Sunday in The Met with George

But first, a peacock mosaic column, one of the two that served as a room divider in Tiffany’s Manhattan showrooms, Madison Avenue & 47th St., as shown here in a picture taken ca. 1913. 

Fresh from an inspiring performance of ”Sunday in park with George” at the Hudson Theatre the previous weekend, a ”Sunday in The Met with George” to see Seurat’s Circus Sideshow, one of only six major figure paintings he created, was the next best thing. With it, an array of works by other artists – Seurat’s contemporaries – the exhibition aimed to explore their fascination with the Sideshow as a subject.

Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque) represents an ensemble of circus players lined up on a narrow stage outside a tent performing sample entertainment to entice customers to their show.

Georges de Feure. The Corvi Circus (Le Cirque Corvi), ca. 1893
Gouache, watercolour, pencil on paper

This highly finished gouache, by an artist who went on to champion Art Nouveau design, relies on simplified drawing and bold colour to give an edge to his description of performers preparing backstage at the Corvi Circus. His palette – the ambient blue of the evening set off by strident pinks, violets and yellows – uses ostensibly festive hues to spotlight the vagrant life of the saltimbanques and the existential paradoxes of the performer. 


Jules Chéret. Folies-Bergère: Corvi Circus, 1881. Colour lithograph


Georges Seurat. Two Clowns (Une Parade), ca. 1886-88. Conté crayon on paper


Georges Seurat. Study for ”Models”, 1886 – 87. Conté crayon on paper


Georges Seurat. Models (Poseuses), small version, 1887 – 88. Oil on canvas

This gemlike canvas is a small-scale version of the imposing, life-size Models (The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia) that Seurat exhibited alongside Circus Sideshow at the Salon des Indépendants in 1888. Two years after he asserted his authority as an innovative painter of modern life, with a plein-air subject in full sunlight, Seurat returned to the public stage with figure compositions that succeeded to demonstrate the versatility of his approach. He set forth a daytime, interior studio scene – graced by three nudes who channel classicizing prototypes, while skirting his earlier triumph – and a contrasting nighttime, outdoor scene that reflects a more abstract sensibility, broaching a symbolist aesthetic. Linked by formal characteristics, such as frontality and symmetry, the opposites did not attract equal attention. Models stole the limelight. 


Louis Anquetin. Avenue de Clichy (Street – Five O’ Clock in the Evening), 1887
Oil on paper, laid down on canvas

Anquetin’s view of a Paris boulevard at dusk – the blue and violet gloaming of the twilit street offset by the orange and yellow light of a butcher’s shop at left – is painted in his signature cloisonnist style, characterised by flat areas of colour outlined by emphatic contours. It was shown in the Salon des Indépendants of 1888, in direct competition with Seurat’s Circus Sideshow. Quick to recognise the rival solution to painting a nocturne of urban bustle under artificial lighting, one critic saw Anquetin’s canvas as ”designed to trouble those practicing pointillism.”


Georges Seurat. Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), 1887 – 88. Oil on canvas

From the time it debuted at the Salon des Indépendants in 1888, Circus Sideshow has intrigued and confounded its viewers. Indeed, Seurat’s closest associates were seemingly dumbstruck, largely confining their spare remarks to its novelty as a ”nocturnal effect”. (Of course, his detractors could not see past the ”multicoloured and mathematically contrasted lentils.”) The laconic artist never mentioned the picture, nor did he exhibit it again. Recent technical findings reveal that in adding the painted border, Seurat effaced his signature at lower right.

Circus Sideshow was sold from the artist’s estate in 1900. It left Paris for New York in 1929, claiming a ”place of honour” at the Museum of Modern Art’s inaugural show. Future Met donor, Stephen C. Clark acquired it three years later.


Seurat’s Circus Sideshow at The Met (February-May 2017)

March 19th, 2017

Two angry faces – in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Both belong to Renée, drawn by French artist Jacques Villon.

Villon, also known as Gaston Duchamp, was one of Marcel Duchamp’s siblings but, in order to distinguish himself from them, he started using the pseudonym with which he became known.

Renée was the daughter of Villon’s cousin and the subject of several works by the artist.

Doesn’t she look angry in these drawings? I wonder what – or who – could be responsible for this frown on her face.

Renée. Three Quarter View, 1911. Jacques Villon

Renée. Three Quarter View, 1911 (detail). Jacques Villon
Renée. Full Face, 1911 (detail). Jacques Villon
Renée. Full Face, 1911 (detail). Jacques Villon

Philadelphia Museum of Art
February, 22nd 2017

 

Reflecting on art

Literally.

Light reflects on the glass adding – or hiding – details. I tried to filter them out somewhat and the result was this mellow, pastel effect. Still, rather pleasing.

”Repent in Haste”, Gouache on board, by Harry Anderson (1906-1996)

Illustration for the story by Katherine Greer.
Caption: ”Here, in this very window, might be her ring!”
Redbook magazine, January 1950

Couple on balcony in formal evening dress. Pastel, guache and charcoal on board, by John La Gatta (1894-1977)

Caption: ”It was restful to be near Sara, thought Vilas. You didn’t have to explain things to her. She understood.”
Cosmopolitan magazine, 1949

The Clever Sister. Guache on bard, by Edwin Georgi (1896-1964)

Illustration from ”The Clever Sister” by Margaret Culkin Banning
Caption: ”Beneath the strangely different melodies of their lives ran hidden themes that others never heard; yet one refrain they had in common: ‘Whom does Barney love – my sister or me?”’
Woman’s Home Companion, January 1947

The Butterfly Man. Watercolour on paper, by Harrison Fisher (1875-1934)

Illustration for the book by George Barr McCutcheon
Caption: ”They, too, were seen together very often of late.”
This work also appeared in ”A Garden of Girls”, published by Dodd, Mead & Co., 1910

The Temptress. Oil paint on linen, by Mortimer Wilson, Jr. (1906-1996)

Title illustration for the story by Ann Pinchot
Caption: ”This way, darling” she said… He followed her, as he would follow her anywhere.
The American Magazine, ca. 1945

James McVane, M.D. Oil paint on board, by John La Gatta (1894-1977)

Illustration for a story by Philip Wylie
Caption: ”Every night I dream I’m being chased by a green locomotive. Does that mean  I should give up Creme de Menthe?”
Redbook magazine, April 1938

 

<<The Permanent Collection of the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators is one of the most comprehensive collections of this genre in the world. Comprised of over 3,000 works by many of the greatest names in illustration and comic and cartoon art, this celebrated collection is ever expanding thanks to purchase and donation from our membership, art patrons and estates. These works are fully catalogued with portions of the collection constantly on rotating display.>>

February 11th, 2017

Illustrators 59: Book & Editorial

”The Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition features over 400 pieces of the most outstanding works created throughout the year. Open to artists worldwide, thousands of entries are considered by a jury of professionals, which include renowned illustrators, art directors, and designers.

Gold and silver medals are presented to the illustrators and art directors whose works are judged the best in each category.”

Adulting || Digital || Emiliano Ponzi || Editorial
House of the dead || Hadar Reuven || Book
By the Pool || Digital || Jun Cen || Book
The Whale Who Lived on A Faraway Hill || Carbon Dust || David Ouimet || Book
Winter Girl || Pen, ink and watercolour on paper || John Cuneo || Editorial
Chinese Space Age || Ink and digital || Yuko Shimizu || Editorial

 

Society of Illustrators

February 11th, 2017