Saturday, 31 October 2015

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Professor Otto Poertzel - Butterfly Dancers

I think the Art Deco period produced some amazing pieces of art, design and architecture. I had been a fan of those ivory and bronze carvings that celebrated the female form from this period, and have just discovered the work of Professor Otto Poertzel (1876 - 1963). Poertzel created the Butterfly Dancers above. Butterfly Dancers were a popular theme for sculptors of the period, and this name was given to them because the way that the girls' flowing skirts which were attached to their hands when they danced resembled the shape of wings. Although the use of ivory today is quite rightly frowned upon, during that period it was imported in huge numbers from the Belgian Congo, and certain artists were supplied with it free of charge, hence the large numbers of these figurines produced and the popularity amongst the buying public.

Poertzel started out as  a porcelain modeller like his father, then later worked as a freelance sculptor where he gained lucrative commissions for portrait busts from members of the Saxe-Coburg Gotha families. In 2010 a version of Butterfly Dancers realised £42,000 at auction. Poertzel's main rival was Ferdinand Priess (1882-1943) whose work was perhaps better known among the public. He created a private company that specialised in these Art Deco dancing figurines producing them in limited edition series specifically aimed at collectors. Below is one of Priess' better known figurines - Moth Dancer (Champagne Girl).

I just love the way that these figurines are so evocative of their period, as well as the wonderful skills employed by the sculptors in their modelling.

Monday, 26 October 2015

E A Seguy: Butterflies Through Others Eyes #13

These beautiful butterfly designs are the work of E A (Eugene Alain) Seguy (1889-1985), who was a designer working in France at the beginning of the 20th century. Seguy's style incorporated elements of both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, which you will know I am a big fan of if you regularly read this blog. 

Seguy's artwork utilised a technique known as pochoir, which was a printing process that used a series of stencils to produce dense layers of vivid colour. The pochoir process sees the artist/designer applying pigment to paper by using stencils. The image was first created by the artist in watercolour or gouache. This would then determine the number of colours and stencils needed. Once the number of stencils was decided they would be cut from materials such as copper, zinc or cardboard and the paint would be applied through the stencil by brushes. Although it is a simple concept, the pochoir technique could be complex with some images requiring as many as 100 stencils to produce just one print. The pochoir technique fell out of fashion due to the expense, as well as labour intensity in producing the prints. The pochoir technique was replaced by the popularity of the lithographic process. 

The repeat pattern designs above, demonstrate the vibrancy of Seguy's palette, and also the vividness and accuracy of colours produced when the pochoir technique was employed. They are also a good demonstration of Seguy's understanding of how repeat patterns work. Like Sonia Delauney's work in my previous post, I could see these used as wallpaper/fabric/fashion designs. Seguy took his inspiration from nature and produced 11 albums of  illustrations and textile pattern designs that featured crystals, flowers and animals. It was his Papillon album though, which was to become the most popular and the focus for this post, the latest in my Butterflies Through Others Eyes series. Further examples from Seguy's wonderfully inspirational Papillons folio can be seen below.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Homage a Sonia Delauney

My visit to the Sonia Delauney exhibition at Tate Modern earlier this year (here), was very inspirational. As much as I loved the colour and rhythm of her paintings, it was her work in typography/graphics and fashion and textiles that I liked the most. 

I really do feel that her relocation to Spain at the onset of the First World War, and her having to adapt and apply her work to the fields of fashion and textiles, for financial reasons was actually the making of her. 


I did some research and looked at the impact that her work in fashion and textiles had on other designers in this field and these are the results.  

A Delauney simultaneous textile design scarf for Liberty's (above).

Delauney's black and white textile designs (above), could be seen as forerunners of Op-art and Bridget Riley's work from the 1960s. I love the way Christian La Croix has fractured his similar monochromatic Riviera design further (below), and given it a kaleidoscopic effect.

How fantastic are these embroidered shoes! It was great to see the actual things in the Delauney exhibition at Tate Modern.

This photograph is from Italian Vogue 1969. I do not know who the designer of the fabrics and clothes are but Delauney's influence is clearly all over it.

A 1923 Delauney fashion sketch with a Celine jumper from their AW 2010 collection.

A coat from Celine's AW 2012 collection compared with a 1925 Delauney design.

Striking patterns  from Ferragamo's AW 2015 collection which could be a Delauney simultaneous designs.

More Ferragamo for AW15 compared to Delauney's coat designed for Gloria Swanson.

These Junya Watanabe designs for SS15 are suitably fun, colourful and outrageous in their channelling of the spirit of Sonia.

Valentino Resort collection designs for SS15, embrace strong block colours and chevrons.

Model Laura Whitmore in Dsquared SS15.

These designs for Dsquared are brilliant! Loud and colourful, and an obvious homage to Sonia's paintings. I bet the movement, colour and pattern are really striking when they are worn.

Love these lively, rhythmic designs above by Ila Malomane who is apparently a relative of Delauney's.

And finally, above, my very own homage to Delauney - the first of a series of life-size Scissorhands Simultaneous dresses inspired by her wonderful paintings, fashion and textiles.