Shelley’s Art Musing – “Cover up that bosom, which I can’t endure to look on”. (Tartuffe, Molière)

The Egon Schiele. The anniversary show is due to start in February 2018 with exhibits in Vienna, London, Hamburg and Cologne. It will display the main aspects of his work and his shunning of traditional art practices of his time, break taboos and exploring spirituality through his expressionist form.

If you are unaware of Schiele’s work, he was an Austrian artist working in the early part of the 1900’s.  His work is recognised for its raw intensity and sexuality.  He produced many self portraits, some of which were nudes.  The subjects of his work drawn with twisted body shapes and a unique line which made his work an early contender for the expressionist art movement.

With this in mind and 100 years after the death of Schiele, we are still seeing censorship of his work, and I am led to the question, why?

The advertising campaign for this exhibit first opened this question up for me, with Schiele’s artwork being heavily censored.

I could just see this as a very clever marketing ploy and move on, but I don’t believe that it is.  Schiele’s work is provocative and unashamed in its presentation, so why is it when it is displayed outside of the confines of a museum or art gallery is it subject to such censorship?

Sexuality within art is a fine line to tread.  If it is deemed “conformist” in that the subject is demur in nature and in an “acceptable” pose the art work on display is almost unseen and not out of place, we are quite used to seeing sculptures like Michelangelo’s David, or Botticelli’s Birth of Aphrodite on postcards or greeting cards, so why not Schiele?  It is after all just the human form, and we are all human, so why is there a need for such censorship?

The art world very often butts heads with the marks of decency or good taste in its hunt for freedom of expression and exploration of taboo subjects.  This means that art will always come up against the confines of what censorship boards will allow, but can censorship go too far?

Artists throughout history have been subjected to this same confine which sees their work either covered, as Schiele work has been, mutilated to be more audience friendly, or renamed to give a different take for what is on the canvas.

For example, if we look at the work of Picasso, specifically The Young Ladies of Avignon.

Pablo Picasso , The Young Ladies of Avignon, 1907. Cubism. Oil on canvas, 243.9 x 233.7 cm. Museum of Modern Art , New York.

This piece was originally called The brothel of Avignon, but was renamed by Andre Salmon in an attempt to lessen the scandalous impact that this painting would cause.

Picasso, never liked this name, and always referred to the painting as the “brothel painting”.  But “would a rose by any other name smell as sweet…”

The name and content of the picture would always be controversial and while this painting is now considered the seminal piece in cubism and modern art, its original reception was not as highly regarded.

This does lead to the question of trending censorship, while it is accepted that nudity and sexuality will always push the boundaries of the censorship boards, will there come a time when it is considered to be immoral to show drinking or smoking within art work.  Could we see small black boxes over the works of Degas, Picasso, Balthus, Magritte and Hamilton be censored because they depict habits which are now being frowned upon within society?

Of course, this is taking censorship to the absolute extreme, but this type of act isn’t unheard of.  Merriam-Webster defines censorship as “the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and removing things that are considered to be offensive, immoral, harmful to society, etc.” We have seen extreme censorship in the past, most notably the Nazi book burning of may 1933.  This act saw books which were subversive to the Nazi regime burnt.  Seeing any texts which were  Jewishpacifistreligiousclassical liberalanarchistsocialist, and communist, among others burned in the street. The first books burned were those of Karl Marx and Karl Kautsky.

I say that this is the extreme, and it really is, and some artists, have tried mock the censorship panels through their work.

If we look at the painting The Treachery of image by Rene Magritte we see a painting of a pipe with the words “this is not a pipe” written underneath it.

Rene Magritte , The Treachery of Images, 1929. Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 93.98 cm. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

At first glance, this is confusing to say the least.  We can see it is a pipe, so why would the artist profess otherwise?

Magritte was quoted to have said: “The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!”. Taking a direct stance against the critics and the censorship boards by pointing out once again that art is merely subjective and each person will have their own opinion of what they see and deem acceptable.

Richard Hamilton was also heavily subjected to censorship of his images, with his work cropped to make it appear more acceptable.

The piece Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?  was produced in 1956 for the exhibition This is Tomorrow in London.  The piece is a collage which shows a male body builder and a burlesque model around the house in no clothing, but one holding a sign and the other wearing a lampshade.

Richard Hamilton, Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, 1956. Collage, 260 x 248 mm. Kunsthalle Tubingen

The image was used as the poster campaign for the exhibit, but it was cut down so only the male body builder was shown, deeming the topless women too risqué to use within the campaign.

From what we have looked at, we can see why art and censorship will always be in conflict.  The moral high ground of societies best interests, usually winning which means that public displays of controversial artworks will always be confined to the safety of a designated space, so as not to offend those who could be, and to protect the innocent eyes of children.

If you want to see Schiele’s work in all its glory, you will need to attend one of the exhibits mentioned above, and you can get more information about the exhibits here:-

Vienna –

London –

For now I will leave you with the image of The Radical Nude, and a quote by Schiele, which reminds us that art is one of the oldest forms of communication – “Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.”

Egon Schiele, The Radical Nude

Munch (Kindle edition)

munch cover

Munch (Kindle edition)

Author: Patrick Bade

Edvard Munch, born in 1863, was Norway’s most popular artist. His brooding and anguished paintings, based on personal grief and obsessions, were instrumental in the development of Expressionism. During his childhood, the death of his parents, his brother and sister, and the mental illness of another sister, were of great influence on his convulsed and tortuous art. In his works, Munch turned again and again to the memory of illness, death and grief. During his career, Munch changed his idiom many times. At first, influenced by Impressionism and Post-impressionism, he turned to a highly personal style and content, increasingly concerned with images of illness and death. In the 1892s, his style developed a ‘Synthetist’ idiom as seen in The Scream (1893) which is regarded as an icon and the portrayal of modern humanity’s spiritual and existential anguish. He painted different versions of it. During the 1890s Munch favoured a shallow pictorial space, and used it in his frequently frontal pictures. His work often included the symbolic portrayal of such themes as misery, sickness, and death. and the poses of his figures in many of his portraits were chosen in order to capture their state of mind and psychological condition. It also lends a monumental, static quality to the paintings. In 1892, the Union of Berlin Artists invited Munch to exhibit at its November exhibition. His paintings invoked bitter controversy at the show, and after one week the exhibition closed. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis labeled his work “degenerate art”, and removed his works from German museums. This deeply hurt the anti-fascist Munch, who had come to feel Germany was his second homeland. In 1908 Munch’s anxiety became acute and he was hospitalized. He returned to Norway in 1909 and died in Oslo in 1944.

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在印象派的圈子中,德加是与雷诺阿风格最接近的一位,他们都热爱将生动的巴黎生活作为绘画的主题。德加没有参加过格莱尔(Gleyre)的工作室,很有可能他与未来的印象主义者的第一次会面是在Guerbois咖啡店。埃德加·德加(Edgar Degas)来自于与莫奈、雷诺阿和西斯利完全不同的环境中。法国大革命期间,他的祖父René-Hilaire de Gas在1793年被迫从法国逃到了意大利。他的祖父是一名粮食商人,在意大利手收获了商业的繁荣。

德加的祖父在那不勒斯创建了一家银行,与热那亚的富裕家庭的一个女孩成婚。埃德加·德加喜欢简单地将名字写成德加,尽管他与意大利的众多亲戚维持着愉快的关系。他在1853年在Louis-Ernest Barrias工作室开始了学徒生活,从1854年开始,在路易斯·拉莫特(Louis Lamothe)的指导下学习。拉莫特非常崇拜Ingres,远远超过了其他画家。他将这种敬佩之情传染给了德加。从1854年开始,德加开始频繁地前往意大利:首先到达那不勒斯,认识了好多表兄弟;然后到了罗马和佛罗伦萨,从古典大师那里不懈地临摹和学习。












Denis Guidone’s new watch for Projects references a Kandinsky artwork

The latest watch from American brand Projects takes its unusual dial design from a drawing produced in the 1920s by influential Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky.

The Diagram 17 watch features striking graphic elements that combine curved forms and straight lines.


The Diagram 17 watch dial features geometric elements but no numerals or indices

Milan-based designer Denis Guidone based these elements on a drawing of the same name by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky – who is credited as one of the first abstract painters in history.

The Diagram 17 drawing was originally published in 1926 in Kandinsky’s landmark essay, Point and Line to Plane.


The hands of the watch are formed from two black lines of varying thicknesses, which turn independently of one another to create a constantly changing composition.

Three thinner lines are static on the dial, while two half-circles follow the hours hand.

Now available to buy from Dezeen Watch Store, Diagram 17 comes with a black stainless-steel case and a thick silicone strap. The dial is available in either black or white.

The watch is based on Wassily Kandinsky’s Diagram 17, which comes from his essay Point and Line to Plane

Diagram 17 is Guidone’s second watch for Projects to directly reference abstract art.

His Suprematism timepiece – also available from Dezeen Watch Store – pays homage to an art movement of the same name, which is defined by bold shapes and colours.

Also designed by Denis Guidone, Suprematism is an homage to the art movement of the same name
Also designed by Denis Guidone, Suprematism is an homage to the art movement of the same name

Projects produces a wide range of household items designed by internationally renowned architects. But, since its founding in 1990, it has established a reputation for experimental, design-led watchmaking.

Other timepieces by the brand include Scallop by the late Michael Graves and Kiura Chronograph by Italian designer Alessio Romano.

by Trudie Carter

Source: de zeen

The most important Paris period painting by Kandinsky to appear on the market

Specialist Conor Jordan considers Wassily Kandinsky’s Rigide et Courbé (Rigid and Curved), unseen in public for more than 50 years and offered in New York on 16 November.


Wassily Kandinsky painted Rigide et Courbé (Rigid and Curved) in December 1935, marking the second anniversary of his arrival in Paris following the closure of the Bauhaus in Berlin. The canvas is densely packed with lively geometric vignettes and a textured surface composed of sand mixed with paint, a technique Kandinsky used only in his Paris paintings of 1934–1935.

The painting was first owned by Solomon R. Guggenheim, who acquired it from Kandinsky in 1936. Extensively published and much exhibited between 1937 and 1949, the work is the most important Paris period painting by Kandinsky ever to appear on the market.

‘With its dynamic sweep of upward energy, Rigide et Courbé evokes a rhapsodic song of thanksgiving, suggesting the bright hope the artist saw in his new home in Paris following his flight from Nazi Germany,’ explains Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman of Impressionist & Modern Art. Marcel Duchamp had found the artist and his wife Nina a three-room, sixth-floor apartment in a new building overlooking the river in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. The Kandinskys had taken up residence during the final days of December 1933.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas. 44⅞ x 63⅞ in (114 x 162.4 cm). Estimate $18,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 16 November at Christie’s in New YorkWassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas. 44⅞ x 63⅞ in (114 x 162.4 cm). Estimate: $18,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 16 November at Christie’s in New York


The bound shapes on one side of the canvas opposed by thrusting organic forms that press outwards suggest a veiled narrative of escape, release and the freedom to begin anew. Rigide et Courbé reflects the profound impact Kandinsky’s new French surroundings had had on his painting.

Estimated at $18-25 million, the painting is being offered from an important private American collection and has not been on the market since 1964. The upcoming sale preview (Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 September to 1 October; Christie’s London, 6-9 October; San Francisco, 13-16 October) marks the first time in more than 50 years that the work will have been publicly displayed.

Source: Christie’s

Kandinsky and Mussorgsky: What happens when artists inspire each other

It couldn’t come more full cirlce: Kandinsky created his only stage production based on Mussorgsky’s piano cycle, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” inspired by a photo exhibition. Kandinsky’s stage designs are now on exhibit.

The Great Gate of Kyiv This year, the art world is celebrating the 150th birthday of Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky – an appropriate occasion for bringing the original designs of his stage production “Pictures at an Exhibition” to Dessau, where the work premiered in 1928. The paintings were based on the piano cycle with the same title by composer Modest Mussorgsky.

“Pictures at an Exhibition” were originally a cycle of works for piano written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. For artist Wassily Kandinsky, the cycle served as a basis for his first and only theater project, which was premiered in the German city of Dessau in 1928.

The stage designs for the production are now being exhibited, in honor of the painter’s 150th birthday, in Kandinsky’s former residence in Dessau.

Wassily Kandinsky was out to create a synthetic “Gesamtkunstwerk.” For him, that meant that sounds took on hues that listeners could see before their eyes as they listened to the music. It was intended to be a Gesamtkustwerk of sound, color and motion.

“Worldwide, only two series remain from the stage designs – one in Centre Pompidou in Paris and the other in a theater studies collection at the University of Cologne,” said Harald Wetzel, organizer of the exhibition at the Dessau Masters’ Houses. Included in the exhibition are images from the Cologne collection.


The home of a Bauhaus artist

Wassily Kandinsky lived and worked in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 as a master with the Bauhaus school of art and design. Those were his most productive years. Over 500 painters and watercolors were created in his studio in the masters’ settlement.

The so-called masters’ houses were designed for the Bauhaus teachers – by none other than architect and Bauhaus director Walter Gropius himself. In 1926, the artistic movement relocated from Weimar to Dessau and spent just a year and a half erecting a college building and the masters’ houses.

A foundation for the Dessau Masters’ Houses takes care of preserving the four houses, a unique architectural ensemble of great historical value. They have since been restored to their original design and color.

The rooms in Kandinsky’s former home usually stand empty – except for the color accents. The artist preferred color on the ceilings, doors and walls, including light green, white, crimson, black and ocher. They are the same colors that Kandinsky integrated into his stage designs, which – along with the geometrical forms – are typical for Bauhaus.

The Hut of Baba Yaga The daily "Anhalter Anzeiger" wrote about the premiere, "A mysterious construction is standing in front of us, a pointer is turning around, colors are flashing up: green and yellow - the lights at the sides are flashing up again: an incredible tension is enticing, and at the same time, torturing the viewer - it's that old secret that, in our imagination, is surrounding witches and magicians."
The Hut of Baba Yaga The daily “Anhalter Anzeiger” wrote about the premiere, “A mysterious construction is standing in front of us, a pointer is turning around, colors are flashing up: green and yellow – the lights at the sides are flashing up again: an incredible tension is enticing, and at the same time, torturing the viewer – it’s that old secret that, in our imagination, is surrounding witches and magicians.”

Musical geometry on stage

In the spring of 1874, composer Modest Mussorgsky saw a retrospective of befriended painter and architect Viktor Hartmann. Included were pictures that Hartmann had taken on a journey to Europe, such as the Great Gate of Kyiv, an Italian palace, and the catacombs of Paris.

Mussorgsky composed “Pictures at an Exhibition” in memory of Hartmann, who had died the previous year. It’s not entirely clear which of Hartmann’s pictures had inspired Mussorgsky the most.

Wassily Kandinsky, however, was fascinated by the music and began to express his impressions in his artwork. “Kandinsky’s task was to turn the music into paintings,” said Harald Wetzel.

For the stage production of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” various geometrical elements were supposed to be pushed onto the stage or pulled off of it. “The exhibited pictures give just a limited impression of the stage production,” explained Wetzel. “The individual elements were constantly in motion.”

While the orchestra played, images came into being on stage – in sync with the music.

Dessau remained the only cite where Kandinsky’s work was performed, although a performance in the US had originally been planned. It wasn’t until the a 1983 festival in Berlin that the work was reconstructed by students from the Berlin University of the Arts, based on a script and the stage designs from the collection at the University of Cologne.

Since then, many versions of Kandinsky’s production have been staged, including multimedia variations with video, which are presented now and then in concert halls and museums from New York to Hong Kong.

Kandinsky’s original stage designs are on display in Dessau through May 22, 2016.

Source: DW