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 29, 2019

The most telling moment - four genre paintings by Pavel Fedotov, from the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery

The Fresh Cavalier (The Morning-After of an Official who has Received his First State Order), 1846.
The Fastidious Bride, 1847.
The Aristocrat’s Breakfast, 1849-1850.
The Major's Proposal (Inspecting a Bride in a Merchant's House), 1848.


Pavel Andreievich Fedotov (4 July 1815, Moscow - 26 November 1852, St. Petersburg), Russian painter, he is known for his portraits and is considered the father of Russian domestic genre painting. The son of a retired army officer, he graduated from the Moscow Cadet School, then served for ten years as an officer in the Finland Regiment of the Imperial Guards in St. Petersburg. Like many of his military colleagues of the time he was interested in arts. He played the flute and attended evening classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he focused on painting; he soon gained a reputation as a regiment painter through portraits of his fellow officers and regimental scenes. But he eventually came to feel that art and military service were incompatible, and he retired from the army in 1844. Only two years later did he began to paint in oils for the first time. His first genre works were in the satirical mode of William Hogarth - an artist he held in high esteem - and these paintings were very well received. The upward trajectory of his career was checked somewhat by his connections with some members of the Petrashevsky Circle, a politically progressive group of intellectuals - Dostoevsky was a member - who went on trial in 1849.

Previous to 1852, his behavior was relatively normal, although he sometimes endured bouts of depression. But in the spring of that year he began to suffer from headaches, his eyesight worsened, and he started to exhibit significant psychological problems. He began spending money wildly, and made marriage proposals to various women, all at the same time. Eventually his behavior led to his arrest, after which he was put in a mental institution. His illness only worsened, certainly exacerbated by the primitive "treatment" of the time, which reportedly included corporal punishment. He died in the institution before the end of the year. He was only thirty seven.

Self-portrait, 1848.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Oh, such a very late Christmas card "reveal"...!

Well, we knew it would be late...! I've been busy finishing work to be included in a show in Atlanta, for a gallery that's new to me. (Very exciting!) It was my year to come up with the Christmas/holiday card, and I just couldn't make time for it until the last minute. We've had a "Noir" wall calendar this year, so it's not much of a guess that the garish film posters it's illustrated with inspired the direction of the card. Rather than taking the precious time to create something from whole cloth this go 'round, I adapted the Belgian (?) poster made to promote the 1946 version of "The Killers".

I needed a little more room to work, so I expanded the image on the left side and the top. Ava Gardner's dress is blue in the original, but I adjusted it to a more Christmas-y green. And as I could not live with her pink ankle-strap sandals, I likewise tweaked their color. I gave the film's producing credit to Nicholas - O'Donnell+Little=O'Dittle - whose silhouette looms ominously in the background. And the director is a certain "P. Prévert", a reference to G's sometime performance persona, Penny/Prudence Prévert. The actor credits are a play on our first and middle names; G's actual first name is Eugenia, if you didn't know. I tried to find fonts that were close to the original, though I had to individually "shred" the ends of the letters in the main title. Then there's our usual gender reversals; I always look great as a redhead, I must say. And G looks particularly studly here. I think her masculine allure is only enhanced by that mustache, borrowed from none other than Clark Gable.

North Sea, 1934 - two photographs by Herbert List

"The pictures I took spontaneously… were often more powerful than those I had painstakingly composed” - Herbert List