Tag Archives: Childe Hassam

Reveries of Fin de Siecle

5 Jun

When boredom strikes the best thing to do is to immerse oneself into a completely different mood, place or time period. It is what I always do, and this time I chose fin de siecle.

1900s Charles Hoffbauer

Charles Hoffbauer, At the Ball, 1900s

***

In the late 19th century, artists on both sides of the Channel began to question the social norms, and used art to display their radical, often perverse, opinions. They attacked capitalism and European imperialism, questioned the Victorian view on sexuality, promoted pure aestheticism, deemed Western society as hypocritical, delved into vampirism or simply longed for death. Creme de la creme of this new wave of literature includes novels such as A Rebours or Against Nature (1884) by Joris-Karl Huysmans, Oscar Wilde’s notorious The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1892) by Thomas Hardy, The Triumph of Death (1894) by Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), and finally, the beautiful, bleak and disturbing Torture Garden (1899) by Octave Mirbeau.

***

L’apollonide (House of Pleasures) 1

A scene from the film L’Apollonide or The House of Tolerance (2011); it’s set in a high-class brothel in Paris at the turn of the century

***

In visual arts, the decadent, pessimistic and cynical spirit of ‘fin de siecle’ was demonstrated in a more exciting and vibrant manner and painters such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Felicien Rops, Childe Hassam, Edvard Munch, Jean-Louis Forain and many others produced paintings which satirised the state of society, at the same time giving it a certain dose of glamour which continues to fascinate people even today. Welcome to fin de siecle; the age of un-innocence, where darkness and sins lure from every corner, nightclubs offer nothing but loneliness, pessimism is the meal of the day, seedy salon lights conceal the gritty reality…

***

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

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge, 1890

***

The glamour and vividness of fin de siecle is perhaps best captured in paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – the painter of cabarets, dancers, singers, circuses, and prostitutes. With miraculous ability to capture the moment, incredibly good memory, and proneness for sharp observation that spares nobody, Toulouse-Lautrec, sketched dancers, dandies and common folk at places such as Moulin Rouge; the Studio 54 of La Belle Epoque. Imagine him sitting by the small round table, dressed in a black suit, bowler hat and a pair of spectacles, perhaps in the company of the dancer Jane Avril, drinking absinthe and voraciously sketching. Moulin Rouge, the place where silk dresses rustle, glasses cling, and conversations go on through the night, reminds me of the place Morrissey sang about in the song There is a Light That Never Goes Out:

Take me out tonight
Where there’s music and there’s people
Who are young and alive…*

***

1885. At the Masked Ball by Jean-Louis Forain (French 1852 –1931)

Jean-Louis Forain (French 1852 –1931), At the Masked Ball, 1885

***

I have always wanted to attend a masquerade ball; to be someone else for a night and talk to strangers without having to reveal my true identity, with each mask I could be a different person. Jean-Louis Forain painted a lavishing ‘masked ball scene’ where the lady in a purple-white dress, black opera gloves, a mask and a lace veil stands beside an unmasked gentleman, possibly her love interest for the night. The colour palette for the background, rich wine, sangria and crimson shades, is perfectly suitable for the spirit of the era. The scene itself evokes mystery. What are they talking about? Probably some tittle-tattle with a fin de siecle twist.

The grin on her face and her eyes, barely visible through the mask, suggest she’s gazing at something interesting in the background, while her ‘hunched-back, moustache, hand-in-his-pocket’ companion clutches her arm tightly. Claude Debussy’s Nocturnes is the music for the background of this scene. Roses on her dress remind me of the introduction of The Picture of Dorian Gray: “The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

1900s The Divine in Blue - Boldini

Giovanni Boldini, The Divine in Blue, early 1900s

***

Blue blue, electric blue, dynamic brushstrokes, femme fatale – it must be a work of the Italian painter Giovanni Boldini, famous for his turn of the century portraits of aristocratic ladies. This gorgeous, protruding shade of blue, and the lady’s half-hidden gaze make this portrait a perfect representative for the fin the siecle. Boldini’s portraits, along with some female figures in the novels I’ve mentioned above, all show that a new type of woman fascinated artists and society in fin de siecle. A lady who faints and screams like a virgin in Gothic novels simply wasn’t in tune with the times. ‘A New Woman’ stepped on the scene, and Boldini quickly resorted to his brush and a clear white canvas, to capture her charms and seductiveness.

A good example of a fin de siecle goddess is Clara from Torture Garden – a sadistic, intense, hysteric and beautiful redhead who gets pleasure from seeing tortures. She’s a bit extreme, but I like Mirbeau’s description of her gaze because I think Boldini’s ‘Divine in Blue’ has a gaze similarly pierced on the viewers:

While I was speaking and weeping, Miss Clara was looking fixedly at me. Oh, that look! Never, no, never should I forget the look that adorable woman fixed me with, an extraordinary look in which amazement was mingled with joy, pity and love – yes, love – as well as malice and irony.. And everything.. A look which pierced me through, penetrating into me and overwhelming me body and soul.

***

L’apollonide

L’apollonide (House of Pleasures) 2

A scene from the film L’Apollonide or The House of Tolerance (2011); it’s set in a high-class brothel in Paris at the turn of the century

***

Another quote from Mirbeau’s Torture Garden, which is just as relevant today:

You’re obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That’s the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world.

***

1895. Childe Hassam - Rainy Night

Childe Hassam, Rainy Night, 1895

***

This gorgeous painting by Childe Hassam, Rainy Night, reminds me of a dialogue in Woody Allen’s marvellous film Midnight in Paris (2011), starring Owen Wilson as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez:

Gil: I don’t get here often enough, that’s the problem. Can you picture how drop dead gorgeous this city is in the rain? Imagine this town in the ’20s. Paris in the ’20s, in the rain. The artists and writers!

Inez: Why does every city have to be in the rain? What’s wonderful about getting wet?” (Midnight in Paris, 2011, Woody Allen)

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the title of Hassam’s painting – Rainy Night – now, is there a better moment? I always feel such rapture and manic energy when it rains, and this painting evokes the same feelings. The scene shows people bustling in front of a nightclub, opening their umbrellas, ladies pulling up their skirts so they don’t get wet, while the golden lights and warmth and pleasure awaits them just behind the doors. What a contrast; a nightclub with all its vibrancy is a place were one can forget oneself by dancing or drinking to oblivion, and, on the outside, a dreamy velvety night over the big city. I’d forget the nightclub for a night as beautiful as this.

Hassam, as an Impressionist, tended to capture the moment, and he did it beautifully in this watercolour. He captured both the excitement and the tenderness of the night, the evening lights and gentle shades of blue that endlessly flickers and overflows into alluring yellow-golds and dark midnight blue that exceeds in onyx black.

***

Jane Asher in Charley's Aunt play

Jane Asher in the play ‘Charley’s Aunt’ (2012)

When I started writing this post I was bored beyond pain, but the decadent world of fin de siecle with all its paintings, film costumes, music and books strangely pulled me in. Cure for boredom became my current obsession.

Artworks I’ve Discovered This Morning

14 Jul

I won’t even try to express my excitement, joy and rapture because of the massive amount of artists and artworks I’ve stumbled upon this morning on Pinterest. But I did have a need to share all these beautiful paintings with you. I’m sure you’ll like some of them because the variety is incredible; different styles, colours, nations, time periods, and yet I like them all. I’m overwhelmed. One more painting and my mind would explode.

Night scenes, explosion of colours, spring meadows, roosters, Ohara Koson’s beautiful nature scenes, wild and surrealist street scenes, some Welsh artists, a peacock, Belgrade after the rain, romantic flowers and picturesque seaside towns, Spanish beauties, 18th century Asian lady awaiting her lover in the forest, Polynesian sky and sea, Montmartre stairs, purples and yellows; if your taste inclines towards some of these things, you’ll enjoy these eye-candies as much as I have.

P.S. Gustav Klimt was born on this day in 1862. He is always in my thoughts…

1938-45. Dancer and Reclining Man Emil Nolde1938-45. Dancer and Reclining Man Emil Nolde

Paris Montmartre - pastel by Yuriy ShevchukParis Montmartre – pastel by Yuriy Shevchuk

Polynesia, The Sea ~ Henri MatissePolynesia, The Sea ~ Henri Matisse

Polynesia, The Sky ~ Henri MatissePolynesia, The Sky ~ Henri Matisse

Rainy day in Belgrade by Dusan DjukaricRainy day in Belgrade by Dusan Djukaric

Dusan Djukaric. After the RainDusan Djukaric. After the Rain

Dusan Djukaric - Belgrade tramDusan Djukaric – Belgrade tram

1889. Childe Hassam - Mrs. Hassam and Her Sister1889. Childe Hassam – Mrs. Hassam and Her Sister

1890s Childe Hassam~ such beautiful light & movement...1890s Childe Hassam~ such beautiful light & movement…

Tetsuo Aoki 1Tetsuo Aoki

Dan McCaw. This reminds me of a rainy day, makes me want to curl up with a good bookDan McCaw

1907. Kees Van Dongen - Houses in Amsterdam1907. Kees Van Dongen – Houses in Amsterdam

1905. Joan Brull 'Dream'1905. Joan Brull ‘Dream’

Kinuko Y. Craft - GaladrielKinuko Y. Craft – Galadriel

Egon SchieleEgon Schiele

1893. By the Window - Konstantin Korovin (Russian, 1861-1939) Impressionism1893. By the Window – Konstantin Korovin (Russian, 1861-1939) Impressionism

1915. Sergiev Posad - Konstantin Gorbatov1915. Sergiev Posad – Konstantin Gorbatov

(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation1945-46. Vanessa Bell(1879-1961), lady with a book

1873. John Atkinson Grimshaw, Moonlit Lane1873. John Atkinson Grimshaw, Moonlit Lane

1893. Edvard Munch - Girl Looking out the Window1893. Edvard Munch – Girl Looking out the Window

1898. Henri Matisse (1869-1954)Woman Reading in a Violet Dress (1898)1898. Henri Matisse (1869-1954)Woman Reading in a Violet Dress

1860. Edgar Degas Le Fauteuil [The armchair], Pencil and watercolour on paper.1860. Edgar Degas Le Fauteuil [The armchair], Pencil and watercolour on paper

1775-80. Utka Nayika - A lady awaits her lover in the forest1775-80. Utka Nayika – A lady awaits her lover in the forest

1922. Hermen Anglada Camarasa (Spanish, 1872-1959) - Portrait of Jennifer Bosch, Duchess of Durcal1922. Hermen Anglada Camarasa (Spanish, 1872-1959) – Portrait of Jennifer Bosch, Duchess of Durcal

1914. Granada - Hermen Anglada Camarasa. Spanish (1871 - 1959)1914. Granada – Hermen Anglada Camarasa. Spanish (1871 – 1959)

Joan Miro 1 Joan Miro 2Joan Miro

1925. Joan Miró - This is the Colour of My Dreams1925. Joan Miró – This is the Colour of My Dreams

1902. The Happy Quartet - Henri Rousseau1902. The Happy Quartet – Henri Rousseau

1919.  Henri Matisse, Interior at Nice1919. Henri Matisse, Interior at Nice

1914. Subway riders, New York City, Francis Luis Mora. American Painter, born in Uruguay (1874 - 1940)1914. Subway riders, New York City, Francis Luis Mora. American Painter, born in Uruguay (1874 – 1940)

The Black Sea at night - Ivan AivazovskyThe Black Sea at night – Ivan Aivazovsky

Painting by Vladimir Dunjic Serbian ArtistPainting by Vladimir Dunjic Serbian Artist

OHARA Koson (1877-1945), JapanOhara Koson (1877-1945), Japan

Ohara Koson, Grasshoper and Fool Moon, c.1910Ohara Koson, Grasshoper and Fool Moon, c.1910

Ohara Koson - Moon and Blue flowers, JapanOhara Koson – Moon and Blue flowers, Japan

Paintings by French Naive Artist Cellia Saubry 1Paintings by French Naive Artist Cellia Saubry

Peacock, 17th century. Edo period (1615–1868). Japan. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,Peacock, 17th century. Edo period (1615–1868). Japan. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Chris Neale, Pembrokeshire Artist

Chris Neale, Welsh artistChris Neale, Pembrokeshire Artist

Sir John 'Kyffin' Williams, May 1918 – 1 September 2006) was a Welsh landscape painter who lived at Pwllfanogl, Llanfairpwll on the Island of Anglesey.Sir John ‘Kyffin’ Williams, May 1918 – 1 September 2006) was a Welsh landscape painter who lived at Pwllfanogl, Llanfairpwll on the Island of Anglesey.

Autumn Treehouses ~ Becca StadtlanderAutumn Treehouses ~ Becca Stadtlander

Gary Bunt, The Sleeping GardenerGary Bunt, The Sleeping Gardener

Miguel Freitas  The naive impressions and memoriesMiguel Freitas

Valériane Leblond, Llanrhystyd, Wales 1 Valeraine Leblond. French and Quebecker artist who has lived in Wales since 2007. Valériane Leblond, Llanrhystyd, Wales 4Valériane Leblond, Llanrhystyd, Wales

Lucy Grossmith art 2 Lucy Grossmith art 1Lucy Grossmith

Kubo Shunman (Edo Period) ( Antique Japan Butterfly Illustration )Kubo Shunman (Edo Period) ( Antique Japan Butterfly Illustration )

Carlos Nadal (Spanish, 1917-1998)Carlos Nadal (Spanish, 1917-1998)

lovely tree on print

cat collage Higuchi YukoHiguchi Yuko

Gnome 1

1938. A rooster - Pablo Picasso1938. A rooster – Pablo Picasso

1938. Picasso - Rooster1938. Picasso – Rooster