And I Bring You . . . Falles

Catholicism is not without its raucous holidays and celebrations, with quite a few of them being largely local affairs.  The most prominent one in the U.S. is Mardi Gras, which has an analog in Brazil’s Carnaval.  Both are festivals of decadence and indulgence leading up to the weeks of fasting and austerity called Lent, and there are similar events throughout the realms of Catholicism.  Although celebrated around the same time, the Valencian holiday of Falles, which officially begins on March 15th (that’s right, it starts in only a few days) and ends on March 19th, is not associated with this cycle.

Basically, Falles (a Valencian word meaning ‘torches’) is a five-day-long outdoor party held in honor of St. Joseph in which each successive day is given over to progressively bigger and more involved pyrotechnic displays, culminating on the last evening, the Night of Fire, with La Cremà.  This final spectacle is where the holiday gets its name, for during La Cremà immense wood, paper, wire and paint constructions–the falles themselves–are set alight in the streets and squares of Valencia.  What makes this so fascinating, I think, is that the falles aren’t the sloppily built towers of cheap wood you would expect them to be; no, they are in fact elaborately and carefully crafted sculptures planned, designed and constructed for months prior to Falles.  In fact, the appreciation of these disposable artworks has become an affair unto itself, with the casal fallers competing to be recognized for the best falla.

These sculptures are more often than not satirical or humorous in nature, sometimes even bawdy.  Nudity is not unusual, nor is ripping off famous or distinguished sources, which is where the satire comes in.  Keep in mind that, although there are toned-down versions of these for small children, called falles infantil, which are burnt earlier in the evening, children attend the burning of the falles major as well.

In 2013 one of the falles submitted for judgment was created by artist Manuel Algarra; it was titled Futuro a la vista! (Future in Sight!) and was a giant sculpture-in-the-round featuring toddlers engaged in a variety of occupations.  Although it was never identified as the inspiration for the piece, I immediately recognized one of the toddler figures as based on a J.C. Leyendecker-illustrated cover for the Saturday Evening Post.

J.C. Leyendecker - Saturday Evening Post - January 4, 1936 (cover)

J.C. Leyendecker – Saturday Evening Post – January 4, 1936 (cover)

I have since encountered another cover with one of the other babies–the boy with the cuckoo clock–as the central figure, and I discern, based on the consistency of their style, that all of them are actually based on Leyendecker’s work.  The final falles design can be seen in a flat conceptual form (I couldn’t find a larger version of this image, so if anyone out there has this just a bit bigger, it would be appreciated):

Manuel Algarra; J.C. Leyendecker - Futuro a la vista!

Manuel Algarra; J.C. Leyendecker – Futuro a la vista!

And here are photographs of the actual falles taken from a variety of angles:

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (1)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (1)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (2)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (2)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (3)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (3)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (4)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (4)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (5)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (5)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (6)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (6)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (7)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (7)

Although the following image focuses on a boy, I am sharing it because it really demonstrates the amount of detail that goes into the creation of these pieces.

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (8)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (8)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (9)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (9)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (10)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (10)

One can see in the background of this next photo, just behind the rocking horse, the standing pigtailed girl.  I tried to find a close-up image showing her from the front but was unable to locate one on the web.

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (11)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (11)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (12)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (12)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (13)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (13)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (14)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (14)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (15)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (15)

Sara LaPorte (YummyKitty)

yummykitty-christmas-ghos

Sara Laporte (YummyKitty) – Christmas Ghosts

yummykitty-leashes-and-te

Sara LaPorte (YummyKitty) – Leashes and Territories

yummykitty-my-baby-shot-m

Sara LaPorte (YummyKitty) – My Baby Shot Me Down

yummykitty-the-paper-wint

Sara LaPorte (YummyKitty) – The Paper Winter

yummykitty-rabbit-child

Sara LaPorte (YummyKitty) – Rabbit Child

DeviantArt: YummyKitty

Comments:

By toemailer on March 29, 2001
Wow, that sure is a different style, very interesting!

Mijn Schatje

Marie Blanco Hendrickx (better known as Mijn Schatje) is a French artist of Spanish and Dutch descent who works in digital media. She fits quite comfortably in the au current genre of baby doll surrealism. While many of these artists tend to add elements of darkness to their work as well, I find Mijn Schatje’s paintings to be sweet and pleasantly fantastic, occasionally even a touch erotic.

Here’s an amusing (and apropos) description of Mijn Schatje from her website: “As a small child, while other little girls were playing dolls, Marie Blanco Hendrickx AKA Mijn Schatje was making wishes and prayers on tombstones in the woods at her grandparents at le chateau des Ifs in the Paris area. She lived a tale of her own in that castle, and received memories made out of fireworks, treasure huntings, flower tiaras and ducks in the pond. Born to a Spanish father and a Dutch mother, Mijn traveled extensively as a child, all around Europe, then to Africa and Canada. Little Marie’s imagination took profit of that friendly and experiences-rich atmosphere to grow exponentially, she was obsessed with fairytales, mermaids, ghosts, carnivals and poetry. In her early years, not knowing much about spelling, she was also convinced Jimi Hendrix was her uncle.

marie-blanco-hendrickx-ba

Mijn Schatje – Baby Mermaid

marie-blanco-hendrickx-bed

Mijn Schatje – Bedtime

marie-blanco-hendrickx-cr

Mijn Schatje – Crazy Beautiful

marie-blanco-hendrickx-4

Mijn Schatje – Blue

marie-blanco-hendrickx-a-k2

Mijn Schatje – Title Unknown (1)

marie-blanco-hendrickx-1

Mijn Schatje – Title Unknown (2) (2006)

marie-blanco-hendrickx-3

Mijn Schatje – Title Unknown (3)

marie-blanco-hendrickx-2

Mijn Schatje – Title Unknown (4)

Myspace: Mijn Schatje

Mijn Schatje point fr

Comments:

From Cyril on March 18, 2011
Hi,
If you like the Mijn Schatje’s work, I advise you to got to this website (http://www.speightsandfaronboutique.com ) to discover a fabulous range. Journals, Postcards, Jewelry… this artist has made many different items for La Marelle, a french company working as an editor.
On this website, you can also discover many different french artists such as Nathalie Lete, Adolie Day, or Mlle Heloise.
Have a good one,
Cyril

From noblessoblige on May 6, 2011
http://everytomorrow.net/mijn/

From pipstarr72 on May 6, 2011
Thanks for the link. I’ll take a look.

Update: Having reviewed the link, those accusing her of copying others’ work definitely have a legitimate claim, I think. That said, artists rip off from each other all the time. Is there a visual arts equivalent of sampling (as used by rap and pop artists)? I would say yes. The question is, how much sampling/copying is too much? Mijn Schatje seems to straddle the line there. Her work is distinct and bears many differences from the original dolls, which to me legitimizes it. Others may have different opinions. As the Information Age advances, the lines of intellectual property will necessarily become blurred. Can the original artist(s) make the claim that Mijn Schatje’s work has financially damaged them? I suppose that is for the courts to decide. As for me, I enjoy her work.