Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)
L’Origine du Monde 1866
Courbet has got to be one of my top ten favorite artists… and I hate vaginas. Usually. The neat bit of trivia about this- according to historian Paul Johnson (and wikipedia), psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan purchased this painting at auction and had his stepbrother André Masson draw an abstracted sketch of the painting to hang in front of the more explicit Courbet. It was originally commissioned for a rich Turkish diplomat. Personally, I find the existence of Courbet’s more extreme paintings more realistic, beautiful, and progressive than Edouard Manet (1832-1883), although Manet exhibited his Olympia (1863) at the Paris Salon— something Courbet could not have done with L’Origine du Monde. Regardless, I prefer Courbet. Though, apples and oranges I guess.
The Temptation of St. Anthony 1890
This is one of Moreau’s smaller watercolors— only about 5 X 9”. It seems to be an abstract mess of colors, but the more you look the more figures and shapes emerge. I love how Dore Ashton describes Moreau’s technique with these watercolors:
“Scraping, impasto, clotting, threading, dragged brush, and linear fury: audacious and unprecedented means toward an increasingly abstract end.”
Death: “Mine irony surpasseth all others”
Inspired by Flaubert’s Temptation of St. Anthony. Redon was shy, quiet and awkward. He lived in his head, and that world became his art. He worked against the grain of his contemporaries, and he is— in my opinion, one of the finest artists of the past 200 years. The way he works with shadow in this piece is amazing, and i love the shapes: circular spiral, cylindrical Death— like a pillar— and the wave of light and flowers… Redon could do so much with Black.