Tag Archives: Summer

My Inspiration for August 2021

31 Aug

The best book I read this August was Takanobu Ishikawa’s “Romaji Diary” and I have already written a book review about it here. There were passages and thoughts that I found extremely relatable and other parts of the book felt more like dipping my finger into the sea of reverie… My other inspirations are, as you can see from the pictures, many lovely late 1960s and early 1970s fashion pictures, portrayals of circus and the sea in art, the Stone Roses, red colour, I really crave red these days, in art and other places, Pre-Raphaelite art as the gateway to the season that awakens the soul; autumn…

And I feel so lonely and vulnerable and strange…”

(Anne Sexton, from A Self-Portrait In Letters)

“My poor friend could not understand the deep yearning and pain in life. Feeling unbearably lonely, I returned to my room. Ultimately it’s impossible for a man to make another man understand him fully. In the final analysis, camaraderie between one man and another is merely superficial. Realizing that the friend who I had thought understood me as thoroughly as I had him was unable, ultimately, to understand the anguish and pain at the bottom of my heart made me feel unbearably dreary. We are each separate, each alone! This thought left me indescribably sad.”
(Takuboku Ishikawa, Romaji Diary)

John French – Jean Shrimpton for Mary Quant (London 1964)

Picture found here.

 

Mike Berkofsky – Jane Birkin Wearing a Dress by Laura Ashley (19 Magazine 1970)

Picture by Olha Sheludiakova, found here.

Picture found here.

Picture by Marina Marić, found here.

Alexis Waldeck – Donna Mitchell (Status & Diplomat 1967)

Picture found here.

Barry Lategan – Maudie James and Louise Despointes (Vogue UK 1971)

Picture found here.

Ford Abbey and Gardens (by Annie Spratt)

Picture found here.

Found in the Internet Archive by AnitaNH

Dresses from Foale and Tuffin (Woman’s Journal 1971)

Dresses by Colin Glascoe (Woman’s Journal 1971)

By Laura Makabresku.

Picture found here.

Stuart Brown – Models Wearing Pourelle Ensembles (19 Magazine 1969)

My Inspiration for July 2021

31 Jul

These sunny July days I very much enjoyed listening to my old favourite songs by Pearl Jam but also discovered some stuff by Chris Cornell, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains; especially the hauntingly beautiful live version of “Love, Hate, Love”. I am mildly obsessed with cactuses, both in paintings and in desert scenery, prairie dresses, 1970s Sarah Kay illustrations, vibrant, childlike, colorful paintings by Fauvists, Gauguin’s Tahiti-phase paintings, flower paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe… I got my hands on quite a few fascinating books this month (finally!), amongst them are the recently published and thought-provoking book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigal Shrier, Uncommon by Owen Hatherley; a book about the band Pulp, their aesthetic, lyrics and place as perpetual outsiders on the music scene, As I crossed a Bridge of Dreams; a wonderful novel written by a court lady in the 11th century Japan, The Bilingual Lover by Juan Marsé; both comical and sad at the same time, The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa; a novel which explores the lives of Paul Gauguin and his grandmother Flora Tristan; they both had in common the urge for freedom, and they both tried to break the chains of civilisations, each in their own way. I am also more than half-way through Erich Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom” which is very interesting and especially so in the age we are living in, here are two quotes I enjoyed:

“We are proud that we are not subject to any external authority, that we are free to express our thoughts and feelings, and we take it for granted that this freedom almost automatically guarantees our individuality. The right to express our thoughts, however, means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own; freedom from external authority is a lasting gain only if the inner psychological conditions are such that we are able to establish our own individuality.”

“Freedom is not less endangered if attacked in the name of anti-Fascism than in that of outright Fascism. This truth has been so forcefully formulated by John Dewey that I express the thought in his words: “The serious threat to our democracy,” he says, “is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of conditions which have given a victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity and dependence upon The Leader in foreign countries. The battlefield is also accordingly here—within ourselves and our institutions.”

“The days are long and weigh on me. I am suffocating.”
(Albert Camus, from a letter featured in “A Life Worth Living”, c. 1940)

Sasha Kichigina photographed by Ina Lekiewicz for For Love & Lemons Spring 2020

Instagram: elise.buch

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

Model Ingrid Boulting photographed at Lacock Abbey, “Summer at Source”, by Norman Parkinson for Vogue UK, July 1970

Red Avadat, Red Munia or strawberry finch, picture found here.

Moret-sur-Loing, France (by J.P. Renais)

Picture found here.

A Cactus Garden in California⁣, c. 1902⁣, Source: Beinecke Digital Collections⁣

Picture found here.

Dan Kozan, from Creative Black Book: Photography (1985)

Cuba, picture found here.

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Miss Moda 2020 in Elle Mexico December 2019 by Dennis Tejero

Towers with Faces at the Bayon Temple, Angkor wat complex, Cambodia. Picture found here.

Red and White Campion Meadow & Wild Campion Meadow
by Alan MacKenzie

Dreamy Pictures of Ingrid Boulting, Vogue UK, July 1970

22 Jul

“…the rose is full blown,
And the riches of Flora are lavishly strown;
The air is all softness, and chrystal the streams,
And the west is resplendently cloathed in beams.

We will hasten, my fair, to the opening glades,
The quaintly carv’d seats, and the freshening shades;
Where the fairies are chaunting their evening hymns,
And in the last sun-beam the sylph lightly swims.

And when thou art weary, I’ll find thee a bed,
Of mosses, and flowers, to pillow thy head…”

(John Keats, To Emma, 1815)Model Ingrid Boulting photographed at Lacock Abbey, “Summer at Source”, by Norman Parkinson for Vogue UK, July 1970

This photograph taken by Norman Parkinson for the July edition of Vogue UK in 1970 is just one picture from a series of pictures taken at the Lacock Abbey. The lovely girl in the picture that looks like Botticelli’s angel is a model Ingrid Boulting. She might not be as well-remembered today as Twiggy is, but in the 1960s and 1970s Ingrid, with her delicate figure and a pale face doll-like face with big blue eyes, was posing for photographers such as David Bailey and Richard Avedon, and she modelled for the Biba fashion boutique. Ingrid was not a Mod girl with pixie haircut and sharp eyeliner, but rather her looks embodied the soft, rose-tinted aesthetic of the early 1970s. Delicate, ethereal, with silky hair and a quiet, mysterious aura around her, Ingrid is the embodiment of a Pre-Raphaelite muse. That is why I think she was just perfect for this series of pictures taken at the Lacock Abbey, a mansion in Wiltshire, England, built in the Gothic style of the thirteenth century. Pre-Raphaelites, after all, looked back at the Medieval times as times of truth and idealism.

What I like about this photograph, apart from Ingrid’s gorgeous face, is the continual interplay of contrasting elements. The picture appears both static, controlled and carefully arranged, but at the same time there is an undeniable dreamy, carefree quality to it. The girl’s hands are arranged in a pose we might see in a medieval painting, and her hair is dancing freely in the wind. In the background the old, wise, worn-out, poetry-filled stone of the abbey meets the fragile and transient summer flowers. This scene looks to me like a place where “the riches of Flora are lavishly strown” and “the air is all softness”, as Keats wrote in his poem “To Emma”. Ingrid’s attire makes me imagine her as a lady who once may have lived in that abbey, holding flowers in her hands and awaiting the return of her knight from a battle. The scene oozes a mood that is archaic and sweet, soft, delicate, laden with poetry and dreams. It’s almost a painful sweetness that I feel whilst gazing at this picture because I wish that could be the life itself; a long summer afternoon filled with flowers and poetry.

The square shape and the grey tones of the picture may at first seem constricting it because our eyes are used to wandering freely over the picture, in a horizontal or vertical direction, as is the usual shape of the pictures. The black and white picture doesn’t reveal to us the delicate summer shades of the scene, but in this case the black and white is perfect because it allows our imagination to fill the space with colours, and not just colours, but the scents and sounds too. Even though I usually love vibrant colours, in this case I don’t want to see the colours, I want to feel them. Just as it is in a dream; you might not see everything clearly, or hear it, but you know it is there, you feel it in a way which is superior to only seeing it. As I already said, this is one of a few pictures taken for the 1970 July Vogue UK so I will put some others bellow. They are also very beautiful but this one is my favourite.

Maurice Prendergast – Two Women Crossing a Field

18 Jul

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing”

Maurice Prendergast, Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook – Two women crossing a field, 1895-97, watercolour

Two ladies in white dresses are walking through a yellow field. With their dainty parasols and elegant hats they almost look like porcelain dolls. The scene is closely cropped and we don’t get to see much of the nature around them. We don’t even see the sky the way we do in similar paintings by Claude Monet. Instead of a detailed portrayal of clouds and grass, Prendergast focuses on the intense yellowness of the field and offers us a sketchy but joyous scene in nature. The summer’s ripeness and vibrancy are at their peak. The lady’s red sash is dancing in the wind and its vibrant red colour contrasts beautifully with the yellow and white. Prendergast wonderfully masters the colour scheme where each colour brings out the vibrancy of the other. All of Prendergast’s watercolours have an uplifting effect on me and I really love how he wasn’t shy about using all the rich shades of colours. His love of raw, bright colours and flatness comes from his years of working in commercial arts. The watercolour sketches in the Boston sketchbook were all made after his return from Paris where he was introduced to the art of Aubrey Beardsley, Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, but despite all these influences Prendergast returned to America with a vision of art that was playful, childlike, vibrant and completely his own. He took the Impressionist motives of leisure and nature but decided to portray them in the medium of watercolours instead of the traditional oil on canvas. This particular sunny, summery watercolour has been on my mind for a long time now and I thought what better time to write about this lovely watercolour than in the warm, yellow month of July? To end, here is a very fitting poem by Arthur Rimbaud called “Sensation”:

On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,
Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:
In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet.
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head.

I shall not speak, I shall think about nothing:
But endless love will mount in my soul;
And I shall travel far, very far, like a gipsy,
Through the countryside – as happy as if I were with a woman.

My Inspiration for June 2021

30 Jun

This June my imagination took me to the beautiful lush gardens of Italy such as the Garden of Ninfa where I imagine the distant sound of Faun’s flute and the nymphs splashing water and laughing while the breeze carries a delicate yet sweet floral scent that lulls the senses into an everlasting dream… Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale’s watercolour “Youth and the Lady” seems like a scene from such a dreamy garden. Since I was reading Charlotte Gordon’s amazing biography on Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, I also travelled in my mind to the beautiful places in Italy that Percy and Mary Shelley lived in, such as Naples with the Mount Vesuvius and Pisa. I also enjoyed paintings by Greuze and photographs by Francesca Woodman.

“All cruelty springs from weakness.”

(Seneca)

“Empathy without boundaries is self-destruction.”

(Silvy Khoucasian)

“Future joys are like tropical shores; like a fragrant breeze, they extend their innate softness to the immense inland world of past experience, and we are lulled by this intoxication into forgetting the unseen horizons beyond.”
(Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary)

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Youth and the Lady, 1905

 

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

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Picture found here.

Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots, November 1976

Max Kozloff, Francesca Woodman, 1981

Carol Kane photographed by Jean Pagliuso, 1975

By @labohemejulia

Picture found here.

Garden of Ninfa, province of Latina, Italy.

By cadreg@tt on Flickr

Francesca Woodman, Woman with Large Plate, Roma (1978)

Vincent van Gogh: Sun, Heat and Vibrant Colours of Arles (from Lust for Life)

17 Mar

“The Arlesian sun smote Vincent between the eyes, and broke him wide open. It was a whirling, liquid ball of lemon-yellow fire, shooting across a hard blue sky and filling the air with blinding light. The terrific heat and intense clarity of the air created a new and unfamiliar world.”

(Irving Stone, Lust for Life)

Vincent Van Gogh, Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers, August 1888

One of my greatest joys in these early spring days is noticing and gazing at the trees in bloom, the same trees which were sad-looking and bare for months, and enjoying the golden rays of sun caressing me and promising ever warmer days. The joy of feeling the warm sun on your skin cannot be put in words! When it comes to art, my mind instantly went to Vincent van Gogh’s sunflowers, his delicate almond blossoms and blooming orchards, I need his yellows and blues like I need the air to breathe. I was reading some of his letter again and also I was rereading Irving Stone’s wonderful novel “Lust for Life”, first published in 1934, which is a romanticised biography of Vincent van Gogh. I really recommend the book to everyone because it’s just so beautifully written and it absolutely sweeps you away. Irving Stone was just a great writer, I also read his novel “Agony and Ecstasy” about the life of Michelangelo, and I loved it as well, and I am not even interested in the art of Michelangelo and I think that speaks for the brilliancy of Stone’s writing. So, I decided to share passages from the novel which I found particularly interesting and accompany it with Van Gogh’s paintings and my own thoughts. After spending some time in Paris and living with his brother, Vincent, a man from the drab north, felt an inexplicable aching and longing for sun and in spring of 1888 he arrived to Arles, a small town in Provence, and that is where some of his most exciting, most vibrant paintings were painted. Here is how his arrival and first impressions of Arles are described in “Lust for Life”:

He dropped out of the third-class carriage early in the morning and walked down the winding road that led from the station to the Place Lamartine, a market square bounded on one side by the embankment of the Rhône, on the other by cafés and wretched hotels. Arles lay straight ahead, pasted against the side of a hill with a neat mason’s trowel, drowsing in the hot, tropical sun. When it came to looking for a place to live, Vincent was indifferent. He walked into the first hotel he passed in the Place, the Hotel de la Gare, and rented a room. It contained a blatant brass bed, a cracked pitcher in a washbowl, and an odd chair. The proprietor brought in an unpainted table. There was no room to set up an easel, but Vincent meant to paint out of doors all day.

He threw his valise on the bed and dashed out to see the town. There were two approaches to the heart of Arles from the Place Lamartine. The circular road on the left was for wagons; it skirted the edge of the town and wound slowly to the top of the hill, passing the old Roman forum and amphitheatre on the way. Vincent took the more direct approach, which led through a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets. After a long climb he reached the sun scorched Place de la Mairie. On the way up he passed cold stone courts and quadrangles which looked as though they had come down untouched from the early Roman days. In order to keep out the maddening sun, the alleys had been made so narrow that Vincent could touch both rows of houses with outstretched fingertips. To avoid the torturing mistral, the streets wound about in a hopeless maze on the side of the hill, never going straight for more than ten yards. There was refuse in the streets, dirty children in the doorways, and over everything a sinister, hunted aspect.

Vincent van Gogh, Peach Tree in Blossom, Arles, April-May 1888

Vincent left the Place de la Mairie, walked through a short alley to the main marketing road at the back of the town, strolled through the little park, and then stumbled down the hill to the Roman arena. He leaped from tier to tier like a goat, finally reaching the top. He sat on a block of stone, dangled his legs over a sheer drop of hundreds of feet, lit his pipe, and surveyed the domain of which he had appointed himself lord and master.

The town below him flowed down abruptly to the Rhône like a kaleidoscopic waterfall. The roofs of the houses were fitted into each other in an intricate design. They had all been tiled in what was originally red clay, but the burning, incessant sun had baked them to a maze of every colour, from the lightest lemon and delicate shell pink to a biting lavender and earthy loam-brown.

The wide, rapidly flowing Rhône made a sharp curve at the bottom of the hill on which Arles was plastered, and shot downward to the Mediterranean. There were stone embankments on either side of the river. Trinquetaille glistened like a painted city on the other bank. Behind Vincent were the mountains, huge ranges sticking upward into the clear white light. Spread out before him was a panorama of tilled fields, of orchards in blossom, the rising mound of Montmajour, fertile valleys ploughed into thousands of deep furrows, all converging at some distant point in infinity.

Vincent van Gogh, Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass, 1888

But it was the colour of the country-side that made him run a hand over his bewildered eyes. The sky was so intensely blue, such a hard, relentless, profound blue that it was not blue at all; it was utterly colorless. The green of the fields that stretched below him was the essence of the colour green, gone mad. The burning lemon-yellow of the sun, the blood-red of the soil, the crying whiteness of the lone cloud over Montmajour, the ever reborn rose of the orchards… such colourings were incredible. How could he paint them? How could he ever make anyone believe that they existed, even if he could transfer them to his palette? Lemon, blue, green, red, rose; nature run rampant in five torturing shades of expression.

Vincent took the wagon road to the Place Lamartine, grabbed up his easel, paints, and canvas and struck out along the Rhône. Almond trees were beginning to flower everywhere. The glistening white glare of the sun on the water sent stabs of pain into his eyes. He had left his hat in the hotel. The sun burned through the red of his hair, sucked out all the cold of Paris, all the fatigue, discouragement, and satiety with which city life had glutted his soul.
A kilometre down the river he found a drawbridge with a little cart going over it, outlined against a blue sky. The river was as blue as a well, the banks orange, coloured with green grass. A group of washerwomen in smocks and many-coloured caps were pounding dirty clothes in the shade of a lone tree. Vincent set up his easel, drew a long breath, and shut his eyes. No man could catch such colourings with his eyes open. There fell away from him Seurat’s talk about scientific pointillism, Gauguin’s harangues about primitive decorativeness, Cezanne’s appearances beneath solid surfaces, Lautrec’s lines of colour and lines of splenetic hatred.

My Inspiration for August 2020

31 Aug

This August I was in a very Japanese mood because I was reading Arthur Golden’s novel Memoirs of a Geisha which was very beautiful and also very sad, though I certainly enjoyed learning about Japanese culture and the world of geishas. I was also in a fairy tale mood and I spent many joyous moments gazing at Felicitas Kuhn’s illustrations of fairy tales such as Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty and it was a feast for my eyes. I also read Rollo May’s book Man’s Search for Himself which was an amazing read and I really recommend it! I enjoyed Philip Wilson Steer’s vibrant beach scenes and painting of the sea by other painters as well, architecture of Kyoto and night life of Tokyo with neon lights and loneliness, Ukiyo-e prints and vibrant kimono. I’d really love to mention two great films I watched; The Vanishing (1993) which was recommended to me by a very dear person and it was both chilling and sad at once and I know it will linger in my memory, and Orphan (2009) which I’ve wanted to see for a long time. As much as I love Esther’s lovely doll-like costumes, I was speechless at just how cruel and wicked she is, hiding her true self under a charming and polite exterior. To end, I’d like to quote David Icke quoting the verses from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “The Mask of Anarchy” at his Unite for Freedom rally in London the other day:

“Rise like Lions after slumber

 In unvanquishable number—

 Shake your chains to earth like dew

 Which in sleep had fallen on you

— Ye are many—they are few.”

Scotney Castle, Kent, England via national trust

Picture found here.

Picture found here.

San Marino by Daniele Rossi.

Picture found here.

Bat Necklace by CuriousBurrow

 

Bath, UK. Pic found here.

Pic found here.

Scan 72 (by Baggerss)

Miss Patina

Pic found here.

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Night in Tokyo, pic found here.

Gansen-ji, Kyoto / Japan (by Patrick Vierthaler).

Pic found here.

 

Memento Mori dress, found here.

Philip Wilson Steer – Vibrant Beach Scenes

22 Aug

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”

(KIate Chopin, The Awakening)

Philip Wilson Steer, Boulogne Sands, 1888-91

Philip Wilson Steer painted some rather dull landscapes and some very atmospheric interiors with dreamy girls, but his most unique and eye-catching paintings are these vivacious and vibrant beach scenes painted in the late 1880s and first half of the 1890s. The radiant colours and the sketchy style is what makes these paintings so unique and extraordinary.

At the age of eighteen, Steer wished to work for the Civil Service but found the entrance exams too demanding. We are fortunate that didn’t occur, for he probably would not have become a painter. He proceeded to study at the Gloucester School of Art and Kensington Drawing Schools, but he wasn’t quite good enough for the Royal Academy of Art. After being rejected by the Academy, Steer went to Paris and there he studied from 1882 to 1884, first at the Academie Julian and then at the École des Beaux Arts where his teacher was Alexandre Cabanel. Despite the years spent at the academies, Steer returned to England not as a Cabanel copy-cat, rather he was more influenced by the works of the Impressionists that he had seen. Steer often visited the picturesque coastal little towns of Walberwick and Southwald in Suffolk, for he had friends there, and he painted people, mostly mothers and daughters, having their holidays in the sun. Despite being inspired by the Impressionist, Steer didn’t go full plein air, that is, he didn’t paint outdoors. Whilst on the beach, Steer would enjoy the scenery and liveliness all around him, take many sketches in his sketchbook and then later turn them into proper paintings in his studio. That way he could capture many fun scenes that happened on the beach in the same day and transform them into canvases full of dots, dashes, textures, sketchy imprecise and harsh brushstrokes.

Philip Wilson Steer, Watching Cowes Regatta, 1892

These beach scenes may appear sketchy and spontaneous, but Steer actually carefully planned each one and often took years to finish them. Each of them has a unique beauty; “Watching Cowes Regatta” has a wonderfully serene harmony of gentle blue tones and is reminiscent of some of Whistler’s paintings, in “Children Paddling” the water just shines and glimmers and the blueness is overwhelming, in “Girls Running” the two figures of girls dressed in matching dresses and matching red sashes is the most striking, and notice how they are not holding their hands, but their shadows are, in “Figures at the Beach” everything disappears in a blueish haze and the three girls in blue and white dresses are as sketchy as can be to still look recognisable, in “The Beach at Walberswick” the red is so intense and pulsating and contrasts beautifully with the blueness of the sea, and in the last painting what strikes me the most is how sketchy and nearly see-through the figures in the foreground are. A wonderful brushwork and a wonderful vibrancy of shades and colours constrasts truly make these beach scenes tangible and alive; one can hear the waves, the seagulls and the laughter of all these girls, feel the magic of the glimmering sea and feel the pebbles or sand underfoot.

“There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.” (Kate Chopin, The Awakening)

Philip Wilson Steer, Walberswick, Children Paddling, 1894

Philip Wilson Steer, Girls Running, Walberswick Pier, 1888-94

Philip Wilson Steer, Figures on the Beach, Walberswick, 1888-89

Philip Wilson Steer, The Beach at Walberswick, 1889

Philip Wilson Steer, Southwold, 1889

John William Godward – When the heart is young

10 Aug

The sweetest thing on earth is …. to do nothing and enjoy it! Late Victorian British painter John William Godward was born on 9th August 1861 and his life ended by a suicide in 1922 because, as he stated in a note that he left, “the world is not big enough for myself and Picasso”. His perception seemed to be that Picasso was so superior a painter that he had to reside from the position of the painter and from planet earth. A very sad ending to a life devoted to art.

John William Godward, When the heart is young, 1902

“you came and I was crazy for you
and you cooled my mind that burned with longing”

(Sappho, translation by Anne Carson)

“When the heart is young” is one of my favourite painting by Godward, perhaps even the favourite one. There’s just something about it that lures me to it, again and again. Perhaps it is the sweet indolence that speaks to my heart the most. I just love the warmth, sensuality and clear, vibrant in this painting. Every detail about it is perfect and precise and no element of the painting seems superfluous. A beautiful and dreamy dark haired young woman occupies the central place in the painting and everything around her; the marble bench and floor, a peacock fan, animal skin, flowers and the sea in the background all serve to accentuate the idleness and luxury that she is oozing. She is lazing around on a sunny summer day and has the luxury to do so; daydreaming and allowing the minutes and hours to pass by without any guilt or concern, for being idle is not a crime. Gorgeous masses of her black hair are seductively falling over her head, her large dark eyes are full of desire and dreams and her flushed cheeks speak of desires unspoken in words. She seems to exist on a diet of sunlight’s caresses, sweet summer wines and thoughts of love. The curvy line of her body stretched on the fuzzy warm fur is as seductive as the yellowish line that separates the azure blueness of the sea from that of the sky. I can imagine the soft, summery breeze rustling the distant cypresses, kissing the poppies and bringing the salty scent of the sea to the woman’s nose. And now some more of Sappho’s verses because they fill so well with the mood of idleness and undisturbed ripe and juicy fig sweetness:

“Come to me now: loose me from hard
care and all my heart longs
to accomplish, accomplish. You
be my ally.

here to me from Krete to this holy temple
where is your graceful grove
of apple trees and altars smoking
with frankincense.
And in it cold water makes a clear sound through
apple branches and with roses the whole place
is shadowed and down from radiant-shaking leaves
sleep comes dropping.
And in it a horse meadow has come into bloom
with spring flowers and breezes
like honey are blowing….”

(Sappho, translated by Anne Carson)

John William Godward, Dolce Far Niente, 1904

Marble and draped gowns worn by the indolent women in Godward’s paintings bring to mind the similar work of Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Godward was the protégé of Alma-Tadema and their styles hold similarities; they both drew inspiration from the imagined luxury of the Greek world, Ancient Roman Empire and the warm, rich, fragrant, mood of the Mediterranean, they both painted in a Neoclassical style with fine, elegant brushwork resembling that of Ingres, especially when the subject is that of a female body; both made paintings full of light and vibrancy. Paintings “When the Heart is Young” and “Dolce far niente” both show elegantly dressed women doing nothing, being sweetly idle in beautiful settings and thus they fall into the “dolce far niente” genre of painting. ‘Dolce far niente’ is a wonderful Italian expression meaning ‘sweet doing nothing’, and it illustrates the dreamy, hedonistic, self-indulgent nature of indolence, and the enjoyment of it. In the late 19th and early 20th century, in the artistic climate influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and Aesthetic movement with its ‘cult of beauty’, popularity of this genre of paintings grew. Artists such as Lawrence Alma-Tadema, John William Godward and John William Waterhouse dared to tackle the subject and painted numerous vibrant and beautiful paintings of this theme.

There’s a certain pattern of beauty in all of these ‘dolce far niente’ paintings: a beautiful idle woman dressed in her finery, lazing around in sumptuous surroundings, doing nothing, gazing in the distance or at the viewer. Usually they’re presented in luxurious and idealised settings, aesthetically inspired by the Roman empire, lounging on animal skin, dressed in gorgeous diaphanous fabrics. Certain motifs appear in all of these paintings: finely painted marble balustrades or just marble in general, balconies overlooking the sea glistening underneath a perfectly blue sky with a few clouds, animal skin, clothes and hairstyles inspired by the styles of the Ancient world, flowers and flower pots, lush Mediterranean vegetation and plants such as oleander, lavender, cypresses, orange trees, even poppies, thyme, basil etc.

My Inspiration for July 2020

31 Jul

I felt super inspired this July and I read some amazing books; Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (I watched the film years ago, of course, but now I wanted to read the book too), The Secret History by Donna Tartt which really amazed me, Sex, Art and American Culture; a collection of essays by Camille Paglia which I enjoyed immensely because Paglia is brilliant, original, straightforward, she always penetrates to the core of things and always says what she means and isn’t afraid of being disliked, and those are some qualities I admire, and so consequently her writing is the same. She won’t sugarcoat anything for you, she writes it as it is. And lastly, I read Torn Apart: Life of Ian Curtis by Mick Meddles and Lindsey Reade which gave a fascinating insight into the life of the band and life of Ian, it was poignant and sad, but in a catharsis way. I had already read Deborah Curtis’s Touching From the Distance, but I feel that her vision was somewhat clouded by jealousies and bitterness, so Torn Apart seemed more sincere and more objective. Then I had to watch Control (2007) again and listen to Joy Division, hearing every lyric and sound in a fresh and exciting way. Also, it being the month of Reinaldo Arenas’s birthday, my thought drifted to him as well and here is something he said that I liked: “Mine is not an obedient writing. I think that literature as any art has to be irreverent.”

“Edmund was your friend. I too am very sorry that he is dead. But I think you are grieving yourselves sick over this, and not only does that not help him, it hurts you. And besides, is death really so terrible a thing? It seems terrible to you, because you are young, but who is to say he is not better off now than you are? Or – if death is a journey to another place – that you will not see him again? …. It does not do to be frightened of things about which you know nothing,’ he said. ‘You are like children. Afraid of the dark.” (The Secret History)

Picture found here.

Picture found here.butterfly by zaiko.monster on Flickr.

Pic found here.

Picture found here.

Tea & Cats Dress from annyamarttinen

Picture found here.

Picture by Laura Makabresku.

John Corbet, The Tower

Picture by Laura Makabresku

Drawing by Virginia Mori, found here.

Girl with a pink aureola, by John Corbet

By: Joe Pickard | josephowen