More Than a Fairy Artist: Margaret Tarrant

Margaret Winifred Tarrant (1888–1959) was born in Battersea, England, on 19th August, 1888. She was the only child of Percy Tarrant, who was a famous landscape painter, and Sarah Wyatt.

There are no detailed biographies about the artist, despite her fame and prolific output, though we do know that she started her studies at Clapham High School and after graduating in 1905, continued her education at the Clapham School of Art. She briefly studied teaching, however her father believed she was unsuited to this profession and redirected her attention towards painting. Once established as an artist she studied at Heatherley’s School of Art from 1918 till 1923, as she believed a new school would improve her technique.

Margaret Tarrant - (Unknown Title) (1916)

Margaret Tarrant – (Unknown Title) (1916)

Margaret Tarrant - Dream Ships (date unknown)

Margaret Tarrant – Dream Ships (date unknown)

Tarrant’s first published works were Christmas cards and in 1908 she illustrated her first book, an edition of The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. The following year she created a series of paintings that were published as postcards by C.W. Faulkner. Over the next decade the artist continued to paint for various postcard publishers and also made illustrations for several books. Many of these works were exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Walker Royal Society of Artists and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Margaret Tarrant - Prim Told Him Her Story (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Prim Told Him Her Story (1951)

Margaret Tarrant - Peter and Friends (1921)

Margaret Tarrant – Peter and Friends (1921)

Margaret Tarrant - Good Morning Little Red Riding Hood (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Good Morning Little Red Riding Hood (1951)

During the 1920s fairies became popularised, helped by the publication of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book Do You Believe in Fairies? and Tarrant was a major part of this scene. During this decade she collaborated with Marion St. John Webb on a series of fairy books, which displayed images of fairies along with short stories and poems. The books were similar to Cecily Mary Barker’s, both artists were friends, however they differed as Tarrant’s pictures were less naturalistic, more stylised and in the Art Nouveau style. Fairy stories were not the only type of paintings that the artist produced, she also created illustrations for children’s stories, books about animals, poems and verses. Additionally, she created a series of wild flower postcards, that she considered to be her best work, and religious themes appeared often. Many examples of her religious paintings can be found in this Flickr album.

Margaret Tarrant - Sycamore (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Sycamore (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Grapes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Grapes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Yellow Horned Poppy (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Yellow Horned Poppy (1920s)

After 1920 the artist was working almost exclusively for the Medici Society, who turned her paintings into postcards, calendars, greeting cards and prints. In 1936 the Society sent her on a holiday to Palestine where she enjoyed sketching landscapes and street scenes, two subjects that she rarely painted prior to this trip.

Margaret Tarrant - The Animals That Talked (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – The Animals That Talked (1951)

Margaret Tarrant - Shepherd Pipes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant – Shepherd Pipes (1920s)

Margaret Tarrant - Toinette Sat Very Still (1951)

Margaret Tarrant – Toinette Sat Very Still (1951)

During the 1940s Tarrant slowed her output, though she did donate a lot of paintings to the war effort and produced images for about six books. With her health and eyesight deteriorating she stopped working in the mid-1950s and died from Multiple Myeloma in July 1959, leaving some pictures to friends and the rest of her estate to twelve charities.

The artist worked in many media, including pen, watercolor, graphite and silhouette type drawings. Her work is still popular today and the Medici Society is still selling prints on it’s website.

A Couple Album Covers

Regular readers of the site know that I love album covers, and I happen to have a couple of new ones to share. The first is a simple design for the Tragically Hip album Man Machine Poem. It should be noted that this may very well be the Tragically Hip’s last album, as lead vocalist Gord Downie is suffering from brain cancer.

Artist Unknown - The Tragically Hip - Man Machine Poem (2016)

Artist Unknown – The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016)

Wikipedia: The Tragically Hip

The second album cover is an absolutely beautiful piece done by Joe Helm for Queensrÿche’s latest, Condition Hüman. It’s a digitally manipulated photo (if you are observant, you can see that several of the objects do not cast proper shadows, but you really have to look closely). Guitarist Michael Wilton discusses the symbolism of the artwork with respect to the album here.

Joe Helm - Queensrÿche - Condition Hüman (2015)

Joe Helm – Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman (2015)

Linked In: Joe Helm

Wikipedia: Queensrÿche

Queensrÿche (official)

A Master of Lyon: Tony Tollet

Tony Tollet was a Lyon-based French painter who had one of the longest and most distinguished careers of his time. Born in 1857, he began his artistic career as a child when, bed-ridden because of illness, he began to produce drawings that impressed his father, who then encouraged him to take up art. In 1873, the 16-year-old Tollet did precisely that, taking up training at the École des beaux-arts de Lyon, where he would flourish under the tutelage of Jean-Baptiste Danguin and Michel Dumas. A mere six years later, he won the Prix de Paris, allowing him to further his education at the even more prestigious École des beaux-arts de Paris. Here he studied under such world-class painters as Alexandre Cabanel, Luc-Olivier Merson and Albert Maignan, and in Paris he also befriended the Flandrins, a well-established family of painters.

In 1885, he won the 2nd Prix de Rome for a piece entitled Themistocles in the Home of Admete (which I’ve not been able to track down on the internet). In 1889, with his mother growing ill, he returned to Lyon and here remained for the rest of his life, marrying Jeanne Pailleux, who bore him six children. He set up his own studio in Lyon where he painted the portraits of notable local personages and taught drawing in the municipality of Guillotière. He suffered a major setback in 1909, when his studio caught fire and was destroyed, along with all of the works contained therein. Luckily, this did not stop Tollet from starting over, and he continued to paint until 1942, well into his eighties by then. Having accomplished many honors and held several important official positions in Lyon, Tollet finally passed away in 1953, at the age of 95.

One of the artist’s most recognizable paintings is this portrait of the Bernard children, painted around 1920. This piece would of course be classified as Realism, but I feel there’s a nice balance here between the romanticism of the 19th century and the modernity of the 20th.

Tony Tollet - Portrait of the Bernard Family in Lyon (ca. 1920)

Tony Tollet – Portrait of the Bernard Family in Lyon (ca. 1920)

Unfortunately, I could never track down a color version of this piece. It is certainly a sweet painting, reminding me somewhat of the work of Mary Cassatt, though with more of a Victorian sensibility than Cassatt’s work tends to have.

Tony Tollet - Le secret

Tony Tollet – Le secret

Tony Tollet - Happy Children

Tony Tollet – Happy Children

And finally, my favorite of Tollet’s paintings, an allegorical work. The central subject of this piece is Flora, Roman goddess of flowers and springtime. Little girls, representing the springtime of human femininity, fit in nicely here.

Tony Tollet - Flore, symbole du Printemps

Tony Tollet – Flore, symbole du Printemps

Alphonse Isambert

I’m back! At least for awhile. And here’s a taste of what I have in store for you. This piece is by Alphonse Isambert, a student of the master historical painter Paul Delaroche. Isambert, like many artists of the 19th century, was heavily inspired by ancient Greco-Roman art and culture. The style here is Neoclassical, and this piece exemplifies the tradition of the idyll, with two rustic youths, likely young lovers, playing music in the woods. The title translates to Aulos Players in Arcadia.

Alphonse Isambert - Les joueurs d’aulos en Arcadie (1847)

Alphonse Isambert – Les joueurs d’aulos en Arcadie (1847)

 

Return of the Goddess: Le Tout Nouveau Testament

* * * Spoiler Alert * * *

It is a relief to know that imaginative cinema is still being produced. This review has been delayed again and again because I wanted it to make a great presentation. But when all is said and done, this film speaks for itself.

Le Tout Nouveau Testament (The Brand New Testament, 2015) takes a comical and disarmingly irreverent look at the effects that a male deity, namely God, has had on humanity. For those paying close attention, this film is a statement for the need to transform Western society into one that embraces a more feminine concept of deity.

Much has been said about the Son of God—referred to as J.C. in this film—but not the Daughter, who serves as the narrator. Her name is Ea (Pili Groyne) and has suffered under the tyranny of her father’s house for 10 years.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (1)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (1)

She tells us that God lives in Brussels and that he is an asshole—lavishing abuse on his wife, “Goddess”, and Ea. He doesn’t seem to respect her space and just barges in on her whenever he pleases.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (2)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (2)

The family lives in a house with no entrance or exit. Goddess dares not speak out of turn and does nothing but embroidery and collect baseball cards (totaling 18). Even though J.C. has not returned home since his execution on Earth, Goddess sets a place for him at the dinner table—at God’s right hand, of course.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (3)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (3)

Everyone in the family has supernatural powers except for God and Ea annoys her father with a little telekinesis at the table. God controls his creation through a computer terminal from his office, forbidding entry by anyone else. Being an impotent figure, he takes delight in causing the beings made in his own image to suffer. He creates a set of rules that seem to conform to Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The “laws” appear throughout the film as running gags, for example: when a person gets in the tub, the phone will ring; the other line is always faster; a dropped piece of toast always falls buttered side down; a piece of pottery will break only after it has just been cleaned.

Ea sneaks into her father’s office to see what he has been up to. She is horrified to see how cruel he is to human beings.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (4)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (4)

When she confronts him about this, he realizes she has been in his office and he beats her. She vows revenge and escape and consults her brother about what to do. Unbeknownst to the others, there is a figurine of J.C. that can come to life so Ea can converse with him.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (5)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (5)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (6)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (6)

He explains that the idea for the 12 Apostles was father’s simply because he liked hockey. It turned out to be a real mess and so perhaps it would be better to add 6 more to make it 18, Goddess’ favorite number. J.C. tells her how she can escape to Earth, but before she departs, she sneaks into the office again and instructs the computer to give human beings knowledge of the exact time they are going to die and then lock her father out of the system so he can’t change it back. The premise is that God’s only power over people is through their ignorance. If they know too much, they may take matters into their own hands and live the lives they want. And thus Ea has her exodus, tunneling her way to Earth.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (7)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (7)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (8)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (8)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (9)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (9)

Another one of the problems J.C. and Ea wanted to avoid was the way people tend to misrepresent the message thus causing endless disputes. Ea decides this new testament will not mention her at all, but document the wisdom of the 6 apostles she chooses. Ea never learned to write, so the first person she runs into, a dyslexic bum called Victor, is recruited as her scribe.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (10)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (10)

There are a few amusing scenes showing how this knowledge has wracked havoc on people’s lives. For example, there is the daredevil Kevin, who broadcasts the craziest stunts that manage miraculously not to kill him since he is supposed to live another 62 years. Other scenes show the resentment of children dying before their parents, one spouse before the other or caregivers before their bedridden charges.

Ea’s first disciple is Aurélie, a beautiful woman who never seems to connect with any of the men around her. When she was 7, she had a freak accident in a subway and lost her left arm. She now wears a prosthesis made of silicone. As she tells her story, Ea collects her tears in a vial and explains that she does this in part because she is unable to cry herself. She also informs each of them that they have a special music associated with them and she is able to hear it. Aurélie’s is a piece by Händel and, parenthetically, the musical score throughout the film is quite stunning.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (11)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (11)

The second is Jean-Claude, an adventurer in his youth who has since squandered his time climbing the corporate ladder. Upon learning his death date, he quit his job and became lured into one last adventure northward by a flock of birds. His music is by Rameau. He is the only one who does not stay with the group but wanders off right away after telling his story.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (12)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (12)

By this time, God realizes what Ea has done and, not being competent enough to solve the computer problem, decides to follow her to Earth to get her to fix what she did. His emergence out of a wet and soapy washing machine is very suggestive of a birth scene. Forgetting that he has no powers, he has a miserable time. People beat him up and in his cranky arrogance, he continues making things worse for himself.

The third apostle is Marc who considers himself a sex maniac. His most vivid erotic memory took place when he was 9. He was digging at a beach and this amazing German girl appeared in a turquoise bikini. He never forgot the look she gave him, a combination of interest and disgust. His music is from Purcell and when he learned his death date, he decided to take all his money and spend it all by the time he died. However, he miscalculated and ran out a bit early. Ea tells him he has a beautiful voice and he decides to earn some money by doing voice overs for adult films. Next to him playing the female role is that same German girl, all grown up and they are reunited.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (13)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (13)

In the deities’ home is the famous da Vinci painting The Last Supper and Goddess begins to notice new figures appearing every time Ea recruits someone new.

The next disciple is François whose calling was to be an assassin. He has killed countless insects and a number of small pets belonging to his cousin. He is married with a son but there is no love there. When he learns his death date, he decides to buy a rifle and start shooting at people. The rationale is that if he misses, it was not their time, if not, he was simply doing God’s will. François’ music is Schubert’s Death and the Maiden—what else?—and Ea comments that this music goes well with the Händel. She does a little matchmaking and tells him to shoot the next girl that comes along.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (14)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (14)

It turns out to be Aurélie, who is hit in her fake arm and does not even notice that anything has happened. Fascinated by this miracle, François follows her and finds himself falling in love. She eventually accepts him and gets him to give up his murderous ways.

Martine is a woman with a romantic disposition who has been married to a well-to-do man who seems unmoved by her short life expectancy. He leaves on a business trip, letting her deal with this crisis on her own. When she tells her story to Ea, she is told that her music is circus music. They visit the circus and come upon a gorilla in a cage. Martine and the beast form a mysterious emotional connection and she pays for “his” release, allowing him to live in her house.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (15)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (15)

When God finally tracks down Ea, he demands that she set things right, but she is not intimidated by him anymore. She and Victor escape by walking on the water to cross a canal. Her father is dismayed to learn that he cannot do the same. He is rescued from drowning, but because he has no papers, he is housed with Uzbeki refugees and eventually deported.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (16)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (16)

The last apostle is a boy named Willy (Romain Gelin). His mother, sensing that he was a sickly boy, gave him injections which severely damaged his liver. By the time Ea meets him, he has only one week left. Out of guilt, his parents tell him they will let him do whatever he wants and he decides he wants to be a girl—perhaps an homage to Ma Vie en Rose. Willy’s music is La Mer by Charles Trenet.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (17)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (17)

This meeting is a personal revelation for Ea and she explains to Willy how her father made everything miserable for people and that she wants to fix it. The youngsters have a kind of whirlwind romance, sharing fine meals together, dancing etc. Given the few days left to Willy, they decide to treat each day as though it were a month—calling the days of the week January, February, March, etc.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (18)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (18)

Willy decides he wants to spend his last day at the seaside and is joined by the other characters who show their support by waiting with him.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (19)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (19)

Meanwhile, with the absence of her husband, Goddess begins to get control over the house again, cleaning and fixing up the place. Going into her husband’s office to vacuum, she unplugs the computer so that when it is plugged in again, the system reboots. She begins to make changes to Earth to suit her taste and Willy is saved from death that day. Ea, observing the various and sudden changes, realizes they are her mother’s doing and looks up in gratitude.

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig - Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (20)

Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig – Le Tout Nouveau Testament (2015) (20)

This whole business of adding apostles is symbolic of the main theme of the film: that a corrupt male-dominated world will change or should change into a happier and compassionate female one.

 

The Paintings of Robert Herdman

Robert Inerarity Herdman (1829–1888) was born at Rattray, the youngest of the parish minister’s four sons. At age fifteen, he started at St. Andrews’ University with the intent of eventually entering the ministry like his father. However, this idea was soon forgotten as he spent much of his time sketching or painting.

In June 1847, he began six years of study at the Edinburgh Trustees’ Academy, where he remained as a student until the end of the 1853 session. While there, the artist became a regular recipient of prizes, winning his first award for shaded drawings, less than a year after his admission. Additionally, he obtained first and second prizes in the Antique and Life classes in 1851 and 1852 then in 1854 he won from the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) the Keith Prize and a bronze medal.

In 1855 the RSA gave Herdman his first commission where he spent a year in Italy making copies of old master paintings. In addition to these copies the artist made many of his own paintings to sell for a little income. Artistic life in Scotland revolved around the RSA and he became an Associate in 1858 and a full Academian in 1863. From 1850 until his death, the artist showed most of his works at the RSA, a total of about two hundred paintings over three decades. He also showed at the Glasgow Institute and a couple of pictures each year at the Royal Academy in London. The artist also made illustrations, which accompanied various poems and novels, for the Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland. Many of these works were minor; however in 1869 he received a major commission from the Association, for a subject of his own choice ”capable of furnishing a powerful and effective engraving”, to be issued as a bonus to subscribers for five guineas. The subject Herdman selected—After the Battle – a Scene in Covenanting Times—was not based on any literary source. It was intended to be, as a story, fully self-explanatory. Such was the acclaim of the painting that the Association unanimously decided to buy it for presentation to the newly created National Gallery of Scotland and has since become one of his most recognised images.

Robert Herdman - After the Battle A Scene in Covenanting Times (1870)

Robert Herdman – After the Battle A Scene in Covenanting Times (1870)

Another source of income came from the re-use of studies as finished pictures and the painting of small replicas of larger compositions as can be seen in this portrait of a girl. The girl that appears in this painting resembles the girl in After the Battle.

Robert Herdman - Portrait of a Girl (1876)

Robert Herdman – Portrait of a Girl (1876)

Herdman’s paintings were mainly portraits and historical compositions in oil paint, but he also produced some notable landscapes in watercolour. His portraits ranged in style from the delicate, charming and beautiful images of young women and children to the strong and characterised images of male academics; a large number of these can be viewed on ARTUK’s website.

Robert Herdman - Dressing for the Charade The Children of Patrick Allan Fraser (1866)

Robert Herdman – Dressing for the Charade The Children of Patrick Allan Fraser (1866)

Robert Herdman - A fern gatherer West Highlands (1864)

Robert Herdman – A fern gatherer West Highlands (1864)

Robert Herdman - Evening (1862)

Robert Herdman – Evening (1862)

He first visited the Isle of Arran in the summer of 1864 and the landscape became a common feature in his paintings either as the setting of his portraits or as landscape paintings. These visits were not only painting expeditions but family holidays with repeated visits year after year.

Robert Herdman - Little Messenger (1860)

Robert Herdman – Little Messenger (1860)

Robert Herdman - Fern Gatherer (1866)

Robert Herdman – Fern Gatherer (1866)

Robert Herdman - Evening Thoughts (1964)

Robert Herdman – Evening Thoughts (1964)

Robert Herdman - Morning (1861)

Robert Herdman – Morning (1861)

Robert Herdman - Pleasures of Hope (1877)

Robert Herdman – Pleasures of Hope (1877)

Robert Herdman - The Gleaner (1863)

Robert Herdman – The Gleaner (1863)

Robert Herdman - The Arrochar Gleaner (1862)

Robert Herdman – The Arrochar Gleaner (1862)

Robert Herdman - The Time of Primroses (1954)

Robert Herdman – The Time of Primroses (1954)

Robert Herdman - Bonny Bell (1859)

Robert Herdman – Bonny Bell (1859)

For those interested in seeing a list of Herdman’s paintings, there are two catalogues at archive.org. One is for the Royal Scottish Academy and one for the Royal Academy, London. These are not a full list of works by the artist but rather a list of all works hosted at these galleries.

Sprite in a Veil

These postcards are from Stuart’s collection.  The nice thing about his collection is that it was acquired decades ago and so many of the items would be hard to come by in today’s secondary market.  A single piece that might be found on a sales site today may actually have belonged to a photographic series and so it is a delight to give our readers a fuller picture rather than a single image out of context.  These postcards were probably produced just after the turn of the last century.

The setting suggests a classical child of nature or a nymph, but with a veil that satisfies the English sense of propriety.

Untitled-1-PiP Untitled-2-PiP Untitled-6-PiP Untitled-7-PiP

Michael G. Laster

About 12 years ago I discovered the work of the American artist Michael G. Laster on the web. I was impressed by the artist’s imaginative figurative paintings of adolescents. The paintings reflected a rare sincerity which gave the work an emotional beauty. Eric Fischl’s paintings from the 1980s are the only other contemporary works that come to my mind that are similar. Contemporary figurative art is expected to be “cool”; the artist is expected to wear a mask and avoid any sensitivity.

Michael G. Laster Birthright Boy and Girl

Michael G. Laster – Birthright Boy and Girl (c2004)

Laster’s Birthright is a diptych of a boy in a field of wheat and a girl in a field of flowers. The painting technique is very crude but it actually gives the work a child-like charm. The boy and girl each hold symbols of the opposite sex, the boy holds a cute cat while the girl holds a spooky bird. I only recently noticed that the boy is holding flowers in his hand from the field the girl stands in while the girl holds wheat in her hand from the field of the boy. Although the symbols are clear, the meaning of the work is still ambiguous; it is very poetic.

Michael G. Laster Playing Doctor 2004 ca

Michael G. Laster – Playing Doctor (c2004)

Laster’s drawing, Playing Doctor is like Eric Fischl’s classic work from the 1980s.

Michael G. Laster Girl Refuting Hegel's

Michael G. Laster – Girl Refuting Hegel’s Dialectic Model of History (c2006)

Unfortunately there is little information on the web about the paintings because the artist’s site has been down. The info I could find was from a post from 10 years ago by Gary Sauer-Thompson about the exhibition Based on a Thorough Understanding of the Way Things Are. A photograph from the exhibit titled Girl Refuting Hegel’s Dialectic Model of History, may be of Laster with his daughter. Either Laster has a sense of humor or she is just a really smart girl! If anyone has information about this charming work let us know. I would like to arrange an exhibit of his work. I’m afraid Laster may have stopped painting due to the cultural environment, which is a great loss.

Michael G. Laster Spring Fever

Michael G. Laster – Spring Fever (c2004)

Michael G. Laster The Little Red Haired Girl

Michael G. Laster – The Little Red Haired Girl (c2004)

Other work by Laster can be found here.

Living Blind: Roy Nachum

Pip brought to my attention this interesting item—controversial, naturally—of one of Rihanna’s new album covers. There is often a natural synergy between a musical artist and the artist who produces album cover art.

Roy Nachum was born in Jerusalem in 1979 and studied at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York. He now operates out of New York City. Nachum is accustomed to working in different media producing paintings, sculptures and installation art. He is fond of experimenting with human perception and in this case, blindness, it is an apt metaphor for our denial of the ills of our society.

In October 2015, the singer Rihanna revealed the name and cover art for her new album, ‘Anti’. The cover art, entitled If They Let Us, Part I, is derived from an actual image of the singer as a child—then named Robyn Fenty—shrouded in red paint. Apart from the crown—a symbol of achievement—which obscures her vision, the work is textured with Braille dots.

Roy Nachum - Cover to Rihanna's Anti (2015)

Roy Nachum – Cover to Rihanna’s Anti (2015)

This cover image is meant to be a part of Nachum’s ‘Blind’ series, which focuses on the concept of opening viewers’ eyes. In addition to the symbolism, it also affords the unsighted some experience of the visual arts. His dedication was demonstrated with an experiment to be blindfolded for an entire week. The artist considers this work groundbreaking, stating that this is his most important work to date.

Rihanna was introduced to Nachum’s work by longtime fan Jay Z. and according to Nachum, there was an instant connection.

Sometimes we’re running in the world of today but we’re running after achievement, after achievement . . . The crown is oversized and covering what we’re supposed to see. We can’t see the success. -Roy Nachum in a Vanity Fair interview, 2015.

With his other works, he usually writes the Braille himself. But, in this case, it is written by poet Chloë Mitchell.

I sometimes fear that I am misunderstood. It is simply because what I want to say, what I need to say, won’t be heard. Heard in a way I so rightfully deserve. What I choose to say is of so much substance That people just won’t understand the depth of my message. So my voice is not my weakness, It is the opposite of what others are afraid of. Chloë Mitchell, If They Let Us, Part I, 2015.

Roy Nachum - If They Let Us, Part I (2015)

Roy Nachum – If They Let Us, Part I (2015)

Nachum created other paintings for ‘Anti’, part of his interactive ‘Fire’ series, where blinded viewers can run their hands over the canvas and the charcoal frame, which then produce visible strokes on the canvas.

Henry Clews and the God of Humormystics

Hey, hey! Sorry I’ve been away for awhile. But I have a good one for you! Henry Clews Jr. was an American artist by birth although he moved to France in 1914 because he felt Europe would be more conducive to his artistic experimentation, and there he remained for the rest of his life. Not long after the move he completed what would become his most famous piece, the marble and bronze God of Humormystics. The central figure is the titular god, and around the base of his pedestal are three other figures, all children. They are Adam, Eve and the God of Human Love (Eros).

Clews and his wife, Elsie Whelan Goelet Clews, called Marie, purchased the Château de la Napoule, a castle located in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France which they set about restoring as it was in a state of disrepair. Once restored, they decorated it with many of Clews’ artworks including God of Humormystics, a wedding gift for Marie. Clews was an eccentric fellow who fancied himself a Don Quixote, and redubbed the castle Mancha. He also named his first son Mancha, but understandably, when he grew up he legally changed his name to Madison. Clews even called his valet Sancho.

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (1)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (1)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (2)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (2)

Here you can really see Eve, the figure lying on the ground, very well.

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (3)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (3)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (4)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (4)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (5)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (5)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (6)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (6)