Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I've been in a funk for a couple of days, I don't know why. Whenever I get in a dark mood like this I find that looking at picture books helps. Here's some of the stuff I was perusing, all Russian.
The nude at the top is by Kustodiev, one of my favorite Russian painters. It looks like he was influenced by Renoir, but he made the subject his own. This picture actually makes me feel good. You get the feeling that all must be right with the world because this jolly, sexy, fat girl is snug in her comforter and lace pillows. It's also funny to imagine artists in a cold and overcast country like Russia trying to come to grips with light and color the way the French did.
Some Russian painters worked in what we would call an illustration style. Here's (above) one by Vasnetzov. The colors are very muted. The silo of the horse looks a little like a Chinese dragon. There's that Eastern influence again.
Did Matisse and the fauves influence the Russians, or did the Russians influence them? Probably both. This is a great theatrical backdrop, though I bet the dancers were hard to read against the pattern.
Benois (sounds French, but I think he's Russian) did the Matisse-style painting I just referred to as well this set design above showing a Chinese-style pleasure pavilion in Venice. This is another picture that just makes me feel good. It shows a beautiful little lantern of a building, glowing on still night water. It's a structure that only exists for pleasure.
Another Benois. I think it shows a statue coming to life.
One last Bernois (above), a scene from Stravinsky's "Petrouchka." Royal blue, vermilion, yellow, white and black...a nice palette for this scene.
Here's (above) another theater backdrop, this time by Anisfeld...another Russian with an un-Russian name? Here color erupts violently from pin points in the dark, and acquires a life of its own. About a year and a half ago I blogged about the frightening and mysterious nature of color released this way.
Here's (above) another Anisfeld showing brilliant color harnessed by pattern and the similarity of the colors. This looks like the kind of color you see on some Russian tapestries and textiles. Russia's one of the few countries where textile design is held in such esteem that it actually influences the painting and architecture.