Thursday, December 1, 2016

Which Victor Guerrier Painted These Pictures?

Not long ago I came across some frothy paintings of elegant women in various Paris settings. By their costumes, the period of those settings is the Belle Époque of the 1890s and early 1900s.

The artist was Victor Guerrier. Various web sites credit those paintings to a Victor Guerrier whose dates are 1893-1968. But there seems to have been another French painter named Victor Guerrier who lived 1858-1953. There is essentially no biographical information about either man.

Given his dates and the Belle Époque settings, it would seem that the earlier Guerrier should have been the artist. The style of the signatures on the paintings hints at that as well. But if all those art auction, etc. websites state that the 1893-1968 Guerrier was the artist, then he would have to have concentrated on the Belle Époque as an artistic faux-sentimentalist, having been a boy in those times.

If anyone knows the truth about this puzzling matter, please let us know in Comments.

Here are some of those paintings.

Gallery

À la terrasse

Cafe sociery
This looks to be set just before or after the Great War.

Élégantes à Paris
By the Luxembourg grounds, the Panthéon in the background. I don't notice the McDonald's I sometimes visit that should be at the far right of the image.

Femme Élégante

Flower shopping
Guerrier painted several flower shopping scenes.

La Brasserie Mollard

La promenade
Is that the Café de la Paix in the background?

The Terrace

Le menu

Scene on the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne (now the Avenue Foch)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Edward Okuń , Polish Nouveau-Symbolist

Around the time I visited Poland's National Museum, a few paintings by Edward Okuń (1872–1945) were in the same room as many of those by the more famous Symbolist Jacek Malczewski. But the gallery guidebook stressed that in portraits, his style tended to be Art Nouveau. His Wikipedia entry does not categorize him.

Okuń came from what the entry calls an aristocratic family, and he had an inheritance that probably left him free to pursue art pretty much as he desired. He began his training in Czarist Warsaw and them moved on to Munich and Paris. During the first two decades of the 20th century he was in Italy, thereby avoiding the Great War battles in Poland and only returned to Warsaw after the 1920-21 Soviet-Polish war. He continued to visit Italy and painted there. Okuń was not able to escape World War 2 and was in Warsaw during the 1944 uprising and German retaliation.

Gallery

Portrait of the Artist's Wife - 1904

Philistines - 1904

View Through Window - 1905

The Winner - 1910

Self-Portrait - 1913

Musica Sacra - 1915

The War and Us - 1923

Naples Bay and Vesuvio - 1937

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Last Look at the Waldorf Before Renovation

New York City's famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel (1931 version) is set to be closed early in 2017 for renovation and partial conversion to condominiums. That's what this Wikipedia entry mentions as of the time this post is being drafted (5 October 2016).

My wife and I decided to stay at the Waldorf to experience it before its closure. She had stayed there as a college student on her way to a European tour and I spent a few nights there in the late 1970s while on a business trip.

Below are some photos I took of present details. I suppose most of these will be preserved, but don't know for sure.

Gallery

An architectural rendering of the hotel from before it was built. It's on display on the lobby floor. Some reflections are on its protective glass, so the image is slightly degraded.


The Park Avenue entrance.

A closer look at the exterior ornamentation.

View towards Park Avenue from inside that entrance.

Panning to the left of the previous image, we find this.

Foyer view opposite from the previous photo.

Opposite the entrance is this hallway and elevator lobby leading to the main lobby.

Inside the main lobby. The elaborate clock was from the original Waldorf-Astoria located on the present site of the Empire State Building.


Two views of Peacock Alley, located on the north side of the main lobby. It's a bar and restaurant, but the original was a passage in the old Waldorf-Astoria where elegant ladies could and would promenade.

Door grillwork on the lobby level.



Tower elevator door decorations.

This was our room in the Towers. I include this photo because, unlike the public areas pictured above, this is likely to disappear during the renovation.

As you probably noticed, the Waldorf-Astoria is an example of Art Deco architecture and ornamentation. Very little of the geometric kind of Art Deco here, but more of the "organic" style seen in the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (Wikipedia entry here), which had its roots in Art Nouveau.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Retro World of Pierre de Mougins

There are plenty of images on the internet of Pierre de Mougins' paintings, but almost nothing in the way of biographical information. This link will have to do.

Mougins was born in 1966 in Antony, France (a little ways west of Orly airport), claims to be self-taught and inspired by the likes of de Chirico and 1920s painters. He has lived in Berlin in recent years where he has begun painting on stones.

The paintings that interest me the most have an Art Deco look to them. There is something about the passage of time that allows us to create an image (not necessarily accurate) in our minds that is a distillation of a past era. Which is part of what Mougins does, though he can't completely escape influences from his own times.

Gallery

De fête au café

Au Lapin Agile
The Lapin Agile was an artists' hangout on Montmartre around the turn of the 20th century. It still exists.

billiards

How Long is Now

Rue de la soie

Jazz club

La grande parade

Suze
Well, that's my guess as to the title. It could be reference to a French drink or possibly to 1930s cabaret singer Suzy Solidor, who the blonde strongly resembles.

Riviera scene

backstage

dancer

In the Auction Room

Thursday, November 17, 2016

William Arthur Breakspeare, Victorian Painter

William Arthur Breakspeare (1855-1914) was from Birmingham, getting much of his art training there. He spent a brief period in Paris, and lived in London starting in 1881 while retaining ties to Birmingham. His Wikipedia entry contains those and a few other details. There is little else about him on the Internet.

Breakspeare could paint competently and was able to made a career as an artist in Victorian and Edwardian times. His subjects tended to be 17th century scenes, pianos and pretty women. And his interpretations of these were conventional most of the time. As is the case for many lesser-known artists, he occasionally could make paintings worth noting.

Here are examples of Breakspeare's paintings.

Gallery

The Contract
In theory, this might be an illustration or otherwise a reference to literature or an historical event because there is little intrinsic meaning in the depiction.

The Eve of Battle
The same applies here.  There is little in the way of the drama or tension I would expect in a real-world pre-battle situation.  In this painting, the men at the table seem quite calm and satisfied.  The cavalier at the right has a look of concern, but serves no dramatic purpose unless the painting is an illustration of an historical or literary source.

If Music be the Food of Love
Breakspeare usually included pianos where music was part of the action.  Here the man seems to be playing an organ.

Distant Thoughts
More of a sketch than a finished work, but interesting in that regard.

Resting
One of his better-known works.  Pretty fancy girl for a harvester.

The Alluring Student
Hmm.  A piano also beckons.

The Reluctant Pianist
This looks like the same piano and bench, but away from the window.

Blue Eyes
She is the same woman wearing the same dress as in the previous painting.

The End of the Evening
Finally, a scene that's not Victorian.  Very Edwardian in spirit, I'd say.