My Favorite Things, Second Part
When I started putting together the first part, I thought, well, it is mainly about pictures, and I will be able to make up a few comments in addition, if necessary in English. I have written first the texts of the English version and have translated this then into the German version. However, I always had the feeling of speaking with several pebbles in the mouth, some banalities and Platitüdes to life and work of the artists I succeeded to articulate without effort, but all this remained insignificant and noncommittal and sounded in the translation into German completely tremendously. Therefore in the following the comments to the pictures are written in the language in which I can express myself partly fluidly. Next I translated them into English, but without any guarantee of completness, based on a mechanical translation, and rather dull. Do a better job translating them or learn German.
I know next to nothing about Jacek Malczewski. I have seen his pictures for the first time in Paris in the Musée d’Orsay, and there they have impressed me that much that
I have bought a book of plates about him. I had the choice between two different books, I have decided to choose the book with the slightly better color reprodutions.I could also have bought of
course both books of plates, but apart from the fact that my financial means are not inexhaustible (I must still also buy books which are available partly only second-hand, and, besides, CDs), I had
to transport all books which I have bought with the railroad back home, and this is not funny even if I buy only two or three books every day. So I have acquired only one book of plates about
Malczewski, namely the one with the slightly better color reprodutions. Only the text is, unfortunately, on Polish, and I know nobody who speaks Polish. Since the book does not even contain an
orderly chronological table (talking about the volume "Jacek Malczewski", from Agnieszka Ławniczakowa, Kraków 1995), I could not even get his day of birth or death. But here we are:
Pol. painter of the neoromantic symbolism, * 15/7/1854 in Radom, Poland(Poles), † 8/10/1929 in Cracow. Malczewski studied in the art schools in Cracow and Paris. As subjects he first preferred genre scenes in brown colors, later he moved to history pictures with national-literary subjects and supported the fight for independence as a member of the "Young Poland". His cycles and paintings of the nineties, so MELANCHOLY and VICIOUS CIRCLE (1894 resp. 1895/97, both Posen, Muzeum Narodowe) look surrealistic.
About the first preferred brown-colored genre scenes I can say little, because I know mainly his works from the second half of his life. Indeed, they look surrealistic, but that seems to be a little misunderstanding: they are mostly allegories, symbolic and symbolistic. The following would be an example:
"Polonia" [145 x 98,5 cm, in 1914]
Here we see a young woman, joking coquettish-shy with a barely dressed, magnificent man as well as with another, a little bit more covered. The title tells us that the woman must be Poland, and all that will certainly mean something and probably represents a serious and high-moral warning to the contemporaries, and surrealistic can apeal this only to somebody who is not able to decipher the applied symbolic language.
" W tumanie " [78 x 150 cm, in 1893/1894]
What makes Malczewski interesting and unique is, besides the special light which reigns in his pictures, a mixture of cloudy rainy weather and the shrillest sunshine, the manner how the symbolic and mythological figures walk within the everyday world. It can happen that Thanatos, the death messenger, and the usual postal delivery man meet each other at the entry door, between busy farmers and reapers the reaper death moves, demons look out neighbourly across the garden fence, and in our picture we see a charming summery landscape with tied up people.
" Chrystus i Samarytanka " [73 x 92 cm, in 1911]
Unfortunately, it seems as if Malczewski has been a highly religious person. On account of lacking Polish knowledge I am not sure, of course: besides Jesus more frequent Thanatos, the death of the Greek mythology, is present, mostly as a winged burly matron with scythe. Here we see Jesus at the fountain talking with the Samaritan.
" Autoportret w zbroi " [54 x 65 cm, in 1914]
In a lot of pictures Malczewski has painted himself: with the easel, between two models, together with Christ and some skeletons, how he talks with a harpyie, or, like here, in a suit of armour.
"Melancholia" [139 x 240 cm, in 1890 - in 1894]
"Błędne koło" [174 x 240, in 1895 - in 1897]
Finally, we have the "Melancholy" and the "Vicious Circle". Because these both pictures were printed as double sides in the mentioned book of plates, I ask to excuse the bad quality of the reproductions shown here. For the "Vicious Circle" there is also a free of crease, but a little bit smaller version here. With these two pictures it is plausible that the surrealists could have been interested in them if they only had knew them. What they probably didn’t.
Michael Triegel was born on 13.12.1968 in Erfurt. Like Malczewski Triegel (besides landscape sketches and eccentric quiet lifes) also paints first of all mythological and religious subjects. But unlike Malczweski Triegel doesn’t necessarily need to invent new technical and stylistic means if the past already provides a so rich fund in styles. Like with the following:
"Christine" [92,5 x 45,5 cm, in 1995]
In this case the style refers to Italy and the late sixteenth century, we could even more exactly limit the date and the point of origin, if we care. But in fact it was made in 1995 and in Leipzig, and Christine is a real woman of the present which appears in Triegel’s pictures quite often, like on gold ground, although Triegel sometimes also freely invents people and faces, even character studies.
" Anthropic Principle " [230 x 122 cm, in 1996/97]
Also divergent from Malczewski Triegel does not seem to take his religious pictures too seriously. Here we have a holy virgin falling headfirst into the picture and being not completely painted. The Jesus child looks frightened in view of the knife, with which the mother plays, like the "Madonna in the Workshop" (and the "Madonna with lamb" threatens the Agnus Dei with a butcher’s knife). The artist himself, in the midst of a cleanly drawn central perspective, tries to explain us something with important gestures, but is unfortunately also not painted completly and is not placed correctly in the middle of the picture.
( With a little bit Jacques-Louis David)
Why Ingres, although David or Delacroix are the more important painters? Well, since this is a collection of my favorite pictures, I am free to choose with unbridled arbitrarity. Delacroix I dislike because he positions himself in the quarrel between color and line unambiguously on the side of the color and to me his pictures are too colorful and are too muddy. David on the other side runs the other extreme, everything must be totaly clear and classic, and although this occasionally can have its own beauty,
Jacques-Louis David: "The Sabins" [385 x 522 cm, in 1799]
his pictures are often steril, lifeless and artificial, and he is best when his pictures remain unfinished,
Jacques-Louis David: "Portrait Juliette Récamier" [174 x 224 cm, in 1800]
like here with the portrait of Mme Récamier which remained unfinished because the model lost the patience with the slow manner of the artist and didn’t want to appear to further sessions. According to a legend this work is connected also with Ingres, which, as a student Davids, posed occasionally in the place of the absent and difficult Récamier. Ingres, anyhow, stands in the battle between color and line also unambiguously on the side of the line, but he doesn’t try to pretend as if he has never heard of Sfumato or similar things known since 300 years which makes David’s pictures so eccentrically. This alone would not justify yet to mention him on this page. Interesting are two further points: the use of collage and recycling which reminds me of my own methods. Let’s take a look how it works (oh, Ingres was born on 29.8.1780 in Montauban in south France, he died on 14.1.1867 in Paris).
"The Turkish Bath" [Ø 108 cm, in 1863]
This is a rather popular picture, a famous example of a european fantasy about harem or bath in the mysterious and lustful Orient. The beautiful back view of the bathing woman in the foreground was used by Ingres for another picture:
"Bathing Woman" [146 x 97,5 cm, in 1808]
This is one of the cases in which the parody or hommage became more popular than the original, here the photograph of Man Ray. Please note how the bathing woman was copied to the folds of the headscarf from one picture to the other.
As models of his pictures Ingres used heedlessly different contemporary stitches and illustrations which he took and modifyed: here a stitch of a Turkish woman going to the bath which is used by Ingres for a detail of his picture. For landscapes Ingres has used the technology the Camera Obscura to get landscape sketches which he could apply later as backgrounds for portrait.
"Odaliske with Slave" [drawing, in 1858]
"Odaliske with Slave" [72,4 x 100,3 cm, in 1839]
"Odaliske with Slave" [76 x 105 cm, in 1842]
Another eastern subject (by the way, an Odaliske is a white female slave in a harem). First we have the drawing as a preliminary study, then the final picture. Three years later another version is made, this time the room is opened to a landscape being made by Ingres’ assistant Paul Flandrin. Also Ingres carries out some improvements, like the Odaliske must not rest any more on the cold ground, but may stretch herself on a carpet, the vessel which badly contrasted against the railing must give way to a pair of slippers, at the foot of the Odaliske the cloth may bulge a little bit more excessively, other things are adapted invariably. From other pictures we know five different great big versions, sketches and preliminary studies not taken into consideration.
"Portrait Vicomtesse Louise-Albertine d’Haussonville" [131,8 x 92 cm, in 1845]
Temporarily Ingres became a demanded in-vogue portrait painter who might/had to paint dozens of count’s and baron’s daughters. However, he saw himself in a completely different way, namely as an important history painter, and portraits as an annoying way of lower rank to earn a living.
"Roger frees Angelika" [145 x 187 cm, in 1819]
Not a history picture, but a scene from Orlando Furioso is shown by this painting. Perhaps not necessarily Ingres’ the best picture, but interesting, however, on account of its topic (see also my article on Ariost and the Orlando Furioso). The subject "Roger frees Angelika" is an esoteric parallel to the nearly analogous subject "Perseus frees Andromeda".
"The Golden Age" [46,4 x 61,9 cm, in 1862]
My favorite picture of Ingres, but not particularly representatively for his complete works. A beautiful alternative is shown how the world could be if it was not in such a way as it is, full of lances and ships and the cries of dying people. Note particularly the two pairs with child and dog respecively little hare: aren’t they nice? This is a reduced version of a big wall painting, made twenty years after the wall painting. Again Ingres has made numerous improvements regarding the first version, apart from the fact that the unusual mural painting is not necessarily the medium which stimulated Ingres to his highest masterly achievements.
Alberto Magnelli was born on 1.7.1888 in Florence and died on 20.4.1971 in Paris. He belongs to the not so known painters of the classic modern art who went on different detours to abstrac art.
"Nu Divisé" [180 x 100 cm, in 1917]
Here we see one of the not yet completly abstract pictures, one of several splitted nudes.
"Pierres Nº 1" [115 x 89 cm, in 1933]
This charming collection of different stones is still not free of representation.
"Conciliabules distraits" [100 x 130 cm, in 1935]
"Ardoise Nº 74" [18 x 26,5 cm, in 1942]
"Vision inconfortable" [97 x 130 cm, in 1947]
Note how Magnelli in a lot of his pictures forms the lines limiting color areas themself colored.
To be continued...