28 April 2010

J. R. Witzel: A Jugend Artist

This little gallery of illustrations from Jugend Magazine features the work of J. R. Witzel, an artist who is little known in English. Published in the magazine from its very first year, Witzel's work exemplifies the curvilinear aspects of the Art Nouveau style. Whether in humor, charm, or political commentary, Witzel uses the curved line to fill the frame in clever ways.

I discovered Witzel in the image of a woman starled by a shadow couple that invites the viewer to invent a caption or even an entire story. Then found L'Affaiire Dreyfus (the second image here). At the time, in 1896, when this was published, it had just been revealed that the French government had suppressed evidence that exonerated Alfred Dreyfus. Justice is pictured as a woman bound from every angle. 
When you look closely at the image of the woman in the pink dress and the little girl, you find faces peering out of the letters that spell Jugend and an attention to detail that never appears fussy.

Images: J. R. Witzel, from the Library of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

05 April 2010

Suzanne Lalique-Haviland

Art, music, and youth, all in one. This image in red, white, and blue was made by composer Francis Poulenc, poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and artist Suzanne Lalique for Le Bestiare in 1919. That was the year that the twenty year old composer first heard the grand old man of Surrealsim (Apollinaire was all of thirty-nine at the time) give a performance of his poetry. When the score of this new work was published, it was illustrated by a twenty-seven year old theatrical designer, Suzanne Lalique.

Yes, the daughter of the great jewelry designer, Rene Lalique, and painter of the only known portrait of her father, in 1931.
Suzanne was born in 1892 and, although she never took formal art training outside the family setting, she grew up to design textiles, books, and theatrical productions, and a painter.
At least two famous vases produced by the Lalique studio were designed by Suzanne: Sophora and Penthievre. She also created porcelain designs for the Haviland Company in the late 1920’s.
In 1916 Suzanne met Paul Burty Haviland, a photographer and heir to Haviland China Company. Paul was born in Paris, but graduated from Harvard and spent much of his early life in the United States. Called home ance to help manage the company in 1916, he immediately met Suzanne and in 1917 they were married.
Created in the midst of the Art Deco period, Suzanne Lalique's designs look surprisingly contemporary. Perhaps she learned early to put on her own creative blinders, to make her own way in art. She lived until 1989, a full life.

Image credit: Suzanne Lalique, book illustrations and fabric designs from the 1920s, in the collection of Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.

For more, visit Maison du Limousin

04 April 2010

A Little Girl In Spring By Lucien Pissarro

Around the time that artist Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944) and his wife, Esther, had their only child, a daughter they named Orovida, in 1893, a little girl appeared in several of Pissarro's works. Recently, Adventures In The Print Trade featured a print by Pissarro titled Little May - and there she is again.

Is May a mystery or is she simply a failure of research on my part? (I vote for choice number two.) In any case, these works form a charming tribute to wonder, of childhood, of spring.

1. Queen Of The Fishes-In The Field, 1894, color woodcut, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia.
2. Crocuses, oil on canvas, private collection, UK.
3. The Fairy, 1894, oil on canvas, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.