Posted on

Paul Cuvelier (1923-1978) and EPOXY

Schermafbeelding 2018-07-06 om 15.01.15

For Paul Cuvelier comics were a necessary way to earn money. His true heart lay in painting and sculpting, especially nudes which showcased his passion for the beauty and anatomy of the human body. Cuvelier’s fine art was characterized by a sensuality which has been described as “slumbering eroticism”. The same can be said about some of his comics. Even the juvenile heroes in his ‘Corentin’ stories are scantily clothed most of the time. The friendship between Corentin and Kim can be interpreted in the same homo-erotic subtext as the companionship between Jacques Martin’s Alix and Enak. His final ‘Line’ story also featured a more sexy presentation of the heroine. The 1973 ‘Corentin’ story ‘Le Royaume des Eaux Noires’ featured much nudity and hinted at a sexual relationship between the protagonist and Zaïla. By then, Cuvelier and Van Hamme had already created their groundbreaking erotic graphic novel ‘Epoxy’ (1968).

Epoxy, by Cuvelier
Epoxy

‘Epoxy’ was created in the wave of adult-oriented comics, which found its breeding ground in the American underground comix movement. The first generation that grew up with the post-war comics continued to embrace the medium, which opened up new possibilities for creators. Free from the restrictions of working for the children’s press, authors could now aim their work at a mature audience. In Europe, magazines like Pilote and Hara-Kiri were at the vanguard of this new movement. Frenchman Jean-Claude Forest‘s sci-fi heroine ‘Barbarella’ (1962) was the first character that embodied the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

In Belgium, Guy Peellaert had pioneered the comics eroticism with his stories ‘Les Aventures de Jodelle’ (1966) and ‘Pravda, la survireuse’ (1967), while Guido Crepax heralded in the “sexties” in Italy with his ‘Valentina’ (1965). Dutch authors Thé Tjong-Khing and Lo Hartog van Banda released their pop-art inspired graphic novel with the sexy ‘Iris’ in 1968. Cuvelier and Van Hamme’s ‘Epoxy’ fully presented the artist’s qualities for sensual artwork, against a story inspired by Greek mythology. Created in 1967, the album was released by the Paris-based Belgian publisher Eric Losfeld in the revolutionary month of May 1968. It initially didn’t catch much attention, but in later years its historical importance was recognized for being one of the first independent and fully erotic Belgian comics. It has been re-issued in later years by Horus (1977), Marcus (1981), Clue Circle (1985), Éditions Lefrancq (1997) and Le Lombard (2003). German and Scandinavian translations of ‘Epoxy’ were however published without the knowledge and consent of the authors, who consequently never received royalties from these editions.

Paul Cuvelier spent the final years of his life in poverty, and in a constant search of artistic fulfillment. A final attempt to pick up ‘Corentin’ was made in cooperation with Jacques Martin, who wrote the script for ‘Corentin et l’Ogre Rouge’ (1973). Cuvelier abandoned the project after the first pages, which were published posthumously in the monography ‘Paul Cuvelier: Corentin et les chemins du merveilleux’ by Philippe Goddin in 1984. Martin later used the plot for the ‘Alix’ story ‘Les Proies du Volcan’ (1978). Jacques Martin also picked Cuvelier as his first choice to draw his historical comics series about French serial killer Gilles de Rais. Cuvelier was however not interested, and was revived by Martin and Jean Pleyers for the series ‘Xan’ (1978, later renamed to ‘Jhen’). Pleyers was Cuvelier’s pupil during his final years. In an interview in L’Est Républicain in 1993, Pleyers recalled squatting with Paul Cuvelier during most of the 1970s, living in “old embassies, surrounded by homosexual drug addicts”. Another assistant of Cuvelier was the Spanish artist Juan Lopez de Uralde, who helped him with the last pages of ‘Corentin et le Prince des Sables’ in the late 1960s. Paul Cuvelier’s final work included some erotic illustrations for Privé magazine in 1975, and the preparations of an exposition with the theme “Fillettes” (“little girls”). The artist however passed away in 1978 in Charleroi at the age of 54 after years of declining health.The extremely large folio edition by Blue Circle is available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on

Giovanni Nicolai (continued) in Milano

Nicolai mostra milano 2

Just received a message from Giovanni Nicolai, that he will be exhibiting in Milano some of his most recent works together with some fellow artist in the ARTE NON FALSIFICATA exhibition at the SO gallery in Milan. The exhibition will be open until the 17th of November.

Posted on

Andre de Dienes (1913-1985)

Schermafbeelding 2018-07-04 om 10.16.07

Dienes began work as a professional photographer for the Communist newspaper L’Humanité, and was employed by the Associated Press until 1936, when the Parisian couturier Captain Molyneux noted his work and urged him to become a fashion photographer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In 1938 the editor of Esquire, Arnold Gingrich offered him work in New York City, and helped fund Dienes’ passage to the United States. Once in the United States Dienes worked for Vogue and Life magazines as well as Esquire.

When not working as a fashion photographer Dienes travelled the USA photographing Native American culture, including the Apache, Hopi, and Navajo reservations and their inhabitants. Dissatisfied with his life as a fashion photographer in New York, Dienes moved to California in 1944, where he began to specialize in nudes and landscapes.

Schermafbeelding 2018-07-04 om 10.03.15

As well as Monroe, Dienes also photographed such notable actors as Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Ingrid Bergman, Ronald Reagan, Jane Russell, Anita Ekberg and Fred Astaire.

De Dienes married twice, and died of cancer on April 11, 1985, in Hollywood.

( the above text comes from Wikipedia)

One of the lesser known nude photography publications in which  de Dienes made several contributions is available at www.ftn-books.com

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Posted on

Anthon Beeke (1940-2018)

Schermafbeelding 2018-09-26 om 09.15.13

This morning i learned that one of the greatest of all dutch graphic designers, Anton Beeke, died in an Amsterdam hospital, yesterday on the 25th of September. Born in 1940 he soon became part of Fluxus and Provo and was one of the famous names in the AMSTERDAM art world in the sixties. He even became later a contributing partner of Total Design, the agency which was founded by Wim Crouwel ao. I mention this because where Total design was one of the first agencies to apply the computer in designing, Beeke stayed true to his own method, the typical way of composing an image with “camera, scissors and glue”.

His images are strong and stood out and drew immediate attention to the subject. One of his best known designs was the alphabet composed with nude woman.

Schermafbeelding 2018-09-26 om 09.17.55

It was a meant and searched for reaction on the New Alphabet by Crouwel. There are several Beeke publications available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on

Alberto Vargas (1896-1982)

Schermafbeelding 2018-06-26 om 13.34.41

I consider Alberto Vargas ( born in Peru) as the most original and technically accomplished pin-up artist ever. Of course, France has known some great pin-up artist like Aslan was one of them, The US brought us Elvgren and the more modern Olivia de Barardinis, but for me personally Alberto Vargas is the very best. His style is recognizable, his models are exquisite and his art has always a personal note.

Schermafbeelding 2018-06-26 om 13.37.46

He started making Pin Up drawings in the early 20’s and kept producing new Pin-Ups  until his early Eighties. Many of them appeared in Playboy magazine and the 60’s Playboy magazines contained each month a new Vargas drawing. The magazines edition rose to an enormous 7 million each month but now has fallen to 800.000.

7 million readers ( viewers) each month meant his name as a gifted (pin-up) artist spread rapidly and original drawings fetched high prices at auction. Prices have fallen a little since these GOLDEN VARGAS DAYS, but a good drawing still fetches  usd. 20K+

Artistically Vargas is for sure not the most important and ground breaking artist, but his drawings have a great appeal and are technically brilliant pieces of art.

www.ftn-books.com has some Vargas titles available

Posted on

Henry Miller and Pieter Brattinga

At one time Pieter Brattinga and Henry Miller spoke about the graphic designs and specially the “KWADRAAT bladen” Brattinga made. Miller responded that he would love to participate in the project and promised to make something special for the series….and so he did  in 1967. The Kwadraat series , printed by Steendrukkerij de Jong , published in 1967…extra mailing Written Language. A portfolio containing  4 watercolors by Henry Miller. 3 double paged ones and one title page. This rare and highly collectible publication is now available at www.ftn-books.com

 

Posted on

Pierre et Gilles … not always controversial, but fortunately they still are.

Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard, also known as Pierre et Gilles, are French artists and romantic partners. They have been producing works together since 1976, creating a world where painting and photography meet. Their art is peopled by their friends and family, anonymous and famous, who appear in sophisticated life-size sets the artists build in their studio. They meticulously apply paint to the photographs once printed on canvas. Accomplished image creators, Pierre and Gilles have built up an extraordinary contemporary iconography on the frontier between art history and popular culture.

Pierre et Gilles have sometimes attracted controversy. For example, in 2012 there was a public outcry in Austria when their work entitled Vive la France was displayed on large street posters.

 

It depicts three naked French footballers with their genitals fully revealed: the first black, the second Arab/Muslim and the third white, to represent the multi-ethnic composition of modern French society. The ensuing controversy led to an act of self-censorship by the artists, who decided that the largest street posters should be changed, and instead use coloured ribbons to hide the players’ genitals. Personally i understand that this self censorship is the right thing to do when one choses to show these photographs in public places, however sex, gay subjects and male nudity are frequently present in their photographs making it difficult to avoid these photographs because these are such an integral part of their oeuvre. Are these typically 80’s /90’s photographs?….i do not think so. These are “classic” highly creative and original photographs with one signature, as if they were made by one and the same person. Pierre et Gilles is not two, but artistically one person/artist. www.ftn-books.com has a number of Pierre et Gilles publications available.

Posted on

Ferdi ( Ferdina Jansen 1927-1969)

Ferdi was the wife of dutch Pop Art painter and sculptor Shinkichi Tajiri and was married to him until her tragic death in 1969. If i look at her work now, the first other artist i think about is Niki de Saint Phalle. I really do not know if they have known each other but it is possible when you look at the time frame, they possibly knew and inspired each other. Ferdi, educated by Ossip Zadkine, used large pieces of cloth and textiles to assemble her figures female form inspired figures for which she has become very well known in the Netherlands. Recently, I think it was 2012 , the Rijksmuseum acquired WOMB TOMB with the help of the heirs of her estate

Schermafbeelding 2018-05-23 om 11.06.30

Her husband Shinkichi Tajiri is nowadays a recognized and settled name and specially known for his large Pop Art sculptures. Ferdi is far less known. Her works appear sometimes at auction but that is it for this moment. It is time that some dutch museum shows new interest in her because her works fascinate and deserve to be known abroad too. The stedelijk Museum published a very nice catalogue with her works which was designed by Wim Crouwel and some 15 years ago another important book was published in which her works were shown together with toise from her husband. Both are available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on

Franz von Stuck (1863-1928)

Schermafbeelding 2018-05-20 om 13.48.28

If it was not for the van Gogh Museum, not many would have known of Franz von Stuck in the Netherlands, but because of an exhibition in 1995/1996 his works are now much better known over here. The impressive catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com.

From humble Miller’s son to prince of artists in Munich: the career of Franz von Stuck is the dream of every artist. After the young Stuck caused a stir with his first major painting, The GUARDIAN OF PARADISE he was suddenly the centre of attention in the art world.

In works such as Sphinx and SIN he reflected the Symbolist themes of the age, concentrating on the erotic and highly dramatic aspects. The flat decorative compositions and the focus on the essential, without superfluous detail, ensure that his art is still relevant today.

Schermafbeelding 2018-05-20 om 14.01.11

The book available at www.ftn-books shows exactly why von Stuck is important for todays art. The focus on the most important part in a composition is what nowadays artists do in abstract painting. This is the link between von Stuck and todays contemporary abstract expressionist art.

Posted on

Shunga …the Japanese erotic print

 

Schermafbeelding 2018-05-08 om 17.30.08

While studying the Bubb Kuyper catalogue it struck me that the genitals of both male and female are depicted far too large and are highly exaggerated. This made me wonder…is this wishful thinking of the japanese men in general or is it to draw attention to the print and the action within. I found an excellent article on Shunga…. The art of the erotic japanese prints by the British Museum and they have a clear point of view:

The genitals of both sexes are so exaggerated in shunga that it leaves literally nothing to the imagination. A wall text quotes Tachibana no Narisue, an artist in 1254: “The Old Masters… depict the size of ‘the thing’ far too large… If it were depicted the actual size there would be nothing of interest. For that reason don’t we say that art is fantasy?”.

Despite a similar preoccupation with the humorous side of sex, shunga has a far greater artistic pedigree than seaside postcards. Whereas Thomas Rowlandson is unusual in the British artistic tradition for producing erotic prints, shunga prints were an expected part of Japanese artists’ portfolios.

Schermafbeelding 2018-05-08 om 17.30.55

Once viewers get past the shock of seeing such explicit scenes, other details begin to emerge – particularly the beautifully rendered robes worn (or, more accurately, half-worn) by the couples. Full nudity appears to be rare, and the gorgeous colours and designs of traditional Japanese costume frame the prints with sensuous folds.

Early versions were hand painted on scrolls, some of which are highly exquisite and expensive. Twelve Erotic Scenes in Edo (circa 1790), by Hosoda Eishi, is particularly beautiful, with gold leaf and gilding used liberally as decoration on both sides of the scroll. 

By 1765, the perfection of full colour woodblock printing methods in Edo made shunga available for the masses, and it was during this period that the conventions of the genre became more firmly established. It was also during this period that the samurai elite began to censor shunga – but for its political, not erotic content. 

Shunga presented a threat to Japan’s strict social hierarchies by depicting sexual congress between different social groups; some books may even have revealed secret court gossip. However, the authorities did not strictly enforce the ban, meaning that shunga flourished under the radar.

It might be easy to dismiss Shunga as a sensationalist exhibition, but the work displayed reveals a fascinating insight into a private world. It’s one both familiar and strange to us.

Sexual life is revealed as loving, passionate, comforting, rough, illicit – even violent at times. Despite existing in a fantasy world, shunga artists manage to reveal a great deal about our common humanity.

www.ftn-books.com has a book on the modern Shunga experience available.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA