Get Your Togs Off | Swimsuits Are Optional

Paul Serusier – In 1888, while a student at the Academie Julian in Paris, Serusier visited the Breton village of Pont-Aven, where he met the influential painter Paul Gauguin. The young Serusier adopted with enthusiasm many of Gauguin’s revolutionary ideas, particularly those affecting colour and composition. These ideas, broadly referred to as Synthetism, fostered a subjective approach to interpreting the natural world through the use of bold expanses of colour and the representation of forms by means of radically simplified shapes. Boys on a river bank with its simplified forms, strong contours and emphatic tonal register, reveals a clear debt to Gauguin. [Boys on a river bank (1906) oil on canvas Felton Bequest, National Gallery of Victoria].

Australian artist Kenneth Robertson Macqueen  was born on 8 April 1897 at Ballarat East, Victoria. The family moved to Brisbane, Queensland in 1898 where Macqueen studied at Bowen House School and later in Sydney, New South Wales at Scots College; and attended weekly drawing-classes conducted by Alfred Coffey. Macqueen enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and served (1917-18) on the Western Front with the 12th (Army) Brigade, Australian Field Artillery. After the war he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University of London, and at the Westminster Technical Institute and School of Art. Returning to Australia, he worked on sheep stations in New South Wales, before settling at Mount Emlyn, near Millmerran, in south-eastern Queensland, where he divided his time between water-colour painting and farming. From the early 1920s Macqueen’s watercolours frequently appeared in the annual exhibitions of the Society of Artists, Sydney. Having joined the Australian Watercolour Institute in 1928, he contributed to its yearly showings until the late 1950s. Macqueen served as a trustee (1959-60) of the Queensland Art Gallery until his untimely death from a coronary occlusion on 21 June 1960 at Millmerran. His work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all State galleries, major regional and university collections, and in public galleries in New Zealand and the United States of America. In November-December 1981 a retrospective exhibition was held at the University of Queensland’s art museum, Brisbane. [Out To Sea by Kenneth Macqueen].

Marià Josep Maria Bernat Fortuny i Marsal was born in Reus, a city near Tarragona, in Catalonia, Spain on June 11, 1838. Known more simply as Marià Fortuny or Mariano Fortuny, he was the leading Spanish painter of his day. His brief career encompassed works on a variety of subjects common in the art of the period, including the Romantic fascination with Orientalist themes. Fortuny’s father died when he was an infant, and his mother by the time he was 12. Thus, Fortuny was raised by his grandfather, a cabinet-maker who taught him to make wax figurines. At the age of 9, at a public competition in his town, a local painter, teacher and patron, Domènec Soberano, encouraged further study. At the age of 14 Fortuny moved to Barcelona with his grandfather. The sculptor Domènec Talarn secured him a pension allowing him to attend the Escola Provincial de Belles Arts and in March 1857 Fortuny gained a scholarship that entitled him to two years of studies in Rome starting in 1858. There he studied drawing and grand manner styles. Fortuny died on November 21, 1874. [Nude on a Beach at Portici]

Australian artist Frederick William Leist  was born in Sydney, New South Wales on 21 August 1873. He began his career as a furniture designer for David Jones Limited, but decided on a career in art; studying at Sydney Technical College before entering the Julian Ashton Art School, where he studied directly under Julian Ashton, from whom he learned plein air techniques. In the 1890s, he began working as a black-and-white artist for The Bulletin and became staff artist for The Sydney Mail. After 1900, he was also the Sydney representative for The Graphic magazine of London. Leist’s illustrations also were included in books such as the 1902 Commonwealth Annual. He was one of the original members of the Society of Artists. During the World War I, he was an official war artist with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in France. After visiting London and parts of the United States, Leist returned to Australia in 1926 and took up a position as the Head of Painting at the East Sydney Technical College. Leist died at Mosman, outside Sydney, from a cerebral thrombosis on 18 February 1945. [Bathers by Frederick Leist]

Anders Leonard Zorn was one of Sweden’s foremost artists. He obtained international success as a painter, sculptor and etcher. Zorn was born on 18 February 1860 and raised on his grandparents’ farm in Yvraden, a hamlet near the village of Utmeland in the parish of Mora, Dalarna in Sweden. From 1875 to 1880 he studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm, where he amazed his teachers with his talent. Members of Stockholm society approached Zorn with commissions. He traveled extensively to London, Paris, the Balkans, Spain, Italy and the United States, becoming an international success as one of the most acclaimed painters of his era. At the end of his life, Zorn established the Swedish literary Bellman Prize in 1920 shortly before his death on 22 August, 1920. [Nudes (1902)]

Anne Thompson is a Melbourne artist who creates large acrylic works on canvas. Her figures in the landscape are often depicted in the sea spray and summer sunlight enjoying an unspoiled environment. Thompson is adept in harnessing the hues and colour and light as it falls on bodies of water. [Polka Dot 3 (2014) synthetic polymer on canvas, exhibited Bayside City galleries].

Danish painter Paul Gustav Fischer was born on 22 July 1860 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He belonged to the fourth generation of a Jewish family which originally came from Poland. Fischer began to paint when he was still young, guided by his father. His formal art education lasted only a short time in his mid teens when he spent two years at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Fischer exhibited regularly at Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition from 1884-1902. His reputation began to evolve as he came in contact with young Danish naturalists. After a stay in Paris from 1891–1895, Fischer’s colours became richer and lighter. Around this time, he also painted bright, sunny bathing scenes, some with nude women, and developed an interest in posters, inspired by Théophile Steinlen and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Despite Fischer’s lack of critical recognition during his lifetime, his art sold well. He died on 1 May 1934 in Gentofte. [Nude Bathers on the Beach]

Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was born on February 27, 1863 in Valencia, Spain and excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of his native land and sunlit water. At the age of eighteen Sorolla traveled to Madrid, studying master paintings in the Museo del Prado. Then, after completing military service he began a four-year term studying painting in Rome, Italy followed by a long sojourn in Paris. After successful displays and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago, Sorolla soon rose to general fame and became the acknowledged head of the modern Spanish school of painting. He died on 10 August 1923. [Boys on a Beach (1910) Cason del Beuen Retiro, Madrid].

When it comes to swimming and bathing,
it appears that swimsuits or bathers are optional!

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