Archive for the 20th century Category

Salome cast in Greenery-Yallery

Posted in 19th Century, 20th century, Aesthetic Movement, Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde, Salome, Uncategorized on February 15, 2012 by babylonbaroque

We recently had the good fortune of catching the final performance of the San Diego Opera’s production of Salome. As I really am only familiar with our dear minx by way of Oscar and Aubrey I wasn’t sure what to expect.

source

I was delighted, most particularly with the lead soprano Lise Lindstrom, she gave a marvelous performance. As is so often the case I was drawn to the sets and costumes, in particular her gown in the final scene. It was, I declared with great bombast the perfect yallerish, Oscar would have adored the color. Unfortunately yallerish is incorrect, a quick Google search for the word provided only my own blog as the source, I have made MANY references to the word, all of them incorrect. I feel a bit of a fool.

The correct word to describe this Aesthetic Movement staple is Greenery-Yallery. First termed it appears by the witty duo Gilbert and Sullivan for their production of Patience in which they mercilessly lampoon lily- wristed blue-and-white china lovin’ aesthetes with utter abandon. 

“A pallid and thin young man

A haggard and lank young man

A Greenery-yallery Grosvener Gallery

Foot-in-the -grave young man!”

This 1882 greeting card illustrates the sort of fellow perfectly.

Source V&A

Wilde did of course make ample use of the color yellow, there is his poem Symphony in Yellow.

The drawing room at Tite Street was described as having dazzled in “greenery-yallery” effect 1909 source 

And of course there was that notorious yellow book found on Wilde’s person at the time of his arrest; alas it was not THE Yellow Book so loved by the “foot-in-the-grave” set.

Yellow Book, volume 3, October 1894

My only real disappointment in the San Diego production was the executioner of Blessed Jachanaan. In my fantasy he would appear as that bit of stellar beef ( Duncan Meadows) from the Royal Opera House production .

Unfortunately he was a rather chunky fellow with bad posture, quite a let-down.

Duncan Meadows, Royal Opera House production of "Salome"

 source : Feuillton

For a snippet of the final scene with the minor deity( and his mighty sword) check out this clip

The Duncan Meadows “lead” so to speak was from my friend the artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins.Clive not only is a most impressive artist,but a blogging wiz, he kindly walked me through the compexities of WordPress.

Although I have been blogging for quite some time, I must have become rusty ( or WordPress has become more persnickety).

I thank you friend, a fresh day and a constant  visit to “save draft” seems to be the trick.

Knowing that once again I may post freely is a tremendous relief. I am now posting far less frequently than I have in the past. I hope my readers understand that my life is now often spent in my Hermitage ( my pretentious little studio); posting is becoming less and less a priority, but when the spirit and time allows I will indeed be back.

I am touched at the swelling number of followers, perhaps I ought to give it all up for good if the number of “hits” is any indication of activity when I am so very fallow.

Wishing all a “utterly charming” day!

Take care,

Babylon Baroque

Settling in with Jared French

Posted in 15th century, 20th century, George Tooker, Jared French, Pierro della Francesca on January 12, 2012 by babylonbaroque

As it has been quite some time since my last post, I have felt increasingly anxious about updating. Given the length of time in which I last checked in I really wanted this post to be rather special.

Alas it isn’t going to be. My new life, here in San Diego is frankly banal, frightfully banal. I am here, ostensibly to tend to the mother-in-law; I spent most of today cooling my heels while she had her hair done.

I need to work on this.

Until that time, I will continue to lock myself in my studio, and in between my monastic retreats continue to patronize the numerous used bookshops in Hillcrest. They offer great solace, particularly as I am essentially living in a cultural wasteland.

Once again lovely musty books come to my rescue.

What popped out on a recent afternoon  visit were several volumes on Piero della Francesca, a great favorite and one volume on Jared French. I’ve been thinking about French ever since George Tooker died. When I had written that post I felt a strong connection between Tooker ( and French) and Piero della Francesca. I quickly found out this was common knowledge, but I still  find it very exciting. As I personally struggle with incorporating humanist elements into my own work, to see how seamlessly French accomplished this is encouraging, daunting and thrilling. One painting (of many exciting paintings) really stands out, that is Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone; it is such a rich image, its Renaissance roots are palpable.

Jared French

Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone

egg tempera on gesso panel

William Kelly Simpson

 source

The book I happen to be reading concerning French and his work is Nancy Grimes’ Jared French’s Myths, it really is marvelous, you might want to add it to your own collection. She points out the della Francesca inspiration, particularly concerning this painting; she very reasonably presents the Baptism of Christ.

Pierro della Francesca

Baptism of Christ

1448-50

egg tempera on poplar board 

National Gallery, London

That connection is quite right, but so many of della Francesca’s painting must have influenced French ( and Tooker and Cadmus). My own random browsing of della Francesca’s work led me to his still arresting image of Hercules.

Hercules

1465

Fresco

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Stumbling about, I came upon this sketch by French for Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone; I’m always bewildered and intimidated by the “sketches” of the great.

source

What is so very frustrating about French isn’t his enigmatic images, what is so challenging is how little seems to be known about the fellow. Grimes does an admirable job piecing together bits of the puzzle; but from my research I could find very little new information. Even Wikipedia was mute.

I rather prefer the mystery that surrounds this boy from New Jersey ( my own home state), I will continue to grapple about for new tid-bits, enjoying his incredible work as I go about the task.

Jared French, January 25th 1939,

taken by Carl Van Vechten

source

This video clip has many more images of French’s work, worth checking out if so inclined.

Once again, please pardon this rather pedestrian post. The dust from packing has just settled, my studio is now freshly set up, still much to do of course, but beginning to feel a bit like home; albeit one  situated in a rabidly right wing environment with a rather daunting homophobic mother-in-law.

Wish me luck.

Until next time,

Babylon Baroque

Saint Jokanaan, the Gospel According to Salome

Posted in 15th century, 16th cent, 17th century, 19th Century, 20th century, Baroque, Caravaggio, Decadent Movement, El Greco, Moreau, St. John the Baptist, Titian on June 23, 2011 by babylonbaroque

June 24th is the feast day of the blessed Baptist John.

My previous post concerning Caravaggio and Catamites featured many lovely depictions of the martyr, I would like to continue , for like Salome many artists have found the fellow captivating.

Of course I am unable to think of Jokanaan without thinking of Oscar, without thinking of  his Salome, so why try?

“Jokanaan, I am amorous of thy body!”

Baciccio

1676

City of Manchester art Gallery, Manchester

“How wasted he is!”

El Greco

1600

Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

“He is like a thin ivory statue. He is like an image of silver. I am sure he is chaste as the moon is. He is like a moonbeam, like a shaft of silver. his flesh must be cool like ivory. I would look closer at him.”

Bernardo strozzi

1615-20

Accademia Lingustica de Belle Arti, Genoa

Jokanaan: “Daughter of sodom, come not near me! But cover thy face with a veil, and scatter ashes upon thine head, and get thee to the desert and seek out the Son of Man.”

Salomé: “Who is he, the Son of Man?Is he as beautiful as thou art, Jokanaan?”

Titian

1542

“Thy body is white like the lilies of a field that the mower hath never mowed.”

Andrea del Sarto

1528

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

‘There is nothing in the world so white as thy body. let me touch thy body.”

Valentin de Boulogne

1625-30

Santa Maria in Via, Camerino

“It is thy mouth that I desire, Jokanaan”

Nicholas Régnier

1610

The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

“I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan, I will kiss thy mouth.”

The Apparition

Gustave Moreau

1876

Louvre

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Caravaggio

1608

Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist

Andrea Solari (1460-1524)

“I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan.”

Although we know of Salome’s lust, Saint Jerome (via Omer Englebert The Lives of the Saints) informs us “…that that for a long while Herodias savagely attacked the head of the prophet , repeatedly stabbing his tongue with a dagger.”

Salome’s desire seems decent when compared to mater.

I will close with an image familiar to many of my readers.

I was saddened to discover recently that it is not our dear Oscar in drag playing his most supreme vixen , but is instead an actress, Alice Guszalewice. I will need to look into Alice’s story, but she does look a lot like dear Oscar, so for one Last Dance I will believe it is indeed our hero.

apparently Alice Guszalewice as Salome

I can’t resist this clip from Salome\’s Last Dance, so why try.

In no way was I attempting to be disrespectful or overly ironic concerning the Baptist. I feel that  much of what Wilde expressed was deeply reverent, complicated by human frailty, but still quite reverent.

Wishing a happy feast day of Saint Jean-Baptiste, particularly to the Québécois.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


The Real Deal, Charles Demuth

Posted in 20th century, Gay on April 9, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Feeling a bit shamefaced by my naiveté concerning the last post, I felt the need to present an actual artist from a period I so admire; Charles Demuth of course comes to mind.

This image still startles me.


Turkish Bath with Self Portrait

Charles Demuth

1918

Really quite extraordinary , the background action a bit shocking.

I was unaware that he was born in Lancaster Pennsylvania, I am hard pressed to imagine this man with his fantastic imagery hailing from such a dour(though attractive) place. The Demuth Museum link provides more details.

Self Portrait

1907

 

b. 8th of November 1883

d. 23rd of October 1935

Final home, now the Demuth Museum, quite a good looking place.

Buildings, Lancaster

1930

Distinguished Air

1936

The painting I am most familiar with, I assume the sculpture that is being admired is a mock Brancusi.

Three Sailors

1917

I’m sad to say I hesitated including this, I tend towards prudery I’m afraid.


Men at a Bar

1912

I really admire the sense of artificial light captured in the medium of watercolor, no mean feat.

Artist on the Beach at Provincetown

1934

Poppies

1929

Wishing all a happy weekend,

Babylon Baroque

Bruce Sargeant, the Gay Deceiver?

Posted in 20th century, Babylon Beefcake, Gay, Quaintance on April 7, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Thumbing through the always excellent Gay & Lesbian Review, I was struck by an arresting image, a painting by Bruce Sargeant, Wrestler in Singlet.

As the article promised, I had never heard of Sargeant.

Apparently, a painter of promise, born 1898, that golden period before the war. Gifted, inspired, his talents enhanced by a stint at the Slade School, tragic affairs with young pretty boys, familial exile and ultimately a tragic early (1938) death when a wrestling match goes awry ( I assume with quite a cute lad).

Is all this some sort of E.M. Forster fantasy? If so,  the G&LR doesn’t let on that it is.

Upon research it appears to be some high camp romp. Mark Beard,  a”distant relative”, seems to have created Sargeant as his alter ego. The mainstream gay rags, Out and The Advocate in particular seem to be a bit more clued in.

I confess I am still a bit baffled, but evidence suggests it is a bit of a prank.

In the end it doesn’t matter, painted in the 20’s in some Bloomsbury haze, or yesterday by some smart fellow in New York, the images are a  joy to behold, undeniably sexy, well crafted,  and worthy of our attention be it directed at Beard or Sargeant.


Swimmer Drying Himself

Berlin Olympics

1936

John Stevenson Gallery

 

Portrait of a Wrestler

John Stevenson Gallery

Untitled

Weight Lifter

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery


Standing Male Nude

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery


Unidentified Surfer

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Young Wrestlers

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

1938

(the year of his wrestling match “death”)

Sargeant’s/ Beard’s draftsmanship is exceptional as the following images illustrate.

both sourced from Carrie Haddad Gallery.

My suspicions were raised by this high camp scene, but really is it any more extreme then some fantasy by George Quaintance?

La Chasse aux Cygnes

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

1892?

(he was supposedly born in ’98)

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Great fun.

This mysterious play has left me yearning for flesh and blood vintage beefcake, so I close with some actual dapper fellows.

Tim Murnane

1874

1898

source

Butch (indeed)

1925

source

If interested there is a book which seems to accompany Beard’s/Sargeants work, Bruce Sargeant and His Circle, Figure and Form, by Mark Beard.

I hope you have enjoyed these rather naughty images as much as I have.

Take care,

Babylon Baroque

Addendum: my chum Serge, far worldlier (not to mention a collector of Beard/Sargeant) has set me straight so to speak, follow this link for the complete scoop.

George Tooker, Reqcuiscat in Pace

Posted in 20th century, Gay, George Platt Lynes, George Tooker, Jared French, Paul Cadmus, Pierro della Francesca, Recquiscat in Pace, Reginald Marsh on March 31, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I was saddened to read that George Tooker had died Sunday.

I have only just begun to appreciate his work, and that of his circle, and now he has passed, link to NYT obituary.


George Clair Tooker Jr.

Self Portrait

1947

b. 5th August 1920

d. 27th March 2011

age 90

Described as a Symbolist and  a Magic Realist, labels he eschewed ; I find in Tooker’s work  ( this is  certainly not an original thought ) a strong link to the Renaissance, in particular the work of Piero della Francesca. It is not just his medium,  egg tempera, that calls this association to mind, his sensibilities, though decidedly modern, have strong roots in the rich Renaissance tradition, a modernist Neo-Renaissance perhaps.


Pierro della Francesca

St. Sebastian and St. John the Baptist

George Tooker

Window XI

part of the Windows series, 1950-1960.

Having a strong determination to paint, which was contrary to parental desire, Tooker majored in English Literature at Harvard ( this boy was no slouch) yet continued to paint. His circle included Reginald Marsh, Paul Cadmus ( who introduced Tooker to egg tempera) and Jared French; fine company, tremendous inspiration.

George Tooker by George Platt Lynes

source

Cornice

Difficult to ignore a certain resemblance.

Perhaps his most disturbing portrait is Children and Spastics , three effeminate men being pummeled by little monsters. Was this mocking? empathetic? or merely an observation?

It is striking, and quite modern.


Children and Spastics

1946

Museum of Contemporary Art

Chicago

I was first drawn to Tookers work due to the following image, it is easy to understand my attraction.


Coney Island

1947

Difficult to ignore the Pieta reference.

As I mentioned with the earlier image, Tooker created a series, Windows, during the 50’s and 60’s; comely Puerto Rican neighbors being  his inspiration.


Window XIII

The Window

lithograph

After his longtime partner the painter William Christopher died in 1973 ( they had met in ’49, quite a commitment ), Tooker was understandably devastated. He followed a path I can sympathize with, he found comfort in the arms of the Mother Church, and moved to Vermont. Seems quite sensible.

The following link is a recent interview he gave to Vermont Public Radio, it’s a treat to hear his thoughts.


sourced from the New York Times

I found a rather complete gallery of Tooker’s work, unfortunately much isn’t titled or dated, but the images are ravishing.

It is a great loss, we will miss out on new Tooker paintings, mysterious, gorgeous work; fortunately he left a large body of work to absorb, contemplate and enjoy.

Dance

1946


Good Night,

Babylon Baroque



In Celebration of César Chávez, the murals of Boris Deutsch

Posted in 20th century, Boris Deutsch, WPA murals on March 31, 2011 by babylonbaroque

It appears odd to celebrate the Latino Chávez’s birth with the work of a Teuton, but such is the logic of Babylon.

Having recently visited  for the first time the Terminal Annex Post Office quite close to my home, I was struck by the WPA murals by the painter Boris Deutsch. His panels set into architectural lunettes are painted in the  odd Colonial-Latino-Indiginous-Deco sensibilities of the architecture; it is strange, not exactly beautiful, and thoroughly LA.

I thought they were a fitting tribute to man loved by so many here in the City of Angels.



Please pardon the quality, they were taken with my phone.

I really love the mask motif.

 

 

This is perhaps my favorite, the horned Kachina-like figure of particular interest .

This panel was barricaded off from the public, there might be other panels that are  also restricted from viewing.


 

César Chávez

b. 31st of March 1927

d. 23rd of April 1993

 

Happy Birthday Mr. Chávez.

Wishing all a pleasant day,

Babylon Baroque