening, Wheatfield with Setting sun, Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, Summer Evening, Wheatfield with Setting sun, 1888

1839. Mary Ellen Best - Self-portrait

Mary Ellen Best, Self-portrait, 1839

1899. Max Kurzweil, Dame im gelben Kleid

Max Kurzweil, Dame im gelben Kleid, 1899

1908. The Kiss (Lovers) by Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (Lovers), 1908

1821. Portrait of Henrietta Shuckburgh Provenance by Margaret Sarah Carpenter

Margaret Sarah Carpenter, Portrait of Henrietta Shuckburgh Provenance, 1821

1823. Amalie Auguste, Princess of Bavaria and Queen of Saxony

Joseph Karl Stieler, Amalie Auguste, Princess of Bavaria and Queen of Saxony, 1823

1781. Thomas Gainsborough Mrs. Peter William Baker

Thomas Gainsborough, Mrs. Peter William Baker, 1781

1778. Lady Grace Elliot mistress to George IV, by Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough, Lady Grace Elliot mistress to George IV, 1778

1854. L'impératrice Eugénie à la Marie-Antoinette

Winterhalten, L’impératrice Eugénie à la Marie-Antoinette, 1854

1647 Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orangea

Gerard van Honthorst, Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, 1647

1635. Anthony van Dyck - Portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria

Anthony van Dyck – Portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, 1635

1705. Anne, Queen of Great Britain 1

Michael Dahl, Anne, Queen of Great Britain, 1705

1833. Evening Dress, Bright Yellow, La Belle Assemblee

Evening Dress, La Belle Assemblee, 1833

1917. Starlight by Emile Vernon

Emile Vernon, Starlight, 1917

1665. Peter Lely - Diana Kirke, later Countess of Oxford

Peter Lely, Diana Kirke, later Countess of Oxford, 1665

1665. Mary Parsons later mrs Draper perh PL ely 1665

Peter Lely, Mary Parsons, 1665

1863. Helen of Troy - Dante Gabriel Rossetti (model - Annie Miller)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Helen of Troy – (model – Annie Miller), 1863

1867. In The Country by Alfred Stevens

Alfred Stevens, In The Country by Alfred Stevens, 1867

Fashion Icons: Britt Ekland

22 Jul

Well, as you may have noticed, this is a series I’ll be doing throughout summer – fashion icons, mainly from the 1960s. I wasn’t sure how persistent I would be at making this series because I tend to change my mind quickly, but I really enjoy doing these collages and trying out similar outfits and make up, and, you seem to enjoy it as well so I’ll continue.

1960s Britt Ekland, Beautiful

Britt Ekland, an actress and big-blue-eyed Swedish beauty was born on 6 October 1942 in Stockholm. Today we’ll take a look at her style from 1960s and 1970s. Britt’s fashion path was similar to many sixties actresses, models and singers; she started the decade in a classic, elegant Mod look, and around 1967/68 embraced the psychedelic hippie look that was getting more and more popular. It’s funny when you look at the pictures, one moment she’s a sixties gal clad in Mod A-line dresses with heavy make up, and the next thing you know she’s wearing flared trousers, long coats and floral dresses.

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 8 text

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 5 text

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 4 text

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 3 text

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 6 text

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 9

Fashion Icons - Britt Ekland 7 text

Amedeo Modigliani and Joy Division – Fragility of Existence

16 Jul

I just spent a beautiful gloomy and rainy morning immersed in Modigliani’s portraits and Joy Division’s second album Closer. I feel there’s a strange connection between lyrics of Ian Curtis and Modigliani’s portraits of wistful big-eyes Parisian beauties; they both ponder on the subject of human existence and fragility of life.

1918. Amedeo Modigliani - A Young Girl IIIAmedeo Modigliani, A Young Girl, 1918

This is a typical Modigliani’s female portrait; elongated head with a face that resembles a mask, thin and long neck, sloping shoulders, simple attire. Beautifully sculpted face with almond shaped eyes and long neck reveals Modigliani’s beginnings as a sculptor. Her cheeks and chin are rosy, one side of her lips looks like it’s trying to smile, the other can’t be bothered. One eyebrow, painted like a thin black line, is raised a bit more than the other. The whole face seems like a question mark. The background is painted in serene grey and blue-greenish shades, flickering like a surface of a lake behind a long-forgotten mansion. Her dress is coloured like pine needles. This peculiar sombre colour palette exudes fragility and sadness. There’s no rashness or raw passion you’d find in Picasso’s paintings, this is Modigliani’s world of mournful goodbyes. These gentle brushstrokes belong to a Jewish-Italian artist whose body, unfortunately, didn’t agree with his soul’s ‘lust for life’.

At this point, in 1918, he had less than two years to live. His consumption was progressing, and not even excessive drinking could cover it up. He died on 24 January 1920, in a cold hospital in Paris. It’s so sad this absolute genius, this pretty boy from Livorno, a person so full of life and capable of producing such incredible artworks had to die so suddenly and so quickly. There’s no doubt the fragility of life kept haunting him even in those seemingly joyous, extroverted moments when he behaved mischievously at the local restaurant the same as in those quiet, introspective moments when he walked home drunk and alone back to his studio where he would then paint in solitude. I’m imagining his studio in Montparnasse and the shabby chair this model sat on. Another interesting thing about this portrait; Modigliani didn’t fully paint her eyes, he just coloured the almond shape so they look like two deep, dark holes. He truly believed that eyes are the windows to the soul and he said: ‘When I know you soul, I will paint your eyes.‘ He needed to know the soul of his model before painting her eyes, though I think it more often than not meant spending the night with her. Women loved Modigliani.

It isn’t what you paint but how you paint it. Very often the subject serves only to help artist to convey a message. I often paint ballerinas, but they are always meant to represent isolation and loneliness. Antoine Watteau, for example, painted seemingly cheerful pastoral and love scenes, which were woven with sadness because he was, like Modigliani, a man of fragile health who died young. As you know, Ian Curtis took his own life on 18 May 1980, and in his lyrics he tended to explore existential subjects. I don’t think that Modigliani and Ian Curtis were similar, with this post I only wanted to say that they were two artists dealing with the same subject – fragility of existence, each in their own way.

This song was in my mind while I gazed at this portrait – Insight by Joy Division (do listen to it, it’s truly something):

I guess the dreams always end

They don’t rise up just descend

But I don’t care any more

I lost the will to want more

I’m not afraid not at all,

I watch them all as they fall…’

Fashion Icons: Sharon Tate

14 Jul

sharon tate 1

I only watched Sharon Tate in one film – The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) by Roman Polanski, and, oh my, she was the cutest thing ever, with those large hazel eyes and drawn on freckles and rosy cheeks. The way she talked, the way she moved; in a white nightgown, barefoot, with red hair, taking a bath… one could really melt seeing how gorgeous she was. Before she was murdered in 1969, two weeks away from giving birth, Sharon was at the height of her fame as an actress and married to Roman Polanski. Today she is considered of the beauty and fashion icons of the 1960s, side by side with Twiggy, Jane Birkin and Marianne Faithfull.

Interesting things about her style: ‘Sharon preferred Clean, Elegant, Simple lines… Not frou-frou at all. She particularly liked antique camisoles. She didn’t like baggy clothes, she wasn’t into Granny Coats like others were. She liked tailored clothes, even her Peasant Tops were tailored. She also had an Indian Wedding shirt tailored. She had blouses with hook and eye buttons made with spun gold. She wore jeans and pedal pushers.’

– ‘Sharon disliked wearing shoes…Whenever possible, she would go barefoot or wear ballet slippers. Classic Ballet Pink was the preferred color –but she wore black slippers, too. I definitely remember that she had a pair of red ones, because she wanted to match a red mini dress, so we spray painted a pink pair, and made it red.’

– ‘Sharon wore big wide belts that went over jeans or skirts. She loved Chanel and Gucci handbags. Same brand for shoes, too. She had a big heavy, gold, Cartier cigarette lighter.’

– ‘Sharon loved big hoop earrings and thin Love Beads that were made of tiny glass beads…called Bugle Beads. She was not big on rings or heavy necklaces…I think she didn’t like rings because they brought attention to her hands and she used to bite her nails. Her real jewelry was a Cartier watch with a black reptile band.’ (source)

One of her quotes: ‘In Europe, everything is so much more liberal and open. So much more realistic. The whole freedom outlook over there is just fantastic. People aren’t worried about what society is going to think- as long as the feelings are there…and the feelings are honest. Men in Europe cry and in airports they kiss their sons right on the lips, emotion makes them real men.

You can watch a video about her clothes here, and read a bit about her make up here.

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 6 text

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 1 text

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 3 text

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 4 text

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 5 text

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 2 a text

Fashion Icons - Sharon Tate 7 text

Anne Redpath – A Dash of Colour in the Grey North

10 Jul

After watching two documentaries by Michael Palin, one on the subject of The Colourists and the other on Anne Redpath, I was instantly captivated by this fresh and vibrant wave of art in the first half of the twentieth century.

Redpath, Anne; Still Life of Flowers and a Teapot; National Trust, Fenton House; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/still-life-of-flowers-and-a-teapot-217649

Anne Redpath, Still Life of Flowers and a Teapot, c. 1950s

***

These intricate contrasts of grey or neutral backgrounds with splashes of vibrant colours: mauves, purples, pink, orange, lilac, yellow and misty blue, remind me of a contrast between reality and fantasy, everyday life and gaiety of circus. Scottish artist Anne Redpath (1895-1965) loved this contrast, especially after she moved to Edinburgh in 1949 and started making paintings that are now considered some of her best works. These ‘portraits’ of cheerful domesticity: bright and vivacious flowers in their grey vases, jugs, teapots, lace tablecloths, mantelpieces, armchairs and wacky carpets, all allowed her to explore colour to its full potential. If you take a look at the painting Still Life of Flowers and a Teapot, you’ll notice the excitement this contrast creates; first you see the gentle pinks and lilacs that exude serenity, and then the crimson red, blue and yellow frenzy on the left, daisies and roses are protruding from the vase, dying for someone to notice their beauty.

***

1950s Anne Redpath - STILL LIFE – FLOWERS IN A VASE

Anne Redpath, Still Life – Flowers in a Vase, c. 1950s

1950s Anne Redpath - Painting 2

Anne Redpath, Flowers, c. early 1950s

***

This enthusiasm for colours, although reflected in different ways, is something that connects Anne Redpath with the Scottish group of painters called The Colourists. Anne said herself: ‘I am someone who is very interested in colour – and by that, I mean bright colour, gay colour; but at the same time, if you are a colourist, you like quiet colour as well and I think this love of gay colour is contrasted in my mind with this love of whites and greys.‘ Still, don’t be mistaken that Anne Redpath painted only these simple still lives. Oh no, she travelled a lot, more so near the end of her life than she did in her youth, and where ever her foot stepped, her brush followed.

Redpath led quite an exciting life; while studying at the Edinburgh College of Art she used her scholarship to travel to Bruges, Brussels, Paris and Italy, then, in 1920, she married an architect James Michie and soon her focus shifted from art to raising their three sons in sunny French Riviera. In the mid 1930s, now separated from her husband, she returned to the Scottish Borders along with her sons, and started painting again as a way of earning money. Travelling to warm and colourful places kept her artistically stimulated, and so she travelled to Venice, Spain, Brittany, the Canary Islands and Corsica. Along with her oh-so-famous still lives, scenes of catholic churches in Venice and France, houses in Corsica and boats at Concarneau, landscapes of French Riviera or Kyleakin and portraits of her family members are all part of her oeuvre.

***

Redpath, Anne; Corsican Village; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/corsican-village-85811

Anne Redpath, Corsican Village, 1955, Glasgow Museums

1950s Anne Redpath - Painting 4

Anne Redpath, Boats at Concarneau, 1953

***

Besides her beautiful still lives, I was particularly drawn to two other paintings, Corsican Village (1955) and Boats at Concarneau (1953). Corsican Village slightly reminds me of Chaim Soutine’s nervous brushstrokes, but only slightly. The painting is so vibrant; these tall dense houses clinging one to another, painted in greys, salmon pinks and olive greens, and then the beautiful careless brushstrokes in the left corner, as if Redpath is reminding us that she is here, the person behind the painting. This painting is really a moment captured in time, you can almost feel the waves crashing onto the shore and hear the seagulls.

Boats at Concarneau has a completely different mood. It’s a rhapsody of greys and blues where, instead of people, the sitters are tiny white houses in the background and small boats. Their red and green colours match the surroundings, and stand out at the same time. The blueness is just beautiful, though I still can’t decide whether this is a night scene or a moment before the storm, just when the dark clouds gather and everything is still until it starts pouring rain.

***

1946. Anne Redpath - The Worcester Jug

Anne Redpath, The Worcester Jug, 1946

1947. Anne Redpath - The Mantelpiece

Anne Redpath, The Mantelpiece, 1947

Perhaps the thing I like the most about Anne Redpath’s art is its honesty. When you draw a parallel between her life and art she was making, you realise that all her paintings are truly her visual diaries, records of the places she visited and the unique way she saw them. And in her still lives, she painted objects that surrounded her and things she liked; the tea cups, jugs and vases all belonged to her, and most of it came from her travels. Her paintings show us how fully she embraced her life.