The art of Ron Rodgers

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Century of Progress.

While the web has given many artists a visibility they wouldn’t have had in the past, too many artists’ sites are blighted by the dreaded “Artist’s statement” in which people who express themselves visually are forced to try and articulate for the paying customers what it is they’re doing with all this art stuff. Nowhere will you find anyone saying “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “I do this because I’m compelled to but don’t know why” or even “I do this to make a living”. All too often what you get is a rifle through the favourite jargon phrases of the social sciences where the polysyllabic words seem important but are as worn out and redundant as any of the examples George Orwell complained about sixty years ago in ‘Politics and the English Language‘.

All of which is a very long-winded and polemical way of saying I loved Ron Rodgers’ artist’s statement:

“That’s what his stare has been saying to me all this time:
‘At least I galloped – when did you?'”
– Peter Shaffer, from “Equus”

Here’s hoping more artists follow his example. There’s more of his art at the Glass Garage Gallery. Via Monsieur Thombeau who has a knack for finding good things.

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Phoenix.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Geoffrey Haberman’s brass insects
The art of Arnaldo Pomodoro
The art of Sergei Aparin
Sculptural collage: Eduardo Paolozzi
The art of Igor Mitoraj

Echoes of Aubrey

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More of Aubrey Beardsley’s posthumous influence and more of the delightful collision between the 1890s and the 1960s. Monsieur Thombeau turned up this striking fashion shoot from LIFE magazine for 1967 showing a model posed against one of the Salomé drawings. A couple of days after this was posted, a reader wrote to point me to this list of films featuring Beardsley artwork. Most of those I knew about already but I certainly hadn’t heard of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977), a low-budget horror film about which we’re told:

A large, black, four-poster bed, possessed by a demon, is passed from owner to owner. The demon was a tree, who became a breeze and seemingly fell in love with a woman he blew past. The demon then took human form and conjured up a bed. While he was making love with the woman she died and his eyes bled onto the bed, causing it to become possessed. Those who come into contact with the bed are frequently consumed by it (victims are pulled into what is apparently a large chamber of digestive fluids beneath the sheets). The bed demonstrates a malevolent intelligence as well as some psychokinetic and limited telepathic abilities to manipulate dreams. A running commentary or chorus is supplied by the ghost—if that is the correct word—of an artist (who would appear to be Aubrey Beardsley, though this is never stated directly) trapped behind a painting on the wall.

That’s a posthumous fame Aubrey never would have anticipated. If anyone has seen this, let us know what you thought.

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Carry On Loving (1970).

Absent from the list of films is Ken Russell’s Salome’s Last Dance, which features the Salomé pictures again in its title sequence, and Carry On Loving, one of the dreadful British sex comedies which has an entire scene set in a modish pad decorated with Beardsley prints. Watch the scene in question here, if you must.

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The prints were produced by a London company, Gallery Five, in the late 60s, and their ad shows they were also selling works by Kay Nielsen (seen in the Carry On clip), John Austen, Charles Ricketts, George Barbier, Jessie King and others. Gallery Five did much to popularise Beardsley’s art among people who might otherwise have never noticed his work, and their products turn up in many films and TV dramas of the period. Finally—although it’s by no means the last word on this subject—the V&A has two great Beardsley-derived ads for Elliott Boots by Paul Christodoulou here and here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
After Beardsley by Chris James
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
Beardsley’s Rape of the Lock
The Savoy magazine
Beardsley at the V&A
Merely fanciful or grotesque
Aubrey Beardsley’s musical afterlife
Aubrey by John Selwyn Gilbert
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé

Cardwell Higgins versus Harry Clarke

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A Delightful Page in the Record of My Existence.

This picture popped up at Chateau Thombeau a few days ago and it’s also been circulating in Tumblr’s recursive labyrinth. The very obvious debt to Harry Clarke’s black-and-white style caught my attention, especially to the artist’s Poe illustrations with the reclining woman being a blatant swipe from one of the Pit and the Pendulum drawings.

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The Pit and the Pendulum (1919) by Harry Clarke.

Searching around revealed that the artist responsible, Cardwell Higgins, produced a small series of similar pieces in the late 1920s. He then settled into a career as an illustrator for American magazines and advertising, working in a far more commercial style which isn’t really the kind of thing I get very excited over. Six drawings from the black-and-white series were published as a lthograph set in 1979. Some of the originals came up for sale recently which accounts for the surfacing of these copies.

Continue reading “Cardwell Higgins versus Harry Clarke”

The art of Ignacio Goitia

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Pasión por Canaletto (2005).

Ignacio Goitia is a Spanish artist whose depictions of opulent aristocracy manage to be subversively homoerotic thanks to the addition of figures we can interpret as boyfriends, sex slaves or wish-fulfilling phantasms; Ludwig II would no doubt approve of the sentiment even if he disagreed with some of the decor. Goitia’s art increases the Surrealist incongruity in other paintings with a preponderance of giraffes, although none of them appear to be burning à la Dalí. You’ll have to browse his galleries to see how he uses them.

Another Thombeau tip—thanks Tom!

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Royal couple (2010).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Schloss Neuschwanstein

Two Brides

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Ah, sweet serendipity… What are the odds, dear reader, of two blogospheric friends posting equally splendid pictures of everyone’s favourite hand-stitched and reanimated woman within days of each other? (It helps that Evan P and Monsieur Thombeau share a number of interests but let’s not spoil the moment.) The Gray’s-like dissection above is the work of illustrator Martin Ansin, while the painting below is by Michelle Mia Araujo, or Mia, as she prefers. Both artists have produced a quantity of other work which demands your attention. As for James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein, it is, of course, one of the great cultural artefacts of the previous century; if you’ve never seen it there’s a Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester-shaped hole in your life which needs to be filled without delay.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Mask of Fu Manchu
Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein