Sunday, 24 November 2013

A stream of consciousness

Emile Gustaf Westman
Swedish printmaker

Stumbling over this Scandinavian etching of a blossoming tree and a visiting bee set a string of pictures and memories in motion that tells the story in what wondrous way the brain, my brain, is sometimes functioning. 

Because I'd never heard of this artist before I did my best to find out more about him but nothing much came up in the www. "Pupil of (Anders) Zorn"  the etcher-painterit said somewhere. But Emil Gustaf must have been locally known according to this big pile of prints I found offered in a Scandinavian auction site although he seems now largely forgotten. Many of the prints showing Malmö buildings and sites I discovered.
Only once his name popped up: in the entry to his son's biography: Gunnar Millet Westman (1915-1985) also an artist and remembered best for his sculptural work. And finding a picture of this granit statue called "Bro Bro Brille" immediately rang a bell. I've walked passed it many many times the last 10 years working in Groningen in the University Medical Centre. It's a very intimate statue of a family and the children encircling the parents in a game. You won't ever forget it, stroking the cold but smooth granite, and with a smile on your face, walking past, either to work or homeward. And I must have seen it in childhood.

It is hewn from a huge used granite press and it was placed in 1958, bought and donated to the city of Groningen (Netherlands) after a Danish sculpture exhibition in 1955 in the Municipal Park, to celebrate the opening of the big V&D warehouse. 

A decade after the destruction and rebuilding of what had been one of the best preserved and finest medieval market squares in Europe. 1955 was the year I (in my second year) returned with my parents from the tropics to the city of my forebears and living only a street length away to leave again a few years later the great and bustling and dynamic city of Groningen, capital of the North. 
With Zorn and the foraging bee in my head the "connections" were made. Martin Erich Philipp: besides printmaking and painting and much like Zorn, was an etcher too. This sensitive "Rückenakt" (is it his wife Else Staps or a model standing at the window ?) imho his finest. It is probably far more affordable then a Zorn etching who I cannot help thinking, often has the air of a voyeur, camera in hand. Besides being a great painter and etcher of course. And now at the end of the stream it becomes obvious why the mind took such a detour after looking at a bee and blossoming tree. I don't know when Westman etched his but MEPH created his woodblock print in 1933. Both are lovely.

All pictures in this posting are borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.    

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Henri Guerard, French pioneer printmaker

Henri-Charles Guérard


French painter etcher and printmaker.

As a result of my on going interest in prints and printmakers this French artist emerged from the past and I hope sharing my personal research laced with a choice of  Guérards work will be of interest to readers of this Blog.

Le Palais de Justice, vu du Pont Notre-Dame (1889) edition of 6 prints by August Leperè dedicated to his friend Guérard.

Henri Guerard was born three years before August Lepère (1849-1918), considered the godfather of French and possibly European Modern Printmakers. They were of course acquainted Lepère encouraging Guérard to create prints the new way. (Read here*)

And Guérard became befriended with Éduard Manet (1832-1883) who’s pupil (Manet’s only one), impressionist model and painter Eva Gonzalès (1849-1883) he would marry in 1879. The couple moved to Honfleur in Brittany meeting many of the impressionist painters and etchers. 

I always assumed (dangerous !) the Paris World Exhibition of 1889 was the start of rising interest and influence in and popularity of Japanese printmaking in Europe. 
In 1890 the Ecole des Beaux Arts held an exhibition leaving Felix Valloton (1865-1925) involved in Japonism. His cygnes (swans) a very popular item in the 1890’s and 1910’s dating from 1892 and in next posting I intend hurdling them all together. Guérards swans, below, dated a few years later: 1895.
But well before 1890 I learned Leon Gonse (1846-1921), art historian and director of la Gazette des Beaux Arts, organized exhibitions on Japan art and in 1883 published his most important and influential 2 volume book “ L’Art Japonais” (edition of 1400) and illustrated by his friend Guérard.

Manet considered Guérard the best French aquatint etcher of his time. With Felix Bracquemond (1833-1914) Guérard founded the Societé des Peintres Graveurs in 1890. 

Portraits of Éduard Manet, Whistler and 
Whistler's mother (after the painting) 

Guérard died young dating all his known work before 1897, about the year the first  British, Austrian and German examples were conceived by printmakers like Frank Morley Fletcher (who had studied in Paris), Otto Eckmann, Emil Orlik and of course many others. 

Honfleur harbour.
It is from 1905 onwards a steadily growing stream of prints by a growing number of artists influenced by and/or printing in "the Japanese way' can be traced but in that last decade of the 19th century there obviously was much more going on in this field then I’d imagined before.
 Tiger head and print of a monkey's hand 

Eva Gonzalès died from an embolism giving birth to their sun Jean, six days after her teacher and friend Manet passed away. This lovely painting “le Chignon” (the Bun) is by her. Guérard married her sister Jeanne a few years later. Left little Jean Guérard's portrait  by his father.

Guérard with Jean Francois Raffaelli (1850-1924) are considered the pioneers of aquatint etching. 

Etching by Guérard of Hokusai's chess players

With Lepère, Guérard preceded and stood at the very beginning of the first “generation” of French Modern Printmakers: Felix Valloton, Henri Rivière (1864-1951), Jacques Beltrand (1874-1977), Amadee Joyau (1873-1913), Jules Chadel (1870-1942), Henri Amedee-Wetter (1869-1929 and Prosper Alphonse Isaac (1858-1924)
Guérard at work. 

Read here* and here* in "Adventures in the print trade" on Lepère, Raffaelli and Guérard.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Abe Gerlsma: etcher of Friesland

Abe Gerlsma
(1919 - 2012)
Dutch painter and graphic artist. 
Technician and inventor of mechanical agricultural devices.

Neils’ latest posting revealing Jean Francois Rafaelli and his world in “Adventures in the print trade” is the immediate reason for this posting. It creates the opportunity pointing towards his great and very informative Blog and showing a recent find and acquisition (above "Winter in waterland") by a charming and sensitive artist who, I’m sure, most of my readers have never encountered.

Here’s a selection, examples of his oblong printed etchings often 13 x 42 cm (2:7), showing my direct environment, graced as I am living in the most beautiful province of Friesland in the Netherlands. 

Gerlsma is an artist always aware and never tired of the changing light over his native and beloved Friesland. Besides his straight forward etchings Gerlsma also expertimented in aquatint resulting in soft toned and even more delicate and atmospheric landscapes. He needn't travel far from home for inspiration.  

He was creative until 2000, leaving some 180 works and was awarded an exhibition last year in 2012. Even the The Kochi Museum in Japan bought a print for its collections.

As an encore two of my favorite aquatint etchings. All pictures are mouse-clickable to embiggen.  

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Recommended !

Recommended !

A must have book, a catalogue of the current German Exhibition "Wege zu Gabriëlle Münter und Käthe Kollwitz" (ways to G.M. and K.K.) in Reutlingen Germany. A fine hardback, 160 pages of text, artist biographies and great never before seen woodblock prints (many in color). At 24€ + 4€ postage to an address in Europe. Follow the link to the Museum shop: here* 


And to remind you of this maybe last opportunity to obtain these 3 books I recommended before, last year (read here*). Now at bargain prices, heavily subsidized and send without any problem from the Schloss Moyland Museum. 

"Rembrandt and the English painter-etchers" a 100€ book, bilingual, for an incredible 10€ ! A huge and fine 450 pages great quality coffee table book. 

If you have any trouble with the German sites I'll be happy to help you ordering these great books. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Alexander Drobik

Alexander Drobik
(1890 - 1968)
Polish-Austrain painter and woodblock printmaker.

Besides an auction site Ebay also works as a flood line, washing ashore from time to time great and before unknown works of art. By often obscured and forgotten artists. For the curious like myself an irresistible invitation sometimes to investigate further.

This surprising and great woodblock print showing probably a Russian prisoner of War camp is, according to the seller, by Drobiks hand and turned up recently (it's still there). The attribution probably by the signature but illegible in the photograph. Ploughing the internet with high hopes finding more examples of prints by this artist was not successful. 

All I could find was a handful of (auctioned) oil paintings, all with wintery mountains. Very nice paintings but would I like to find more prints……..

Alexander Drobik was born in Teschen (Tēsín) in Silesia. In a melting pot region that was the south of Poland, the Austrian-Hungarian kingdom, adjacent to the Czech Republik, Germany and Austria and died in Salzburg in 1968.

All pictures freely borrowed from the internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.