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Qué duda cabe de la honda admiración que siento hacia un buen cuadro de un Bacon o un Saura, donde uno presiente que hay una verdad insondable bajo los amplios trazos de pincel. Pero hay algo más íntimo en la atracción que siento hacia el arte pequeño, de pretensiones modestas. Hablando más claramente, me refiero a una pintura de interior que habla, en voz baja, del gozo del recogimiento y la soledad, o la compañía reducida. Hablo de los interiores holandeses, de Bonnard y Vuillard, hablo de Hopper y hablo de Vallotton.

Cena a la luz de la lámpara, 1899

Cena a la luz de la lámpara, 1899

Estas obras no me suelen producir un sobrecogimiento inmediato, como sí lo hace una cuadro negro de Goya o una fuerte diagonal de José Guerrero. La pintura de la que hablo es una que fermenta de forma más lenta, que requiere ser mirada con pausa. Así digiero, por ejemplo, una escena de interior de Vallotton. No tiene por qué haber más que una mujer sentada en un sillón o una pareja leyendo en silencio el periódico para colmar mi gozo estético. ¿Placeres burgueses? Quizá, pero estas son las obras de arte que con más claridad nos recuerdan el carácter íntimo de toda verdadera apreciación artística.

La visita, 1899

La visita, 1899

Puede resultar curioso que un anarquista convencido como Vallotton pasara buena parte de su tiempo pintando escenas de interior en vez de poneniendo bombas. A poco que uno se fije, se dará cuenta de que Vallotton hubiera malgastado su gran sensibilidad e inteligencia si se hubiera limitado a ser un propagandista: sus escenas callejeras, con su inmediatez e ironía, hablan de un hombre que está en el mundo. Como si ambas cosas –el compromiso político y el recogimiento– fueran incompatibles. Producen en mí un sentimiento infinitamente más profundo y duradero sus elegías de la vida doméstica que la retórica política del momento. En última instancia, quien dispone de un espacio íntimo inviolable dispone de tiempo para pensar.

Madame Vallotton y su sobrina, Germaine Aghion, 1899

Madame Vallotton y su sobrina, Germaine Aghion, 1899

Echa un vistazo a sus obras en este libro de Natalia Brodskaia y sumérgete tú también en el sagrado mundo doméstico de Félix Vallotton.

Based on his numerous nudes, one can surmise that Félix Vallotton loved women – he loved their beauty, their coquetry, even their flaws. But his affection for women never went beyond the canvas.

Félix Vallotton, Woman with a Black Hat, 1908 Oil on canvas, 81 x 64.8 cm The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Félix Vallotton, Woman with a Black Hat, 1908
Oil on canvas, 81 x 64.8 cm
The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

For many years, he led an affair with Hélène Chatenay, who was also his model for several of his paintings. Hélène was very dear and loyal to him, even growing close to the Vallotton family. But as Vallotton was devoted to his craft, not to Hélène, he left her for the elderly widow, Gabrielle Rodrigues. Vallotton didn’t even bother trying to hide his true motives for his engagement to Gabrielle Rodrigues – she came from a distinguished family of wealthy art dealers.

When looking at some of works, one can catch a glimpse in his character. Just like in his woodcut Money, converted his romantic affair with a woman into one of financial gain.

Felix Vallotton, Money, 1898 Woodcut

Felix Vallotton, Money, 1898
Woodcut

In letters to the Rodrigues family, he claims to love Gabrielle genuinely, but his betrayal to Hélène shows that he couldn’t love women; he only loved himself and his craft. Women were as important to him as the trees in his landscape and the flowers in his still lifes.

For a chance to see some of Vallotton’s works, visit the exhibition entitled Felix Vallotton: Fire and Ice at the Grand Palais National Galleries running until January 20, 2014. But if you can’t make it to France, you can admire his work from home – check out Natalia Brodskaia’s latest book Félix Vallotton in print and ebook format.

– D. R.

www.felix-vallotton.com/

Les femmes de Vallotton ne sont pas vraiment belles, ni mystérieuses, ni même poétiques ou particulièrement sensuelles. Même lorsqu’elles le devraient. Comme ici avec ses trois baigneuses.

Félix Vallotton Trois Baigneuses, 1894. Gravure. Museum of Modern Art, New-York.

Félix Vallotton
Trois Baigneuses, 1894.
Gravure.
Museum of Modern Art, New-York.

Si on les compare avec les baigneuses de Gérôme, on constate une vraie différence dans le traitement des figures même si la composition est finalement similaire. Chez Gérôme une vraie poésie émerge de la toile alors que les baigneuses de Vallotton sont plus ludiques.

Jean Léon Gérôme. Les Baigneuses. Collection privée.

Jean Léon Gérôme.
Les Baigneuses.
Collection privée.

Oui je sais, il faut comparer ce qui est comparable et se baser  sur une œuvre peinte et non pas une gravure. Très bien. Nouvel tentative avec l’enlèvement d’Europe :

Félix vallotton Enlèvement d’Europe, 1908. Berne, Kunstmuseum.

Félix vallotton
Enlèvement d’Europe, 1908.
Berne, Kunstmuseum.

Chez Vallotton, l’on constate qu’Europe manque de grâce, elle tente de ne pas glisser du dos de Jupiter métamorphosé en taureau pour l’occasion. En revanche, Albani présente une Europe qui maitrise le délicat exercice de se tenir à cheval sur le dos trempé d’un taureau.

Francesco Albani L’enlèvementd’Europe, 1640-1645. Huile sur toile, 170 x 224 cm.

Francesco Albani
L’enlèvementd’Europe, 1640-1645.
Huile sur toile, 170 x 224 cm.

Les femmes de Vallotton ne sont pas très distinguées, ni très belles mais elles sont sublimes dans leurs quotidien, lors qu’elles sont représentées dans des scènes banales qui correspondent à la réalité et non pas à une mythologie grecque ou fantasmée.

Félix Vallotton. Femmes à leur toilette, 1897. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Félix Vallotton.
Femmes à leur toilette, 1897.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Vallotton ne triche pas. Il représente les femmes telles qu’elles ne souhaitent pas se montrer d’abord. Et c’est dans ces instants furtifs que Vallotton montre toute la sensibilité dont il est capable.

Vous retrouverez toutes (ou presque) les œuvres de Félix Vallotton dans l’excellent ouvrage de Nathalia Brodskaia, « Félix Vallotton : le Nabi étranger ». Il s’agit d’une Étude détaillée de la biographie, de l’œuvre, mais aussi de la carrière de l’artiste.

www.felix-vallotton.com/

“ Mi sto per sposare, sposo una donna che conosco da tanto tempo, un’amica, una vedova con tre bambini. Possiede una ricchezza sufficiente per assumere la sua esistenza e quella dei suoi bambini. Questa famiglia è ricca e sarà di una grande sostegno nella mia carriera “.

Bella maniera di presentare una donna Signore Vallotton! Una donna, con soldi e bambini. Si trattava di donna Gabrielle Rodrigues-Henriques, figlia del mercatore d’arte Alexandre Bernheim, con chi Vallotton si è sposato nel  1899. La ritroviamo in numerosi dipinti di Vallotton. Il loro rapporto corrisponde al cambio di stile e di soggetto dell’artista che commincia a rappresentare delle scene più intime e la vita di coppia.

Félix Vallotton, La Signora Vallotton al suo tavolo dressing, 1899. Tempera su cartone. Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurigo.

Félix Vallotton, La Signora Vallotton al suo tavolo dressing, 1899.
Tempera su cartone.
Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurigo.

Félix Vallotton, Signora Vallotton, 1899. Olio su tela, 58.5 x 50 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Félix Vallotton, Signora Vallotton, 1899.
Olio su tela, 58.5 x 50 cm.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

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“Everything thunders and smells of battle,” declared Félix Vallotton in July, 1914. War was engulfing Europe and even artists, so often pictured as absent-minded beings, isolated in their studios, were inevitably embroiled along with the rest of society. Vallotton felt compelled to contribute to the war effort but, at nearly 50 years of age, was dismissed as too old for army enrolment. So instead he turned to reflecting the war through his art. Or at least, he attempted to.

Félix Vallotton, The Anarchist, 1892.  Woodcut.  Private collection.

Félix Vallotton, The Anarchist, 1892. Woodcut. Private collection.

Growing up in the Jura region of Switzerland and then moving to late-19th century Paris, Vallotton had experienced his share of radical political environments. Read More

Félix Vallotton ha realizzato un sacco di stampe e devo dire che le adoro perchè da prima vista sembrano molto carine, pero se si guarda più strettamente, c’è sempre un messaggio nascosto. Attraverso le sue stampe, politiche per la mojor parte e destinate ai giornali popolari, Vallotton voleva mostrare la violenze sociale, le manifestazioni, ma anche la violenza quotidiana, e vari fatti, come nella sua seria chiamata Intimità. Insomma, la vita dell’epoca.

Félix Vallotton, La Manifestazione, 1893. Xilografia. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Félix Vallotton, La Manifestazione, 1893.
Xilografia.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Non è che sono veramente appassionata di fumetti pero le stampe di Vallotton mi fanno pensare ai disegni di Jacques Tardi, famoso autore e disegnatore di fumetti. Read More

La rappresentazioni di donne sono numerosissime in arte. Tramite quelle degli grandi artisti come Botticelli o ancora Rubens, ci sono quelle di Félix Vallotton. Vallotton era ossessionato dalle donne e intrateneva con loro un rapporto molto speciale nel senso che le rappresentava nude e spesso nella loro intimità. Perchè una donna offrirebbe latte al suo gatto completamente nuda? Perché due donne giocherebbero a dama per terra nude? (cf : Donne offrendo latte al gatto e Donne nude giocando a dama).

Félix Vallotton, Donne offrendo latte al gatto, 1919. Olio su tela, 100 x 81 cm. Collezione privata.

Félix Vallotton, Donne offrendo latte al gatto, 1919.
Olio su tela, 100 x 81 cm.
Collezione privata.

C’era questa volontà da parte di Vallotton di posizionarsi in osservatore e rappresentare quello che immaginava/voleva vedere.  Vallotton pittore voyeur ? Certo. Il fatto che queste donne siano dipinte nude nel loro quotidiano rende le opere di Vallotton molto erotiche anche se ritroviamo sempre quest’aspetto glaciale, questa distanza  che porta a chiedersi  di quale maniera Vallotton vedeva le donne.  A volte le rappresentava appisolate, come offerte e vulnerabili, altre volte violente. Sapiendo che Vallotton era contro il fatto che le donne della sua epoca revendichino la loro indipendenza,  sono convinta che era, da qualche parte, intimidato da loro… pero le amava.

Félix Vallotton, Donne nude giocando a dama, 1897. Olio su pavatex, 25,5 x 52,5 cm. Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva.

Félix Vallotton, Donne nude giocando a dama, 1897.
Olio su pavatex, 25,5 x 52,5 cm.
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva.

Félix Vallotton, La Primavera, 1908. Luogo sconociuto.

Félix Vallotton, La Primavera, 1908.
Luogo sconociuto.

Per scoprire l’Opera di Felix Vallotton, ci sono due possibilità : sia rendervi alla mostra Félix Vallotton : Il fuoco sotto ghiaccio al Grand Palais di Parigi, sia comprare il libro pubblicato da Parkstone International Félix Vallotton : Le Nabi étranger

www.felix-vallotton.com/

Before photography came along paintings were undoubtedly the best way of providing a lasting imprint of a person’s physical appearance. It’s always confused and delighted me how dabs of paint on a canvas can be transformed into a likeness of a person, and at the hands of the best artists, can reveal a true sense of temperament and character. And due to our natural predispotion to study faces, it is perhaps one of the hardest painterly tasks to get right (one only needs look at the sincere but botched ‘Monkey Jesus’ fresco to see how wrong it can go).

The Great: Rembrandt, "Self Portrait with Two Circles", 1665. Oil on canvas. 114.3 cm × 94 cm. Kenwood House, London  The Grotesque: Ecce Homo, Elías García Martínez

The Great: Rembrandt, Self Portrait with Two Circles, 1665. Oil on canvas. 114.3 cm × 94 cm. Kenwood House, London
The Grotesque: Elías García Martínez, Ecce Homo

With this, the self portrait is perhaps the most honest form of exposure an artist can undergo. It has enabled the likes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, to display their changing faces, both physically, and as artists. Another great, but lesser known, artist to provide us with a lasting memoriam of his changing face is Felix Vallotton.

Felix Vallotton, Self Portrait, 1885.

Felix Vallotton, Self Portrait, 1885.

One of Vallotton’s earliest self portraits was completed in 1885, the artist aged 20. Here we’re presented with an artist fresh out of his teens, with a mere fuzz of facial hair and innocent gaze, and yet the slight curl of the lip marks a determination and forlornness beyond his years. This early example nonetheless prefigures some of the older Vallotton self portraits. The left turn of the head is common casting his face in half profile, while those eyes stare piercingly in our direction.

Left to Right: Self Portrait, 1891. Self Portrait, 1895. Self Portrait, 1895 Self-portrait, 1897. Oil on cardboard. H. 59,2; W. 48 cm. RMN-Grand Palais.

Left to Right:
Self Portrait, 1891. Oil on Canvas. 41 x 33 cm
Self Portrait, 1895. Woodcut.
Self Portrait, 1895. Woodcut.
Self-portrait, 1897. Oil on cardboard. 59 x 48 cm. RMN-Grand Palais.

As age caught up with Vallotton we see responsibility creep into his face. His huge output must have taken its toll and the 1891 portrait (Vallotton here reminiscent of a young Dustin Hoffman) is fraught with shadow, his face seemingly resigned and weary. The two woodcuts from 1895 reveal deepset lines below the eyes and around the mouth, and yet a 1897 portrait seems to offer a more youthful portrayal, perhaps owing to the fact he met his future wife the year before. The latter paintings reveal the onset of grey hair and glasses as Vallotton settled into his later years, and yet the pose and gaze are almost identical from his youthful paintings.

Right: Self Portrait, 1914. Oil on Canvas.

Right: Self Portrait, 1914. Oil on Canvas. 81 x 65 cm.
Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland

As only the best portraitists can, Vallotton’s reveals not only his changing face, but also the juxtaposition of unity and flux that he underwent as a person over the course of his life.

Should these portraits inspire you to take a look for yourself, a Vallotton retrospective opened recently at the Grand Palais, Paris. If that’s a little too far afield, you can always pick up a copy of the new Nathalia Brodskaia’s Vallotton title (available in print and ebook format), to find out about the man behind the paintings.

www.felix-vallotton.com/

New Picture

Sur la plage, 1899.
Oil on cardboard, 42 x 48 cm.
Private collection.
Courtesy of Kunsthaus Zurich.

Félix Vallotton is perhaps the chameleon of the Nabis era. With a traditional start in academic and portrait painting, Vallotton mastered printmaking, portrait painting, wood engraving, Nabis-style genre scenes and nudes, and then moved on to Realism before leading the way for the New Objectivity movement. He did not stop at painting, however, but tried his hand at writing no fewer than eight plays and three novels. Whilst these may not have been the most significant or even best-selling tomes of their time, it was still a remarkable achievement. After adding landscapes, still life painting, and sculptures to his already impressive repertoire, the resulting impression of this artist is that he was not only a style chameleon, but a fantastic over-achiever. Read More