The Pictures of Dorien Leigh

This has been a tough challenge, but I have not been able find any information about the photographer Dorien Leigh, whose photographs appear in the 1939 edition of The Modern Pictorial World Atlas, published by the Sun News-Pictorial, Melbourne, Australia. The atlas contains 64 pages of maps in full colour, and 120 pp. gazetteer, text and index. It also contains 69 photographs in gravure of the ‘People of the Earth’ attributed to photographic contributors, E.N.A., Blue Star, and Dorien Leigh.

The ‘gravure’ mentioned is a photographic process short for photogravure, which is an intaglio print-making or photo-mechanical process where a copper plate is grained and then coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched.

  • The eight images featured above are attributed to Leigh and include a young Sudanese woman, an Australian indigenous man; and an old man from Morocco. Some have accompanying text, describing the scene. These include:

The Storywriter: An author at work in the East Indies. A small child of Bali, the island in the Dutch East Indies, (now Indonesaia) watches absorbed; while an elder writes a story on a palm leaf, pricking out the characters with a curiously-shaped knife for a “pen” and reciting his tale as he works.

A West Madi hunter from the source of the Nile. The man from Albert Nyanza is shown hunting with bow and arrow; and carrying a long hunting horn, which plays only two notes – one an octave above the other. Albert Nyanza is now known as Lake Albert, or Lake Mobutu Sese Seko, northernmost of the lakes in the Western Rift Valley, in east-central Africa, on the border between Congo (Kinshasa) and Uganda.

Bathing in the Holy River at the City of Temples and Shrines. Benares is a mecca of the Hindus and thousands of pilgrims visit it every year to bathe in the Holy River Ganges. The Hindus worship the gods Shiva, the destroyer; and Vishnu, the preserver; and observe a very rigid caste system. Benares is now known as Varanasi, a city in Northern India. The city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is not only the spiritual capital of India, but also the holiest of seven sacred cities in Hinduism, and it played a significant role in the development of Buddhism.

An indigenous North American Moqui Indian. The Moqui, or Pueblo Indians lived in Apache county, northeastern Arizona. They were located on what is known as the Moqui reservation, their old lands were set aside to them out of the Navajo reservation by proclamation on December 16, 1882. The name, which they call themselves is Ho-pi or Ho-pi-tuh-le-nyu-muh meaning “peaceful people”. The Zuñi knew them in 1540 and prior as the A-mo-kwi. The Spaniards changed this to Moqui or Moki. However, in Moqui language, moki means “dead”.

A Hukul man of Ruthenia. Following the partitions of Poland-Lithuania in the late 18th century, Rusyn-inhabited lands were divided between the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus and much of Ukraine); and the Austrian, later Austro-Hungarian, Empire (present-day western Ukraine, southeastern Poland, and northeastern Slovakia). In the course of the “long” 19th century (1780s–1914), the name Ruthenian fell out of use in the Russian Empire and was replaced by either White Russian or Little Russian. The term Ruthenian continued to be used in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as the official designation for the East Slavic inhabitants living in that state’s provinces of Galicia and Bukovina; and the northeastern counties of Hungary. A large-scale immigration from Austria-Hungary to North America during the half century before World War I saw the introduction of the term Ruthenian, to describe those newcomers in American and Canadian census reports.

How the world has changed in 82 years!

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Source: The Modern Pictorial World Atlas. The Sun News-Pictorial Melbourne (1939)
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Young Advice for Young Illustrators

Sea-landscape and figure illustrator Cliff Young was born in New Waterford, Ohio in 1905 and died in 1985. He studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Grand Central School of Art with Harvey Dunn; the Art Institute of Chicago with Charles Schroder and J Wellington Reynolds; the National Academy of Design, New York with Leon Kroll, the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; and the Art Students League, New York.

  • Young was a former lecturer on anatomy at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Central Park School of Art, New York and at the Grand Central School of Art, New York. He was also a member of the Society of Illustrators, New York.
  • Young was a mural assistant to Ezra Winter, N.A., William A Mackay, Dean Cornwall, N.A., Barry Faulkner, N.A., and Frank Schwarz A.N.A. and he was a story and advertising illustrator who mostly worked from his New York studio.
  • His paintings and watercolours have been exhibited in galleries and exhibitions throughout the United States (U.S.).

All images featured above are from his instruction guide: Figure Drawing Without a Model (1946) which features over 150 drawings; illustrating proportion, construction, light and shade, action and drapery.

Young says, “In order to become a versatile artist, one must learn to draw figures without a model. It is possible to reduce a seemingly complicated figure to its simplest form by using geometric solids. That way, one can understand what to look at, when one draws from a model or photograph”.  By following his instructions, Young claims, “That one should be able to ‘read’ a photograph, as an engineer does a ‘blue-print’; and know the position of all the parts, which make up the whole figure”.

Go figure!

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Source: Figure Drawing Without a Model by Cliff Young. House of Little Books: New York, 1946.
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Flame Leaper is a Surefire Keeper

after Johann Philipp Fernand Preiss | Flame Leaper bronze and ivory figure of acrobat ca 1930A bronze and ivory figure of an acrobat entitled Flame Leaper after Johann Philipp Ferdinand (Fritz) Preiss ca 1930 height 35cm

  • Even if ‘Flame Leaper‘ is not necessarily by ‘Fritz Preiss’ it is interesting to know his story. However, ‘Fritz Preiss’ is a name often incorrectly referred to leading German art Deco sculptor, Ferdinand Preiss. His works are regarded as the pinnacle of Art Deco sculpture and are greatly valued by modern collectors.

Johann Philipp Ferdinand Preiss was born on 13 February 1882 in Erbach im Odenwald, as one of six children. He attended schools in Michelstadt and had aspirations of becoming an engineer, until the age of 15, when both of his parents died within a short time span. Not long afterwards, Preiss was apprenticed to the ivory carver Philipp Willmann and lived with his family.

In 1901, at the age of 19, Preiss traveled to Rome and Paris. He became a friend of Arthur Kassler in Baden-Baden, which led to the founding of the company Preiss & Kassler, operating from Berlin. Kassler became the business-minded partner and Preiss controlled artistic production.

Initially the company created small ivory carvings of children and statuettes of classical form, often carved from old ivory billiard balls. From 1910, the firm grew to specialize in limited edition Art Deco cabinet sculptures that used painted bronze with ivory on plinths of onyx and marble, or as mantelpiece clocks and lampstands. Preiss revolutionized the production of chryselephantine statues with his use of a dental drill for a more precise form of ivory carving. Preiss designed nearly all the firm’s models and many of his most famous works depict modern, naturalistic 20th-century women from the sports and theatrical world.

Casting of the pieces was initially done by the Aktien-Gesellschaft Gladenbeck foundry in Berlin and later by their own Preiss & Kassler foundry. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the company was employing six extremely skilled ivory carvers from Erbach and exporting regularly to England and the United States. A small factory was set up in England to assemble the sculptures from parts manufactured in Germany which also avoided taxes on imports.

  • The firm closed after Preiss’s death from a brain tumour on 29 July, 1943. The old workshop in Ritterstraße, Berlin, which was housing the stock of samples, was gutted by a fire resulting from a bomb attack, shortly before the end of World War II.

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Source: Wikipedia
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Here’s a Foray of Doré | From Greek Mythology to Arthurian Legends

French artist, print-maker, illustrator and sculptor Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré was born in Strasbourg, France, on 6 January, 1832. At the age of 12, Gustave Doré began carving in cement. Three years later, at the age of 15, Doré began his career working as a caricaturist for the French paper Le Journal pour rire. Although Doré worked primarily with woodcuts and engravings, it is his paintings which have become world-renowned, such as Andromeda (1869) see above.

In 1853, Doré was commissioned to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This was followed by additional work for British publishers. Three years later, he produced twelve folio-size illustrations of Pierre-Jean de Ranger’s The Legend of The Wandering Jew (1856).

  • Doré won many commissions to depict scenes from books from Rabelais and Dante, to Balzac and Milton. In the 1860s he illustrated a French edition of Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Doré’s work also appeared in the weekly newspaper The Illustrated London News. His illustrations for the English Bible (1866) were a great success; and in 1867 Doré had a major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation of the Doré Gallery in Bond Street, London.

Doré’s later work included illustrations for John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1866), Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy (1867), new editions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1875), and Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King (1875)  (The Legend of King Arthur). Two images from this appear above – “Merlin and Vivien repose” and “Uther discovers the two brothers“.

  • Doré also illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven“, an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper & Brothers in 1883.

Doré never married; and following the death of his father in 1849, he continued to live with his mother, illustrating books until his death in Paris on 23 January 1883, following a short illness. The city’s Père Lachaise Cemetery contains his grave.

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Source: Wikipedia
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From Cherry Trees to Rebellion | These actors look quite Machiavellian

The Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen’s Kabuki Actor Prints, was an exhibition held in galleries around Australia during 2012-2014. It celebrated the glamour of the kabuki theatre amid the dynamic atmosphere of Japan in the 1920s and 1930s. Drawn from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Natori Shunsen’s superb woodblock portraits of the superstar actors of the time, were reproduced and discussed in detail. They were displayed alongside a selection of spectacular costumes from the kabuki stage. The following are three of the woodblock prints which were part of this exhibition. They feature three different kabuki actors from this period.

Okochi Denijiro as Tange Sazen (1931). From the series Supplement to the collection of portraits by Shunsen. [Woodblock print; ink and colour on paper]. It is from Tange Sazen  an original story written by Fubo Hayashi. The first Tange Sazen films were made in 1928.

  • A fictional character, Tange Sazen, is a loyal samurai, who is betrayed and ambushed in an attack; during which he loses his right eye and right arm. With his superb swordsmanship intact, Tange Sazen becomes a ronin (masterclass samurai).

Kataoka Ichizo IV as Benkei in ‘The Cherry Trees of the Imperial Palace‘ (1927), [Woodblock print, ink and colour on paper sheet]. The ‘Cherry Trees‘ was written by Matsuda Bunkodo and Miyoshi Shoraku and its first kabuki performance was in 1755.

  • It is an epic drama set during the 12th Century war between the Minamoto and Taira families. Minamoto leader, Yoritomo, has become shogun but remains under threat from the Taira. His brother Yoshitsune, one of the most revered heroes of Japanese history, is a brilliant Minamoto commander. The play’s most famous scene is ‘Benkei – the envoy which centres on Yoshitsune’s devoted retainer. The print captures the moment after Benkei fatally wounds Shinobu, when he reveals to himself to be her father.

Nakamura Kichieman I as Takechi Mitsuhide in ‘The Banner of Rebellion‘, (1925), from the series Collection of creative portraits by Shunsen [Woodblock print, ink and colour on paper sheet]. ‘The Banner of Rebellion’s‘ first performance was in 1808, by Tsuruya Nanboku IV.

  • The kabuki play examines the complexities of samurai loyalty and dramatizes Mitsuhide’s betrayal of Oda Nobunaga, the powerful 16th Century warlord who laid the foundations for the unification of Japan. To comply with government censorship in the play, the historical Oda Nobunaga is renamed Oda Harunaga and Akechi Mitsuhide, as Takechi Misuhide.

Each of these woodblock prints were created by Shunsen Natori, also known as Natori Shunsen, who was born Natori Yoshinosuke on February 7, 1886. Natori was he fifth son of a silk merchant, in the Yamanashi Prefecture. His family settled in Tokyo shortly after his birth, where he remained until his death in 1960. From the age of eleven, Natori studied with traditional Nihonga (Japanese-style) painter Kubota Beisen; and was given his artist’s name “Shunsen“. He subsequently studied at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.

Natori was considered by many to be the last master in the art of kabuki yakusha-e (actor woodblock prints), which were popular through the Japanese Edo period (1603-1867).  He developed an interest in kabuki actor portraits while working as an illustrator for the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. Natori’s actor portraits were mainly in the ōkubi-e (large head) format which allowed him to focus on the expression and emotions of the character’s face. His works are held in many museum and gallery collections worldwide.

  • After Natori’s 22 year old daughter died of pneumonia in 1958, his fatal demise, sounds like the final scene from a kabuki tragedy. Natori and his wife, committed suicide through poison, at their daughter’s grave two years later, on March 30, 1960.

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Source: Stars of the Tokyo Stage: Natori Shunsen’s kabuki actor prints. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2012
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Good golly Ms Olley, your art ain’t no folly

Australian still life artist, Margaret Hannah Olley, was born in Lismore, New South Wales on 24 June 1923. During her high school years, Olley attended Somerville House in Brisbane. After graduation from art school, Olley became an active member of the Sydney art scene. She received the inaugural Mosman Art Prize in 1947; and had her first solo exhibition the following year. By 1949, Olley left for Europe, where she attended art school in France; and traveled throughout much of western Europe. This was followed by her first European exhibition, in 1952.

Olley returned to Brisbane in 1953, where she designed theatre sets and painted murals. She then traveled to north Queensland and on to Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Bali. Olley’s landscapes from this time are full of bright colours. By the early 1960s, her work had become popular with galleries and collectors.

  • The image above entitled Odette (1962), is an example of Olley’s early 1960s art created during a stage where she floated between Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane. It was whilst in Brisbane, she engaged a number of models from Joyce Wilding’s newly opened One People of Australia League (OPAL) hostel for aboriginal and Torres Strait islander girls, in south Brisbane. Olley’s portraits and nudes of these dispossessed and displaced young indigenous women are amongst her most interesting works.

During her busy career, Olley held more than 90 solo exhibitions. This was recognised on 10 June 1991, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, where Olley was made an Officer of the Order of Australia “for service as an artist and to the promotion of art”. Six years later, in 1997, a major retrospective of Olley’s work was organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Olley was twice the subject of an Archibald Prize winning painting; the first by William Dobell in 1948 and the other by Ben Quilty in 2011. She was also the subject of paintings by many of her artist friends, including Russell Drysdale.

  • In 2006, Olley was awarded the degree Doctor of Fine Arts honoris causa by the University of Newcastle.
  • In the same year, on 12 June, Olley was awarded Australia’s highest civilian honour, the Companion of the Order, “for service as one of Australia’s most distinguished artists, for support and philanthropy to the visual and performing arts, and for encouragement of young and emerging artists”.
  • The following month, on 13 July 2006, Olley donated a further 130 artworks to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, worth AU$7 million.

Olley died at her home in the inner Sydney suburb of Paddington, on 26 July 2011, aged 88. Of the last paintings that she did before her death; 27 were exhibited at Sotheby’s Australia, in Woollahra, in an exhibition entitled The Inner Sanctum of Margaret Olley.  Olley had put the final touches for the show, on the day before she died; and Philip Bacon, who had exhibited her work for decades; had prepared a catalogue to show her that weekend.

The opening night was attended by about 350 people, among whom were the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce; who gave an address, in which she said that Olley’s work was often just like the artist, “filled with optimism“. Other attendees at the opening included Penelope Wensley, the Governor of Queensland, Edmund Capon, Ben Quilty and Barry Humphries.

Here lies the still life of the inner sanctum of Margaret Olley

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Source: McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art.
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Is Don | Is Good

Paul ‘Don’ Smith was born in London, but lived in Borneo for about four years, from the age of eight to twelve. In total contrast to life in London, Borneo provided the young ‘Don’ with new horizons, open spaces, the beach, and a whole new world. The return to London provided a reverse shock of a bustling, noisy, city metropolis.

At school, ‘Don’ was interested in graphics and art. This lead him into the world of counter-culture of the New York hip-hop movement, with its music, dance, poetry and art – a sense of creativity for people who needed to do something new, exciting and energetic. From this, the graffiti movement began, with the lure of going ‘into places where you shouldn’t be’.

Graffiti has been a hobby for ‘Don’ for over 30 years. His first tag was in Barnes, in 1985. It was inspired by Beat Street, a sort of hip-hop piece in bubble letters. Citing French stencil pioneer C215 as a major influence, ‘Don’ has developed a process using multiple layers of hand-cut paper stencils that resemble contour lines on a map. Half a dozen separate versions are sprayed through, on an overlapping final image, that has depth and deep shading, with flourishes of sprayed spots.

His work is immediately accessible, often painting portraits of people in the public eye. ‘Don’ takes iconic stencil portrait figures such as Amy Winehouse, or Jack Kerouac (author of the iconic ‘On the Road‘ and pioneer of the ‘Beat Generation’ in the 1950s), wild animals and members of his family including some portraits of his son, or his bowler-hatted tap man; which appears on the exteriors of certain financial corporations in the City of London, providing a comment on the endless flow of public money that has kept them solvent.

Now living in Surrey, Paul Smith (rather than ‘Don’), has been involved in the film industry for 12 years or more, with TV, features, commercials and short films. “That’s why a lot of my work is music and there’s some film poster influence. I’m really wrapped up in that”, he said in an interview for London Art Spot, in 2013.

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Source: London Art Spot’s article on Paul ‘Don’ Smith (2013)
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You Can Bank on Hanke | When it comes to Portrait Art

Australian painter and teacher Henry Aloysius Hanke (14 June 1901-1989), was born in Sydney. He won the Archibald Prize in 1934 with a self-portrait (see above), and the inaugural Sulman Prize, in 1936, with his painting ‘La Gitana‘.

  • Hanke served in the Australian Army during World War II (WWII) from November 1942, initially as a Signaller and later commissioned as an Officer and war artist from December 1943, during which he completed many paintings in New Guinea.
  • He was the first war artist into Milne Bay after the Australians inflicted the first defeat on Japanese troops during WWII.
  • Hanke was later made a director of the Royal Art Society art school in New South Wales.

Hanke was a friend of Sydney artists Graeme Inson and Ivy Shore, and often visited them. He was one of the five artists Ivy Shore (winner of the Portia Geach Memorial Art Award in 1979) called her “Inspirations“.  Her “Inspirations” painting, now hangs in the heritage-listed Dundee Arms Hotel (built 1860) in Sussex Street, Sydney, which was once Graeme Inson and Ivy Shore’s studio in the 1970s and 1980s.

Thanks Hanke!

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Source: McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977.
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Locks, Smocks and Two Choking Corals

Superstitions surrounding the legend and lore of the power of coral for the protection of teething babies takes its roots from ancient history. The superstition goes further back in history where a child’s teething time has been a source of great angst; and coral has been used for millenia to craft jewelry and other ornaments. Surviving Sumerian tablets more than 3000 years old record their use of coral for teething rings. The Egyptians believed coral would ease their babies’ pain during teething and they had coral rings inscribed with the head of Bes, a god known to protect children. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that coral would ward off the falling sickness and a number of other infantile ailments and diseases; and hung pieces of polished red coral around the necks of their babies to keep away evil influences..

But it was during the British Regency (1795-1837) and Victorian period (1837-1901) that this superstition remained popular amongst the wealthy. For Regency and Victorian parents, their child’s teething time was a period not only of great anxiety, but of intense fear. As had been the case in many centuries before, teething was believed to be responsible for at least 10% of infant deaths. Therefore, many wealthy families believed the best protection for their teething child was a coral necklace, which was received as a special christening gift to protect their child against any harm or illness.

As well as coral, the Precious Metals of silver and gold, were considered to have mystical properties. Silver was believed not only to have purifying effects, but offered protection from all things evil and supernatural in origin. Thus, beginning in the early 18th Century, an expensive special silver (or sometimes gold) ornate teether/rattle was made as a christening gift for the infants of wealthy families. The rattles were fitted at the lower end with a bright red coral gum stick, which was considered to be symbolic of youth, health and vibrancy. Many of these lavish rattles were fitted with a loop through which a ribbon could be threaded, in order to suspend the rattle from the baby’s neck, or tie it at their waist. These affluent family rattles became heirlooms which were handed down through the generations.

  • Although painted only within a year of each other, the images above show three infants, The Portrait of Jane Tyler (by Joseph Whiting Stock, ca 1845), and The Portrait of Alfred Openshaw (by R. Hunt, 1846). The black and white image ‘A Child with a Coral‘ (with silver and coral rattle) is by an unknown artist, and painted around the same time period. It is the property of Mr and Mrs Michael Reeves.

Joseph Whiting Stock was an American painter known for his portraits, miniatures, and landscape paintings, many of which he did on commission. He was born on January 30, 1815 in Springfield, Massachusetts. From the mid 1830s, Stock accepted commissions for the following two decades, for portraits around New England, working in Warren and Bristol, Rhode Island, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Middletown, Goshen, and Port Jervis, New York. In 1855, 40 year old Stock died of tuberculosis in Springfield.

The Portrait of Alfred Openshaw by American artist R. Hunt, is part of the American Museum collection in Bath, England. The museum stands as a fine memorial to its original joint founders in 1961, Dr Dallas Pratt and John Judkyn, (1913-1963) (a British born antiques dealer, who had become a United States citizen). Judkyn was Pratt’s companion of 24 years. Sadly, Judkyn’s death, at the age of 50, in a car crash in France soon after the museum’s opening, was the first of a series of bereavements that changed the course of Pratt’s life. Dallas Pratt (1914-1994), was an American psychologist, collector and philanthropist, born in New York. Pratt presented his Keats collection to the Keats-Shelley House in Rome in 1971. He also gave many rare books and manuscripts to Columbia University library.

  • Together, Pratt and Judkyn acquired furniture and domestic objects (including more than 100 quilts and coverlets) over a period of years, representing a selection of quality craftsmanship and folk art of America through the centuries.
  • Known as the American Collection, it is housed at Claverton Manor, set high on one side of the Avon valley near Bath, England. They purchased it in 1958 from the descendants of John Vivian a barrister and solicitor, who had purchased it in 1816. Many decades on, the American Museum remains the only museum outside the United States to showcase the decorative arts of America.

Coral is good to be hanged about … ” (Plato)

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Source: Ayres, James. English Naive Painting (1750-1900) Thames & Hudson: London, 1980.
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A relaxing stay | For Elodie at the Baie

Jules Breton | La femme a l'ombrelle baie de Douarnenez 1871 artists wife Elodie at bay of Douarnenenz Brittany

Jules Breton | La femme a l’ombrelle baie de Douarnenez 1871 artists wife Elodie at bay of Douarnenenz Brittany

19th Century French Realist painter Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton was born on 1 May, 1827, in Courrières, a small Pas-de-Calais village. After his mother died when he was only four, Breton was brought up by his father, (a land supervisor for a wealthy land owner), his maternal grandmother; and his uncle Boniface Breton; who all lived in the same house.

After showing an early talent with his art, Breton left home at the age of fifteen and headed for Ghent in 1843, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He spent some time in Antwerp copying the works of Flemish masters and then headed for Paris in 1847, to study at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he met and became friends with several Realist painters; and his early entries at the Paris Salon reflected their influence. In 1854, he returned to his home village of Courrières, where he settled and continued his art.

  • Jules Breton was essentially a painter of rustic life in the French countryside. His respect for tradition, a love of the land, and for his native region, are evident in his paintings.
  • Breton’s renderings of single peasant female figures in a landscape, posed against the setting sun, became popular and he often produced copies of his more popular works.
  • Breton’s reputation grew after exhibiting at salons throughout the 1870s, through to the 1890s.
  • In 1886, Breton was elected a member of the Institut de France and in 1889 was made commander of the Legion of Honor; and he became a foreign member of the Royal Academy of London, in 1899.

Breton also became a recognized writer. He published a volume of poems and several editions of prose relating to his life as an artist; and the lives of other artists he met. Breton died in Paris, on 5 July, 1906.

  • Breton married Elodie de Vigne in 1858. She was the daughter of his first art teacher, Félix De Vigne who, impressed by his youthful talent, helped Breton on his successful artistic journey.
  • The image above – La Femme a L’ombrelle: Baie de Douarnenez (1871) depicts Elodie, seated amongst the pines on the Bay of Douarnenez, Brittany where Breton and his family spent the summer months. “She likes the free, fresh wind in her hair, Life without care”…

Maybe, that’s why this lady has a gamp!

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Jimmy C | Jimmy Do

Street artist Jimmy C (aka James Cochran), was born in England in 1973 and grew up in Adelaide, South Australia. Cochran has been developing his own art style since he was 16, when he was living on the streets and expressing himself through graffiti art. During the early 1990’s, Cochran played a key role in the development of the underground graffiti movement in Adelaide. By 1994, at the age of 21, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of South Australia which he graduated from with First Class Honours, in November, 1997.

Cochran’s major art interests in graffiti and oil painting converged, leading to the development of his signature ‘aerosol pointillist’ style; where portraits or urban landscapes are painted entirely from dots and dashes of spray paint. This style is influenced by the dot painting techniques used by Australia’s indigenous First Peoples.

  • Cochran’s technique developed into what he now calls the ‘drip paintings’ and the ‘scribble paintings’, composed by spraying small circles of paint on to a wall, using layers of coloured drips or energetic lines, to form vibrant and poetic city-scapes and portraits.
  • Each piece can take up to three days to complete and involve the use of about 30 cans of variously coloured aerosol paints.

In 2002, Cochran completed a Master’s degree in Visual Arts at the University of South Australia, focussing on urban realist and figurative oil painting.

From 1994- 2007, Cochran was employed by various local councils around Adelaide and regional South Australian towns, as community arts co-ordinator. In these roles, he was involved in designing and coordinating painting projects for schools and community centres; with an emphasis on the development and education around aerosol art. Cochran has also worked as:

  • Painting Lecturer, 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students at the Roma Mitchel Arts Centre (2003-2004),
  • Lecturer for the Alla Prima painting course, Adelaide Central School of Art (2004),
  • Drawing Lecturer, Visual Arts, 1st year students, University of South Australia (2005) and ;
  • Worked on numerous mural commissions and community arts projects, such as the ambassador for the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide (2016).

Cochran’s canvases and walls can be viewed in cities across the world. He now lives in London and has worked extensively in both Paris and London, immersing himself in the lives of the homeless; where he carefully sketches from life, before undertaking his final piece. His art can also be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of South Australia and private collections throughout Australia, Asia, USA, and Europe.

Otherwise, go out and see some quality Jimmy C

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The Artistic Skills of Stormie Mills

Street artist Stormie Mills was born in 1969, at Colwyn Bay, a seaside town on the north coast of Wales, overlooking the Irish Sea, in the United Kingdom (UK). These days, Stormie is based in Perth, Western Australia. Stormie’s whimsical characters are represented in galleries and streets around Australia and his private and public commissions light up international streetscapes from Australia to the UK, USA, Europe and Asia.

Using a monochromatic palette, Stormie creates a sadness which envelopes his figures, showing a sense of human isolation, that people seem to connect with. Many of his characters are poignant memento mori that remind people that death is part of life, as well as each character seemingly carrying a message of hope.

  • Apart from his creative street art, Stormie has also ventured into the world of three dimensional art. He has transformed his iconic ‘Bunnyman’ character into a series of four-metre high ‘pop figurines’ that populated the streets of Queensland’s Brisbane International Arts Festival known as “The Stormie Mills Project.”
  • This same body of work appeared as part of Western Australia’s Perth Fringe Festival; and at the prestigious international ‘Sculptures By The Sea‘ exhibition, where Stormie was awarded the Kids’ Choice Prize as voted by the public. He has also created a 4 metre high bronze representation as part of a public art commission project.

Testament to his success, is the significant expansion of Stormie’s collector base globally and sell out Australian shows in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Visitors to Melbourne can immerse themselves in Stormie’s creative energy when they stay at The Cullen, part of the Art Series Hotel Group, where he was commissioned to create his own ‘Street Art Suite’. He was the first Australian street artist to create a suite sitting alongside international artists.

Stormie has been widely published and has three books documenting his vast body of work. He has exhibited globally and created a strong following for his distinctive work. Stormie has been invited to participate in some of the world’s most prestigious street art festivals and completed countless private and public art commissions. Most recently he was invited to create the first sanctioned street art mural as part of the prestigious Florence Biennale.

  • It’s not just Stormie’s art that has fostered a strong following. His compelling personal story and passion for his art has made him a sought-after speaker.
  • Stormie has presented at the world’s most respected design festival, the AG Ideas conference and was invited by Conference Creator Ken Cato to be one of 25 artists to create an artwork to celebrate the conference’s 25 year history.
  • He was also a guest speaker at the Design Conference in London and headlined the Design Institute of Australia Breakfast. He was also a speaker at FORM’s #PUBLIC Street Art Festival, inaugural Symposium.

Discover more about Stormie Mills at his website

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The Elusive Ellescas Who Illustrates LP’s

Sometimes it is difficult to find information about artists and illustrators, and the seemingly “elusive” Richard “Dick” Ellescas is one. Ellescas is a 20th Century American artist and illustrator and member of the California Art Club, which was established in 1909, in Pasadena, California (CA).

Ellescas spent some time as a teacher of illustration at the Art Center College of Design, at 5353 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA. A short biography of his career appears in the Art Center’s Catalogue in 1974. It states that Ellescas is or has been a member of the Art Center College of Design and the Chouinard Art Institute, School of Visual Arts. His work experience includes: Freelance illustrator. Accounts: Robinson’s, American Greetings, Angel Records, Cosmopolitan, Monsanto, Don Loper men’s fashions; Film titles for ‘Ship of Fools‘. Awards: Best of Show, 1973 Illustrators show, Los Angeles, CA.

  • Previously, Ellescas was a member of a group, including Earl Newman, Wes Wilson, Marv Grayson and others; who conducted an arts and crafts sale and benefit exhibition for intellectually disabled children at the Pacific State Hospital in Pomona, Los Angeles, CA, in December, 1968.

Ellescas illustrated the advertising poster and cover design for  the British black comedy satirical film The Magic Christian (1969) directed by Joseph McGrath and starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, with appearances by John Cleese, Raquel Welch, Spike Milligan, Christopher Lee, Richard Attenborough and Roman Polanski. It was loosely adapted from the 1959 comic novel The Magic Christian by the American author Terry Southern, who co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with McGrath. It included songs by Badfinger including one written by Starr’s former The Beatles band member, Paul McCartney.

  • Over the years, Ellescas is known to have illustrated at least 29 LP record covers from 1972-1985. I have included two images from the EMI His Masters Voice classics LP covers, both illustrated by Ellescas. They include:

In a Monastery Garden music of Albert W. Ketelbey including In a Persian Market, In a Chinese Temple Garden and Bells Across the Meadow. John Lanchberry and the Philharmonia Orchestra with the Ambrosian Singers. Choral Master: John McCarthy  (1978). The Composer: Albert W Ketelbey was born in Birmingham, on August 4, 1875. He became a composer of light classical music and died on the Isle of Wight on November 26, 1959.

  • In a Monastery Garden was written in 1915 after a visit to a real monastic garden, now the Benedictine monastery of St Augustine’s Abbey, Chilworth, Surrey. Within this composition the listener can detect the calm serene atmosphere, the leafy trees and the singing birds as the monks are heard chanting the ‘Kyrie Eleison‘, with the sound of an organ playing and the chapel bells ringing.
  • In a Persian Market was written in 1920. The sounds heard include a caravan arriving, the cries of beggars and the entry of a beautiful princess, carried by servants. The princess watches the jugglers and snake charmers. The Caliph passes by, interrupting the entertainment. A muezzin calls to prayer from a minaret. The caravan continues its journey; and the market becomes silent.
  • Bells Across the Meadows was published in 1921. Beginning with solo bells it is followed by a quiet melody with strings and woodwinds. When repeated, a “chimes effect” provides the illusion of being “heard from a distant belfry across the meadows”. A last repeat is carried by “bells ringing out joyously and then gradually dying away in the distance”.
  • In a Chinese Temple Garden was composed in 1923. Subtitled an Oriental Phantasy, it illustrates a priestly incantation, “The Incantation of the Priests in the Temple“, which is followed by “The Perfume of Incense Floats on the Air“. Two lovers are illustrated by a melody for cello, viola and oboe. This is followed by a noisy Manchu wedding procession, followed by an argument of “coolies”, which is based on a Chinese scale. The temple gong restores quietness, and the piece ends recalling many of the themes.

The second image is from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake Highlights (1875–76). Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra (Solo violin: Ida Haendel). Swan Lake is one of most popular of classic ballets.

  • The story is centered around Prince Siegfried who leaves his castle with friends and goes on a hunt where he sees a bevy of swans gliding across the lake. When his hunting party takes aim, the leader of the swans swoops round to protect them and asks of Siegfried why he wishes to persecute her. She is actually Princess Odette bewitched into a swan by day, resuming her human form only at night; and the swan-maidens are her attendants. She tells him that only a vow of eternal love can break the spell and release her. Baron Rothbart is the magician who holds them in thrall, and appears in the guise of an owl and threatens Siegfried.
  • Siegried invites Odette to a ball at his castle. Rothbart enters the ball with his daughter Odile whom he has transformed into the likeness of Odette. Siegfried announces that he has chosen Odile as his bride. After Rothbart persuades him to vow eternal love and thereby breaches his vow to Odette, they show him a vision of Odette still trapped on the lake.
  • Odette returns to the swan-maidens in despair, and tells them that she has been betrayed and no hope remains. A contrite Siegfried arrives in search of Odette. He begs for her forgiveness. She forgives him, but his betrayal cannot be undone. Rather than remain a swan forever, Odette chooses to die, doing so in his arms. Siegfried chooses to die with her and they leap into the lake, where they will stay together forever. Taking the coronet from her head, he casts it on the waters of the lake which rise to engulf the lovers.
  • As the waters subside, the swans are seen on the surface, gliding silently into the distance. This breaks Rothbart’s spell over the swan maidens, causing him to lose his power over them and he dies. In an apotheosis, the swan maidens, who transform to regular maidens, watch as Siegfried and Odette ascend into the Heavens together, forever united in love.

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An Appreciative Review of Mondrian’s Red, Yellow and Blue

Pieter CornelisPietMondrian, was born on 7 March, 1872, in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Although originally a qualified primary teacher, Mondrian entered the Academy for Fine Art in Amsterdam. His early paintings were of a naturalistic or Dutch Impressionistic style, consisting largely of landscapes. His art began to move into the pointillism style and later, favoured the vivid colours of Fauvism.

  • In 1911, after visiting the Moderne Kunstkring exhibition of Cubism in Amsterdam, Mondrian became a fan of the Cubist art movement. This was further influenced when later that year, he moved to Paris; and became enamoured by the work of both Picasso and Georges Braque.

Three years later, while Mondrian was visiting home in 1914, World War I (WWI) began, forcing him to remain in The Netherlands for the duration of the conflict. During this time, Mondrian stayed at the Laren artist’s colony, where he met Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesburg, who were each undergoing their personal journeys toward abstraction. Mondrian was impressed with Van der Leck’s use of only primary colours in his art. As a consequence, he became a member of the De Stijl (The Style) art movement and group, which was founded by van Doesburg. Mondrian contributed to De Stijl’s art journal publishing his essays defining his theory of a non-representational art form which he called Neoplasticism.

  • Neoplasticism involved the asymmetrical division of a canvas into bands or grids of horizontal and vertical black paint into flat planes and the colouring of the blocks using only the primary colours of red, blue and yellow; and the non-colours, white, black and grey.

After WWI, Mondrian returned to France. Immersed in the post-war Paris art innovation, he flourished in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom. During late 1920 and 1921, Mondrian’s paintings reached a mature form.

  • Mondrian stopped giving his works titles. Instead, he called his paintings “Compositions” and often assigned them a number; such as Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow (1930) featured above.

As the years passed, Mondrian began to use fewer coloured forms, favouring white instead. These are noticeable in the “Lozenge” works which use square canvases tilted 45 degrees, so that they have a diamond shape. [As shown above –  Tableau I – Lozenge With Four Lines and Grey; and Composition in Red, Blue and Yellow (both from the MoMA collection).

In September, 1938, Mondrian left Paris in the face of advancing fascism and moved to London. After The Netherlands were invaded and Paris fell in 1940, Mondrian decided to leave England and head for New York. On 23 September, 1940, he boarded the Cunard White Star Line’s RMS Samaria, which departed from Liverpool. On arrival in New York, Mondrian moved to Manhattan, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

  • In the autumn of 1943, Mondrian moved into his second and final Manhattan studio at 15 East 59th Street. Tragically, he was there for only a few months, as he died of pneumonia on February 1, 1944, aged 71. Mondrian was interred at the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Since then, there have been many artists and designers who have been influenced by Mondrian’s famous works. Two examples featured here include:

  • Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Mondrian dresses‘ which featured in his autumn 1965 collection. This collection included  6 wool jersey and silk A line shift dresses in blocks of primary colour with black bordering, inspired by Mondrian. The collection proved so popular, it inspired a range of imitations that encompassed garments from coats to boots.
  • The original Mondrian dresses can be found in several museums around the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York [such as the image featured above which is from the MoMA collection as a gift of Mrs. William Rand (1969)].

Also included is a humerous take entitled: Mrs Mondrian Mops the Floor by Australian artist and illustrator, Sally Swain as featured in her Great Housewives of Art exhibition in 1988.

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I C215 is a French Street Artist

French street artist C215, is the moniker for Christian Guémy (born 1973), who lives in Vitry-sur-Seine, Paris. He has been described as “France’s answer to Banksy”. C215’s street art name, was inspired by the 1970s New York graffiti artists, who referenced  abbreviations of their street addresses in their tags. He uses the first letter of his first name; and the number of the room where he was living when he began his street art career, in the early 1990s.

  • With over 30 years experience as a graffiti artist, C215 has been using stencils to produce his art since 2006. His work consists mainly of close-up portraits of people including his daughter Nina, who has also become a stencil artist in her own right. Cats are another frequent subject of C215’s work.

Growing up as an orphan, C215 has a true empathy with abandoned children and the dispossessed people of the world. His subjects are typically beggars, homeless people, refugees, street kids and the elderly. The rationale behind this is to draw attention to those that society has forgotten about. His works are often featured on the walls of street-side refuges as a strong social comment that can be understood globally.

  • After many years managing a collective of 200 artists, C215 has worked extensively in France and the former French colonies of Morocco and Senegal. His stencils may be seen in cities worldwide including Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, Rome, Paris, Oslo and Colombo.

In addition to his street work, C215 also produces commercial artwork on wood and canvas, for galleries. He has had a number of solo gallery shows such as ‘Community Service‘, which was exhibited in Paris.

  • Discover more about C215 and his work at this website.

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