Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Gray Steampunk World of Vadim Voitekhovitch

Vadim Voitekhovitch, painter of gray, gloomy-atmosphere, northern European Steampunk scenes was born and raised in Belarus and has been working in Germany since 2004. And that's about all I know about personal details from a short Google search.

I find most of his images fascinating because he creates an almost-believable world of circa-1900 European cities and towns where airships and other never-quite-happened contraptions abound. Besides his attention to detail, Voitekhovitch gives his scenes believable atmospherics. Northern Europe is gloomy a good part of the year, after all.


Fleet at Sea
The coal-fired warships are similar to 1890s French cuirassés designs such as the Masséna, featuring extreme tumble-home sides and ram bows. The airships also seem to have coal-fired steam engines: note the dark smoke from their stacks.

In a Distant Country
Harbor scene.  I like the rust on the battleship -- it makes the scene more believable.

No One Will Come Back
Setting off to war, though the people seem indifferent aside from the woman near the cannon and another with her young son near the stairway.

Old Harbour
Details include what might be a steam-powered omnibus and an airship "carrier."

Postal Dragon
Loading mail aboard from the rickety tower.

Stolen Sky

The Road to Babylon
Two scenes with airships, while the rest of the technology is pre-automobile.

The nearest airship is attached to a loading platform.

Gloomy Morning
Again, no cars.

Closeup of a Voitekhovitch airship.  Note the rust on the sides and what looks to be a royal or national crest on the rudder.  Clearly, his airships are impossible from an engineering standpoint.  The rust implies steel cladding -- very heavy.  They are powered by steam, often from coal-fired boilers.  Steam engines, boilers and filled coal bins are very heavy too.  Finally the size of the steel-clad "air bag" is much too small to house enough hydrogen to lift all that weight.  But I can easily ignore such matters because the world he has created is so enchanting for a history and design buff such as me.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Kirchner's Street Scenes

I am not fond of paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), as I've mentioned here. Biographical information on Kirchner is here for greater context.

That said, his works that interest me the most are street scenes he painted about 1913-15. New York's Museum of Modern Art had a show in 2012 dealing with those. More about that here.

Many images of Kirchner's street paintings are below. I find it interesting that V-shaped compositions are common.


Berlin Street Scene - 1913

Five Women at the Street - 1913

Frauen auf der Strasse - 1915

Friedrichstrasse, Berlin - 1914

Leipziger Straße mit elektrischer Bahn - 1914

Potsdammer Platz - 1914

Rote Kokotte - 1914

Strasse, Berlin - 1913

Street Scene - 1913

Zwei Frauen auf der Strasse

Zwei Kokotten - 1914
This seems to be a study for the painting immediately above it.

Street scene - 1926
Kirchner occasionally did street scenes later in his career, but in a different style.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

From Three Countries, Similar Style

Artists are often influenced by others. Or they steal outright ... but only from the best, it is said. Possibly styles are similar simply due to coincidence. The last possibility was probably most likely in the days before decent-quality color reproductions in books and magazines were common, especially for artists widely scattered geographically.

Paintings from three artists having a similar "feel" caught my eye recently, so I thought I'd give you a look and so you can decide for yourself if my conjecture makes sense.

The painters are George Washington Lambert (1873-1930), information here, an Australian working in London; Saturnino Herrán (1887-1913), information here, a Mexican painter who spent his short life in that country; and W. Herbert "Buck" Dunton (1878-1936), an American who I wrote about here.

Not all their paintings featured a strong, solid style, but the ones shown below seem to.


Lambert: "The Sonnet" - 1917
He was painting in this style as early as 1907 ("Portrait Group, The  Mother"), so priority for this threesome goes to Lambert.

Herrán: "La ofrenda" - 1913

Dunton: "My Children" - 1920

While it is possible that Herrán and Dunton where familiar with Lambert's work, it seems equally possible that they were not. Another possibility is that all three artists were influenced by a fourth, earlier painter. Offhand, I can't think of who that might be. Let me know in comments if you have suggestions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sculptor Aristide Maillol's Flat Paintings

Aristide Joseph Bonaventure Maillol (1861-1944) is best known as a sculptor, but began his artistic career as a painter and continued to paint off and on for much of his life (biographical information here).

What interests me about many, not all, of his paintings is that (1) they are flat, and (2) the heads of his subjects are either in profile or facing the viewer head-on. Admittedly, most of the paintings shown below were made before Maillol took up sculpture seriously, but even as late as 1940 he continued these characteristics.

One would think that a sculptor would be thinking more three-dimensionally, but it seems he was following the modernist desideratum regarding flat surfaces. On the other hand, late in his career, Maillol did make a number of drawings of his model/muse Dina Vierny that depicted her well-rounded form. Below are some of his flat paintings.


In the Western Pyrenées - 1885
Although he used linear perspective, Maillol's use of color gives this painting a flat appearance.

Woman in White - 1890-91

Les deux jeunes filles - 1891

Enfant couranne - 1892

Jeune femme pensive au feuillage - 1893
This also has been dated 1894 and the subject has been said to be the future Mme. Maillol.

Mme. Maillol - 1895

La femme à l'ombrelle - 1895
Another painting with the same title featuring a women in the same costume is dated 1891-92, so this might have been painted then as well.

Dina á la robe rouge - 1940

Thursday, January 28, 2016

John Duncan Ferguson's Portraits of Women

John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961) is associated with a group of painters called the Scottish Colourists. His Wikipedia entry is here and other information can be found here. He also is known for being the husband of modern dancer Margaret Morris (1891-1980).

Fergusson's style changed little after around 1910. He followed the path of tentative modernism where subjects were treated in a somewhat representational manner, but with simplification of form and related minor distortions. His colors were usually bright, but related to his subject matter, unlike the Fauvists who imposed unrealistic colors on subjects. Brushwork was often angled, parallel strokes, somewhat in the spirit of Cézanne.

His reputation seems to be rising: a recently discovered painting sold at auction for £638,000, as this Daily Mail article mentions.

The present post features Fergusson's portraits of women. At times his simplifications reached the point where it could be difficult to distinguished one sitter from others.


Jean Maconochie - ca.1904

Le voile persan - 1909
One of Fergusson's better-known works, made when he had almost settled into the style used for most of the rest of his career.

Pam - 1910

Poise - 1916
This was the painting auctioned for £638,000.

Joan - 1916

Villa Gotte Garden - ca. 1920
Fergusson seldom did profile portraits. This has a slight Cubist feel.

At Gows - 1925

In the Patio (Margaret Morris Fergusson) - 1925

The Branches (Margaret Morris) - 1928

Souvenir de Jumges - 1931
A nice Art Deco feeling to this.

The Red Hat (Roberta Paflin) - 1933

La châtelaine - 1938

"Hillhead," Eileen - 1941

Girl with Bang - 1947

Blonde with Checked Sundress - 1958

Monday, January 25, 2016

Towards the End: Jules-Alexandre Grün's Last Crowd Scene

Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868-1938) spent much of his career as a poster illustrator. But when the occasion arose, he had a good eye for portraiture and composing believable crowd scenes, as can be seen in some large paintings he made. I last wrote about him here, and here is his French Wikipedia entry (the one in English is skimpy, so have your browser translate this, if it can).

Below are two of his best paintings of that kind followed by his final crowd scene, made as he was coming down with Parkinson's disease. Click on images to enlarge.

Un vendredi au Salon des artistes français - A Friday at the French Artists' Salon - 1911
Star of the painting (near the center, in white behind the woman in the mauve dress) is Geneviève Lanthelme (1883-1911), who died the same year the painting was completed under suspicious circumstances. Grün included himself and his wife. His wife Juliette is in front of the largest sculpture, wearing a violet dress. Grün is the bald, bearded man right behind her.

Fin de souper - After Supper - 1913
This is perhaps his painting that I like the best. I think it has to do with the lively young lady at the left.

Sortie de la messe au Breuil-en-Auge (Calvados) - Leaving Mass - 1934
This is the only image of this painting that I could locate on the Web, and it's marred because of the lighting where it's mounted, Église Saint-Michel - Pont-l'Évêque (near the junction of autoroutes A13 and A132 in Normandy).

Grün manages his crowd composition well, as usual, but the people are painted more thinly and sketchily than in the earlier works when he was in his prime.