How to assume an Azuma pose

John Baker photographer | Tokuho Azuma in change room at Royal Opera House Covent Garden

John Baker photographer | Tokuho Azuma in change room at Royal Opera House Covent Garden

  • Azuma Tokuho in her dressing room at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The Kabuki make-up contrasts oddly with the prints on the wall and the cigarettes on the table. [Photographer: John Baker].
  • The Azuma Kabuki Dancers and Musicians performed at the Royal Opera House, at Covent Garden between 11th September – 1st October, 1955. The performance was designed for a Western audience; using part-drama, part-opera and part-dance. The performers included Tsurunosuke Bando, Tokuho Azuma, Masaya Fujima, Shusai Fujima, Mitsuemon Bando and Umesuke Onoe.

Azuma Tokuho (actually Yamada Kikue) was born on 15th February, 1909, in the Tokyo Prefecture; the illegitimate child of Ichimura Uzaemon XV (1874–1945), a kabuki actor; and a geisha and dancer (1879–1957). Tokuho was a Japanese dancer, teacher and member of the Japanese Academy of Arts. She founded and directed the Azuma School of Dance for Kabuki Dancers and Musicians, a dancing troupe introduced to western audiences in the 1950s.

In 1928 at the age of 19, Tokuho met Nakamura Tomijūrō IV (born 11th June, 1908) in a nearby artist’s dressing room, fell in love with Tomijūrō, ran away; and later married him. Two years later, in 1930, she founded the Shuntokai and began performing as a dancer under the stage name Harue Fujima. Other known aliases include: Fujima Harue, Azuma Harue and Harue Azuma. In 1942 she took the name Tokuho.

  • In 1939, she fell in love again with Satō Kōjirō (actually Masaya Fujima 1915-1957), whom she married in the 1950s.
  • From 1954 to 1956 Tokuho toured the United Kingdom and the United States with the Azuma-Kabuki. In the US, they performed in 40 cities, in 11 different states.

Tokuho had two sons. Her first son Nakamura Tomijūrō V. (1929-2011) was a kabuki actor and was honoured as a living national treasure. Her grandson Nakamura Takanosuke (b. 1999), whom her son had at the age of 70, is also a kabuki actor. Her second son Motoyasu Yamada is also known as Aiko Watanabe.

In 1968, Tokuho handed over the management of the Azuma School of Dance to Nakamura Tomijūrō V; and she withdrew from the school.

  • Tokuho was presented with the Medal of Honour on a purple ribbon (1976)
  • The Order of the Noble Crown in the fourth class of merit (1982); and
  • Was honoured as a person with special cultural merits (1991).

Tokuho died on 23rd April, 1998 at the age of 89.

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Source: Haskell, Arnold L. The Ballet Annual (1957)

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Some tales on behalf of the great Longstaff

Australian painter, war artist and a five-time winner of the Archibald Prize, Sir John Campbell Longstaff was born at Clunes, Victoria, on 10 March 1861. He was educated at a boarding school in Miners Rest and Clunes State School and later studied at the Melbourne National Gallery School, after his father initially disapproved of his artistic ambitions.

Longstaff married 17 year old Rosa Louisa (Topsy) Crocker on 20 July 1887; and in the same year, won the National Gallery of Victoria’s first travelling scholarship. By September, he and his wife sailed to London from Melbourne. In January 1888, they joined a small group of Australian expatriate artists living in Paris.

  • The cabbage plot Belle-Ile (Oil on canvas 27cm  x 46 cm, Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum). Longstaff travelled to Belle-Ile, France with Topsy in the summer of 1889 to recuperate after suffering from influenza in Paris. He had been invited by fellow Australian artist and friend John Peter Russell who had been living in a large manor house (featured in this artwork) on the remote and picturesque island off the Brittany coast since 1885.
  • This artwork is a gift of Mrs. Elsie Clark (1942) in memory of her son Sgt. G.H. Clark, who died at Gaza, Palestine in 11 Feb 1941. The Clark’s were friends of Longstaff and bought the painting from the artist’s estate.

Lady in Grey (oil on canvas, Paris, 1890, National Gallery of Victoria) is a portrait of his wife ‘Topsy’. The subtle tonalities of this work and its fashionable Japonist theme are inspired by James McNeill Whistler. This was Longstaff’s first Parisian success and was hung ‘on the line’ at the 1890 Paris Salon.

The  Young Mother (oil on canvas, Paris, 1891, National Gallery of Victoria) shows ‘Topsy’ and their first child Ralph, who was born in 1890. Pale and slim after a long winter spent in their one-room apartment that was divided by a curtain into sleeping and eating quarters, ‘Topsy’ gently waves a palm fan over the outstretched arms of her baby son.

Longstaff later moved to London, where he painted many portraits such as:

  • Ada Garrick (Mrs Bright) oil on canvas, London, 1895 (Gift of Miss Rachel Bright to the National Gallery of Victoria).

Longstaff returned to Australia in 1894 and was given several commissions. He occupied a studio at Grosvenor Chambers in Melbourne from 1897-1900. He travelled to London again in 1901, where he exhibited with the Royal Academy. Longstaff was appointed an official war artist with the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) in World War I where he painted several portraits of military officers. On his return to Australia, Longstaff  won several awards and was given distinguished positions, including President of the Victorian Artists Society in 1924 and Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria in 1927.

  • Portrait of Edna Thomas (oil on canvas 12 cm x 86.5cm , 1925 Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum). Edna Thomas was a visiting American singer from Louisiana who sang Negro spirituals and Creole songs in concerts in Melbourne Sydney and Adelaide.

Longstaff was knighted in 1928 and the first Australian artist to have had this honour. His 1920 portrait of Nina Murdoch hangs in the Reading Room at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. Murdoch later published a biography about Longstaff in her “Portrait in Youth” published in 1948. John Longstaff died on 1st October 1941.

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Gleeson, James, Australian Painters. Lansdowne Press: Sydney, 1976

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I’ve had eNufevaH | Let’s HaveFuN!

When it comes to street art there are many thousands if not millions of street artists plying their art around the walls of cities all around the world. Many become famous for their art, others come and go. Often their work is transient, and mostly never permanent. Some have political references, others venerate the famous and the infamous, some are comical or even a bit risque. Most street artists use a pseudonym and these are sometimes cryptic in clue as to who the identify of the artist really is.

I must admit that I have not had much fun researching the art of Nufevah, in fact, writing this moniker is challenging because the artist sometimes signs with caps NUFEVAH or it can be interpretted as NuFevaH. Perhaps it is pronounced like ‘New Fever’ as opposed to an ‘Old Fever’. However, if you spell it backwards it reads HaveFun!

What I have managed to elucidate is that Nufevah started as a graffiti / street / paste up artist ca 2007 and active around Melbourne art scene since 2010-2014. His work includes his signature head and various characters sometimes with affirmations or emotionals written on or near by.

On NuFevaH’s Facebook page it claims that his hometown is Carlton and current residence as St. Kilda, both inner city Melbourne suburbs and occupation is listed as garbage man.

Apart from this, I give up. I’ve had eNuFevaH!
Let’s HaveFuN!

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Picasso’s Last Words | Drink to Me, Drink to My Health

World renowned Spanish painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramicist, and stage designer Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, (Pablo Picasso) was born on 25 October, 1881 but spent most of his adult life in France. As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage; and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. His work is often categorized into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are:

The Blue Period (1901–1904), characterized by sombre paintings rendered in shades of blue and blue-green, occasionally warmed by other colours. Many from this period  were painted when Picasso moved from Barcelona to Paris. His doleful subjects often included prostitutes and beggars. An example shown here is the Blind Man’s Meal (1903) [oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art]. Blindness was a recurrent theme in Picasso’s works of this period.

The Rose Period (1904–1906) is characterised by a lighter tone and style utilising orange and pink colours and featuring many circus people, acrobats and harlequins,  (known in France as saltimbanques). The harlequin, as a comedic character, is usually depicted in checkered patterned clothing, which became a personal symbol for Picasso. Two examples here include: A stamp from the Republic of Equatorial Guinea featuring the work ‘Harlequin‘ (1901); and Boy With a Pipe (1905) one of the first paintings of the Rose Period. In the latter half of 1905, Picasso abandoned his sensitive and often introspective characterizations of saltimbanques. He was briefly interested in sculpture; and after a short trip to the Netherlands during the summer; his painting became more objective.

Other periods include: the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912); and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period. See Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper (1913) pictured above.

Much of Picasso’s work of the late 1910s and early 1920s is in a neoclassical style, and his work in the mid-1920s often has characteristics of Surrealism. His later work often combines elements of his earlier styles. For example:

  • The Dancers engraving from Picasso’s Erotic Gravures
  • Night Fishing at Antibes (1939) Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Nature Morte au Crane de Boeuf | aka Still Life with Steer’s Skull (1942) oil on canvas, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf
  • The Enamel Saucepan aka Still Life with Cooking Pot (1945) oil on canvas Musee National d’art Moderne, Paris
  • Pierre Reverdy, Le Chant des Morts, Paris (1948) [V&A Museum]. Lithographs by Picasso, printed by Mouriot Freres. Reverdy composed his ‘Song of the Dead‘ during WW2 when he participated in the French Resistance. Rather than illustrating the text, Picasso flooded the page with scarlet brush-strokes. The publisher, (Teriade, Stratos Eleftheriadis) commented, “It is as though they are having a conversation”.

Picasso died on 8 April, 1973, in Mougins, France; while he and his wife Jacqueline Roque entertained friends for dinner. His final words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.

Picasso was interred at Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Roque between 1959 and 1962. Roque prevented Picasso’s children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral. Devastated and lonely after his death, Roque took her own life by gunshot in 1986; when she was 59 years old.

Picasso’s last words are featured in a song which appears on Wings 1973 album ‘Band on the Run‘ by Paul and Linda McCartney entitled: Picasso’s Last words (Drink to Me)

The grand old painter died last night
His paintings on the wall
Before he went he bade us well
And said goodnight to us all
Drink to me, drink to my health
You know I can’t drink any more
Drink to me, drink to my health
You know I can’t drink any more

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Source: Spanish painting by Jacques Lassaigne. Skira Geneva, 1952
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Alan D Baker | Art Was His Life

Mid-20th Century Sydney painter Alan Douglas Baker was born in New South Wales (NSW) in 1914. Baker was the third child of Pearl and Henry Baker of Ashfield, Sydney. The family recognised that he showed the same talents as his brother Normand and; at 13 years of age, during his days at Canterbury Boys High, he enrolled to study drawing at J.S. Watkins Art School. He left Canterbury High two years later to become a full-time art student. The Watkins school was a fertile ground for nurturing young talent because of its competitive stimulus of senior students such as Henry Hanke, Normand Baker (his brother) and William Pidgen; who were all Archibald Prize winners.  Great emphasis was placed on tonal drawing in pencil charcoal, pen and washes.

Baker became a commercial artist and did posters and advertisement sheets for Tooth’s Brewery where he used himself and members of his family to pose for the ads. One important commission from Tooth’s was to decorate with paintings, the dining rooms of some prestigious hotels such as the Greengate Hotel Killara, Mansion’s Hotel Kings Cross, The Great Southern Hotel Newcastle; and The Cecil, at Cronulla.

  • An exhibition of Australian Poster Art at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum featured many of Baker’s works and also in two books on Pub Art.

Baker became a teacher of life drawing at the J.S. Watkins School prior to World War II when he served with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), in New Guinea from 1943 – 1945. They had no positions as a War Artist so Baker served with the Small Craft (Boats) Division, where he painted portraits of many of the New Guineans and fellow army officers.

After returning from war service, Baker married in 1946 and settled at Moorebank, on the Georges River, NSW. Tragically, in 1961, the elder two of their three sons were drowned in a boating accident on the Georges River, as one boy tried to save the other. Soon afterwards, the family moved to The Oaks, (NSW) from 1961-1987. It was here that Baker built a house, studio, gallery and framing workshop on 6 acres, which had been a eucalyptus forest belonging to the original Faulding estate. Baker cleared about 3 acres for gardens, fruit trees and ponds. The garden was a rich source for flowers which he used in his still life and floral subject paintings, for which Baker is best known for.

  • In 1970 Baker commenced tutoring an informal art group in Camden. He encouraged his pupils to have exhibitions. Many have become professional artists, including his son Gary.

Baker was a Fellow and Vice President of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales and on its Council for many years. He was also a trustee of the Marshall Bequest at the New South Wales Art Gallery. Baker’s works are represented in the New South Wales Art Gallery, the National Gallery Canberra, Queensland Institute of Technology, the Hinton Collection at Armidale, and many private and public collections.

 Alan Baker died in 1987.

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Source: McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977.
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What do Two Drinkers and a Hypochondriac Have in Common?

French print-maker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor Honoré-Victorin Daumier was born in Marseille on February 26, 1808. In his youth, Daumier showed an irresistible inclination towards art as a profession, which his father vainly tried to avert by placing him first with a huissier, for whom he was employed as an errand boy, and later; with a bookseller. In 1822 Daumier became protégé to Alexandre Lenoir, a friend of Daumier’s father who was an artist and archaeologist. The following year Daumier entered the Académie Suisse. He also worked for a lithographer and publisher named Belliard, and made his first attempts at lithography, producing plates for music publishers; and illustrations for advertisements.

After the revolution of 1830, Daumier created art which expressed his political beliefs and therefore many of his works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. A prolific draughtsman, Daumier was best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behaviour of his countrymen, although posthumously the value of his painting has also been recognized.

Daumier is celebrated for a wide range of works, including a large number of paintings  and drawings some of them depicting the life of Don Quixote; a theme that fascinated him for the last part of his life. Daumier produced over 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 1000 drawings, 500 paintings; and 100 sculptures.

  • Dubbed the “Michelangelo of caricature“, he has a room-full of his caricatures in the Museum Am Römerholz in Winterthur. Daumier was almost blind by 1873 and living in a cottage at Valmondois. It was there that he died on February 10, 1879.

Today, Daumier’s works are found in many of the world’s leading art museums, including the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum.

  • Daumier’s 200th birthday was celebrated in 2008 with a number of exhibitions of his work in Asia, America, Australia and Europe.

So, what do Two Drinkers and a Hypochondriac have in common?
They are two of the “Michelangelo of caricature,” Honore Daumier’s works

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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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The Presentation, Sir Lancelot and the Wise Virgins

English artist and illustrator Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872 – 1945) was born in Upper Norwood, Surrey. The late Victorian period produced a fine school of artist-illustrators of whom Fortescue-Brickdale was one of the best. She illustrated many books and also painted in oil and watercolour in a romantic and poetic style derived mainly from the style of Burne-Jones. Her pictures are often in sets of two or three panels usually in frames designed by herself. She was trained first at the Crystal Palace School of Art, under Herbert Bone and entered the Royal Academy in 1896. Fortescue-Brickdale soon began exhibiting her oil paintings at the Royal Academy and her watercolours at the Dowdeswell Gallery, where she had several solo exhibitions.

While at the Academy, Fortescue-Brickdale came under the influence of John Liston Byam Shaw, a protégé of John Everett Millais and much influenced by John William Waterhouse. When Byam Shaw founded an art school in 1911, Fortescue-Brickdale became one of the teachers.

  • In 1909, Ernest Brown, of the Leicester Galleries, commissioned a series of 28 watercolour illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which Fortescue-Brickdale painted over two years. They were exhibited in the gallery in 1911, and 24 of them were published the following year in a deluxe edition of the first four Idylls.

Fortescue-Brickdale lived during much of her career in Holland Park Road, opposite Leighton House, where she held an exhibition in 1904. Later, Fortescue-Brickdale also worked with stained glass.

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O’Brien’s Sacred Music of Colour

Australian artist Justin Maurice O’Brien was born in Hurstville, New South Wales in 1917 and studied art under Edward Smith. O’Brien is best known for his colourful and exuberant depictions of religious themes inspired by his biblical knowledge and the faith from which he had drifted; and to which he later returned.

O’Brien served with the Australian Army Medical Corps during World War II and in 1940 was sent to Palestine and Greece. He was taken prisoner at Ekali, Greece and after 6 months in Athens, was sent to Torun in Poland, where he arrived on New Year’s Eve, 1941. In 1944, O’Brien was among those sent to Barcelona in exchange for German prisoners; and after returning to Australia, he was demobilized. During his period as prisoner, O’Brien studied Byzantine art as expressed in religious iconography. On his return to Sydney, the pictures painted in Torun formed the nucleus of an exhibition which he shared with another ex-prisoner Jesse Martin.

O’Brien was the inaugural winner of the Blake Prize for Religious Art in 1951 and his painting The raising of Lazarus was acquired by the Vatican. His commanding use of colour and form is displayed in the sumptuous detail of his still lifes, portraits and landscapes. Many of his portraits are of students, painted during his 20 years as art master at the Cranbrook School in Sydney; and of fellow prisoners during his internment in Greece and Poland in WWII. They portray the remarkable story of compassion and respect shared between the artist and the people he encountered throughout his life.

  • A recent survey – Justin O’Brien: The Sacred Music of Colour was the first major retrospective of his work since 1987; and the first since his death, in 1996. The survey contained 90 paintings, watercolours and drawings; some of which had not been seen in public for more than 60 years.

O’Brien’s art is represented in the collections at The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the University of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and the National Gallery of Victoria.

  • According to Barry Pearce, Head Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW“O’Brien loved people, loved drawing and painting portraits and ensembles of figures and telling stories through time-honoured themes. He illuminated through a deep biblical knowledge basic questions of the human condition played out like a sort of timeless medieval procession”.

O’Brien can certainly illuminate art through his “Sacred Music of Colour

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Source: McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977.
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If I Said “I Didn’t Like It” I Would Be Telling Phibs

Phibs aka Tim De Haan, was born in a town along coastal New South Wales, Australia in 1974. Phibs began his career as a graffiti tagger. He produces detailed and intricate works across a vast variety of media using both aerosol and acrylic paints. Phibs’ complex wild-style graffiti incorporates interwoven and overlapping lettering and characters,  reflecting his unique realms of symbolism, multiculturalism and mythology; often inspired by Aztec and Mayan art and mythology.

Another common theme in Phibs’s work is the use of indigenous and tribal motifs, particularly koru style curls. His ‘tribal style’ heads, often referred to as his ‘phibsong‘ free-style, incorporates a menagerie of signature characters, largely inspired by nature. Other compositions may feature animals such as fish or birds, presented in a vibrant mix of complimentary colours.

  • Phibs has been commissioned to create large scale artworks for companies such as Absolut Vodka; Max Brenner chocolates in Paddington; and  the Glow Cafe in Newtown and a number of alleyways throughout the city of Sydney.

From Sydney Phibs moved to Melbourne in 2001 and became one of the most respected and renowned names in Australian Graffiti/Street Art. He joined the Everfresh Crew studio collective based in Fitzroy (an inner suburb of Melbourne), with other street artists including Rone and Mike Maka(tron).

  • Phibs has painted so many walls around Fitzroy, that it has been affectionately known by the locals as ‘Phibsroy’.

In Melbourne, Phibs has established a name within the fine arts world and has rapidly become one of the cities most respected and renowned artists, on and off the streets. Several of his works have been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia for its permanent collection.

His public art works are prolific in both Sydney and Melbourne and can also be found on walls around the world, including the cities of Berlin, Miami and New York.

  • Discover more about Phibs from his website or email direct:

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Compare the Pair #21 | Goya’s Empress in New Clothes

Son of a Basque, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born on March 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Aragón, Spain. Goya is known as a Spanish romantic painter and print-maker and regarded as the last of the Old Masters and the first of The Moderns. During his career, he became court painter to the Spanish Crown after studying under Anton Raphael Mengs, a painter who was popular with Spanish royalty.

  • Goya also studied under Francisco Bayeu y Subías and in 1773, he married Bayeu’s sister, Josefa. Through his friendship with Bayeu, Goya obtained work at the Royal Tapestry Factory, which brought his artistic talents to the attention of the Spanish monarchs who later employed him to the royal court.

Goya painted the Spanish royal family, including the portraits of Charles IV of Spain and  Ferdinand VII. His work extended from merry festivals for tapestries and draft cartoons, to scenes of war and human debasement. This evolution reflects the darkening of Goya’s temper. Modern physicians suspect that the lead paint pigments poisoned him and caused his deafness after 1792. Near the end of his life, Goya became reclusive and produced frightening and obscure paintings of insanity, madness and fantasy.

  • Goya left Spain in May 1824 for Bordeaux and then Paris. He travelled back to Spain in 1826, but returned to Bordeaux, where he died of a stroke on 16 April 1828, at the age of 82. Although he was buried in Bordeaux; his remains were later transferred to the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida, in Madrid in 1919.

Two of Goya’s best known paintings are The Nude Maja (La maja desnuda 1797-1800) and The Clothed Maja (La maja vestida 1800-1805). They depict the same woman in the same pose, naked and clothed, respectively. The paintings were never publicly exhibited during Goya’s lifetime; as the Catholic Church had fiercely enforced a ban on the creation and display of artistic nudes.

The more controversial of the two is The Naked Maja and considered “the first totally profane life-size female nude in Western art“. By the standards of 1800, the Naked Maja was pornographic. Not only was she naked and sprawled out on a couch, but even more shocking; Goya painted the woman’s pubic hair. As a consequence, the Inquisition tribunal stripped Goya of his position and income as court painter to Charles IV.

  • The identity of the Maja’s is uncertain. The most popularly cited models are the Duchess of Alba, with whom Goya was sometimes thought to have had an affair; and Pepita Tudó, (Josefa de Tudó y Catalán, 1st Countess of Castillo Fiel), mistress of Manuel de Godoy, Prince of La Paz and the Prime Minister of Spain. Both paintings were owned by Godoy. He commissioned several paintings from Goya including a female nude to join his collection of other nude paintings.

In 1808, all of Godoy’s property was seized by Ferdinand VII after his fall from power and exile, and in 1813, the Inquisition confiscated both works as ‘obscene’; returning them in 1836, to the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. The two works now sit side by side at the Museo del Prado, Madrid and have done so since 1901.

  • Discover more about Goya’s Maja paintings by seeking out a copy of the movie: The Naked Maja (1958) directed by Henry Koster. A film about the painter Francisco Goya and the Duchess of Alba; where Anthony Franciosa played Goya and Ava Gardner played The Duchess.

Clothes on? Clothes off?
Doesn’t matter
Become a Goya Voyeur

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Source: Spanish painting by Jacques Lassaigne. Skira Geneva, 1952
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Banksy the Existencilist

Banksy is an English-based street artist, political activist, and film director whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of much speculation. His pieces are found on walls and streets in many cities around the world.

Banksy became an artist at the age of 14, after he was expelled from school, and served time in prison for petty crime. Living in Easton, Bristol, he started as a freehand graffiti artist in 1990–1994, as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with two other artists known as Kato and Tes. Banksy says that he was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene with Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack.

By 2000, Banksy moved to London and turned to stencilling after realising it takes much less time to complete a piece. He claims his ‘eureka moment’ came while hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed its stencilled serial number. Banksy’s stencils feature striking satirical images and are occasionally combined with slogans. The messages often show anti-war, anti-capitalist, or anti-establishment themes. His subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.

  • Banksy is commonly believed to be Robin Gunningham, first identified by The Mail on Sunday in 2008. Gunningham was born on 28 July 1973, in Yate, 19 km from Bristol. Several of Gunningham’s associates and former schoolmates at Bristol Cathedral School have corroborated this, and in 2016; a study by researchers using geographic profiling tools at the Queen Mary University of London found that the incidence of Banksy’s works correlated with the known movements of Gunningham.
  • According to The Sunday Times, Gunningham began employing the name Robin Banks, which eventually became Banksy.
  • In June 2017, DJ Goldie referred to Banksy as “Rob”.
  • In October 2014, an internet hoax circulated that Banksy had been arrested and his identity revealed.

Banksy has published several books that contain photographs of his work accompanied by his own writings:

  • Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall (2001)
  • Existencilism (2002)
  • Cut It Out (2004)
  • Pictures of Walls (2005)
  • Wall and Piece (2007)

Banksy | Robin? | Rob? | Whatever!

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Come and See the Work of Jean-George Rémond and Cie

Jean-George Remond and Cie

Jean-George Remond and Cie

Jean-George  Rémond (1752-1830) was a jeweller, goldsmith and founder of the firm Jean-Georges Rémond & Company. Born on 27 July, 1752 in Hanau, Germany, which, in the second part of the 18th Century, was the centre for the production of jewellery, clocks and enamel painted snuffboxes. Many of the Hanau jewellers and watchmakers were Huguenot families who were forced to leave France due to persecution generated by the abolition of the Edict of Nantes on religious freedom in 1685.

Rémond perfected his jewellery skills in the major European cities of Paris, Berlin and London. His works were in great demand and soon Rémond became a participant of an elite group of European artists producing jewellery and clocks together with musical and entertaining automata. At the age of thirty-one, Rémond moved to Geneva and on 18 June, 1783, was registered as “a jeweller from Hanau”.

On December 22, 1783, Rémond was officially admitted as goldsmith-jeweller and founded the company Georges Rémond & Cie and registered his first identification hallmark. Rémond produced snuffboxes with the movements of Jacquet-Droz and Leschot; Piguet and Meylan clocks; and Jean-Louis Richter and Jean-Abraham Lissignol enamels.

  • There is very little known about Rémond’s personal life. He married Elizabeth Bariyon, who came from a Protestant family, on November 22, 1784.

Over the years the business name changed, along with an array of working partners. From its original name it became Guidon Remond Gide & Co, Rémond Gide & Co, Remond Lamy & Co and Jean Georges Rémond et Compagnie. With offices in both Geneva and Hanau, they further traded as Remond Lamy Mercier & Co until 1811.

Geneva was captured by Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops in 1798, and the town’s authorities introduced the French system of gold and silver objects’ identification. With the trade situation worsening throughout the Napoleonic Wars, many of Geneva’s jewellers opposed the innovations until December 1806; when their resistance was broken by the official Napoleon decree. French jewellers left Geneva in 1814 and a new procedure of identification was adopted in the city.

  • Rémond’s jewellery manufacturing and trade were widely spread and had a good reputation. The products were exhibited in Paris and London and were sold in Germany, Russia, Turkey, India and China.

There were some difficulties in business after 1812. It might be caused by the death of Rémond’s wife Elizabeth in 1810; and his partner in Hanau, Zhan Bema, in April 1811. After 1820, Rémond lived in his hometown of Hanau; in his own house on Römergasse,  until his death on 11 February, 1830.

  • Jean-Georges Rémond and his partners’ production of gold snuffboxes during a thirty-five year period was extremely important. They were the first to use painted images on a polished base, fine work on gold foil, transparent enamel over guilloche; and engraving and edging made of pearls. His pieces were works of fine jewellery. Today they deservedly adorn the most significant state and private collections scattered around the world.

Discover more about Jean-Georges Rémond’s work at the Koopman Art website.

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Pierre Bonnard | Le Nabi le trés japonard

French painter, illustrator, and print-maker Pierre Bonnard was born in Fontenay-aux-Roses, Hauts-de-Seine on 3 October 1867. Bonnard showed a talent for drawing and water colours, as well as caricatures. He painted frequently in the gardens of his parent’s country home at Grand-Lemps near the Cote Saint-André in the Dauphiné. He also showed a strong interest in literature. Bonnard received his baccalaureate in the classics, and to satisfy his father, earned his license in law, and began practicing as a lawyer beginning in 1888. While he was studying law, he also attended art classes at the Académie Julian in Paris where he met Edouard Vuillard and Ker Xavier Roussel. He also sold his first commercial work of art, a design for a poster for France-Champagne, which helped him convince his family that he could make a living as an artist. He set up his first studio at on rue Lechapelais and began his career as an artist.

Bonnard was a leading figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. He painted landscapes, urban scenes, portraits and intimate domestic scenes, where the backgrounds, colours and painting style usually took precedence over the subject. After the summer holidays of 1888, Bonnard and his friends from the Académie Julian became the founding members of the Post-Impressionist group of avant-garde painters, known as Les Nabis. This was an informal group of artists with different styles and philosophies, but common artistic ambitions. Two of Bonnard’s featured images include:

  • Siesta (1900) oil on canvas (Felton Bequest, National Gallery of Victoria). Siesta belongs to Bonnard’s ‘realist’ period during which he painted frank portraits documenting his relationship with his model and muse Marthe Boursin. Marthe’s pose has been reconfigured to evoke the Borghese Hermaphrodite, a famously erotic sculpture in the Louvre. Siesta was well-known among Paris’s literary and artistic circles and was once owned by Gertrude Stein.
  • Portrait of Reine Natanson and Marthe Bonnard (1928) oil on canvas, School of Paris, Musee D’art Moderne. Reine was the second wife of Thadee Natanson, former editor of the Revue Blanche and a close friend of Bonnard. She sat several times during 1920-21 and is wearing the red dress.

From 1893 until her death, Bonnard lived with Marthe de Méligny (1869–1942) aka Maria Boursin (birth name). They married in 1925. In the years before their marriage, Bonnard had love affairs with two other women, who also served as models for some of his paintings, Renée Monchaty (the partner of the American painter Harry Lachmann); and Lucienne Dupuy de Frenelle, the wife of a doctor.

  • It has been suggested that Bonnard may have been the father of Lucienne’s second son.
  • Renée Monchaty committed suicide shortly after Bonnard and de Méligny (Boursin) married.

Bonnard was known especially for his stylized decorative qualities and his bold use of colour. His early work was strongly influenced by Paul Gauguin’s paintings; and the prints of Hokusai and other Japanese artists.

  • In 1893 Bonnard viewed a major exposition of the works of Utamaro and Hiroshige at the Durand-Rouel Gallery.  The Japanese use of multiple points of view, and bold geometric patterns in clothing, such as checkered blouses, began to appear in Bonnard’s work.
  • Because of his passion for Japanese art, Bonnard’s nickname among the Nabis became Le Nabi le trés japonard.

Working in his studio at 65 rue de Douai in Paris, Bonnard presented paintings at the Salon des Independents in 1900, and took part in an exhibition with the other Nabis at the Bernheim Jeaune Gallery. By 1905, he produced a series of nudes and portraits, and in the following year had a personal exposition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery. Bonnard’s reputation as an artist grew and in 1918 he was selected, along with Renoir, as an Honorary President of the Association of Young French Artists.

  • Bonnard finished his last painting, The Almond Tree in Blossom, a week before his death on 23 January 1947, at his cottage on La Route de Serra Capeou near Le Cannet, on the French Riviera.
  • The Museum of Modern Art in New York City organized a posthumous retrospective of Bonnard’s work in 1948, although originally it was meant to be a celebration of the artist’s 80th birthday.

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Glamourpuss posters from a previous age

Advertising in the early 1950s saw a boom in posters for both the corporate world and the everyday consumer. Wanting to appeal to a broad audience, the 50s Style posters were often brightly coloured, and often whimsical or playful in design which heightened their popularity.

Typical artists of this genre included Swiss-born Herbert Leupin and Donald Brun; Paul Rand from the United States and France’s Raymond Sauvignac, who exemplifed the style’s light-hearted qualities. The 50s Style was applied to consumer services and consumer products. Ever present were marvelous airline and traveller’s destination campaigns as well as fashion posters advertising women’s lingerie.

  • Here we have a poster featuring a white cat, advertising Enkalon stockings. It was designed by Herbert Leupin. Leupin was born in Beinwil am See, Switzerland on 20 December 1916. A graphic designer, he was known primarily for his poster art. From 1931-1934, Leupin attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel. He made his name in the 1940s through his use of the magic realism style of images for advertising consumer goods. Later, Leupin worked as an advertising consultant for the German cigarette manufacturer Reemtsma from 1951-1964. During this time he also created the Milka cow image. Leupin died in Basel on 21 September 1999.
  • The second ‘white cat’ poster: the ‘She-Cat”, was designed ca 1948 for Gaines Viso Gurtel, to advertise the female undergarment, the girdle or corset. The poster designer was Marc Von Allmen. Not much is known about Von Allmen, except that he was born in 1919 in Ovin, Switzerland and worked as an architect, graphic designer and poster artist.

Is there any significance in the fact that they are both white cats? Well, maybe. White cats have many fascinating myths and legends associated with them. As opposed to black cats which are regarded as harbingers of bad luck, white cats are seen as a symbol of good luck, purity and positivity. They symbolize rebirth, happiness, prosperity, healing and more. 

Either way, I’m sure the She-Cat is feline fine and the other displays lots of purr-sonality.    That’s two paw-some posters for you, I’m not kitten you!

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