Thursday, August 25, 2016

Henryk Siemiradzki, Painter of Large Works

Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki (1843-1902) was Polish, but his family was prominent in Imperial Russia, his father being an army general. As this biography mentions, he first trained in physics and mathematics, but then went on to study art in St. Petersburg.

His best known works are very large, dealing in religious and classical subjects. His style was essentially academic, but usually with lively, not stilted, subjects.

Here are some examples of his work. Click to enlarge.

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Chopin at the Piano - c.1887
A non-classical subject, but important to Poles.

At the Spring

Roman Idyll (Before the Bath) - 1887
Two examples of smaller paintings.

Nero's Torches - 1877

Christ with Martha and Mary - 1886

Dance Amongst the Swords - 1881
Version in Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Judgement of Paris - 1892

Phryne at the Poseidonia in Eleusis - 1889

Monday, August 22, 2016

Anna Zinkeisen, Doris' Sister

Anna Katrina Zinkeisen (1901-1976) wasn't quite as glamorous as her older sister Doris (who I wrote about here), but she seems to have been the better artist.

Anna's Wikipedia entry is here, and a link dealing with both sisters is here.

Anna could vary her style when called for. Some murals done in the 1930s are busy (as most murals should be) and painted in a mannered way. Her portrait work, on the other hand, was usually solidly, strikingly done, making use of smoothed, slightly simplified surfaces on her subjects' faces, hands, etc.

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Doris Zinkeisen

Self-Portrait - c. 1944

Diana Wynyard, actress - 1930s
This is not Anna's usual style, but a credible website states that this is her work.

Consuelo Kennedy in Evening Dress - 1937

The Dark Lady - 1938

Elizabeth Allan, actress

Laying the Foundation Stone of Southampton Docks, 1838 - 1938

Mediaeval Lincoln

Sir Archibald Hector McIndoe - c.1944
Plastic Surgeon.

Sir Alexander Fleming - 1958
Posthumous portrait of the discoverer of Penicillin.

Night Duty - 1955

St. John Ambulance Brigade Officer and Nurse - 1955

Julia Heseltine (her daughter)

Air Chief Marshal Sir Denis Smallwood - c. 1975

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Architecture and Design at the 1964 New York World's Fair

World's fairs are usually showcases for architects and designers to strut their stuff. By the 1920s the stuff they wanted to show off was either the latest in modern (or Moderne) thinking or perhaps their prediction of the future. In America, the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress exposition featured plenty of modernistic pavilions to excite Great Depression crowds. And the famous 1939 New York World's Fair was explicitly themed The World of Tomorrow.

The Chicago fair opened after most of the pre-Depression Art Deco and Moderne office towers had come on line and little was being built. To a considerable degree the thrust of the trend towards architectural modernism had been halted. Its evolution had effectively ceased aside from doodles in architects' sketchbooks. The New York fair came later in the architectural drought at a time when the Depression was easing, but few large buildings aside from government structures were being built. At least it created an opportunity to look ahead while entertaining fair attendees.

By the early 1960s when the 1964-1965 fair was being planned, the "future" that the '39 fair attempted to predict had already happened in the form of a modernistic building boom in New York City and elsewhere. Rather than featuring Progress or The Future, this fair's weak theme was "Peace Through Understanding." As best I could tell, it was virtually invisible to fairgoers, there being no pavilions from major nations due to the fair's lack of BIE sanctioning.

Nevertheless, the fair's architects and designers did their best to show off, and a number of pavilions were future-oriented in what was on display. So the fair's architecture ranged from attempts at showing the future to whimsical structures to even traditional or historical recreations.

The fair was not a great success. And it did not excite me when I visited it in June of 1965 during the second and last year of its run. Information regarding it can be found here.

Below are some photos I took.

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To set the scene, this is the General Motors pavilion at the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress exposition. It seems more Moderne than Deco.

And there is GM's 1939 New York pavilion as seen from the rear. I suppose the style might be called Streamline Moderne.

Now it's 1965 and this is part of the Chrysler Corporation area. That's a whimsical V-8 motor sculpture at the left.

Here is the nondescript, government-issue bureaucratic architecture United States pavilion.

The theme symbol was the Unisphere. A giant cliché that might well have been selected by an unimaginative committee. It still exists.

More whimsy: The Tower of the Four Winds. Some of its elements moved when caught by a breeze or wind, in the spirit of Alexander Calder.

The Rheingold brewery opted for a traditional setting. Its beer had been very popular in New York for decades, but was starting to fade in the mid-1960s.

And there was the Belgian Village that hadn't been finished when the fair opened in 1964. It was best known for its Belgian waffles.

The New York State pavilion. Its best feature was observation towers, two of which can be seen at the left. The nice thing about the towers wasn't their design. Rather, once you were up one, there was a good view of the fairgrounds -- especially in the evening when the major pavilions were illuminated.

New York State observation towers as seen from farther away.

The IBM pavilion.

This is the AT&T Bell Telephone pavilion. It features a "floating" look that reminds me of Star Wars type spacecraft that appeared nearly 15 years after it was designed.

The General Electric pavilion.

The General Electric pavilion at night.

The Unisphere and pool at night.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Władysław Czachórski's Elegant Subjects

Władysław Czachórski (1850-1911), also known as Ladislaus von Czachórski in Germany, was born in the part of Poland controlled by Russia. In German, his name is pronounced Wuadisuaf Tschachurski, for American English speakers, "Vwahdiswahv Tshahchurski" might work. The "von" in the German version of his name indicates the official respect he was given.

His English Wikipedia entry is here. It says Czachórski began his art studies in Warsaw as a teenager and moved on to the Dresden Academy for a year. Then he moved to Munich, Germany's art capitol, spending 1869-73 in the Munich Academy. Although he traveled Europe, Munich remained his base until he died at age 50.

Czachórski was noted for painting pictures of beautiful women, being especially skilled at depicting the fancy fabrics of their dresses and gowns. His approach was academic-representational, but aside perhaps from a few large paintings of Shakespearean scenes, he avoided historical and allegorical subjects beloved by true 19th century academicians.

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Hamlet Receiving the Players - 1875

Cemetery in Venice - 1876

Inside the Sacristy -- Silentium

Stanisława Czachórskiego - 1889

Lady with a Rose - 1879

Pensive - 1883

Das Schatzkästchen (Jewel Box)

Flirtation - 1889

The Wedding Gift - 1890

Portrait of a Woman - 1890

Thursday, August 11, 2016

People at the New York World's Fair: June 1965

It's August and vast swathes of Art Contrarian readership are probably off on holiday. So I think I'll indulge myself in this post ...

The world's fair held in New York City in 1964 and 1965 attracted fewer people than the renowned 1939-1940 New York fair (Wikipedia entry on the 1964 fair here). As was the case with other major fairs, Olympic Games facilities, and other major construction projects tied to a tight completion deadline, the New York fair had its share of problems before its 1964 opening. These, plus the fact that it was not blessed by the Bureau International des Expositions, created some bad publicity.

But the main problem was, the fair wasn't that interesting. The '39 fair's buildings seemed futuristic, but by the early 1960s it was hard for designers and architects to invent shapes that seemed futuristic compared to many buildings already in place.

I'll deal with the pavilions in another post. For now, I present some photos featuring people at the fair that I took when I visited on two different days in June of 1965.

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The entrance to the fair from the elevated line's station.

Advanced planning in progress.

Beer vendors.

Keeping it tidy.

Souvenir stand.

Official World's Fair Balloons vendor.

Japanese visitors, something fairly rare in those days.

AT&T family phone booth.

Replica of the time capsule from the 1939 fair (apparently prepared in 1938).

Taking a rest by the Chrysler Corporation area.