Madame X by John Singer Sargent 1884
X marks the Scandal
In today’s world with Victoria’s secret models flaunting their nearly naked bodies all over the place it is hard to believe that a painting of a fully clothed woman could be so scandalous, oh but it was. Back in the day, the day being late 1800’s, Madame Gautreau found herself in the middle of a scandal. One that changed the course of her life, some say even ruined it.
What is all this about?
The artist John Singer Sargent painted this portrait of Madame Gautreau. Sargent was Born in Italy to American parents in 1856. He studied painting in Italy and France. The portrait of Madame Gautreau was shown in the Salon, Paris in 1884. Sargent was a well know artist in Paris and sort of a golden-child of portrait painting. He had been through other Salon showings with huge successes. The woman, Madame Gautreau otherwise known as Madame X, was at the top of Parisian society. She was the “it girl’ of her time. Gautreau, born in New Orleans, USA was an expatriate and a true Parisian beauty. Newly married and always on the forefront of fashion and style. Gautreau was bored with the natural beauty look. Her skin was snowy-white and she made sure it was white as white can be. Her makeup was more daring and bold. Her maquillage and white skin gave her a dramatic look. It truly set her apart from other women in Paris at the time.
Parisian society was dazzled and seduced by her individual style and grace. She was on everyone’s guest list with invitations to parties, balls and charity events. She became a celebrity. Her peers noticed and watched her. But she was also creating problems on the street. While traveling from one place to the next, crowds would push and shove on the boulevards just to get a glimpse of her.
When the painting of Madame Gautreau debuted in Paris in 1884 the painting was instantly damned. The public itself set the scandal and the critics followed. It was the sexual suggestion of her pose and the pale color of her skin that people didn’t like. The original painting was of Gautreau with the strap of her dress falling off her shoulder which was suggesting a possible tryst with the painter himself! After the showing Sargent modified the painting by moving the strap up onto the shoulder.
Sargent left Paris after the scandal and never fully recovered from the disaster, in Paris at least. He did however become a very successful painter in other parts of the world. He painted somewhere near 900 oil paintings and more than 2000 watercolor paintings. Later in life his paintings were solely for himself. He would journal his travels with landscape paintings and sketches. They are overflowing with color and emotion. You can see (or feel) the pleasure he had while doing them.
As for Madame Gautreau her life never was the same. She hid herself from the rest of the world hoping people would forget about the scandal. When she tried to comeback they forgot about her but not the scandal. She tried to regain popularity by having other portraits painted of her by other artists. No one noticed, she even had herself painted with her strap off her shoulder again but no one cared. Eventually, she became a recluse and sadly lived in a self-imposed prison only venturing out under at night.
I am reading the book called Strapless by Deborah Davis. It is a fantastic well researched novel about the scandal of Madame X. I highly recommend it if you have any interest at all in this story. you can view this provocative painting at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City.
John Singer Sargent was an amazing artist. I plan on showcasing him again soon. He is mostly known for his portrait work but I found his watercolors to be touching and real. A series of paintings of Venice stirs up emotions and sensations from a time we were there. The colors are simply beautiful. His style is seamless and flawless. I want to jump right in the painting. To sit on the steps along the canal and watch the Venetians as they go about their day.
I hope you enjoyed the blog today. I did paint a copy of Madame X. Mine of course is just a study but it was fun to do.
Links and information.
John Singer Sargent the complete works.
John Singer Sargent virtual gallery.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It has been a long break from the blog! We have moved away from Chicago…boohoo. I loved being near the Chicago Art Institute and many other things like great food and a big, energetic city. We moved to Des Moines Iowa. Yes, I said IOWA. We have been here for about two months now. The family is settling in and getting used to the area. Now that most of the boxes are unpacked and a routine is in place I put my studio put back together. There will be more in Iowa later.
The Scream by Edvard Munch; have you ever seen it? This is a truly unforgettable painting. I decided to focus on this painting because it fits well into the Halloween theme.
Even though the work really has nothing to do with Halloween Its ghoulish look was perfect for the blog. In my opinion this is spooky and weird. It may not actually be haunted but it represents a man haunted by anxiety and fear. The sky looks red and daunting, the water has an eerie feeling, as if it could swallow me up, and of course the ghostly looking man-thing. The man-thing is not a ghost but a real representation of what Munch felt most of his life. He was a very anxious man who dealt with anxiety, fear and depression. His angst is conveyed in his art as you can see here. He wrote a diary entry headed, Nice 22 January 1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:
One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.
I feel sad for Munch and that he had such anxiety and fear. He painted many other styles but he is most known for Expressionism. His tortuous works display his misery and tragic life. Ironically, the work is viewed in a different way today. Today his work is seen in copies and imitations spoofing the original work in a humorous way.
The Scream done by Carol Zink
My version of the Scream is a quick representation of the painting. Obviously I didn’t spend much time on it but had fun with the colors and the shapes. When I see the scream I think Halloween and ghosts. Which takes me back to Halloween we used to have in Paris, France.
We moved there in 2005 when our girls were 2, 4 and 6. There were many things I missed from America and Halloween was at the top of the list. I wanted to make sure the kids got a fun Halloween experience. Our school had many Americans in it so we banned together and made our own Halloween. It was fantastic! Since the French don’t really trick or treat we decided to make it happen. So, we put together a route near the school and asked parents to hand out candy. Once we found enough volunteers we made a map, purchased candy and carved pumpkins. On “the night” we started at the school, walked the route, and ended at our favorite wine shop. We had over 300 kids trick-or-treat on those special trick-or-treat nights. The wine shop owner loved to partake in our Halloween event. He happily poured wine for the adults and let the children go down into the creepy wine cellar for a wonderful finally to the evening. As the kids organized, enjoyed and traded their candies the parents hung out and had a glass of wine, or two. It was one of the most memorable nights each year. One year, we didn’t have enough volunteers to so I forced my husband Ron to stand on a sidewalk by a bench and pass out candy. He of course was happy to do it. However, many others thought he was crazy; until that night when they came upon his stop along the route. Ron had decorated the bench with jack-o-lanterns and spider webs. He even had a creepy Grim Reaper. Not to mention a cooler with beer and chips. At the end of the night Ron had most of the men “helping” him pass out candy. In the end we had no idea that this would be one of our favorite French memories. The French did think we were a bit crazy but also found us a bit amusing.
The back story to the Grim Reaper. A week before one of our trick or treats nights Ron was in Spain on a business trip. One evening he found himself with some free time so he went out and looked in some shops. He found the coolest Halloween accessory; the Grim Reaper. He bought it and brought it home. He was so excited to have found such a wacky thing and proud to have brought it home. I was a bit surprised that he didn’t have a problem with carrying the grim reaper on the airplane with him. I wouldn’t like to know that the grim reaper was hanging out in the overhead compartment on the airplane!
Returning to The Scream – it is one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world. As I mentioned before It has been copied and parodied a bazillion times which is why it is such a special piece in pop-culture. Not only has it been copied onto posters, key chains and coffee mugs it has been redone by the famous pop-culture artist Andy Warhol. These images are two of The scream (after Munch) painted by Warhol.
I love some of the funny things people have done over the years. Here are a few examples; including my favorite, Waldo, of Where’s Waldo.
Other examples of pop-culture imitations of the Scream.
I will leave you with one last parody for this all-Hallows-Eve.
I hope you enjoyed the first blog of the season. And I hope you continue to follow.
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I SCREAM HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
watercolor Poppies by carol zink
I have had a busy June with the end of the school year, eighth grade graduation and school parties. However, I have been painting and have included some of my work for you to see. I will continue my usual blog in September.
The painting above is of Poppies. I just love Poppies! I have many memories of them in the French countryside growing wild near the vineyards. This is my first real attempt at a watercolor painting. I’ve always had a fear of watercolor but I put that fear in my pocket and went for it! I think it turned out ok. I started with the old crumbly watercolor paints my dear mom left me. Which was great to start with but now I am getting into it so I went out and got more brushes and paint. Art stores are like candy stores to me. My friend Jean is a watercolor artist and has inspired me to step out of my box. Thanks Jean!
We went to Kenya, Africa last year in February. One of the places we went was to a a Masai village. We saw so many unbelievable things there. I will continue to blog and paint about it in the future. One of my favorite memories is of this woman. She followed me around, held my hand and made me feel welcome. She didn’t speak a language I could speak but her actions and warm smile made me understand. We are all people living in this world, caring for our children and doing our best. She let me take her photo with her baby. Her and the baby on her back was simply beautiful.
View from Vow by carol zink
This is a painting I blogged about earlier; View from Vow. I am still working on this for my sister and her husband. I have reworked it a little and still am trying to get it balanced.
Watercolor by carol zink
This is of my girls! Recently while in California we stopped at Malibu Beach. It was sunny and nice. The girls were running from the waves. After I took some pictures I thought it would be a nice watercolor and I do like it.
I have been trying to do a watercolor a day to help me get this media under control. I really like the boat but the rest of it didn’t turn out. So I cropped it! Must keep trying.
This one is really special to our family. This is a place my dad owned for years. We would spend long weekends, holidays and birthdays here. It is on Whidbey Island near the ferry docks. At night we would roast marshmallows and watch the ferry traffic and see an occasional sealion. This is a practice painting and I have another one I will show you next.
This is the second beach house painting. The first one was too much paint so I toned down the color and worked on the house more. I think I like the look of this one better. I still have some of the house to do and other spots. I want to bring out the chairs in the front more and make it richer in color.
I gave this to my dad for Father’s day. I did so because that house was special. I really felt that I was able to get closer to him because of that place. I know my children feel close to papa and their aunties, uncles and cousins because of it. It is one of those “heart treasures.” Thanks Dad!
I hope you like my work! Have a great summer and I will be back in full swing soon. If you are interested in keeping an eye on my progress please visit my Facebook page.
This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day to remember all those brave people who served our country to keep us free and safe. Thank you!
In addition to remembering and honoring our war heroes, I hope to show you some really cool paintings done out of the throes of war. Throughout history visual artist made images because of the need to tell stories. We have seen that early artists scratched out scenes of hunts on cave walls. And, we have seen the illustrations from the Bible. Other historical events were recorded by artist depicting battles won and political rulers. As we know most artists create from their lives; happiness, pain and sorrow. That is why so many songs are of love or broken hearts. The same goes for visual art. Walk into any city museum and you will find war-art. For example this painting is hanging at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City.
This is one of the most famous pieces of American war-art. This is a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. The painting was done by Emanuel Leutze a German artist who lived in America as a boy. It is a very dramatic representation of the night in which General Washington leads his men across the treacherous river to surprise attack the British on Christmas Eve 1776. When looking at the painting you see General Washington standing dramatically leading the men across the river. The truth; it was dark cold and the river was fierce. They crossed during a huge snowstorm and completed at 3:00am.
The painting portrays Washington leading his men out of a stormy darkness into a new dawn of freedom. The symbolism is awesome! There are too many interesting things to say about this painting because I want to keep my blog a quick and easy read. But, one interesting thing is there are two future presidents in the boat. They are James Madison and James Monroe. Monroe is holding the flag. No one knows if they were all in the same boat that night but it does express the importance and intensity of their plan. The image with the “Betsy Ross” flag is another interesting part of this painting because that particular flag design came into existence about six months after the crossing. It is interesting to see how an artist such as Leutze uses his own “creative license.” This particular painting is a big example of that. Nonetheless, it is a remarkable painting and sure does conjure up some strong patriotic feelings when looking at it. Go Washington!
Daryl G. Bruckshen painted by Donna Bruckshen (my mom)
I am sure many of you have a loved one who has served in the military. Me too; one of these people was my step dad, Daryl Bruckshen. He was a US Marine and served active duty and reserve status from 1957 to 1969. He served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. He was one of those tough yet sensitive guys. I remember him telling me about flying to Vietnam. It sounded a bit scary. He was an aircraft radio operator and a very proud US Marine. Sadly he died of cancer in May of 2007. Miss you dad! Another loved one who serves is my nephew Scott. He is in training right now to be a pilot for the Air Force. He is a brave man who is just starting out his career. He is graduating this summer from Pilot training school and then will learn what aircraft he will be flying for the Air Force. He also is getting married this summer too! Congratulations Scott!
One of America’s most treasured artists is Norman Rockwell. Do you remember seeing his art on the newsstands for the Saturday Evening Post? Norman Rockwell was an illustrator and painter. He is interesting because he focused his painting on the individual, the characteristic American traits of warmth, humility and humor. The paintings I want to show you are what are called the Four Freedoms.
Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want, Freedom of worship and Freedom of speech.
The four Freedoms were outlined by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address, and Rockwell completed the paintings of them during World War II as his contribution to the war effort. I have included that link below.
My painting for today’s blog is a copy of “Our Banner in the Sky” by Frederic Edwin Church 1861. This is one of the paintings displayed in a major exhibition at the Smithsonian showing the Best of Civil War era. I found this painting to be extremely patriotic and moving. I have attached the article in which it and other civil war paintings have changed war art. While I painted this my patriotic emotions started bubbling out. I have strong feelings for American life especially after living abroad for so long. I always knew deep in my heart how I loved my country but being away from it has brought me closer to my home country.
Some of you probably don’t know that I served my country too. When I was 19 years old I joined the US Air Force Reserves. At the time I didn’t have the means of going to college. But, I knew I didn’t want to serve burgers for the rest of my life. A girl friend of mine had mentioned the idea of joining and I said let’s do it! My step sister Brenda had just completed her first year of Air Force Reserves and could tell me all about it. So, I enlisted together with my friend. I have to admit I was a bit of a “Private Benjamin” if anyone knows what that means. After Boot Camp, I continued to Technical school in Texas where I learned all kinds of crazy things about airplanes, fork lifts, loading and unloading aircraft. It was fun and I was at the top of my class. The Air Force was a great move for me. I felt great about serving my country while at the same time I grew up. I learned more about myself during that time than in any other time in my life. I realized how valuable I was as an individual and as a team-mate. I never participated in a dangerous mission but was put on 24 hour status during the Gulf War. And, I did a two-week tour at McChord Air Force base during that time. After eight years of service I left the Air Force with an honorable discharge and with the honor of receiving the Air Force Achievement Medal. I had started out at an airman basic (meaning no rank) and left a Staff Sargent. I am proud to be an American and I am proud to have served.
I wanted to bring some patriotic art on this Memorial Day. Millions have lost their lives in combat. Today we remember those brave men and women who served their country to the fullest. Let’s just take a few minutes to think of those brave people who have given their lives or have served our country.
If you liked my blog please click the “like” button and or comment. Thank you for reading!
Links for you:
Article about Smithsonian’s best of Civil War Art
Metropolitan Art Museum-Washington crossing the Delaware
US history web page article about Washington Crossing the Delaware
Norman Rockwell Museum
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Speech (1941)
Hello Bloggers and blog watchers. I am so excited about this month’s artist, Georgia O’Keefe. (November 1887 – March 1986) This is Peinture de la vie’s first American artist not to mention first woman artist. Looking back she was probably the first well-known artist I was able to recognize by sight. Even though my mother was a successful artist I had little knowledge of the world’s art scene. I think I was out in the yard playing with the flowers and insects and not interested in art at the time. But I do remember seeing those amazing huge paintings of flowers.
Georgia O’Keefe was one of those painters who gave new dimensions to modern art. She was born in Wisconsin and grew up on a farm with her six siblings. As a child she was fascinated with art. So much that after graduating from High school she was determined to be an artist. She studied at schools that have been instrumental in shaping what we now know as America’s legacy in the fine arts; school such at the Chicago Art Institute and New York’s Art Student League. Artists as Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock studied at these schools.
In 1924 O’Keefe started painting large scale flowers. One of which is called Petunia Number 2. This was her first large scale painting and the first exhibited in 1925. These creations expressed what she called “the wideness of wonder of the world as I live in it.” She must have felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland. I imagine her running around the garden full of enormous flowers chasing the White Rabbit. No, seriously, her huge paintings of flowers are incredible. She painted them with abundance of color and passion. In fact, that passion has been misinterpreted for decades.
Even today the critics debate as to what is at the bottom of these flowers. Who knew flowers could be so controversial? If you look at many of her paintings you could imagine she was trying to portray sexuality or eroticism. Many of the flowers and other paintings do suggest genitalia. However, O’Keefe said that she was just painting what she sees. And others obviously don’t see the same thing she does. Some write her off as an artist and call her “prissy” and others say her paintings are all about sex. I am not sure why we have to place a label or an underlining motive for art. Sometimes we paint what we see and what makes us happy at that time. I don’t know whether or not O’Keefe was trying to portray “a world as it is known to women” as said in an article after a Whitney museum’s showing. I think sometimes we want to look farther into something and it isn’t necessary.
As you know, if you have followed my blog, my mother was an artist. There was a time where she focused on large scale flowers. In fact, one Christmas I remember she surprised me and my brothers and sisters with a painting that she did. She must have spent months doing six different flower paintings. And how on earth did she keep it from us? Mine is of tulips. I love it! It was the first painting I received from her and I hold it so dear to my heart. I have included it here for you to see. My sister Julie has a beautiful close up of a rose. It really is amazing.
Tulips by Donna Bruckshen (mom)
My friend Mary Lou loved the rose painting so much she wanted one. She has been my friend since we were 12. Needless to say we have gone through a lot together! Anyway, she wanted a painting from me. I wasn’t an artist but decided to take painting lessons from my mom. It was great, I was able to do something special for a friend and spend time with my mom. I gave the painting to her for mother’s day many years ago. It was (and still is) touching how much it meant to her. Mary Lou never liked Mother’s day after her father died on that very day. But that painting has helped her get past that heartbreak and focus on the good, her life as a mother, wife and a friend. I have included a photo of that painting that still hangs in her house. Here is to you my dear friend, you might be the reason I am painting today.
Getting back to Georgia O’Keefe, I loved researching her because of all the controversy. But she was just a woman artist who painted what she loved. She ended up living in New Mexico and died in 1986 at the age of 89. She continued to work up until her death. One of my favorite paintings of hers hangs in the Chicago Art Institute. I have included it here for you. I love it because it makes me think of tranquility. I just want to sit on one of her clouds and enjoy the peace.
I hope you have enjoyed my little summary of Georgia O’Keefe. Please comment on what you think. I want to hear! Also, if you have not done so already click “follow” on this blog so you can receive next month’s blog by email.
Thank you for reading and again COMMENT.
Georgia O’Keefe Museum http://www.okeeffemuseum.org
The Art Student League – New York http://www.theartstudentsleague.org/About.aspx
Chicago Art Institute http://www.artic.edu/
Out of the Erotic Ghetto- New York Magazine http://nymag.com/arts/art/reviews/59249/
Gustav Klimt the Kiss
Today is Saint Valentines Day! My post is planned especially for love. Gustav Klimt’s Kiss is one of the most well-known paintings in the world. The Kiss (In German: Der Kuss) was painted by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt between 1907 and 1908, the highpoint of his “Golden Period”, when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style.
I have always wondered about this painting. I never really got it. When I looked at it, I would see blocks of brown and gold paint, red circles and a blue face; just plain weirdness. Over time I have become to love it! After a more serious study of the famous painting I came to a more sophisticated interpretation. It could be that I am more mature than before! I think there is so much hidden in the painting and it is fun to look for them.
At first you notice the woman’s face. She is calm and at peace; taking in the sensation. The blue tinge around her nose symbolized her breath almost as if she is holding it, not wanting to exhale the desire. The man’s face is buried in her loving cheek. They are surrounded by flowers; Swirling, round, colorful flowers and green foliage is a symbol of pure love. The painting is a timeless emotion; the lovers are lost in the moment while the golden cloak gives them warmth and is part of their being. I found it interesting that the hands are so real while the most of the painting is abstract. I think the artist wanted to convey that this was something he wanted to hold on to and not let go. I also loved that the painting is covered with rich golden colors. The gold gives a sense of romance, adoration and even eroticism not to mention love.
Can you relate to this painting? It is a feeling of love and passion. One that is so strong it melts the rest of reality into one. Close your eyes and bring to mind a kiss you have received that made you feel this way. Looking at the painting brings me back to a most special moment in my life. A very long time ago we drove up to the mountains at midnight see the Perseid meteor shower in august. I will never forget that night. We held each other and watched the shooting stars fly across the sky. We kissed a lot too. Thinking back I did feel covered by a golden cloak with fresh flowers surrounding us. We held on to that moment as long as we could, until the sun came up. That was my first feeling of real love for someone else. That time and place will forever be in my heart. This painting encompasses that feeling of being held in time, a feeling of lost in a lovely moment.
The painting is real and abstract. Take the flowers and the mosaic and swirls flowing; expressing feeling. But the faces and hands are painted real; holding on to the moment not wanting to let it go. It is beautiful and even lovelier when you can recall a time like that for yourself. That is why I love this painting and any painting that brings us to a place in our memories.
I hope you can find a time in place like this, especially for Valentine ’s Day.
I am dedicating my study of the Kiss and the blog post to my loving hubby, Ron. The mountain kiss was so long ago but we have many more to come.
Please leave a comment about your kiss.
Here are links to related website:
Wall Street Journal article about Klimt:
Seattle Times Article about the Metor Shower: