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Edvard Munch. Night in Nice
Night in Nice
Edvard Munch
1891-1891, 48×54 cm
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Songs Yvette Guilber today certainly would have been banned. She sang about the sweetness of morphine, which spreads through the veins. She sang about how virgins are strong, like unripe apricots. But in the 90s of the XIX century it literally went crazy. The spectators occupied the places in the Ambassador's cafe even in the afternoon, and in the evening they came to Yvette's performance, indifferently skipping kankans in colored stockings and other seductive amusements. In 1898, the Russian journalist and theater critic Vlas Doroshevich came to Paris to listen to Yvette Gilber, because for 8 years now she had remained the same favorite of Parisians. “For a long time, no ministry was kept in Paris!” - Doroshevich jokes. It takes him a few minutes to feel the power of her singing and her image, to forget how colorless and unattractive, how unsuitable this woman is for her fame:

«She is ugly, but when she sings, you understand the French expression: "Better than beautiful." Her whole face comes to life, and you are ready to take an oath that in life you have not seen anything more beautiful than this woman with laughing eyes and a thin, slightly mocking smile.
(...) Your thoughts wandered through the attics, basements and mezzanines that Guilber sang about. You smiled or made you sad - as this singing sorceress wanted. She sang about a big house, where an elegant cocotte lives in the mezzanine and fools its rich and foolish admirers and where in the basement, dirty, damp, cold, the mother frantically clings to her dying child: he dies because she has no money for medicine. And when she sang about this mother and about this child, and about this medicine, for which there is nothing to send, her singing was like a moan, like the screams of a tormented heart. And you heard the voice of this mother.
Tears shone in front of the women, and the sinful hall was cleaned with holy diamonds. You felt that you have tears coming up to your throat and now ... you could not stop laughing, because Yvette sang about the attic of the same house, about the little attic where the poor poet lives, to whom the laughter laughed, so that under the moonlight fun to pass the hungry evening.
And it all happened in two minutes! Is it only two minutes?

Of course, the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was shocked and fascinated by this star. Even earlier than at her concerts, Parisians began to occupy places in broad daylight to get there late at night. But to be in the sight of Lautrec and under the gun of his merciless pencil is not an adventure for the weak. His idea of attractiveness is very peculiar and can be a real test for a secular woman, especially a woman seeking attention and fame. But we remember that Guilber was not attractive - and attempts to attract the viewer with an impressive appearance, replicated in posters, could pass for a lie or forced flattery. And that, and another Yvette Gilber did not suit. Toulouse-Lautrec successfully turned out to be nearby and offered her, at first glance, a completely disadvantageous way - on his posters Guilber would not be beautiful, she would be better than beautiful.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Yvette Gilber before the curtain
Yvette Gilber before the curtain
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
1894, 41.6×22.9 cm
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Almost nothing is known about the Parisian clown Sha-U-Kao. According to scraps, once upon a time, until the attention of Lautrec, she was a gymnast, young and slim. Then Sha-Yu-Kao matured and grew heavy, broke up with a brilliant sports circus career, but not with a circus. She put on wide black harem pants, a funny white cap with bright yellow ribbons, a lush yellow collar - and became a clown and dancer. The strange name Sha-U-Kao, which can be suspected of Asian origin, is, of course, a pseudonym. And it was formed from fragments of two French words: the first part is from the name of the frivolous dance “chahut”, the second is from the word for chaos and the noise “chaos”. Cut down beyond recognition, these scraps of words sounded very fashionable, in Japanese.

At the end of the XIX century, Paris is obsessed with all Japanese: engravings, screens, netsuke, kimonos, fans. Art dealerAmbroise Vollard publishes collections of engravings following the example of the Japanese and invites for this Jean Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis,Pierre Bonnard and, of course, Toulouse-Lautrec. Lautrec is already fascinated by Japanese art and the expressive, aesthetic principles of Japanese engraving: he designs posters for singers, dancers and female singers and applies this Japanese style to printing large patches of pure bright colors, he has cut the edges of the paper in the foreground. And for the collection of engravings, which he offers to release Vollar, he chooses the most favorite topic - women. And the first engraving in the collection - image of tired Sho-Yu-Kaoresting after the performance.

If Toulouse-Lautrec is fond of something or someone, he writes it without stopping, without regard to opinion or decency. At one time he was crazy about cycling, at another time he was racing, he bows to beauty and mind.Mizii Nathanson and disappears for months in her country house, endlessly sketching every look, every gesture of his muse. He is so obsessed with the new mysterious singer Yvette Gilberthat goes to all her performances and drags on them friends, he so enthusiastically takes scandalous Aristide Bruandthat becomes a regular at his Mirliton cabaret. He is so fascinated by the everyday life of prostitutes that he literally settles in their bedrooms and spends hours there drawing, while his models wait for clients to rest, chat, brush their hair.

In 1895, Toulouse-Lautrec almost every evening spends in the bar, where men are very rare guests. This is a lesbian bar. And Sha-Yu-Kao is a regular visitor. For the first time, Lautrec wrote it without a stage outfit and make-up -dancing together with another woman at one of these parties. At this time, his artistic passion - communication and tenderness of two women in love. Clowness Sha-Yu-Kao attracted Lautrec, however, not only with the ability to blithely arm with a friend in the most haughty places of Montmartre. Her images are hard to put on a par with bed scenes from Lautrec's favorite brothels. She is a star, she is not an obscure housekeeper of the house of tolerance, but an actress of an incredibly rare genre for a woman. She cheers and entertains, dresses up in non-female, inelegant outfits and wears a cap - she is beyond that limit of habitual attractiveness, behind which the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec seeks inspiration all his life, beyond which he discovers, comprehends and creates new attractiveness.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Clowness Sha-U-Kao in Moulin Rouge
Clowness Sha-U-Kao in Moulin Rouge
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
1895, 75×55 cm
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Unlike Theodore Gericault, a passionate rider, Edgar Degas on a horse, most likely, did not even sit or was not very confident. Horse racing evoked passion rather platonic and contemplative in him. In the ballet class, on the hippodrome or in the women's bathroom, he remains a consistent, boring and keen author of backstage reports, but not a participant. They yawn, straighten straps on dresses, warm up, get ready, move wearily, wait for the exit, shift from one foot to the other, expect fame - and at the races, and in the backstage theater for Degas, the same thing happened: subtle, intermediate movements and states, the reverse side of the front, brilliant, tense life. But broad gestures, expressive movements, calculated on the fact that they will be considered even from the back rows, dramatic collisions, the limiting states of the artist Degas are not interested.

More than half of the pastels and Degas canvases written on the Longchamp racetrack are called “Before the start”. The rest is training and dressage. Dramatic moments directly from the race - a few pieces, and those very early.

This work was presented at the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition in 1879 - and by that time Degas had already developed his own principles of expressiveness. Aware of the imminent and imminent impending blindness, he appreciates the sharpness of his gaze more than anyone. He cuts life into priceless fragments, fixes the slightest changes and awkward changes of postures, intermediate states and subtle movements. Obsessed with technical painting experiments, he uses pastels, gouache, oil and the so-called essence (oil paint, strongly, to transparency, diluted with solvent) on paper.

But the main claims from critics and spectators at that exhibition, of course, should have caused a pillar, brazenly located in the foreground. A pillar that cuts the composition into two parts and hides the face of the horse. In fact, it is located here with mathematical precision - and divides the canvas into parts 1/3 to 2/3. Writer Paul Valery wrote a long essay about Degas, and in almost every part of it insisted that there was as much mathematics in Edgar Degas’s art as the directness of inspiration: “Every work of Degas is serious. No matter how funny or even playful his pencil, pastel or brush might seem, their movements are never uncontrolled. Will dominates everything. He always believes that his line is still not accurate enough. He does not seek to achieve either eloquence or poetry of painting; he seeks only truth in style and style in truth. His art is like moralism's extremely clear and accurate prose, setting forth new and reliable observation. ”.

In Jockeys before the races, Degas pushes the jockey's figure to the right with all seriousness and logical calculation, cutting off the line of his shoulder and the croup of a horse. At the same time, the whole fragment of the field is left empty, exactly one third of the total width. Nothing unusual for a modern viewer, who has repeatedly clicked important events on the phone and did not manage to shift the viewfinder, trying to catch the most important thing in the focus and in the center of the frame. But in 1879, at an exhibition in the center of Paris, a virtual viewfinder, shifted by Degas away from the main characters, was perceived as intentional mockery. Also this post.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Edgar Degas. Jockeys before horse racing
Jockeys before horse racing
Edgar Degas
1879, 107.3×73.7 cm
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Sixty-year-old Edgar Degas, before taking up this picture, wrote hundreds of images of ballet dancers: pastel, oil, charcoal, pencil, gouache. He owned each of these techniques so masterly that over time he began to play imitations: he painted pastels so that the image resembled an oil painting, and applied oil defiantly - he applied long, bright strokes as if it were pastel chalks.

"Ballerinas in green skirts" - one of these paintings, fraudulently seized the virtues and effects of pastel design. Degas on this canvas with a height of almost one and a half meters creates generally unimaginable. "Green skirts" is listed in the title - but on these complex multi-layered ballet tutus, illuminated by bright, acrid stage lighting, there is practically no green. The translucent edge shines through and lights up scarlet, the shadow on the skirt is turquoise, yellow highlights on the dense part of the skirt and only a few green spots left alive by the artificial lighting. By them you can restore the true color, by them, like bread crumbs, you can return to reality. And believe Degas for the word that the skirt of the second ballerina, trimmed with the edge of the canvas, is also green. Somewhere outside the picture, several real greenish specks will also be found on it.

These green skirts, painted almost without green paint, like white spots of light on the ballerina’s shoulders and face, like the dancer's unnaturally turned-up leg in an unimaginable stand are signs of Degas’s beloved backstage world of the theater, beacons of artificiality. Distorting light, crippling workouts and rehearsals, through which one must wade to glory, or at least to the main role, the dubious attention of patrons who are able to make this way a little shorter. Degas, as if out of the corner of his eye, seizes the usual everyday quarrel of two dancers - and does not keep his eyes on her, passes by, looks on. We want to move the focus of his view to the right, examine the second participant and wait for the outcome of this tense moment. We unwittingly reach for popcorn and ask for clarity.

The figure of the main participant of the depicted scene, trimmed with the edge of the canvas, is still audacity, even at the end of the XIX century. The Impressionists spotted this method of fixing the “transitory” in Japanese engraving - and felt the similarity of aesthetic views. The name of a special genre of Japanese prints "ukiyo-e"Translates as" pictures of the changing world. " For European art, the value of a passing glance, the importance of the smallest piece of life was an unexpected way to see the world. But the Impressionists pick up the expressiveness of the Japanese engraving as the most consonant with their aesthetic philosophy. Moreover, they find confirmation of their yet rebellious views in the distant, only recently discovered for Europe art, which, despite its novelty, is still old and traditional. Just not yet in Europe. Degas uses this method with peeping from under his elbow, from behind a column or from behind a ladder, using confidently and effectively, with his help turns a deliberate, measured composition into an unconstrained sketch.

This effect of fleetingness Degas sought carefully and deliberately. Popcorn will not.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Edgar Degas. Two dancers in green skirts
Two dancers in green skirts
Edgar Degas
1894, 139×79 cm
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Egon Schiele. Self-portrait with Physalis
Self-portrait with Physalis
Egon Schiele
1912, 32.2×39.8 cm
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