L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Magnhild Kennedy, aka Damselfrau, is a Norwegian artist living in London. From Trondheim, she grew up in a home where both parents were artists, but says she never learned about crafts or textiles, any of the skills that would be relevant to her current work. When she moved to London in 2007, she and her partner frequented nightclubs, clubs centered on the display of full-on fancy dress. At some point she created masks for the two of them and mask making quickly became the focus of her work. At the time, she was working in a vintage designer clothing shop, and the owner would let her work on her own designs while behind the counter. She's self-taught, gaining her skills by trial and error, making a close examination of the construction and craftsmanship of some of the garments in the vintage shop, and even resorting to YouTube tutorials. She uses Damselfrau for her mask work as it seems rather a word that masks itself; it signifies an unmarried and married woman at the same time. She says it's come to mean something like “married to oneself.”

Asked about the seeming visual parallels between her creations and the restrictive face-covering veils - niqab, hijab, chador, or burqa - that many Muslim women are expected to wear, she has said that that was never her intention, that her work wasn't any sort of political statement. But says that she certainly doesn't mind if it adds to the conversation, and feels that "Everyone should be able to wear whatever they want."


I work with masks as autonomous works of art as well as action-objects. For me the mask is a place where different elements come together as situation. The work is about this place-situation, more so than the mask as a theme or category of form. The mask is a place.

I use found as well as self-produced material. I have used fine lace, carried by the nineteen century Norwegian author Camilla Collett, hair from two-hundred year old Japanese geisha hair pieces as well as everyday stuff, found in the street. I am an autodidact and find great pleasure in solving technical problems in the making of my work. A half improvised solving of a factual problem is for me more satisfying than a conventional take on a known material or technique.

I am led by the phantasms appearing in the process of the making and the materials themselves. These guide my decisions and inform the objects I make.

The becoming of character as play, in between the theatrical projective and the actual of the veil, has the effect that the masks equally are subject to the projection of others as well as my own. It is in this space that the objects exist and where I find new ones.

You can learn more about the artist and find her blog, etc., HERE.


And thank you to Paul G. Ellis for introducing me to this artist on his wonderful Facebook page, Attire's Mind.

Friday, December 28, 2018

City and countryside - the etchings of Maurice Victor Achener

I don't know the setting depicted. The engraved portion of the etching measures four by seven inches.

I can't remember where I found this etching - was it my grandmother's, did I find it pressed in an old book? - but it seems like I've had it forever. Always putting it somewhere safe - flat and dry - and pulling it out again, puzzling unsuccessfully over the signature, then putting it away yet again. A few weeks ago, I tried again to make sense of the scrawled writing. I asked G what she thought it might spell. She thought the beginning of it might be the initial M, and then followed by ACH.... She also thought the name might end in an R or an S.

Seemed about right, so I hit the internet and scrambled about trying to find something to match up with that start. Nothing, so I just dove into Google Image and started looking for similar sorts of images. After not too long, really, I came across an etching by a Maurice Victor Achener that seemed fairly close in style to mine... hmm? So I Googled him specifically and found many, many examples of his work, almost all signed just as this one is. Quite remarkable, after all this time wondering if the little print was "anything", that I would find the maker, an artist whose work is in museum collections all over the world, and that I would find him that suddenly.

Maurice Victor Achener (17 September 1881, Mulhouse, Alsace - 19 April 1963, Paris), French painter, engraver, and illustrator. He studied at the École supérieure des arts décoratifs in Strasbourg, and continued his studies in Munich at the Kunstakademie. He was a student of the painter Ludwig von Löfftz and of the engraver Peter Halm, who was a major influence in his pupil's turn toward etching, the work for which Achener is now best remembered. He settled in Paris in 1905 and, having become a naturalized French citizen in 1913, he fought on the side of France during World War I. (He fought under the name of his Geneva-born wife, Émilie Patry.) After a long and busy career as an engraver and illustrator, he died at the age of eighty-one, and was buried in the cimetière de Montmartre next to his wife. 

The artist at his easel; though now best known as an engraver, he apparently always identified as a painter first.


As primarily a landscape artist, it isn't surprising that most of his etchings are country landscapes. Bords de la Loire.
Coup de Mistral.
Belle-Île - Le Palais.
Le Pêcheur, 1906.
La Charité-sur-Loire - Le Pont.
Belle-Île - Chemin.
La Charité-sur-Loire - La Cour au soleil.
Ferme aux mûrier - La Vaison.
Poitiers - L'église Saint-Porchaire.
Le manoir de Kervaudu - Le Croisic.
Le Balcon à la colombe.
Le Portail.
La Charité-sur-Loire.
Strasbourg - Le Pont du Corbeau, 1936.
Belle-Île - Ferme.


The other works he is best known for are images of Paris, his adopted home. Jardin des Tuileries.
Pont de la Tournelle.
Île de la Cité.
L'Entrée des Tuileries.
Paris - Les Toits.
Paris - Les Toits.
Chantier vers la Sorbonne.
Quai de la Seine avec barque.
Quai Saint-Michel.
Le Pont Royal.
Jardin des Tuileries.