Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hendrik Christian Andersen

Hendrik Christian Andersen is a Norwegian/American sculptor, who often depicts muscular characters, and naked males. He got additional fame with his loving relationship with the American writer Henry James.

The love letters that he received from the novellist have been published and testify their beautiful love. He met him in 1899, when aged 27. A loving relationship which will only end when Henry James died in 1916.

Hendrik Christian childhood was spent in Rhode island, as a young immigrant who arrived with his parents. He then moved to Rome at the age of 21. He was convinced that art is one of the best way to inspire perfection, peace and harmony among people, and he sculpted and draw projects with that in mind. He was also a writer and urban planner.

Andersen died in Rome in 1940.

The museum in Rome is actually his previous beautiful home, the Palazzo Mancini, containing his work (close to 400 art pieces). The museum also displays maps, maquettes and planned sculptures for his dream : a 'World Arts city' he imagined for a Greek island with his friend and partner, the poet and aviator Guido Keller. But the project was stopped when Keller died in 1929. Other sources mention the 'World Communication Center', focussed on art, science and sports, to be possibly located in Belgium or Swizerland. Some say it was to be built in the South of Rome. The mystery remains...


Monday, April 16, 2018

Castor & Pollux

Another pair of beautiful young men from the mythology, the Twins Castor & Pollux, has been sculpted by many artists, sometimes more than 2000 years ago.

Like this naked youths group sculpture below, dated 1st century AD which was found in Rome, and recorded in the Ludovisi collection. It then went into the collection of the Queen Christina of Sweden, then kept until 1839 in a Spanish palace (San Ildefonso) before to be displayed in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Opposing each other in several aspects, they formed the Gemini (Twins, in Latin) constellation. The myth of Castor & Pollux is more complex, I suggest you read some of the Sources.

A dozen sculpture copies have been done in marble, bronze or even cast iron, by various sculptors, in Germany, UK, France, either identical, using cast from plaster, or sometimes in different size, or even giving themselves some freedom from the original. See the list in the Wikipedia source.

The French copy, seen below, was achieved, after almost 25 years of work, by the sculptor Antoine Coysevox, visible since 1712 in the Château de Versailles, near Paris.

The UK marble copy was sculpted in 1767 by Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823), who went to Rome and may have seen the plaster copy kept at the French Academy there. The sculpture is located in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

In Germany, a bronze copy is in Berlin, Charlottenburg, cated by Christoph Heinrich Fischer in 1833.

Still in Germany, Goethe ordered a plaster cast for his house in 1812, and in a letter he sent to a friend, mentioned that 'These two ephebs have always been most pleasing to me'.

And more recently, in 1995, a wonderful sculpted glass by Wolfram Ames has taken place among the private collection of Othmar Rahm in Bonn.

The Rameau opera Castor & Pollux, in his edition of Harmonia Mundi / Les Arts Florissants / William Christie is here illustrated with the Poussin drawing of 1628 made with pen and brown wash.


Andrej Koymaski website
Château de Versailles
Antinoos info

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Geefs brothers and the Evil Genius & Angel of Evil.

The Belgian cathedral 'St Paul' located in Liège is the home of a beautiful young man sculpted in white marble by Guillaume Geefs in 1848.

The sculpture was actually commissionned first to his brother Joseph (1808-1885), also a sculptor. He was asked to create a Lucifer, or Evil Genius. When the statue was set up in the cathedral, in 1843, the male body was judged very, very attractive, probably too much naked and not enough 'Evil' despite the snake near his feet and the bat wings.  See by yourself below.

So 5 years later, his brother Guillaume got the commission for another Lucifer. Joseph's one was removed after one year from the cathedral, and is currently visible in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, in Brussels. Below is the new version of Lucifer, sculpted by Guillaume Geefs.

To avoid the critics made to his brother, he emphasized the symbols of Lucifer, although the nudity is still very much present, with a slightly more muscular body. Guillaume Geefs (1805-1883) was the main sculptor working for Leopold I, selected king for the Belgium nation founded in 1830.

Photo E Huybrechts

Among the symbols and details, you can observe a pair of horns...

A single tear...

A broken sceptre ...

A chained foot, and an biten apple. 

Joseph Geefs

Guillaume Geefs
Egyptomusee blog

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The male sculptures of Bordeaux Girondins monument & fountains

The Girondins monument and double fountain in the center of Bordeaux (Quinconces) is filled with 34 bronze sculptures. You will discover here some of the male characters of this famous landmark, built between 1894 and 1902, and full of Republican symbols, by the architect Victor Rich, and the sculptors Alphonse Jean Dumilatre and Felix Charpentier.

The monument is dedicated to the 'Girondins' who died defending the Republican values, after the French Revolution, against the 'Montagnards'. For more details on the project history and context, see the links indicated at the end.

Photo Alain Barré
The fountain facing the Theatre shows the Republican victory. Among the figures, this blacksmith, looking toward the justice, and symbol of Work.

Photo Alain Barré
Next to him, two groups of three kids, one symbolizing the compulsory school, and the others the mandatory military service.

Photo Titou du Pian
Below, three male figures seem falling, they are the Ignorance (on the right), the Vice (center) and the Lie (on the left, with his mask), showing the obstacles for a society that want to enlighten his people, promoting education and knowledge.

Photo Alain Barré

On the other side, the fountain facing the gardens, called the 'Triomphe de la Concorde' (Peace victory) you can admire the Fraternity, illustrated by the company of a worker and a bourgeois, and other sculptures displaying happiness, and several kids (one with a sculptor hammer, one with a music instrument, one with a painting brush, another on a barrel, ...).


Bordeaux Découvertes
Sud Ouest
Mes grains de sel blog
Ma plume fee dans paris
Alain Barre

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Rene Lalique : archers & male athletes

Rene Lalique is a famous French glass designer, and jewellery designer. Several pieces are glass sculptures depicting male figures, on vases, doors, medallions, perfume bottles, and radiator caps for cars.

His exquisite jewellery was very much influenced by the the nature, fauna and flora, in the Art Nouveau style, like birds, insects like Dragonfly. He worked for Cartier and Boucheron. Later on, after the first war, he produced magnificent Art Deco large glass decoration, like for the Normandie luxury yacht (first class dining room), or the Orient Express train.

Orient Express panel (detail)
Athletes was one of his theme, as you can see on this 'Palestre' vase below done in 1928. In the biography from Félix Marcilhak (book cover on this post) you can read that Lalique wanted to express the beauty of these males, but also in the spirit of the Greeks, show their courage and wisdow.

He also created glass doors with athletes for the French clothes designer Jacques Doucet home in Paris.

And for the Wanamaker's store in Philadephia.

His passion was the glass. And to create beauty. Always with the highest quality. He had a workshop Place Vendome in Paris, created many glass objects for hospitals & drugstores (through a glass factory he transformed). He built his own glass factory in 1921 in Alsace (where the current Lalique Museum is located). This allowed him to distribute his creations to a larger audience, making them more affordable. He invented several techniques and process to work with glass, giving different finishes, or transparencies.
Lalique biography by Félix Marcilak
And linked to the athletes, you can admire a few pieces with archers as well, like on this radiator cap below from 1926.

Or on this vase from 1921, that was declined in several versions or colors, with archers looking for large birds.

For the International Exhibition in Paris, in 1937, with 44 countries participating, he created this medallion in glass, displaying 2 nude males holding their hands.

The year he died (1945) and was buried in the Paris Père Lachaise cemetery, his son started to work with cristal.

And it is with cristal that the Elton John Aids Foundation and Lalique worked together to raise funds, creating first a large lost wax original glass sculpture 'Angel' and some other pieces to be sold at a special auction in 2016, before to produce a limited serie available today.