Thursday, February 27, 2020

Women's Eyes by Kees van Dongen and Russell Patterson

I wrote about Dutch Modernist painter Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) here, and American cartoonist Russell Patterson (1893-1977) here.

Some of their works exhibit a certain similarity. Namely, from time to time they depicted young women as having extremely mascaraed eyes. Patterson did this a lot more than did van Dongen because his job required cranking out a much larger volume of images.

Van Dongen got there first -- his mascaraed lovelies began to appear around 1910, whereas Patterson's were a Jazz Age and Depression-era thing. So: Did Patterson borrow from van Dongen? I do not know: probably no one does. But living and working in New York City starting in the mid-1920s, it's possible that he might have seen some van Dongen paintings or perhaps images of them in publications.

Let's take a look:


Van Dongen: La femme en blanc - 1912

Van Dongen: The Blue Hat - 1910

Van Dongen: La Coquelicot - c. 1919

Patterson sketch

Patterson illustration

Patterson illustration

Monday, February 24, 2020

Joseph Edward Southall's Tempera Paintings

Joseph Edward Southall (1861-1944) used tempera as his main medium, unlike most Fine Art painters who favored oil. Some background dealing with his art and politics is here.

Southall's compositions are generally fairly static and his subject matter traditional. Images are "flat" in both the Modernist and Mediaeval artistic senses. I am tempted to use the term "decorative."

That said, his works are pleasing, if not awe-inspiring.


Sigismonda Drinking the Poison - 1897

The Sleeping Beauty - 1903

Anna Elizabeth Southall - 1911
That's a self-portrait of Southall himself at the left.

Along the Shore - 1914

Belgium Supported by Hope - 1918
Related to the Great War that ended late that year.

Ariadne on Naxos - 1925

Fishermen and Visitors - 1931
Those visitors are quite fashionably dressed: an interesting painting.

The Great Bridge at Cahors, France - 1940
The Internet-sourced date confuses me. I doubt Southall would have been in south-central France any time that year due to the war and the country's fall to the Germans in May-June (though Cahors was in Vichy France). Note the trees in leaf, a May-October thing. Therefore, if the date is correct, the painting was made in his studio or else the painting was made, say, in 1938 or 1939 when France could be visited casually.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

John Held, Jr.'s Woodcut Style

John Held, Jr. (1889-1958) was one of my favorite cartoonists when I was young. I even did a variation of his style while on the staff of my high school yearbook. In retrospect, Russell Patterson was his equal, perhaps his superior, in capturing the 1920s Jazz Age in cartoons.

Held's Wikipedia entry is here, and here is my 2014 post dealing with him.

As my post indicated, there was more to Held than 1920s flappers and sheiks. An aspect of his work that I find curious is the set of woodcut (and woodcut-like) cartoons he made for the New Yorker magazine and perhaps other venues. One curiosity is that the subject matter -- 1900-vintage, not sophisticated 1920s and 30s New York City settings -- always struck me as not in synch with the New Yorker's character. I suspect that the reasons they appeared at all was because (a) Held was famous, and (b) he and New Yorker editor Harold Ross were high school friends in Salt Lake City.

Held must have liked doing wood/linoleum cuts, and justified the historic subject matter as in keeping with the medium.  Also, there was strong contrast with the style of his cartoons dealing with current (Jazz Age) subjects.

And me? I do not like them. But maybe you might, so here are some examples:

The set above includes the woodcut style and the cartoon style for which Held is famous.

Anna Held once famously had a milk bath.  This seems to be a scratchboard simulation of a woodcut (note his signature).

Held was Mormon.

Monday, February 17, 2020

More Daniel Sayre Groesbeck Images

Daniel Sayre Groesbeck (1878-1950) was an illustrator with a nice touch whose work is scarce on the Internet. Much of that has to do with the fact that for a chunk of his career, he had the role of what is now called "concept artist" for movie studios. In particular, he was a good friend of, and worked for, the great Cecil B. DeMille. Since the illustrations he made for DeMille and others were essentially private commissions, they (almost?) never saw the light of day in his time. Much of what see today is from the catalog of an exhibit of his work at the Santa Barbara art museum from 2001.

I wrote about Groesbeck here. A Muddy Colors post dealing with him is here, and examples of his work done in Siberia and East Asia is here.

The images below are a supplement to the better works I posted earlier. Most are related to movies. Still, they are worth a glance.


Reap the Wild Wind - 1942 film

Siberian Tax Collector

Samson (Victor Mature) - 1949

Delilah (Hedy Lamarr) - 1949

The Plainsman - 1936 film (Jean Arthur)

The Unconquered - 1947 film

The Unconquered - 1947 film

The Unconquered - 1947 film (Gary Cooper)

Gone With the Wind - 1939 movie

Scarlett O'Hara (Olivia de Havilland) dressed for the ball - Gone With the Wind
Perhaps the best work in the collection above.

Landing of Cabrillo - 1924
This painting was cleaned a few years ago, but most Internet images are of the pre-cleaned version.  Here I used the tools on my iMac to simulate the cleaning. (The darker version can be seen on the link above to my earlier post.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Future Clothing Styles From the 1930s

What might The World of the Future be like? For instance, what sorts of clothing will people wear?

That great philosopher and New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra has been cited as saying something like "Predicting is difficult, especially about the future." This post presents some World of the Future costumes, mostly from movies from the 1930s. At the time, the influence of Modernism was in full flow with streamlining and simplicity as ideals. Even so, only one film of the batch in Gallery below went super-modernist where costuming was concerned.

Below are images from the following: "Metropolis" (1927), link here; Buck Rogers comic strip (started early 1929) and 1939 movie serial, link here; "Just Imagine" (1930), link here; Flash Gordon serial (1936), link here; and "Things to Come" (1936), link here.


Metropolis (1927)
Not a 1930s movie, but both near enough and a very early science-fiction epic.  Above is a scene at the office of the father of the hero. Clothing is not far from current fashions, though proportions are slightly distorted.

Metropolis (1927)
The hero is wearing a shirt and necktie along with sort of puffy riding britches, whereas the lady's clothes are skimpy.

Metropolis (1927)
On the other hand, the heroine is dressed modestly; her skirt (not seen here) is long, unlike 1920s flapper fashion.

Buck Rogers (comic strip started 1929)
Promotional drawing by comic strip artist Dick Calkins. Buck and Wilma Deering are wearing futuristic variations of 1930-vintage pilot helmets. Like the Metropolis hero, Buck is wearing jodhpur pants, but in the 1930 military style. Wilma wears tights and a form-fitting top. Strapped on their backs are flying belts.

Just Imagine (1930)
Here the hero is on Mars confronting the queen. His outfit has a military appearance thanks to the large belt and side pouch. The featureless bib on his chest seems vaguely military, but lacks functionality. This was how men in 1980 might dress according to the costume designers.

Things to Come (1936)
A British film extrapolated by H.G. Wells from his book "The Shape of Things to Come." It did correctly predict that England would be at war in 1940. The scene above is set farther into the future when a technocracy prevails. The costumes strike me as being inspired by Roman military outfits supplemented by those odd pieces that exaggerate shoulder widths. All very 1930s futuristic, but only for fit folks under 40 years of age. Makes me wonder how ordinary, dumpy folks were clothed.

Flash Gordon serial (1936)
Flash was not a character of the future, but rather a Yale graduate transported to the planet Mongo. Nevertheless, the setting was futuristic in spirit. The costumes were based on those depicted in Alex Raymond's comic strip.

Buck Rogers serial (1939)
Buck's adventures took place 500 years in the future -- the 2430s. The costumes designed for the serial strike me as being a bit more removed from those in the comic strip than the Flash Gordon outfits. They do seem pretty functional and not overly contrived. However, all the characters seen here are wearing variations of 1930s airplane pilot helmets.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Ubaldo Oppi, Painter and Alpini Lieutenant Colonel

According to his Wikipedia entry, Ubaldo Oppi (1889-1942) studied under Gustav Klimt.  Besides that, it seems that while in Paris he had a brief affair with Picasso's ex-girlfriend Fernande Olivier.

Despite those brushes with Modernism, following Great War service in Italy's elite Alpini forces, Oppi briefly associated with the Novocento (Twentieth Century) movement, a more traditional-yet-Modernist-inspired group.

By the 1930s he focused on religious works.  In World War 2 he rejoined the Alpini with the rank of lieutenant colonel, but his health failed perhaps from cancer and he died about age 53.


Figure in Red - c.1912
An example of Oppi's prewar work.  The face strikes me as being a dialed-down version of what Kees van Dongen was doing at the time.

Donna alla finestra - 1921
This "Lady at the Window" looks like his wife.

Ritratto della moglie sullo sfondo di Venezia - 1921
His wife posed against a Venetian background.

La giovane sposa - 1922
The young bride / wife.  Note the tile flooring and one-point perspective in the background that harkens back to classical Italian paintings.

Shepherd Girl - 1926

The Three Surgeons - 1926

Ritratto della signora Alma Giavi Leone - 1926
Like most artists, Oppi painted some portraits to earn income.

Ritratto della moglie - 1928
Another portrait of his wife.  He also painted nearly identical half-view of her the same year.