Archive for the Alphonse Mucha Category

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Posted in Alphonse Mucha, Blessed Virgin Mary, Chris Ofili, Me, Otto Mueller, Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Although it is difficult to forget Her feast day in this City of Angels, I did.

Driving around the streets of Boyle Heights , exploring with the Beloved, I stumbled upon many charming vignettes dedicated  to Marian devotion.

Somewhere in Boyle Heights

I particularly love the images of household necessities flanking the deity.

The tale of Juan diego’s encounter on December 9th 1531 is well known.In 1754 Benedict XIV declared the Guadalupe as Patroness of New Spain.

This official recognition of this unusual apparition would henceforth inspire fierce devotion and nationalistic pride.

If the Spaniards thought that switching the goddess Tonantzin with a brown skinned Madonna would secure indigenous loyalty to the Mother Church; they probably hadn’t counted on Miguel Hidalgo’s rallying his countrymen to revolution with his 1810 Cry of Independence, “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe”.

Standard of Miguel Hidalgo

1810

source

It is difficult to not feel that Virgin of Guadalupe has been used as a political tool for multiple agendas.

She isn’t the first incarnation of maternity to have aroused controversy, Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary (1996) comes to mind. This painting caused a bit of a row in 1999 when it was part of the Brooklyn Museum’ s Sensation exhibition. Although the painting in my opinion is inoffensive, the controversy arose when area Catholics objected to Ofili’s use of elephant dung as one of the materials used to create the image. Ofili had used elephant dung in previous works as an exploration of his Nigerian heritage. That was not how the area Catholics saw it; the Holy Mother was being defamed.

The Holy Virgin Mary

1996

Chris Ofili

b. October 10th 1968

Manchester, England

source

more info

Alphonse Mucha expressed his outrage at the cultural excesses of the Austro Hungarian empires desire to annihilate Czech culture. His 1912 poster the Lottery of National Unity was an elegant campaign for funds needed  to support the private schools devoted to preserving the Czech language in the face of Teutonic repression.

Lottery of National Unity

1912

Alphonse Mucha

source

Although I have little to substantiate the claim  I personally  believe the German Expressionist painting by Otto Mueller (1874-1930)  The Polish Family expresses similar outrage at injustice.

The Polish Family

Otto Mueller

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The unconventional interpretations of the Virgin inspired me to create  my own, drawing upon my brief tutelage under the Russian iconographer Vladislav Andreyev I attempted to create a visual Act of Contrition for Western Excess. Upon a base of reclaimed plywood, I assembled a day’s worth of my recycled trash. It is telling that although the plywood was 4 feet by 3, I was unable to make use of it all. The following is the modest result of my efforts, I am afraid it was perhaps best left as a theory. I appreciate your indulgence.

Our Lady of Perpetual Refuse

by the author

2010

Please enjoy this feast day as it draws to a near, if you are as fortunate as I am to be able to stumble upon impromptu shrines, enjoy them for their charm and heartfelt sentiment.

Take care, and have a marvelous week.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque



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Fouquet & Mucha, an inspired collaboration.

Posted in 19th cent., Alphonse Mucha, architecture, Art Nouveau, Paris International 1900 on December 1, 2010 by babylonbaroque

The Art Nouveau found particularly beautiful expression in the collaborative work of the jeweler Georges Fouquet (1862-1957) and the designer/artist Alphonse Mucha ( 1860-1939). For a brief glorious moment, extravagant beauty reigned supreme.

Brooch

ca. 1900

Manufacturer- Georges Fouquet

Designer- Alphonse Mucha

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Georges acquired his skill and taste early on through the acclaim and talents of his father Alphonse Fouquet ( 1828-1911). A pioneer in jewelry design, Alphonse  re-introduced the female nude figure into his designs , a radical departure from Victorian mores. When his work was exhibited in 1878 at the Universal Exposition in Paris, Alphonse was awarded a gold prize for his exceptional skill, craft, and taste.

Alphonse Fouquet

b. 1828

d. 1911

Although considered to have made an even greater impact concerning the  of art jewelry  then his father, I was unable to locate an image of Georges. His legacy will have to suffice.

Georges teamed up with his father in 1891. Alphonse had set up shop at 35 avenue de’l Opera, clearly Georges had grander plans.

Upon his father’s retirement in 1895 Georges rejected the Classicism of papa and allowed himself to be fully embraced by the seductive charms of the Art Nouveau. Who better to secure the union then the maestro Alphonse Mucha.

more concerning Alphonse Mucha, previous post

The collaborative efforts with Mucha created quite a buzz. Although Georges had a stable of esteemed artist on staff, the work with Mucha resulted in particular acclaim. Georges enjoyed the fruits of this fame at the Paris International Exhibition of 1900.

Flush with recent triumphs Georges opened a new shop in  1901, 6 rue Royal. A jaw-dropping masterpiece, entirely designed by that master of sublime beauty, Mucha.

source

As spectacular as the exterior was, the interior engulfed visitors in a heady  harem atmosphere redolent of kohl eyed , ambergris scented lusciousness.

I was tickled beyond belief when I first encountered this image.

Mucha oversaw every detail, such as the exquisite peacock preening over the main jewelry case. Woe to the hapless fellow, when his lady love crossed this threshold.

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I really love the voluptuous “fabric” rendered in a hard material, I am assuming glazed terra cotta.

 

source

I enclose a few un-documented images, but they do bear the distinct mark of a Fouquet -Mucha collaboration.

If they happen to not be authenticated, they do illustrate the influence of this dynamic duo.

Brooch

ca. 1900

source

Brooch

ca. 1900

Sadly all greatness ends, the passion for the excesses of Art Nouveau passed, 6 rue Royal was looking dated.

In 1936 the shop was redecorated. Georges’ son Jean joined the family business in 1919, and like his own father, he had a new artistic vision, the streamlined Art Deco.

I must confess I have never appreciated the chill of Art Deco glamour, I have often found it a dowdy period, 1936 particularly so.

Thankfully the Fouquets had the integrity to donate Mucha’s architectural masterwork to the Museum of the City of Paris, the Musee Carnavalet

I will focus on the glory days of Fouquet in closing with this little clip from the 1900 Exposition Universelle, Paris would not be Paris without Gustave  Eiffel’s wonder and the glories of Fouquet and Mucha.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Mucha Madness

Posted in 19th cent., Alphonse Mucha, Blessed Virgin Mary, Me, Mucha, Orientalist, Sarah Bernhardt on October 1, 2010 by babylonbaroque

It is difficult to not explore Mucha when discussing divine Sarah. The man was essential to her image of HighGlamour.

He has greatly influenced my taste from very early on.

As a boy of eight my wildly eccentric Nana presented me with a wonderful  Whitman’s tin, it bore the image of the familiar “Zodiac” panel (inside Nana had stuffed it with lead soldiers from WWI, marvelous toys). The tin was a wonder to me,   I probably loved it more then the soldiers ( as I said before, I was a sissy boy). This exotic box with it’s  scratched and rusted Orientalist decoration opened a world of beauty known as Mucha to me.

Thank you Nana, recquiscat in pace.

As I mentioned Mucha controlled, with meddling, Sarah’s image.

This famous poster of Miss Bernhardt from the production of Gismonda is well known.

Gismonda

1895 printed by Lemercier

It is one of my favorites.

The glamour shot that follows, it’s inspiration.

It is tempting to go on about Mucha’s work, but others have done a much finer job then I am capable of.

He is justly popular.

I will focus on the trivial, as that is where my talents happily  lie.

Let’s discuss Mucha’s pretty Studio, it’s a grand affair.

I’m thinking this is his second studio, rue Val de Grace, 1895. He had another,charmingly described as” above Madame Charlotte’s cremerie”. I  don’t profess to be a Mucha scholar, I just like pretty pictures.

Location may be uncertain, but it’s influence on my taste is abundantly clear. It is a magical place.

Mucha’s studio.

Anyone who knows my taste is aware of my affection for graven images, the Madonna front and center drives me mad.

I wish my own work warranted such brazen display.

Loving the stuffed pheasant, always room for taxidermy.

In my own modest way, I have attempted to recreate Mucha-stile in my own home studio.

Mucha-stile on a budget.

Authors home studio, my pugdog Daisy in foreground, dachshund  Buddy further on.

As I said Mucha still inspires, I still have the Whitman’s tin, more scratched and rusty as ever, but still treasured.

Nana’s gift to her sissy grandson.

The inspiration for the tin, the Zodiac panel.

Zodiac panel.

In addition to a shared love of writhing foliate bejeweled ornament and overdecorated studios, Alphonse Mucha and I share a birthdate. I am quite pleased with that coincidence.

Alphonse Maria Mucha

self portrait

b. July 24th 1860

d. July 14th 1939

(as I was born in “62 perhaps I will live to 2039 or so, hope so)

Mucha died in Czechoslovakia, a victim of Nazi harassment. Shortly after German occupation, they interrogated poor Alphonse. clearly a man capable of making such loveliness couldn’t handle the thuggery. He died shortly after the assault.

Although the Nazis had banned attendance to his funeral, 100,000 bravely defied the order and gave Mucha the respect due to a great genius.

Recquiscat in Pace

for further interesting tidbits, please check out  the Mucha Foundation site

Have a great weekend.

Good Shabbos!

Sarah Bejeweled

Posted in Alphonse Mucha, Calouste Gulbenkian, Edouard Lievre, George Sandow, Georges Fouquet, Rene Lalique, Sarah Bernhardt on September 29, 2010 by babylonbaroque

My intention has been to post a simple little article on the Divine Sarah.

With Sarah Bernhardt  it AIN’T that easy.

Divine Sarah as the Empress of Byzantium Théodora by Sardou

I was a pissy little  homo- boy, my mother dismissed my histrionic fits by telling me to “stop acting like Sarah Bernhardt”.

I hadn’t a clue as to what she was referring to, I do now.

Sarah is eternally fascinating. As I cannot possibly tackle the Goddess in one little modest post, perhaps chapters would be best.

As I like shiny things, and Sarah liked shiny things lets begin with jewels.

We all know the quite fabulous Dragonfly corsage , so let us start with it.

Dragonfly corsage

Lalique 1897-1898

gold, enamel, chrysoprase stones, moonstones .

Museo Calouste Gulbenkian

I have read that this perverse little creature owned by Sarah’s friend, Calouste Gulbenkian, was a portrait sculpture of Bernhardt. I don’t see a resemblance, but it is of course  quite extraordinary.

Calouste lent this jaw dropper only once to dear Sarah, but we are still talking about it.

The man had fine taste, plus he was rather cute.

In addition to this bit of magnificence, he was a fine patron to Lalique. I must post more in a future date, but I cannot resist the siren call of this piece.

Serpents pectoral

ca. 1898-1899

gold and enamel

Museo Calouste Gulbenkian

Lalique wasn’t the only horse in Sarah’s bejeweled stable. Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha produced this dazzling wonder.

Snake Bracelet

ca. 1899

gold, diamonds, opals , rubies, and enamel

Alphonse Mucha  Museum

Sakai City, Japan

As the opal is Sarah’s birthstone, the Snake Bracelet is particularly fitting.

It’s Orientalist mystique is by way of a larger snake that wraps round her wrist, Snake -1 linked to ring -Snake- 2 by a delicate series of chains. Flexibility is provided by discreet hinges from behind. a mechanical bit of genius that even I can appreciate.

In addition to designing Sarah’s jewels, Mucha of course famously designed posters for many of her  performances. this poster of 1898, depicts the divine one as Medea, in the production of  Médée performed at the Theatre de la Renaissance.

The Snake Bracelet quite visible, in addition to the bloody knife.

Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha collaborated on other pieces, this pendant will drive you mad.

Brooch

ca. 1900

Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha

gold, enamel, mother of pearl, emerald, colored stone, gold paint

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Clearly dear Mucha relished being Sarah’s lap dog.Mucha went on to design more for Sarah, jewels and posters most specifically.

When Miss Bernhardt was performing La Princesse Lointaine at the Renaissance Theatre in 1895, Mucha designed this magnificent tiara for her.

Diadem for La Princesse Lointaine

ca. 1895

Musée et Bibliothèque de l’Opera

Paris

Reutlinger Studio (1850-1930)

ca. 1895

Harvard Theatre Collection

As Sarah had great control of her image, she was involved on every level. This jeweled collar for her role s Cleopatra reflect this attention to detail.

Pectoral for Cléopâtre

ca. 1840

metal, pearls, beads, sequins, gold thread

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

It’s quite clear dear Sarah enjoyed her glamour, her image, her presence.

Even her mirror bore her imprint, her motto Quand même (even so).

Standing Mirror

ca. 1875

Edouard Lièvre

Ariadante, Paris

ca. 1891

In closing I may never tire of Sarah, I thank my mother for the intro.


Always eager to throw in beefcake, we have the Divine and the Elegant Brute, the always hot George Sandow.

Good Night