Laurits Tuxen

Danish painter and sculptor Laurits Tuxen was a member of the Skagen Painters, a group of Scandinavian artists who met in Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town (situated at the very tip of the Skagen Odde peninsula) during the last decades of the Victorian era. The set also included husband and wife teams Michael and Anna Ancher and Peder Severin and Marie Krøyer, as well as Viggo Johansen, Carl Locher and Christian Krohg. These artists generally preferred outdoor (en plein air) painting, for which the sparsely populated Skagen was ideal. Peder Severin Krøyer was unquestionably the group’s anchor. One of the most popular Danish artists of his time and a dashing, dynamic and magnetic figure, he will get his own post here eventually. But for now, back to Tuxen.

Laurits Tuxen was raised in Copenhagen, where he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In addition to being an early member of the Skagen Painters, Tuxen traveled quite a bit, painting landscapes and portraits, mainly of European and Russian royalty. His style was primarily Realist, though he also dabbled in Impressionism. The following piece falls pretty solidly into the first category, though there are Impressionistic touches here and there. The painting features three young girls in their tween to early teen years on a beach in Skagen, two of them nude. It’s not a particularly unusual painting for its time. In fact, what’s most fascinating about this piece for me is that a set of photographs were taken of this scene as it was being painted, an unusual occurrence for artists of the Edwardian era, for which photography was still a fairly cumbersome activity, though its popularity was growing by leaps and bounds. Anyway, here is the painting:

Laurits Tuxen - Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med figurer (1907)

Laurits Tuxen – Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med figurer (1907)

We also have quite a bit of historical data on this painting. The standing girl and the girl lying on the beach in a pink dress were Tuxen’s own daughters, Yvonne and Nina, aged 13 and 10 respectively at the time. Yvonne was born in 1894, Nina in 1898. The third girl is almost certainly Peder and Marie Krøyer’s daughter Vibeke Krøyer, born in 1895, so she would’ve been about 12 or 13 here as well. She appears to have her father’s red hair. Now, here are the photographs of the scene, showing Tuxen at work in the background. You’ll see that, despite her nudity in the painting, Yvonne is fully clothed in the photos. This modesty may have been for the sake of the photographer, who has not been identified, but also it may have been unnecessary for her to strip, as the artist may simply be touching up some of the details. If you look closely, you can see that the painting appears to be pretty close to completion.

Photographer Unknown - Laurits Tuxen painting 'Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer' (1)

Photographer Unknown – Laurits Tuxen painting ‘Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer’ (1)

Photographer Unknown - Laurits Tuxen painting 'Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer' (2)

Photographer Unknown – Laurits Tuxen painting ‘Sommerdag på Skagen Strand med Figurer’ (2)

By the way, there is a wealth of information about this group and several more photos and artworks featuring these three girls, including some closeups (they were all quite beautiful in my estimation) at this site, where the above photos were borrowed from, though it’s all in Danish. If you’re willing to slog through it and do the translations, it is quite a fascinating look at the life of these artists and their children.

Random Images: Wilhelm Hempfing

Wilhelm Hempfing (1886–1948) was a German painter and printmaker.  He is best known for his Impressionist style landscapes, portraits and numerous painted nudes.  He was also a noted etcher.  He studied at the Kunstakademie Karlsruhe and traveled frequently, painting in England, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece and the German coast along the North and Baltic Seas.  His use of bathing as a metaphor for virginity loss is consistent with the discussion in ‘Deflowered: Loss of Virginity in Art’.

Wilhelm Hempfing - Reizvoller Mädchenakt im sonnigen Licht

Wilhelm Hempfing – Reizvoller Mädchenakt im sonnigen Licht (Date Unknown)

To Become Somebody: Paula Modersohn-Becker

There is so much more that I have to learn, and then maybe I’ll become someone… –Paula Modershon-Becker in a letter to her husband, Otto Modersohn, 1906

I am becoming somebody—I’m living the most intensely happy period of my life. –Paula Modersohn-Becker in a letter to her sister, Milly Rohland-Becker, 1906

I am beginning a new life now. Don’t interfere with me; just let me be. It is so wonderfully beautiful. I lived the past week in such a state of excitement. I believe I have accomplished something good. –Paula Modersohn-Becker in a letter to her mother, Mathilde Becker, 1906

If a man had written these words, we would get the impression of blind ambition—someone simply wanting to make a name for himself for its own sake. But a closer look at this artist’s life and the emphasis in the letter to her mother, it becomes clear this is about freedom—freedom at a time when women had little leeway to really be themselves and accomplish outside the domain of traditional gender roles.

Born Minna Hermine Paula Becker in Dresden, 1876, she was the third of seven children. She grew up in Bremen and her father insisted she study a profession so she could stand on her own two feet. While training as a teacher there, she took some classes in painting. She loved it and pursued her interest enthusiastically. In 1896, she enrolled in a school of drawing and painting sponsored by Verein der Künstlerinnen und Kunstfreundinnen in Berlin (Union of Women Artists and Friends of Art). It was one of the few options for aspiring women artists because they were not allowed in most art schools. The official justification was that women would be shocked or corrupted by the presence of nude models. She also had a wonderful experience taking classes for 7 months in London in 1892 but became disillusioned by their emphasis on effect rather than form. She was an eager student and diligently honed her skills, carefully assimilating any critique of her drawings. Over 1200 sheets are known to exist, some two-sided.

I live entirely with my eyes now and look at everything with the mind of an artist. –Paula Becker in her diary, 1896

Paula Becker - Standing Child Nude with the Skeleton Drawn In, 1899 (cat. 108)

Paula Becker – Standing Child Nude with the Skeleton Drawn In, 1899 (cat. 108)

Paula Becker - Standing Girl Nude with Her Hands Behind Her Head, c. 1899 (cat. 107)

Paula Becker – Standing Girl Nude with Her Hands Behind Her Head, c. 1899 (cat. 107)

In her eager researches, she saw an exhibition of works from the Worpswede Secessionist colony in 1895. As a result of that exposure, she included Worpswede in her vacation plans in 1897. There she befriended many people including Otto Modersohn, who would become her husband in 1901, and Heinrich Vogeler, who became one of her closest friends.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Standing Girl in Front of a Goat Shed, 1902 (cat. 27)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Standing Girl in Front of a Goat Shed, 1902 (cat. 27)

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Head of a Blond Girl in Front of a Landscape, 1901 (cat. 14)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Head of a Blond Girl in Front of a Landscape, 1901 (cat. 14)

Although Becker made extensive use of the local landscape and people in her work, many of her ideas about form, composition and texture were not embraced by the group and she had to experiment in seclusion. Becoming acutely aware of the importance of Paris to the art world, she made her first of four visits there in 1900. Initially, she was a sponge, trying to learn all she could from the old masters. But in subsequent visits, she trained a more critical eye on those anointed artists who came before. She was particularly taken by a series of mummy portraits recently excavated in Egypt; they are a kind of life-cast made in one’s youth to preserve that image for eternity after death. In viewing these, she had a breakthrough and this mask-like quality is evident in her work.

I see such a lot and believe that I am getting closer to beauty in my mind. In the last few days I have discovered form and have been thinking much about it. Until now I’ve had no real feeling for the antique…I could never find any thread leading from it to modern art. Now I’ve found it, and that is what I believe is called progress…A great simplicity of form is something marvellous. –Paula Modersohn-Becker in a journal entry, 1903

One of the Worpswede children she painted was her own stepdaughter, Elsbeth.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Bust of Elsbeth with a Flower in Her Hands in Front of a Landscape, c. 1901 (cat. 15)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Bust of Elsbeth with a Flower in Her Hands in Front of a Landscape, c. 1901 (cat. 15)

In 1905, she was accompanied by her sister, Herma Weinberg, who was a frequent and patient model. She took every opportunity to see the works of masters, such as Gaugin, found in private collections. She had high regard for two living artists, Charles Cottet and Maurice Denis, and made a point of visiting them as well. She alternated between Worpswede and Paris in her short career, gleaning the best of both worlds. In Worpswede, there was seclusion and beauty and a strong Germanic accent while in Paris there was freedom, vitality, the spirit of internationalism and access to the work of great masters. This alternation was reflected in the juxtaposition of Northern elements—an amber necklace, for instance—and those of the South—exotic fruits and flowers.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Seated Mother with a Child in Her Lap, May/June 1906 (cat. 76)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Seated Mother with a Child in Her Lap, May/June 1906 (cat. 76)

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Zwei kniende Mädchenakte, 1906/07

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Zwei kniende Mädchenakte, 1906/07

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Seated Girl with a Black Hat and a Flower in Her Right Hand, c. 1903 (cat. 32)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Seated Girl with a Black Hat and a Flower in Her Right Hand, c. 1903 (cat. 32)

Modersohn-Becker defies classification in many ways and yet we learn much in the attempt. Living between the formal periods of Impressionism and Expressionism, some say she presages those later developments, boldly forging ahead with no role models. But I believe she expresses a raw feminism that has eluded classification simply because art movements have been interpreted in terms of patriarchal scholarship. An honest analysis of her work reveals that her subject matter is a sincere and passionate expression of the female psyche.

I don’t think a man could have made these paintings. I mean she’s already gone further than so many other artists at that time. She was the first woman to paint herself nude—and on her sixth wedding anniversary, too! –Chantal Joffe in an interview with Greta Kühnast, 2014

…when I was a child, it spooked me. The smile is strange and somewhat insane and then there is this weird intimacy, like the woman is luring you into her secret room…She holds a secret and it is intriguing, but at the same time you don’t really want to know about it because you sense that it could be something horrible. –Daniel Richter in an interview with Tine Colstrup, 2014

There are many parallels to artists who followed and Francesca Woodman comes quickly to my mind when reading accounts of her life. Both women, separated by almost a century and using different means, engaged in obsessive self-exploration and created images of themselves nude. In this respect, Modersohn-Becker is a pioneer, being credited with being the first woman to paint a full-length nude of herself. Some male artists have done this before, but never before a woman. And because her images did not express the kind of idyllic sentimentality of the female body—objects of male artistic and romantic inspiration—she once again shattered conventions, ruffling the feathers of many in the artistic community.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Self-Portrait as a Standing Nude, Summer 1906 (cat. 68)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Self-Portrait as a Standing Nude, Summer 1906 (cat. 68)

Art historians often lose sight of how acculturated we can be. Many have observed the strange posture of the self-portrait and the unconventional use of fruit. The simple explanation is that Modesohn-Becker was not constrained by the established modes of symbolism. She often used fruits (particularly citrus) and flowers (like poppy and foxglove) and was able to intuit a sensible symbolic meaning. Citrus was relatively exotic at the time and thus gave extra punch to the symbolism that a more mundane fruit would not have. Also, the strange pose was not used tactically to observe some convention of modesty; breasts and pubic area were in plain view. But the positioning was meant to emphasize the mystery of the female body, one hand at the breasts and the other on the belly.

Modersohn-Becker would never be accused of painting pretty pictures—portraying local peasants, including children, in a frank introspective way. This contradicted the propaganda of the National Socialist Party (The Nazis) portraying peasants as beautiful and valued subjects of the state. Thus her work was included in two exhibitions of so-called degenerate (entartet) art in 1933 and 1937.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Girl in a Red Dress at a Tree Trunk in Front of a Background of a Clouded Sky, c. 1905 (cat. 57)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Girl in a Red Dress at a Tree Trunk in Front of a Background of a Clouded Sky, c. 1905 (cat. 57)

Even the least sentimental paintings of children have their charm and they were subjects in over 300 of the artist’s 734 cataloged paintings. But even here, she manages to avoid the traditional portrayals and brings us the child as a personality with a vivid inner world. “Creating free children will be the most distinguished task of this century,” (Rainer Maria Rilke, 1902) expressed the dominant sentiment of the time. Yet there is an undeniable sweetness when the children are paired with other children, mothers or an animal. The reality of a peasant’s life is hardship and work, little time for the niceties of raising and enjoying one’s children. It was quite usual, especially in large families, for the older siblings to raise the younger. This fact means that in studying children as they really were, which the artist did fastidiously, one comes away understanding that there would be a strong bond and solidarity between siblings and between children and animals in the absence of adult affection. Modersohn-Becker effectively illustrates this phenomenon in her paintings.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Kneeling and Standing Girls Nude, Poppies in the Background II,  1906 (cat. 73)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Kneeling and Standing Girls Nude, Poppies in the Background II, 1906 (cat. 73)

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Girl in a Birch Forest with a Cat, 1904 (cat. 48)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Girl in a Birch Forest with a Cat, 1904 (cat. 48)

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Girl with Rabbit in Her Arms, 1905 (cat. 58)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Girl with Rabbit in Her Arms, 1905 (cat. 58)

During this period, the “cult of the child” was in its heyday and images were usually idyllic and bereft of character. The portrayal of nude children were either produced as a matter of course or to exemplify ideals of purity or innocence. An examination of Modersohn-Becker’s paintings of children show them naked or wearing the most plain and indistinct clothing. This was her way of washing out any distracting cultural accoutrements and allowing the child to express the artist’s symbolic intent more clearly. Stripped of class and nationality, these images express universal ideas that can have an enduring impact on the art world, despite the artist’s short career.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Kneeling Girl Nude with a Stork, 1906/07 (cat. 87)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Kneeling Girl Nude with a Stork, 1906/07 (cat. 87)

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Two Girls in White and Blue Dresses, May/June 1906 (cat. 72)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Two Girls in White and Blue Dresses, May/June 1906 (cat. 72)

There was plenty of tension in her marriage with Otto Modersohn. Ironically, with her focus on the mystery of the female body, she failed to satisfy her own desire for children. In addition, Otto himself was just as baffled as his colleagues by Paula’s artistic ideas and was openly critical of her work. During a trial separation, Modersohn-Becker visited Paris for the fourth and final time in1906. This was a time when she really came into her own and expressed some of her most ecstatic feelings about what she was accomplishing. She returned to Worpswede one last time to try once more to have a child. This time she was successful and Mathilde was born in late 1907. Shortly thereafter Paula complained about pain in her legs which was misdiagnosed and she died from an embolism. Most of the work she did in seclusion only became known to her closest friends upon inspection of her estate. Heinrich Vogeler was one of the first and made an effort to document the artist’s output and Rainer Maria Rilke, one of her closest confidants, wrote a requiem for his cherished friend.

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Elsbeth among Fire Lilies, 1907 (cat. 91)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Elsbeth among Fire Lilies, 1907 (cat. 91)

Many women artists have found kinship in this pioneer of feminine artistic expression. Interviews with Rineke Dijkstra and Chantal Joffe bring out many of the parallels and I believe history will bear out the long-term significance of the work of Paula Modersohn-Becker.

Paula Becker - Standing Girl Nude,Turned Left, c. 1898 (cat. 109)

Paula Becker – Standing Girl Nude,Turned Left, c. 1898 (cat. 109)

Paula Modersohn-Becker - Seated Girl Nude, Turned to the Right, 1903 (cat. 35)

Paula Modersohn-Becker – Seated Girl Nude, Turned to the Right, 1903 (cat. 35)

This artist came to my attention from an associate who visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark during their exhibit of the artist (December 2104–April 2015). Another major exhibition is scheduled for the Spring of 2016 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The information for this post is gleaned almost exclusively from the museum’s excellent catalog which can be ordered through Unfortunately, I am told that the museum itself is currently out of stock. Hopefully, there will be a resurgence in interest in this artist and they will see fit to commission a reprint.

Below is a list of the excellent essays and interviews (in English) contained in the catalog:

  • Venus of Worpswede, Tine Colstrup, Curator
  • The great simplicity of form: Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Art in Modernism, Uwe M. Schneede
  • Paula Modersohn-Becker—Pioneer of Modernism: Her life and work as reflected in her self-portraits, Rainer Stamm
  • “It’s good because it’s serious. And peculiar”: An interview with the German painter Daniel Richter, Tine Colstrup
  • Paula Modersohn-Becker: Meaning of Flowers and Fruits, Gisela Götte
  • The cradled cat: Children and Animals in Works by Paula Modersohn-Becker, Verena Borgmann
  • Body of Evidence: Modersohn-Becker’s Reclining Mother-and-Child Nude, Diane Radycki
  • Paula-Modersohn-Beckers Still Lifes: Construction and Poetry, Anne Buschoff
  • “The complexity of every single human being”: Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra on Paula Modersohn-Becker, Hans den Hartog Jager
  • Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Drawings: Absolutely Modern in the Tradition, Anne Röver-Kann
  • “A radical way of seeing”: An interview with the British painter Chantal Joffe, Greta Kühnast
  • Biography, Wolfgang Werner

The Girls of Summer, Pt. 3

Alas, summer is drawing to close here in the Northern Hemisphere, but we have time to get one more of these in before it officially ends next Tuesday, September 22nd.  Let’s begin.

We’ll start with a video clip.  This is the opening scene from the German film The Baader Meinhof Complex, directed by Uli Edel. I won’t say much about the film itself, other than that it is based on a real political group that was active in Germany during the late ’60s and the ’70s.  You really should watch it.  The opening scene features the twin daughters of the Ulrike Meinhof character frolicking on a nude beach.

The Baader Meinhof Complex (official site)

Our next piece is from a photographer by the name of Elliston Lutz.  I couldn’t tease out much information about him from the internet, but I know he generally shoots (mostly adult) fashion photography.  This piece probably comes from a fashion shoot, but I couldn’t tell you which one.  In addition to this lovely photo, there’s a short video Lutz shot a few years ago for Guess Kids featuring child singer Jackie Evancho along with some other children.  You can watch that here if you’re interested.

Elliston Lutz - (Title Unknown)

Elliston Lutz – (Title Unknown)

This next artist is one of my absolute faves, and I’ve featured his work here before, in the Bare Beach Babies series.  Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (usually shortened to just Joaquín Sorolla) was a Spanish painter who specialized in Impressionistic beach scenes, mostly featuring children.  This one is aptly titled Summer.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida - Summer (1904)

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida – Summer (1904)

Wikipedia: Joaquín Sorolla

Well, what would this series be if I didn’t post at least one image by Jock Sturges?  You’ve probably seen this one before—it is one of Sturges’ most iconic images, as it features his favorite model Misty Dawn.

Jock Sturges - Misty Dawn

Jock Sturges – Misty Dawn

Wikipedia: Jock Sturges

Here’s another artist that’s appeared on the blog before, Russian painter Tatiana Deriy.  This piece references the fact that Greek goddess of beauty Aphrodite (and her Roman equivalent Venus) was supposedly born out of the sea.  That’s one of the creation myths surrounding her anyway.  There are actually several, but this is the one artists tend to gravitate to in depicting her birth.

Tatiana Deriy - The Young Aphrodite (2004)

Tatiana Deriy – The Young Aphrodite (2004)

ArtRussia: Tatyana Deriy

Here’s a photo by noted photographer George S. Zimbel.  The title, Space Babies, seems like an odd choice for a photo of children lying on the beach, but it was taken in 1959, the height of the Space Age, which kicked off in 1957 with the launch of the satellite Sputnik.  And these girls, dressed in their sunglasses and sleek swimsuits, were thoroughly modern kiddos of their time.

George S. Zimbel - Space Babies, Jones Beach, New York, 1959

George S. Zimbel – Space Babies, Jones Beach, New York, 1959

George S. Zimbel (official site)

There weren’t really any closeup shots in the other two Girls of Summer posts, so I decided to remedy that by including this photo by Jorge Pérez Carsí, a Spanish photographer from Valencia.  Its title translates to The Summer Holiday of Angela.

Jorge Pérez Carsí - El veraneo de Angela

Jorge Pérez Carsí – El veraneo de Angela

Fotocommunity: Jorge Pérez Carsí

Although it’s in black & white, this is actually a painting.  Carl Hans Schrader-Velgen actually painted many of these nudes in nature scenes, though usually he focused on adult women.  It’s unusual to see scenes of boys and girls bathing nude together, though they became more frequent as the twentieth century progressed.

Carl Hans Schrader-Velgen - Heisser Tag (1913)

Carl Hans Schrader-Velgen – Heisser Tag (1913)

I actually included a photo by this next photographer in the last Girls of Summer post.  This little girl looks like she would love to jump into that nice cool water, doesn’t she?

This image appeared on this artist’s Flickr account here.

Jonas Elmqvist - Summer by the Sea

Jonas Elmqvist – Summer by the Sea

Our next artist, who goes by the online moniker Pretty, is a Russian photographer who utilizes some special effects in her work.  There’s something that calls to mind mythological or fantasy art in this piece.

Pretty - The Girl and the Sea

Pretty – The Girl and the Sea

Pretty (official site)

Our next artist is painter Ariana Richards.  If that name sounds familiar, it should.  Richards is best known as an actress who appeared most notably as a child in the films Jurassic Park (as Lex Murphy) and Tremors (as Mindy Sterngood).  She still acts occasionally, but these days she mostly devotes herself to painting, at which she is quite talented, even winning awards for her work.  As an adolescent she occasionally did some modeling too, even appearing in a Japanese magazine.

Ariana Richards - Hannah & Dylan

Ariana Richards – Hannah & Dylan

Gallery Ariana (official site)

Wikipedia: Ariana Richards

David Hurn is an English documentary and celebrity photographer of Welsh descent.  Miners’ Week (a.k.a. Miners’ Fortnight) was an event in which miners and their families would descend on the peninsula of Barry Island off the coast of South Wales during a certain time every summer, packing the beaches.  You can see more photos and read a bit about it here.

David Hurn - Miners' Week at Barry Island

David Hurn – Miners’ Week at Barry Island

Wikipedia: David Hurn

Sven L. is a photographer who is fairly well represented on the web, so it’s odd that he never includes his last name.  I suppose it’s a privacy issue, but whatever the case, he has lots of lovely photos of children—girls mostly—and will certainly be featured here again.  I’m including two of his photos here.  I particularly like the first photo, in which the girl is wearing a filmy translucent shift or slip (and apparently nothing beneath).  I would love to see more images of the girl in this costume—it very much reminds me of the fairies and maidens that appeared in artwork of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Sven Leisering is a German photographer and many of his images are of his own daughters.

Sven L. - Beach (2011)

Sven L. – Beach (2011)

Sven L. - Panorama (2011)

Sven L. – Panorama (2011)

Flickr: Sven L.

The girl who appears in this next painting is a little older than what we ordinarily would post here, but I quite like this painting and just had to share it.  It is by French Symbolist and Orientalist painter Armand Point.  I particularly adore the girl’s hair.

Armand Point - The Bather

Armand Point – The Bather

Wikipedia: Armand Point

Here is a photo by Russian photographer (of course) Yanina Arkhangelskaya.  I could not trace this one back to its source unfortunately, and there seems to be nothing else about the artist online.

Information on this artist is indeed sparse but a few images can be found here.

Yanina Arkhangelskaya - (Title Unknown)

Yanina Arkhangelskaya – (Title Unknown)

Another Russian photographer, Vadim Petrakov, was a bit easier to find.  He has done quite a lot of work for the stock photography site Shutterstock.  Of course, this image did not come from there.  I also have another photo of these siblings by the same photographer, but I liked this one better.

This photo appears on PhotoSight here and his user account is here.  He also has a Photoline account.

Vadim Petrakov - Brother and Sister

Vadim Petrakov – Brother and Sister

Annie Cassez is a French painter and illustrator.  I actually think she’s a better still life painter than a portraitist, but I do like this piece.

Annie Cassez - La Chilienne (2010)

Annie Cassez – La Chilienne (2010)

Annie Cassez (official site)

Laimis is probably another photographer I discovered on a Russian photography site, but who knows for sure?  I could find nothing else about this artist online.  What I like about this photo is the children’s well-defined musculature.  These are kids in their prime for sure.

This image appears on a controversial Russian website called Imagesource.  The rhetoric has it that it is really a pornographic website pretending be another Flickr.  Be that as it may, Laimis simply shoots in the style of street photography and has an interest in subjects (mostly boys) he finds on the beach.  This user has 30 albums with this account.

Laimis - (Title Unknown)

Laimis – (Title Unknown)

Here’s the final piece, and yep, it’s by another Russian photographer.  Her name is Oksana Tseatsura, though she occasionally goes by Sana.  This photo is titled, appropriately enough, The Last Summer Day.  And that’s it for our Girls of Summer!  Well, for this year anyway . . .

Oksana Tseatsura - The Last Summer Day

Oksana Tseatsura – The Last Summer Day Oksana Tseatsura


Affandi and Kartika

Rarely did Indonesia’s most well known painter, Affandi, stray from his usual subjects: himself and the difficult lives of the ordinary people.

Affand – Affandi & Kartika (1943)

Affand – Affandi & Kartika (1943)

Indonesian artists were radically cut off from the outside world; there were no shows of modern art until the late 1930s.  And conversely, when Affandi toured in India, Europe, America, and Brazil in the ’40s and ’50s he was one of the few artists from his young country to show abroad.

Affandi – Kartika (1941)

Affandi – Kartika (1941)

Affandi did not work in a studio, but outdoors in the open and he was sometimes attacked by the same common people he chose as his subjects; on one occasion sand was apparently thrown at him and the villagers taunted him—calling his painting incomprehensible.

Affandi – Kartika (1943)

Affandi – Kartika  (1943)

Affandi eventually gave up using a brush and applied paint directly from the tube onto the canvass; he painted with his hands and mixed paint on his wrist.

Affandi – Potret met dochter (1939)

Affandi – Potret met dochter (1939)

Affandi had a very close relationship with his daughter from his first wife.  He traveled together with Kartika and began teaching her to paint from age seven.  In fact, Kartika went on to a career as an impressionist artist herself—also painting many self-portraits and the ordinary Indonesian people.

Affandi – Kartika menggambar babaknya (1943)

Affandi – Kartika menggambar bapaknya, “Kartika drawing father” (1943)

Affandi remarked on the topic of girls and his painterly motivations,

“One day an art collector looked in my studio and said he couldn’t select any of my paintings because the paintings he saw hurt his feelings. He asked me why I didn’t make paintings of beautiful objects: landscapes, girls, and so forth. I too like beautiful things, but they do not necessary provide inspiration for my work. My subjects are expressive rather than beautiful. I paint suffering – an old woman, a beggar, a black mountain … I do know the danger of doing paintings with this in mind. I have no intention of becoming a social propagandist, and I must be careful. One day, in India, visiting a village with my daughter Kartika, I saw a dead body covered by a mattress.  Kartika said, ‘That’s a good subject for you.’ I felt very touched by what we had seen, but I told her I would not paint it. My next painting was of a flower, in reality very fresh, but which on my canvas lacked all life.”

Affandi – Kartika tidur, "Kartika sleeping" (1936)

Affandi – Kartika tidur, “Kartika sleeping” (1936)

Affandi’s legacy, not withstanding his works and his painter daughter who survives him, is his museum in Jogjakarta, which he designed himself in the later years of his life, here is the link to the Affandi Museum site.

Soviet Postcards, Part 6: L.F. Mileeva

This item comes from a series featuring artists from Ryazan. This oil painting is entitled “Natasha”.

L.F. Mileev - Наташа (Natasha) (1929)

L.F. Mileeva – Наташа (Natasha) (1929)

Lubov Fedorova Mileeva (1894-1930) was born in Ryazan, but worked in Leningrad, the Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia. She graduated from the Art School Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in 1914 and collaborated on two prominent Soviet magazines. She participated in ethnographic expeditions and in 1926, created a series of works devoted to the peasants of Ryazan. In addition to being a painter, she was also a skilled draftsman and noted illustrator of children’s books. She won numerous awards during her short career including a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1925 and a posthumous solo exhibition of her work was held in Ryazan in 1936. Collections of her work can be found in the State Russian Museum and the Ryazan State Regional Art Museum.

Soviet Postcards, Part 4: V.P. Efanov

Today’s postcard is from a series entitled: “Soviet Russia” Art Exhibition. The sensitivity of the composition strongly suggests this is a more personal work, perhaps the artist’s own daughter.

V.P. Efanov - Marinka (1959)

V.P. Efanov – Маринка [Marinka] (1959)

Vasily Prokofevich Efanov (1900-1978) studied at the studio of D. N. Kardovsky in Moscow from 1921 to 1926 before teaching at the Moscow Surikov Institute of Art (1948-1957) and then the Lenin Moscow Pedagogical Institute from 1960. He is known for his work in portraits—including formal ones of prominent Soviet figures—but his narrative pieces tended to be group compositions. During his distinguished career, he received a number of awards and medals for services to the state including the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and was formally given the title of People’s Artist of the USSR in 1965. Like many of the Soviet artists being covered, there is little about him in English and I could find nothing about his personal life. I would certainly like to know who Marinka was, so once again, anyone having more extensive information about this artist is encouraged to come forward and share.

The Connoisseur: David Hamilton

On November 25, 2016, David Hamilton died under suspicious circumstances.  The details of the case are not clear.  However, there are some excellent comments made on the December ‘Maiden Voyages’ post which are worth examining.  -Ron

A few months ago, a friend reminded me that April 15th was David Hamilton’s 80th birthday. Although Hamilton’s work covers an older age range than that usually addressed by Pigtails in Paint, I still felt it important to show his work at some point simply because he was an important influence on many artists and played an important role in my own discovery of the mysteries of the young girl. Therefore, it seemed important to have some thoughtful coverage of this artist before the end of the year, and due to circumstances outside my control, I am just managing to get this in under the wire. Also, even though Hamilton mainly covered girls budding into womanhood, he nonetheless captured a few fine examples of girls at the younger end of the age spectrum.

David Hamilton - from I Grande Fotografi Argento (1984)

David Hamilton – from I Grande Fotografi Argento (1984)

The importance of Hamilton’s work personally and to many others, to be sure, is that since his books are widely available, they have probably been our introduction to the young girl nude. Despite this, I must confess that as I learned of the work of other artists, I did not consider Hamilton’s work the acme of the craft, maybe because of his preferred age range or maybe his incessant dreamy eroticism which is perhaps too narrow a focus. Nonetheless, in preparing for this post–and as has happened with many other artists–I gained a new respect and appreciation for the artist. I was told the best expression of his thoughts and life appeared in the book 25 Years of an Artist. After reading this in detail, I felt I got to know this gentle spirit a little and now believe that his words and thoughts may perhaps be even more beautiful than his images.

The original French text was organized and written by Philippe Gautier and adapted for English by Lilian James. This was the first time Hamilton agreed to sit down and write down his thoughts about his life and artistry. Gautier’s introduction frames the significance of Hamilton’s unconcealed obsession. When Dreams of Young Girls, the first album of his photographs, was published in 1970, in Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States, it is important to realize that they are not only the dreams of an artist but that shared by a freer, more aware, less violent society and one promising sexual liberty.

David Hamilton - from Dreams of a Young Girl (1971) (1)

David Hamilton – from Dreams of a Young Girl (1971) (1)

David Hamilton - from Dreams of a Young Girl (1971) (2)

David Hamilton – from Dreams of a Young Girl (1971) (2)

Gautier and James believe that what is erotic in Hamilton’s photographs is the juxtaposition of two traditionally contradictory concepts: sexuality and purity. This contradiction developed under the influence of Christendom and by 1969 Hamilton’s pictures were for many a breath of fresh air, not only complementing women’s new-found sexual freedom but offering acceptance of their nudity as a perfectly viable state. Now these awakenings of yesterday are threatened by intolerance and a jaundiced eye.

“Life has given me one very important gift: the ability to appreciate perfect simplicity, whether of nature or of the human form.”

Hamilton’s earliest memories were of the declaration of the Second World War. Churchill’s plan to evacuate London children to the safety of the countryside proved a blessing. Suddenly, the boy found himself transplanted from the dreary city to a new life in the countryside and a childhood spent climbing trees with birds-nesting, fishing and swimming. So in 1939, Hamilton began his true life in Dorset at the home of Lady Talbot who lived in a greystone Georgian mansion in the village of Fifehead Magdalen where he was given a room of his own, lodged in a delightful cottage on the grounds, where the lady’s cook and butler lived. He admits to being spoiled, given good food and exposure to fine clothing by the husband and wife, and even in those early days his ideas about clothes and shoes were very well-defined. Although he enjoyed the country life, he still found school and the requisite visits to church twice every Sunday boring.

After more than five years in Dorset, he returned to London at the end of the war, which was not at all pleasant. His home was in Kennington and his mother lived alone, his father having disappeared shortly after his birth. However, soon after his return a man moved in with them and later married his mother. They had a daughter, Mary, but Hamilton had little contact with his step-father, as he wanted to preserve his new-found independence and the particular outlook on life he was beginning to develop.

The second chapter of his life, from the age of twelve to eighteen, was dominated by a passion for cycling. His enthusiasm for the sport knew no bounds and he managed, by borrowing money, to buy Apo Lazarides’ bicycle, the same one which was ridden in the Tour de France. It took a year to repay the loan. “The concept of a man and machine, working together as one, brought me to my first appreciation of the beauty of shape and form: bicycle and rider were as pure in line as horseman and mount.” Nothing else seemed to matter, neither school nor girls, who seemed at that time out of reach anyway. One particular bicycle ride through Dulwich Park with friends stuck in his memory:

“It was a warm day and we had stopped to catch our breath when I saw something, fleetingly, which made a lasting impression upon me. Two boys and a girl were on the grass. One of the boys had pinned the girl down, and the other boy had pulled up her dress and was sliding blades of grass and daisies between her knickers and her skin. The three of them were rolling around, giggling and joking. Without understanding why, the eroticism of this incident affected me profoundly. I made no comment to my friends but the scene and the feelings it aroused remained with me.”

During early adolescence, two people came into Hamilton’s life who were to exert important influences upon him. One was his uncle, William Leat, who undoubtedly gave him a taste for the good things in life, wearing the finest suits, handmade shoes and shirts after whom Hamilton eventually adopted as his own style. The other was Terry Round, and the two of them were inseparable and became involved in numerous escapades and slightly nefarious activities. They played cards regularly and as betting had not been legalized then, it was a fairly hazardous enterprise. Gambling became their main source of income. His taste for expensive clothes was well-developed and he would buy everything he could with his ill-gotten gains. The two adolescents had little money but they managed to dress like millionaires.

Hamilton left school at fifteen and became an apprentice in a small firm, and as he was good at making things, he wanted to get some technical training. He began by meticulously learning carpentry and cabinet-making. The firm manufactured huge shop counters made entirely by hand. Some of the carpenters would come to him if there were technical problems or difficulties reading a plan. He would explain things and this ability soon enabled him to move from the work room to the planning room where he drew plans. He asked a friend, who was a photographer, to travel around London and photograph the façades of all the fashion stores for him and collected them in an impressive catalog which came in handy when it came to designing shop fronts himself. At barely the age of 18 he had already begun to earn a respectable living from his expertise.

About this time he had an urge to see Paris and hitch-hiked there with Round. His first discovery was the crowded Place de Clichy, buzzing with life and activity. For the first time he saw restaurants with people sitting outside, eating and watching the world go by. They did see many attractive girls there but they did not dare to approach them, particularly since neither of them could speak French. In London the only opportunity to meet girls was at the dance-hall. The girls had to leave before midnight and so the young men would take them home in the hope of a goodnight kiss. One night at the dance Hamilton had a success. He met a girl who seemed to like him and she let him take her home. Her family was out and he was invited in. As Hamilton was totally inexperienced, she made all the advances. In retrospect, his first sexual encounter was far more disconcerting than it was edifying.

At twenty he left home and moved to an attic flat in Hampstead, where he met his first girlfriend, Marie, at a party. For several months they shared his small flat. Though short, the relationship was important; it was the first time that either of them had made love, and Hamilton made his second trip to Paris with her. Those early trips to Paris convinced him that he should settle there.

Having worked for some time with a firm of architects in London, Hamilton assembled a collection of drawings and showed them to Siegel, a company in Paris. He changed employers from time to time but was always paid the same meager sum for drawing store layouts. One of his jobs was with architects whose business had been started by a Frenchman and a young American, Bill Perry, with whom he became a close friend. Perry was rich, had a Mercedes-Benz, and spoke some French and became Hamilton’s mentor, making life a little easier.

He had begun to paint; Max Ernst’s La Ville Endormie fascinated him. In his cramped room he had painted a very large canvas. After all this strenuous effort, he noticed one section that he particularly liked, cut this out and submitted it to the Biennale, where it was chosen, along with three hundred entries, from three thousand applicants. Hamilton dreamt of being a painter, but after going to several cocktail parties given by the Vicomtesse de Noailles, where young painters were invited, he realized painting would not pay the rent, and so he continued to work in the architects’ offices.

Another vivid memory of Hamilton’s took place when he moved to another small room on the Rue d’Alger. He recounts that from his window he could see, on the other side of the courtyard, the inside of another room where a young woman lived.

“Often, in the mornings or evenings, we would wave and smile to one other. We had never spoken but nevertheless, these few silent gestures had created an intimacy between us. She would undress and wash herself in front of the window with a total lack of concern. One summer morning, very early, I decided to visit her. It seemed that all the girls living in the building knew each other, as the doors of their apartments were open to let in the cool air. With a rose in one hand, and my shoes in the other, I tiptoed across the hall. I came to a door which was ajar, and recognised my neighbour. She was naked on her bed; lying on her back, one leg outstretched and the other bent over. A lovely picture—a painting by Bonnard come to life. I looked at her for a moment, then realised that she was not alone; a man slept next to her, he too was naked. I left the rose for her. In my mind’s eye the image remains; the girl asleep in that beautiful position, the sheets in disarray; it is a favourite pose, which I have used many times in my photographs.”

David Hamilton - Napping, South of France (1988)

David Hamilton – Napping, South of France (1988)

One day Peter Knapp, whom he had met several times at exhibitions, offered him a job at his magazine Elle. Hamilton was responsible for the layout of the magazine and it was there he met Michel Paquet who became a close friend and colleague. Knapp was the art director and would tell them what he wanted in each edition. Hamilton was in charge of the fashion section and would take the elements of the layout and organize them into 12, 15 or 20 pages. This way of working was an innovation and several of the top people from Queen magazine came from London to see them. Because he was English, they offered him the position of art director. In 1960 he accepted the offer and returned to London, taking Paquet with him.

They worked hard at Queen to make it a success, and Hamilton published one of the very first photographs of a David Hockney painting. One day Irving Penn’s agent came by and unpacked a suitcase crammed with photographs. When he saw the strength and the quality of the work, he bought everything. It cost a small fortune but many of Penn’s photographs were published over time, which contributed to the success of Queen. After more than a year with Queen, Hamilton had a disagreement with Jocelyn Stevens, the chief executive, about one of Terence Donovan’s photographs, which he wanted to publish as a two page spread, but Stevens was against the idea. Hamilton tried to stand firm, but the executive would not listen to his ideas, so he and Paquet left immediately and returned to Paris.

An attempt was made to return to Elle but that was not possible, so he was offered a position as art director of Printemps Department Store. Here Hamilton was responsible for all the promotional flyers, the publicity which appeared in magazines and the billboards outside the store. The exceptional quality of the fashion publications at that time was due to the fact that the art directors made the decisions and gave the photographic layout priority over the text. Peter Knapp at Elle, for example, had discovered Gene Laurence, an American photographer with a great deal of talent but no money and bought and published his work. When Hamilton was at Queen he bought photographs from Laurence and owed his early ventures into photography to him. Later things changed: the words took precedence over the photographs and general layout, and the quality and prestige of these magazines deteriorated.

Hamilton became increasingly interested in photography, and it was inevitable that he should begin to indulge in it. He bought a camera, which was not quite as simple to master as he had thought. Eventually, “I took some very simple shots: random objects, street scenes. We often used young Swedish models at Printemps for the fashion pages and I started photographing them… I practised this new hobby and experimented with a flash light but found I could never achieve what I wanted with artificial lighting.”

His studio became a popular meeting place for models, artists and photographers. Often forty or more people would crowd into the forty square meters and line up outside the door if it was too packed.

“It was when I was working for Printemps that I discovered St. Tropez, in its sublime setting with beaches where people sun-bathed in the nude. It was a world that was completely new to me, and nothing, during my youth in England, or the life I had led until then, had prepared me for it.”

He decided to buy a house in nearby Ramatuelle in 1962 and went there regularly with models, to shoot his first fashion photos. It was in this place that he was able to create his special style of photography. “The village, the surrounding countryside, provided perfect settings, full of softness and charm, and it was, for me, a life so beautiful and new, that I wanted to show, through my work, this earthly paradise. I went there at every opportunity.”

David Hamilton - Young girl at the window, Saint-Tropez (1978)

David Hamilton – Young girl at the window, Saint-Tropez (1978)

Hamilton’s work at Printemps interested him less and less. His stubbornness about artistic choices, perhaps taken as arrogance, created sufficient resentment to get him dismissed in 1965. Fortunately by that time he had begun to enjoy photography, and his professional status over the preceding years meant that he had established good contacts with publishers and models. He engaged in photography for his own pleasure but also took on freelance work, including fashion photos.  “I had been fascinated for some years by the beauty of two particular young women, whom I have previously mentioned: Jean Shrimpton and Celia Hammond. Both were tall and slender with long legs end exquisite bone structures – the high cheekbones, high brows, retroussé noses. For me and many others, these two were the epitome of feminine beauty.”  Then two years later Twiggy came on the scene; Hamilton liked her very much and felt she gave hope to all young girls who, like her, had little in the way of a bosom or hips. His preference for tall, slender bones was inspired by these three women, and it was therefore natural for him to choose similar models for his photographs.

David Hamilton - Pia, St. Tropez (1975)

David Hamilton – Pia, St. Tropez (1975)

The light in the South of France is so beautiful that the artist found artificial lighting unnecessary. He prefers pastel colors and soft shades, which is why he never shoots pictures in bright sunlight. This attitude extends to his models as well; he found that blondes are best for such settings because the characteristic in a true blonde, or in a redhead, is the translucency of the skin, the color of the hair and the distribution of body hair. He says he would have found it difficult to photograph naked brunettes, whose hair and pubis would have been in stark contrast to the softer shades. The great classical painters never depicted the pubis in their nudes; it was blotted out or discreetly covered, thus maintaining the sense of mystery. “The paradox of the erotic is that it reveals and hides simultaneously.”

David Hamilton - False innocence, South of France (1986)

David Hamilton – False innocence, South of France (1986)

The German magazine Twen, managed by Willy Fleckhaus, published his first photographs. The ones taken for Printemps were fashion pictures and were rarely signed by the photographer. The photos in Twen and Réalité in France, were published under his own name and more of his work appeared in Photo. Free of all professional obligations, he could work assiduously on his own images and soon had enough material to put together his first album, Rêve de Jeunes Filles (Dream of Young Girls), with accompanying text by Alain Robbe-Grillet. The composition of this first album was inspired by Leonard Cohen’s song Suzanne, the words of which had been translated and used as captions. The first editions sold very quickly; then there came copies which were mass-produced and the quality of the prints was not as good as Hamilton would have liked. Nevertheless, the response was phenomenal, but there were a few detractors. Hamilton’s work was criticized for its erotic expression which was claimed to lack realism. Journalists exclaimed that people don’t really live like that, but the remarkable fact is that Hamilton really does live that way in his sanctuary in Ramatuelle—with the girls. He is convinced that the public liked his work because it was natural and uncontrived, something that cannot be found in a studio portrait. This state of affairs understandably provokes envy because he is able to realize his dreams and make money at the same time.

David Hamilton - Maggy, Ramatuelle (1988)

David Hamilton – Maggy, Ramatuelle (1988)

Hamilton was asked to direct the film Emmanuelle, but as this wasn’t the kind of thing he wanted to do, he declined. There were also many requests for publicity photos, but he has always found it difficult to work to order and has never been pleased with the results. One exception was his work for Nina Ricci perfumes on the L’Air du Temps campaign.

No biography of David Hamilton is complete without dealing with probably his most contentious peculiarity—his partiality for a particular theme: the young girl. In 25 Years of an Artist, he explains why he finds a particular type of girl so immensely attractive and why she has become the main feature of his work:

“There exist among young girls, within a clearly defined age group, some rare beings who are able to exert a powerful erotic attraction upon certain much older men. It is a kind of magic, a fleeting charm which touches such men, of whom I am one, in a secret part of their sensibility. By means of my photographs I make a sincere confession that few men, bewitched as I am by the forbidden desire, will dare to make.”

Hamilton goes on to explain that not all young girls of this age have this rare quality; no common trait of character differentiates them from the rest, but in observing them closely, one has the impression from their attitude and their gaze, that they sense the particular attraction they exert around them, thus rendering them different. They seem aware of it, and sometimes play on it.

“It seems to me that their femininity is revealed sooner than that of their contemporaries. A femininity too mature for their age, an animal instinct that they already know to be right for them, even if they decide to hold out against it for as long as possible. This intuition, which they do not understand, tends to make them discreet, shy, and thus mysterious. These young nymphs who fascinate me, often shun the avid gaze of the public which reflects an awareness of the beauty that they themselves are trying to ignore. However, being able to recognise them, to approach them and to understand them with patience and trust, I have felt their need to express the difficulties they face from having suddenly found a sensuality that took them by surprise. Some of them would give anything to be different; to be ‘normal’, as they sometimes dare to say. It is true, the rare delicacy of their physical appearance sets them apart, and everyone knows how much it costs to be different in this world… these young girls take refuge in dreams which they have wished me to bring into reality.”

David Hamilton - The mirror, Ramatuelle (1986)

David Hamilton – The mirror, Ramatuelle (1986)

Hamilton later discovered that other artists and writers had this same passion; Laclos described the type in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, written in 1782 and the great painter Balthus did not try to hide it in his work. A writer would need an exceptional talent to expound on such a sensitive subject without risking alienation. Hamilton believed Vladimir Nabokov such a talent. The author of the unique novel established the name Lolita as the icon for young girls in possession of that certain fatal charm.

David Hamilton - Homage to Balthus, South of France (1980)

David Hamilton – Homage to Balthus, South of France (1980)

Hamilton describes the first time he experienced this powerful attraction:

“The first time I clearly perceived in myself the attraction to this particular beau idéal, was on the beach at Bournemouth in England in 1966. I had known and photographed many beautiful girls but had never, until then, experienced what can only be described as a revelation. The girl was playing on the beach with her younger sister, and immediately I noted the long line of her legs, the delicate structure of her body, and most especially, her feline face, the cat-like eyes with the heavy upper lids. Looking at her, I could see the great beauty she would one day become. Her name was Mandy and I asked her where her parents were. I introduced myself to her mother and wondered if she would agree to my taking some pictures of her daughter when she was a little older. Surprised and flattered, the mother seemed to like the idea and I promised that I would give her a call in about two years. I couldn’t understand why I had made this appointment so far in advance, but it seemed important to me and two years later I did contact her.”

David Hamilton - Mandy, Ramatuelle (1971)

David Hamilton – Mandy, Ramatuelle (1971)

This first chance encounter was followed by others which changed his life in ways that he could never have imagined. Another important encounter took place in 1969 on a trip to the Canary Islands. There he saw Mona for the first time; she was nineteen years old and the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Mona came to Paris at Christmas that year and thus their long relationship began. Eventually, they went their separate ways but she remains a central figure in his work. Hamilton has taken more pictures of her than of any other girl and she also starred in his first film, Bilitis.

For years, film producers had been suggesting that he direct a film to bring his young girls to life. He had repeatedly refused because he knew that cinema brought together various talents, techniques and personalities; his pictures have always been created spontaneously and privately. The beautiful play of light which lasts but a few moments can be captured by the camera, but with a team, with complex machinery and the need to shoot a scene several times, you can be certain that something will have changed–a cloud will have moved or the sun will have set. However, Henri Colpi, a director and film producer, and Bernard Daillencourt, a director of photography, had the talent and the experience to make Bilitis. The subject and the title come from Pierre Loüys’ Les Chansons de Bilitis, prose poems published in 1894. They filmed in surroundings familiar to Hamilton: the hills of Ramatuelle, the beaches and the castle of St. Ame above the commune of St. Tropez. The arrival of the set designer, Eric Simon, was essential to Bilitis’ success. Extremely talented, he created sets for many films, and he and Hamilton immediately found they had much in common. The film was released in 1976 and was very successful.

David Hamilton - from Bilitis (1976)

David Hamilton – from Bilitis (1976)

Others films followed with varying degrees of success: Laura, les ombres de l’été (1979), Tendres Cousines (1980) and Premier Désir (1983). Even the effects of the bad experiences making these films were not all negative; they made the artist take stock of his work and goals. His first love was painting; he felt he did not have the necessary technical ability or patience to devote himself to it, so instead he redoubled his efforts to make his photography emulate art. His ballet dancers were by Degas, his still-lifes by Cézanne. This is a practice that has been debated for decades, since the advent of photography itself.

Among his contemporaries Hamilton admired Robert Mapplethorpe, even though his style was radically different. He is surprised that there are so few young photographers today who have followed in the footsteps of the pictorialists. He would have been among the first to encourage and support them, assuming they made the effort to learn something of the history of photography and its great principles. Hamilton works with a fully open lens aperture to obtain a characteristic flatness, without perspective, similar to the frescoes at the beginning of the Renaissance. “I believe that it is a mistake to think that photography can offer an accurate representation of reality. There is always interpretation, even in photographs taken for the purpose of reporting.” Hamilton has little interest in the technical aspects of photography, a fact which sometimes disappoints many students. In many respects he has remained an amateur. He feels that because today’s photography is associated with so many technicalities and tricks, its spontaneity, freshness and beauty have been lost. He may be pleased to know that the ease of using digital technology may be reversing that trend.

Thus, to find his influences, it is necessary to look among the painters. Not being formally trained, he takes a very personal view guided by what concerns him as a photographer. “Those paintings which move me most are those which exploit the fact of the painting itself, as conceived in a single dimension, on a flat plane, such as Giotto’s frescoes where perspective has purposefully been ignored.” Such simplicity is also recognized in the work of Uccello. Cranach the Elder painted some nudes in which Hamilton can discern the criteria for sensuality that he looks for today; the errors of proportion here and there create a feeling of innocence. After the Renaissance, his taste in painting jumps forward to Gauguin and Matisse. “It is impossible not to like the red, or the green, their density and texture.” He admires the great draftsmen too: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphaël. Drawing is, perhaps, the most abstract of art media, perhaps the least illusionistic. And so, with his photography, he has made a humble attempt to move closer to this purity.

David Hamilton - The three graces, homage to Raphael, Ramatuelle (1988)

David Hamilton – The three graces, homage to Raphaël, Ramatuelle (1988)

“I move naturally towards an existence which is becoming ever more simple and harmonious. It seems to me that an accomplishment, no matter what it might be, is not an attempt to build, to amass, as one might imagine, but to depict, to clear away an imaginary landscape. A photograph is capable of changing attitudes. There is more beauty in the perception than there is in the subject. It is a question of the attention that one brings to the things around one: a face, a hand, a cloud, a tree. Should you, while in a taxi, pass a tree which, at that precise hour of the day, in that particular light, seems beautiful to you, you must stop the car. Immediately. You must take the picture immediately. Do not tell yourself ‘l’ll come back tomorrow, at the same time…’ No. Everything will be different. The light will no longer be there, or a crane will have been hoisted on a neighbouring construction site, or simply your perception will have changed, and what you had momentarily seen will have gone. If you are on a beach and you notice a face, or a body, that stands out from the crowd, the sight of which makes your heart leap in your breast, then stop. If your feeling is honest and sincere, it will help you find the right words. Who knows what could then come from such a meeting?”

It is disconcerting after hearing Hamilton’s beautiful words and seeing his images that his work has become the basis for convictions on possession of indecent images in the UK. In one successful appeal in 2011, the judge publicly criticized the Crown Protection Service (CPS) for their unfair pursuit of individual purchasers of these books rather than seriously investigating the publisher or retailer. Of course this advice is a two-edged sword and may make the printing and publishing of this material much more difficult.

David Hamilton - from Holiday Snapshots (1999)

David Hamilton – from Holiday Snapshots (1999)

* I am aware that these scans cannot possibly do justice to David Hamilton’s work, so anyone with better scans that show more fidelity and subtlety of tone are welcome to contribute. Also, I have taken the liberty of transcribing James’ English adaptation that I have used to produce this post for those who would like to read the complete story themselves.

David Hamilton (Wikipedia entry)

The Brothers Sijben de Maroye

Recently Ray Harris made a post on his Novel Activist blog about Dutch painter Marcel von Sijben de Maroye and I liked his style, inspiring my to research him further.  As I did, I encountered another painter with the same last name, Edmond von Sijben de Maroye.  Initially I thought they may have been the same painter; it is not unusual for European artists, who frequently have four or five names rather than the currently customary three, to be listed under more than one combination of their name.  But I happened across a site that had work by both artists, and it gave birth and death dates for both.  Edmond and Marcel were born in 1876 and 1878 respectively, and if I had to guess, I would place them as siblings, owing to the nigh identical Impressionistic style of their work and the very close birth dates.  The trouble is, there is virtually nothing on the internet about either one—not in English anyway.  So, I’m going to put my (rather negligible) reputation on the line and just say outright that they were brothers.  If anyone else has additional information to support or contradict this, I would welcome it.  Although I was only able to pin down the date on of them, I’m fairly certain all of these works were painted in the early part of the 20th century.

[Editorial update, 2016/06/01: Indeed, Edmond (1876–1970) and Marcel (1878–1962) von Sijben are brothers.]

This first piece is Neoclassical in tone, if not in technique.  It is an idyll, which is a kind of allegory of paradise.  Note the filmy, translucent clothing of the boy and girl at right.

Edmond von Sijben de Maroye – Mother and Children in a Field

Edmond von Sijben de Maroye – Two Children in a Meadow

Marcel von Sijben de Maroye – Girl in a Charleston Dress (Portrait of Princess Juliana) (1927)

Marcel von Sijben de Maroye – Nude Girl

Marcel von Sijben de Maroye – Nude Child

Flowerbuds of the Desert: Girls and Orientalism, Pt. 2

Continuing with our assortment of Orientalist works . . .

Eva Roos – Young Girl

Wikipedia: Eva Roos

Frederick Goodall – An Egyptian Flower Girl

Frederick Goodall – The Song of the Nubian Slave

The Goodall Family of Artists: Frederick Goodall, R.A. (official site)

Wikipedia: Frederick Goodall

Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre – Orientale à la tortue, aux bains

Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre – The Approach of the Master

Gustave Achille Guillaumet – Intérieur à Bou-Saâda – scène orientale

Gustave Achille Guillaumet – Deux enfants arabes assis

Wikipedia: Gustave Achille Guillaumet

Isidore Pils – Kabyles

Wikipedia: Isidore Pils

I really like this next painting. Yes, young children are the same everywhere.

John Bagnold Burgess – The Meeting of East and West

Wikipedia: John Bagnold Burgess

John Singer Sargent – Nude Egyptian Girl (1891)

Tons of online resources for Sargent . . .

John Singer Sargent: The Complete Works

JSS Virtual Gallery

Wikipedia: John Singer Sargent

Edwin Lord Weeks – Moorish Girl Lying on a Couch, Rabat, Morocco

Antonio Fabrés y Costa – Young Oriental Girls

Wikipedia: Antonio Fabrés

Paul Alexandre Alfred Leroy – Idle Moments

Paul Alexandre Alfred Leroy – Portrait of a Young Girl

Paul Elie Dubois – Jeune Morocaine à Figuig 

Paul Elie Dubois – Pastorale au Hoggar

Paul Elie Dubois – The Family of Tinguelouz from Hoggar

Rudolf Ernst (attributed) – An Eastern Bazaar

Wikipedia: Rodolf Ernst