Kawanabe Kyosai, the Japanese Printmaker Who Pioneered Manga, Finally Gets His Due

From ArtNews, by Chadwick Hagan

When it comes to Japanese printmaking of the 19th century, Hiroshige and Hokusai have tended to dominate the conversation. But a third figure, Kawanabe Kyōsai, has begun to enter the public view outside Japan, thanks in part to a recently closed survey at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Notorious during his lifetime both for his art and for his eccentric personality, Kyōsai only lived to be 58, but during his short career, he managed to pioneer the art of manga. Prolific and profound, he left an enduring legacy of paintings, caricatures, sketches, illustrated books and prints, many of which can be found in the Israel Goldman collection that formed the basis of the Royal Academy show.

“I purchased my first Kyōsai’s piece in the ’80s at auction,” Goldman said in an interview. “That started the collection.” Curated by Kyōsai scholar Sadamura Koto, Royal Academy chief curator Adrian Locke, and Goldman himself, the Royal Academy exhibition was the first showing of Kyōsai’s work in the United Kingdom since the British Museum held one in 1993. Many of the pieces in the exhibit had never been published or viewed publicly. The show traced Kyōsai’s interactions with modernity, the approaching westernization of Japan, and the Meiji period while also offering a look at his painting and printmaking processes.

Read the entire article at ArtNews.com

The Countess of Castiglione: The Creation of a Legend (James Hyman Gallery, London)

In early June I visited photographer Dafydd Jones at James Hyman’s new gallery location in Mayfair. Before leaving I had a quick look at the Countess of Castiglione portraits, which James had organized in preparation for the upcoming exhibit.

First off there is a tremendous amount of history here. All of the portraits were taken with the assistance of Pierson (born in 1822), who along with his partners, the brothers Léopold Ernest (born in 1817) and Louis Frédéric Mayer (born in 1822) achieved fame in Paris, and eventually became imperial court photographers. 

The first photos of the countess were taken in July of 1856, and the collaboration with Pierre-Louis Pierson eventually led to over 400 portraits (though I’ve heard there were a total of 700).

The Countess organized and titled the photos herself: La Sultane – La Comtesse de Castiglione; La comtesse de Castiglione – L’innocence, variation sur La Reine D’Etrurie; La comtess de Castiglione – Portrait en robe blanche. The photos were framed silver gelatin prints and a handful were enlarged painted photographs, illustrated with gouache and mounted on cardboard. Most photos measured 9 x 10 cms or 14.5 x 9.5 cms. All were striking, and ingenious, and I felt like I was looking into a pretend world and stepping into a time capsule from another world at the same time.

Obviously the countess was from another time altogether, a time that no longer exists: the 19th century aristocracy of continental Europe. Born Virginia Elisabetta Luisa Carlotta Antonietta Teresa Maria Oldoini in 1837 to Tuscan nobles; Oldoini was considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful women, and in 1854, at age 17, married Francesco Verasis, the Count of Castiglione.

Both sides of her family were powerful and connected; a cousin was Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour, who was also the Prime Minister of Sardinia. Camillo was very ambitious and wanted Napoléon III – the Emperor of France – to support the unification of Italy. Napoléon III was a constant womanizer and stuck in a loveless and unhappy marriage to Empress Eugenia. Camillo sensed opportunity, and using his married cousin’s beauty to further his agenda, sent Virginia and her husband to Paris, where the countess was to act as a spy and a seducer of the emperor. She was successful on both parts. 

Eventually the countess became an enigmatic figure and a swirl of drama engulfed her; no doubt aided by her constant affairs with the elite of France and Italy (she also had a brief affair with the Italian king Victor Emmanuel II). She had many nicknames, including “la divinia contessa,” and the piercing “shallowest woman in Europe.” Despite her mystique, she was greatly misunderstood by the general public. Her methods were methods of her own but she was undeniably effective. Though the affair with Napoléon III ended in 1860 by 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was unified and declared a united nation-state.

Virginia devoted decades of her life to her portraits with Pierson, leaving behind a well documented and immense body of work. All of the compositions fit into one of three periods of her life: the beginning of her influence in French society (1855-1856); her life after the affair with Napoléon III (1861-1867) and her final years (1893 -1895).

The countess died November 28th, 1899 at the age of 62, but after her death her fame escalated in popular culture and history. In 1913, collector and poet Robert de Montesquiou, whose portrait was painted by Giovanni Boldini in 1897, wrote her biography, La Divine Comtesse: Étude d’après Madame de Castiglione. 

Two films were made about her. The first in 1942; directed by Flavio Calzavara, “The Countess of Castiglione,” featuring Doris Duranti, Andrea Checchi, Enzo Biliotti and Renato Cialente. The second, “The Contessa’s Secret,” produced in 1954; directed by Georges Combret and starred Yvonne De Carlo. In 1975 the Metropolitan Museum acquired 275 of the Countess’ photographs presumably from the collection of Robert de Montesquiou.

There is no doubt the Countess of Castiglione was the world’s first selfie connoisseur, but she was also so much more: an aristocratic spy; a strategic advisor; an expert in brinkmanship and seduction, and a trailblazer with the new technology of photography. She was also one of the most influential women of her era. 

As James Hyman states in the exhibit: “she stands at the start of a line of conceptual, performative, inventive self-portraitists such as Claude Cahun, Francesca Woodman, Hannah Wilkie, Jo Spence, Sophie Calle, Gillian Wearing, Cindy Sherman and Tracey Emin, and is an inspiration for numerous younger artists, among them Zanele Muholi and Heather Agyepong.” 

The Countess of Castiglione: The Creation of a Legend, at the James Hyman Gallery, 48 Maddox St, London. June 10 – August 26, 2022

Images courtesy of James Hyman Gallery. Special thanks to James Hyman. Article by Chadwick Hagan, Chair of Hagan Arts Trust

Giovanni Boldini at the Petit Palais, May 26th

Late in the afternoon on May 26th I visited the Giovanni Boldini exhibit at the Petit Palais in Paris. I heard about the exhibit a few weeks prior and when I glanced the exhibit webpage I found his work to be very similar to a favorite artist of mine. From my Boston days – where I dutifully poured over anything John Singer Sargent due to the tremendous JSS archives held by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – I noticed Boldini had much in common with John Singer Sargent. I soon discovered that Sergeant and Boldini were contemporaries and friends, to such a degree that Boldini painted Sargent’s portrait, which I’ve included below (sold at auction 2019). Discoveries like the aforementioned are what endear me to the history of art. I often find the story behind art to be like an exploration of private, or even secret, complex human networks.

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931)
Portrait of John Singer Sargent
Sold by Christie’s in 2019

Boldini was born in Ferrara, Italy in 1842. He was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts (Florence), where he associated with the artists who formed the Macchiaioli, the Italian precursors of impressionism.

After a period of success in London painting the aristocracy he moved to France and spent the remainder of his career in Paris. It was in Paris that he thrived. He was a virtuoso painter and a large figure on the social, artistic and literary scene of what is know as the Belle Époque Paris, a period between 1871–80 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

An article in Time Magazine in 1933 referred to him as “Master of Swish,” due primarily to his twirling and swishing methods, his epic eruptions of emotion which ensconced his portraits.

He received the Légion d’honneur and participated in the Venice Biennale in 1895, 1903, 1905, and 1912. He died in Paris on 11 July 1931.

Henry Gauthiers-Villars with Colette

My favorite painting of Boldini’s is one of Henry Gauthiers-Villars, known as Willy. Willy was a writer and music critic who is mostly known as the mentor and first husband of the author Colette. He used many names and pseudonyms including: Henry Maugis, Robert Parville, l’Ex-ouvreuse du Cirque d’été, L’Ouvreuse, L’Ouvreuse du Cirque d’été, Jim Smiley, Henry Willy, Boris Zichine. He was a noted boulevardier and used ghost writers for many of his works. He even lifted some of his wife’s work as his own. 

Gauthiers-Villars by Boldini

After the exhibit I realized Boldini was an absolute master. In my opinion great artists paint pictures that are impossible to erase from your memory, and my favorite type of curators arrange artwork by the vibe or flow of the artwork. This exhibit was very much handled in that fashion. Today is June 3rd and I went to the exhibit May 26th. The exhibit has stuck with me for days on end. There is no doubt Boldini was one of the best of his generation. Whether he not receives the attention he deserves is another thing entirely. I believe this was the first major showing of his work in 60 years.

I have taken the liberty of adding Boldini’s extended catalog of work.

Boldini is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

From the Petit Palais: This first retrospective is an opportunity for visitors to discover or to renew acquaintance with Giovanni Boldini, a virtuoso painter and figure on the social, artistic and literary scene of Belle Époque Paris.

Servane Dargnies-de Vitry, curator of 19th century paintings at the Petit Palais.
Barbara Guidi, director of the Museo civico di Bassano.

Giovanni Boldini Exhibit website

– Chadwick Hagan

A friend of the marquis (1875)
Giovanni Boldini (Italian, 1842-1931)

Auction Highlight – Charles II wassail bowl

Very interesting, especially to those of us who have partaken in wassail festivities

Among the highlights of the first day of Woolley & Wallis’ Furniture and Works of Art sale on July 6-7 was this wassail bowl and cover. A textbook Charles II example made in lignum vitae c.1660-70, it came for sale from the estate of Peter Mactaggart (1931-2020) whose family ran an antiques shop in Welwyn, Hertfordshire from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.

“Remarkably the lid retains, to the underside, its brass and Surrey enamel type roundel or ‘print’ depicting the Royal Coat of Arms of Charles II. When the piece was featured in Apollo magazine in December 1936 as part of an article titled ‘The Wassail Bowl and the Custom of Wassailing at Christmas Time’, the author Owen Evan-Thomas wrote: ‘This is the only wassail bowl I have ever seen containing under the lid its original ‘print’.”

Estimated at £6000-8000, it sold at £8500.

Thank you Antiques Trade Gazette

Underwater With Julie Ross (Archives) – Feb 01, 2011

I recently stopped by the Emerging Art Scene Gallery in Castleberry Hill. Gallery owner Denise Leitch Jackson represents the artist Julie Ross, and here some of her newest paintings adorned the wall. Struck with surprise and wonder at the large pieces depicting artful terrains and whimsical semblance, I took a deeper look into her work.

Julie Ross, "Party of One," 2010. Acrylic on canvas.
Julie Ross, “Party of One,” 2010. Acrylic on canvas.

In a statement, Ross said: “The delivery of a message through humor is very important to me. As a shockingly brutal and chaotic world unfolds before us, I find humor necessary to temper the sometimes-overwhelming sensations of dejection and helplessness we all tend to experience, especially as the seemingly unstoppable machinations of violence continue to win their ongoing battles for our attention.” Her current theme “Visualize World Peas,” borrowing from the bumper sticker “Visualize World Peace” – revels in the harmless and curious, making for a sort of amused dream world. Undoubtedly, amusement can be an important tool for an artist to have, but inside those mediums they choose to embrace and explore, the outcome must captivate the viewer with an emotional energy.

Interestingly, Ross has incorporated this pea message into her work by making them part of her paintings. Though subtle, they are noticeable, and she uses the symbols to “trigger thoughts of peace to all people on all levels.” For Ross, there seems to be an intended peaceful and inviting message to her work, softly laden with mystery.

“Party of One” is colorful and direct, with crisp lines and defined shapes that engulf and morph into one another; an ocean current, meandering through the rocks and corals of an underwater reef. The heroine in the center, though attached to her senses, is expressionless as she hovers above her body, or soul, centered below, closer to the elements and closer to nature. With colors abound, these elements could be an actual organic garden – her head a flower in the breeze. Whatever busy-ness you see is offset by her continued direction toward the presence and illusion of fish throughout the piece, helped only by assumptions and hints of direction. Looking at this piece is like peering into a small amphibious menagerie, an underwater garden.

Julie Ross, "Peace of Me," 2008. Acrylic on canvas.
Julie Ross, “Peace of Me,” 2008. Acrylic on canvas.

“Peace of Me” evokes charmed loneliness and mystery, even power; bubble wrap was used to make the rarefied, mechanical pattern in the background. This is a very large painting. It depicts on a grand scale a woman holding a flower, with her shoulders exposed, black hair blowing to one side. Here her body is the flower, and the petals of the tulip, which engulf her torso midway, are merely creating the nuance of a ball gown.

The elegance continues to her hands, which are in black evening gloves, holding the stem of the tulip, before being lost to visceral shades of pink and green, yellow and red. There is a moody but joyful manner to this piece; the colors evoke an emotional sensation, a cryptic freedom.

Upstairs was mainly devoted to Ross’ “Joy Series”. There was a strong sense of Tim Burton and his art with the tall, thin, black and white drawings of women trotting along. A few of the pieces in this series used broken automotive glass to add texture and depth, stuck in motion and lacquered within a shiny resin on the canvas, in-between colors.

There was a floating, aquatic feeling to the pieces; they were all free, and the absence of color made for a dramatic view into a starkly simplified reality. An enjoyable set of work, throughout.

Julie Ross, "Joy 5," 2010. Mixed media using ink and resin on canvas.
Julie Ross, “Joy 5,” 2010. Mixed media using ink and resin on canvas.

Julie Ross is represented by Denise Lietch Jackson at the Emerging Art Scene Gallery. Her next show, “Tres Chic: Art Couture,” opens February 10th, 2011 at Emerging Art Scene.

Chadwick Hagan is a writer living in Atlanta.

Read the original article here

Archives – Philip Morsberger at MOCA GA (Nov, 19 2010)

The artist’s statement read:

Color, color, color!
Color as music,
Color as narrative,
Color as prayer,
And yes…color as laughter!

Based on the statement, I am sure you can gather that there was quite a bit of color. In fact, there was so much color and organized disarray that it was more like a big acid test without the light projectors. Clearly noticeable from the front door, I went past the first exhibit, swiveling around to catch a quick glimpse, and then made my way over to the back room where Philip Morsberger’s exhibit is on display.

Philip Morsberger

Eleven large paintings are scattered throughout the room, all the same size. Attractive and energetic, each canvas was overflowing with colorful brush strokes.

Every painting was of a man’s face, with different colors and titles accompanying it. It was the same face in every portrait; the only difference was the color, or the mood he was in. I spoke briefly with Win Roefs, a gallery owner in Columbia, South Carolina, who sells much of Morsberger’s work, and he talked about the artist’s energetic properties and the vibrant brush strokes used in his work, all of which are undeniably his own. Roefs referred to Morsberger as an abstract expressionist whose body of work, though varied, remains singular and cohesive.Morsberger  has created a bridge between artist and patron.

Through these paintings, Morsberger is letting the viewer know how he was feeling. His paintings  are autobiographical in every sense.

The exhibition, “Within State Lines II,” is on display at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia until January 8th. Other artists in the show include: Jennifer Onofrio Fornes, Stefanie Jackson, Marcus Kenney, and Kwan Young Lee.

75 Bennett Street
Atlanta, GA 30309

Chadwick Hagan is a writer in Atlanta.

Original Post can Be Found Here

Uffizi Sells Michelangelo Masterpieces as NFTs

This is one of the best values for dollars I have seen in the NFT collection marketplace since it’s popularity began. – HA

Looking to recoup losses resulting from the pandemic, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence is offering its most famous artworks for sale as NFTs. The first encrypted work available, Michelangelo’s painting Doni Tondo (1505–06), sold for $170,000. According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the digital facsimile of Doni Tondo was purchased by an Italian woman as a birthday gift for her husband, a prominent collector. @ ArtNews

The Cerne Abbas Giant – Anglo-Saxon Tribes Afterall?

Likely an anglo-saxon creation…

The U.K.’s largest chalk hill figure was also likely an Anglo Saxon creation, according to new research.

Archaeologists have made remarkable new discoveries about the mysterious Cerne Abbas Giant, the U.K.’s largest chalk hill figure. Perhaps most notably, they have determined that the 180-foot-tall naked man may have originally been wearing pants.

The figure is also likely an Anglo Saxon creation dating to medieval times. “This is not what was expected,” geoarchaeologist Mike Allen, who helped conduct tests on the massive artwork, said in a statement. “Many archaeologists and historians thought he was prehistoric or post-medieval, but not medieval. Everyone was wrong, and that makes these results even more exciting.”

Phillip Toms, a physical geography professor in at the University of Gloucestershire, used Optically Stimulated Luminescence testing, which can determine when individual grains of sand last were exposed to sunlight, to study samples from the figure and the surrounding hillside. In the deepest layer of earth, the date range was 700 to 1100 A.D.

More at artnet

Oxford: The Last Hurrah

“I had access to what felt like a secret world. It was a subject that had been written about and dramatized but I don’t think any photographers had ever tackled before. There was a change going on. Someone described it as a ‘last hurrah’ of the upper classes.” – Dafydd Jones

“It was Thatcher’s Britain, a period of celebration for those that had money” – Dafydd Jones

At this time, Oxford University was synonymous with the wealthy, the powerful and the privileged. Many of the young people in these pictures moved on to have careers in the establishment including Boris Johnson and David Cameron. In these photographs, however, their youth is undeniable: teenagers in full suits celebrate the rise of Thatcher in England and Reagan in America, in between punting on the river, chasing romance and partying through the night.

The Oxford Years shows a world that has been written about and dramatized, yet never photographed. Affectionate and critical, it pokes affectionate fun at its subjects while celebrating English eccentricity. From the architectural marvels of the colleges to misty mornings along the river at dawn, this is Oxford at its most beautiful – and the students of the 1980s at their most raw and honest.

One series of images, taken in the autumn of 1980 at a meeting of the Bloody Assizes Dining Society, an exclusive all-male drinking club, were submitted to a Sunday Times photography competition. Although he didn’t win, he came to the attention of Tina Brown, the future Vanity Fair editor, who was then at the helm of society magazine Tatler. Brown called Jones, congratulated him on his shots of the Oxford student scene and offered him a job as Tatler’s official party photographer. He would start immediately, on the proviso he moved to London straight away. At first, Jones didn’t take her seriously. “The shots I submitted (to The Times) were fairly obvious send-ups of the kind of shots Tatler would routinely publish,” he said. But Brown loved them. Jones was sent to every high-end party Tatler could get access to, and Brown would routinely use the images he returned with to animate Tatler’s pages.

In 1983, during a stint as a columnist for the Daily Mail, Brown used Jones work, including an image of a woman in a flowing gown dancing on a grand dining table, for a piece titled “Snob Wars.”

“There’s a civil war going in Britain… except it isn’t very civil,” Brown wrote. “Everywhere I look, social groups are lining up and shaking their fists at each other. We have kissed off the guilt of the ‘caring, sharing’ seventies and got dressed to kill for the Up Yours Eighties.” “Tina would talk about this new generation of what she called ‘sod you’ Tories,” Jones said.

He remembers a grand ball in Kent. Six hundred guests were invited. On arrival, they were greeted by boy scouts holding burning torches, lining each side of the long driveway to the stately home. “The ball took place on the same night as the Brixton riots,” Jones says. “I stood outside and took pictures of them leaving the event. But, just a few score miles away, Brixton was on fire. It felt very much like a different world.”

Norman coins reveal medieval tax scam

The Guardian: A millennium-old tax scam has been revealed with the discovery of thousands of coins in a muddy field that together make up the largest hoard to be unearthed from the immediate post-Norman conquest period. The British Museum announced the discovery of the coins from a pivotal moment in English history on Wednesday. Some depict Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, and an almost equal amount show the man who replaced him after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. Gareth Williams, the museum’s curator of early medieval coinage, said the hoard of 2,528 coins was unusually large and “massively important” in shining light on the history of the period. “One of the big debates amongst historians is the extent to which there was continuity or change, both in the years immediately after the conquest and across a longer period,” he said. “The coins help us understand how changes under Norman rule impacted on society as a whole.” Three of the coins have been identified as “mules”, a combination of two types of coin – essentially an early form of tax-dodging by the moneyer, the person who made them.