Monday, November 23, 2015

Egon Schiele's Nicer Paintings

Egon Schiele (1890-1918) died young -- not from dissipation, but from the great influenza epidemic of 1918 that also snuffed out his wife who was carrying his child. Biographical information can be found here.

The death of a young artist (under age 40, say, and Schiele died at 28) often gives thought as to how he might have evolved his work had he lived a full life. No certain answers, obviously, and I'm not about to speculate much about Schiele.

Simply by looking at the large number of works he created during his short career, it is clear that Schiele was obsessed with sex and the grotesque. A large proportion of his paintings and drawings are flat-out pornographic. How much of this was due to immaturity rather than a mental condition is hard to say a century after his time, but it's possible that he might have later moved in the direction of more socially acceptable subjects.

As for me, I think he had talent, though I find much of his work of little interest, unlike that of Gustav Klimt who kept serious porn to his sketchbooks while creating intriguing paintings.

Below are examples of Schiele's art that stray from his obsessions.


Gerti Schiele in Orange Hat - (his sister) - 1910

The Daydreamer - Gerti Schiele - 1911

The Dancer Moa - 1911

Three Rowboats - 1912

Trieste Fish Boat - 1912

Elisabeth Lederer - 1913

The Bridge - 1913

Houses With Laundry (Suburb II) - 1914

The Artist's Sister-in-Law - 1917

Dr. Hugo Kroller - 1918

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Al Parker's Mother-Daughter Ladies' Home Journal Covers

Al Parker (1906–1985) was the top dog in "slick" (smooth, good quality paper) magazines during the 1940s and 50s according to many fellow-illustrators, men who themselves were at the top of their game.

Biographical information on Parker can be found here and here. David Apatoff deals with a recent book about Parker here.

Today, he is not nearly as well known to the general public as Norman Rockwell. But that could be said as well for successful contemporaries such as Coby Whitmore, Jon Whitcomb and Edwin Georgi whose work appeared in many of the same slick magazines as Parker's. Beside being very good at what he did, Rockwell's fame is based on the fact that he painted cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post, America's leading general-interest magazine in its day, and those illustrations were self-contained stories. On the other hand, Whitmore, Whitcomb, Georgi and Parker mostly illustrated fiction pieces in magazines, the illustrations themselves often evoking the story subject, but not in themselves being self-contained visual narratives.

Worse for Parker from an historical standpoint was his strongest professional attribute, an ability to change his style, sometimes in the form of creating new illustration style fashions. This is in contrast to some other illustrators who had strong, easily-recognized styles that provided fame and fortune ... until fashions changed and they wound up having trouble getting work. Parker's career was long and successful, but it can be difficult to immediately identify many of his illustrations without looking for his signature.

There is one major exception to the previous statement. Below are examples from his long-running series of mother-daughter matching outfit covers for Ladies' Home Journal, the leading women's magazine in American for many years.


October, 1940
February, 1949
These images are the largest I could find for those covers. They are included because they clearly demonstrate Parker's ability to alter his style.

February, 1939

December, 1939

October, 1939

March, 1942

September, 1947

March, 1948

June, 1948

September, 1950

February, 1951

Monday, November 16, 2015

Towards the End: Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch (1863-1944) -- Wikipedia entry here -- was a modernist painter generally classified as a Symbolist. Although he often engaged in modernist desiderata such as distortion and color alteration, he never practiced Cubism or pure abstraction, so far as I know. Aside from some landscapes, his subject matter was people.

I wrote about his early work here, and dealt with his 1906 take on Mrs. Schwarz here.

The present post deals with paintings Munch made during the last decade or so of this life, during which he was experiencing vision problems of varying severity.

Munch tended to paint thinly over much of his career, especially so during his later years. In part this might be because, stylistically, his paintings were often little more than sketches. Another possible factor would have been that by painting thinly, his expenses for paint were minimized for his generally fairly large canvasses.


Uninvited Guests - ca. 1934

Annie Stenersen - 1934

The Lonely Ones - 1935

Henrik Bull - 1939

By the Window - self-portrait - 1940

Self-Portrait: Between Clock and Bed - ca. 1941

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Douglas DC-8 Interiors

I didn't fly often during the 1960s -- only 11 times by jetliner, the rest being military aircraft. Of those eleven flights, eight were on United Airlines Douglas DC-8s.

That was in the days when the U.S. government strongly regulated the airline industry -- routes for airlines were largely fixed in place, fares were high, and airlines had to compete mostly in terms of passenger service. Passengers, in turn, usually dressed up when on an airplane journey, men wearing jackets and neckties.

As can be seen below, Douglas DC-8 airlines had large windows, one per row of seats, giving passengers a fine view if a view was available. But this amenity, which provided plenty of legroom, prevented operators from increasing the number of seating rows. That "error" was soon corrected on later aircraft, as those of us who usually fly in "steerage" well know.

Below are some views of DC-8s and their accommodations.


Eastern Air Lines DC-8 in flight
This is an early photo showing Eastern's livery at the time it started flying DC-8s. Note how large the windows are.  DC-8s had one window per side for each row of seats. This amenity prevented the addition of rows of seats that was possible for rival Boeing's 707 that had many smaller windows, a feature found on later-generation airliners.

Delta Airlines advertisement
It took several years before ramps from terminal waiting rooms to airliner doors became common. Here passengers are depicted using roll-away stairways.

Half of United Airlines advertisement spread
This seems to be featuring the first-class section.

SAS interior
Although the DC-8 was designed to seat cabin-class passengers three-abreast on each side of the center aisle, SAS had three-and-two seating on a least some of its DC-8s. So the seats shown here might be a little wider than on planes used by United Airlines and other American lines.

SAS interior
Another publicity photo of cabin-class. Note the leg room, the window curtains and ... oh yes, the snack being served.

SAS interior
I'm not sure if this is the first-class section or the three-plus-two seating arrangement. What's noteworthy in this photo is the overhead compartment. Luggage, coats and such would usually be stowed (tossed, actually) there, but here we see mostly SAS-furnished blankets, pillows and such.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Towards the End: Klimt's Portraits

A few years ago I wrote about the early works of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). Now let's take a look at some portraits he made using a style different from that of his most famous paintings.

If you are interested in viewing the latter in person, the best place to go is Vienna, and once there, I strongly suggest visiting the Belvedere, which has his iconic "Kiss" (1907-08). More information regarding Klimt is here.

For what little it might be worth, I'm not enthusiastic about most of the people-related paintings he made during the last six or eight years of his life.


The Black Feather Hat - 1910
No decorative detailing here. Perhaps Klimt was in the process of reconsidering his style.

Portrait of Mäda Primavesi - 1912

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II - ca. 1912

Portrait of Friedericke Maria Beer - 1916
Although painted several years apart, Klimt used a similar composition for these portraits -- the subject facing the viewer, taking up roughly the middle third of the painting with the rest occupied by decorative elements to varying degree.

Lady with Fan - 1917-18
For much of his career, Klimt painted "busy," detail-filled paintings. Here the contrast in colors between the subject's flesh and most of the rest helps pull the lady's image into dominance.

Paint sketch portrait  1917

Portrait of a Lady (Portrait of Ria Munk III) -- 1917-18
I include these two works because they show Klimt's technique from shortly before his death.  Very sketchy, so details had to emerge and get firmed up as he proceeded. Quite the opposite from how he must have worked in his early, academic-influenced days.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Felice Casorati's Cool Portraits

The Musée d'Orsay held an interesting (to me) exhibit titled Dolce vita ? Du Liberty au design italien (1900-1940) "Dolce Vita? From the Liberty to Italian Design (1900-1940)" (running 14 April - 13 September 2015). I visited it in July when I was in Paris for a few days.

There were four paintings on display by Felice Casorati (1883-1963) that caught my eye:

Le signorine - 1912

Una donna - 1918-19
Casorati seems to have briefly experimented with with soft-care Modernism.

Ritratto di Renato Gualino - 1923-24

Silvana Cenni - 1922
This has been cited as his most famous work.

The final two portraits are cool (as in "dispassionate," not the slang term referring to "good") in several ways. The poses are formal, the subjects seated and facing the painter and viewers. The subjects' poses are essentially symmetrical, though the settings are not. The subjects' faces show no emotion. Critics pointed out this sort of thing at the time, but Casorati shrugged the criticism off, commenting that, in effect, he was doing what he thought he should be doing.

Here are a few more portraits made during that phase of his career:

Ritratto di Riccardo Gualino - 1922

Ritratto di Cesarina Gualino

Ritratto di Elisabeth Albrecht - ca. 1925

Raja - 1925

Casorati's style changed over his career, as can be seen in the first set of images. Perhaps I'll present more of his work later.

Monday, November 2, 2015

In the Beginning: Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) -- biography here -- did not quite make it to his 37th birthday, joining a surprisingly long list of artists who died before reaching 40. Had he lived a normal life-span, most of his existing paintings, posters, and other works might have been classed as "early."

Even so, it might interest readers to feature some of his really early paintings, works completed by the time he was about 25.

As can be seen, he was a proficient artist even as a teenager and capable of competently painting in traditional style. Yet even then, he was experimenting with a more thinly-painted, sketchier manner as can be seen in the first image below done when he was about 18.


Young Routy in Céleyan - 1882

Seated Nude - 1882

Academic study - 1883

Gustave-Lucien Dennery - 1883

Portrait of a Young Woman - 1884

Carmen Gaudin - 1885

Suzanne Valadon - ca. 1886

The Laundress - Carmen Gaudin - 1886

Mme. Lili Grenier - 1888

Hélène Vary - 1888

Poudre Riz (Suzanne Valadon) - 1888-89