A French Art Nouveau patinated bronze figural sculpture, depicting a dancer with scarves and cymbals by Victor Ségoffin (1867-1925). Born in Toulouse, educated at Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Louis-Ernest Barrias and Pierre-Jules Cavelier, Segoffin won the Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1897.
A French Art Nouveau ceramic charger,"La Danse", with iridescent glaze by Clement Massier, depicting a dancing woman (Loïe Fuller). Loïe Fuller employed smoke, billowing fabrics and dramatic lighting in her choreography, creating an ethereal, otherworldly effect, the likes of which the world had never seen. Clement Massier drew inspiration from her for this iridescent glazed ceramic charger, where Fuller seems to be floating in a sea of the unknown. The feathered decoration in the work merges with her swirling draperies, further accented by iridescent green and purple highlights against a golden ground. The inspiration for the subject matter of the charger was undoubtedly the American dancer and choreographer, Loïe Fuller, whose dances with swirling silks and experimental lighting made her a legend. A similar charger is pictured in: "Loïe Fuller: Goddess of Light," by Richard Nelson Current and Marcia Ewing Current, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997 (see center color images).Twenty-first century writers, filmmakers and performers have rediscovered the genius of Loïe Fuller, widely regarded as the mother of modern dance. An early practitioner of free-form choreography, and an inquisitive enthusiast into new technologies, Loïe arrived in Paris in the 1890s, fleeing her numerous imitators in the U.S. and seeking artistic recognition. In her astonishing performances,
Loïe danced amid swirling silk wraps, the electrified stage glowing with her patented chemical salts, gels and smoke. These enigmatic, incandescent performances, in which she herself became intangible, resonated with prominent intellectuals – Toulouse- Lautrec, Marie Curie, Anatole France, and Rodin all counted their friend Loïe as an inspiration.This figural plate, with its iridescent colors, swirling forms and ethereal mood, captures the essence of Fuller, whose fearless spirit and relentless creativity embodied the modern woman celebrated by the Art Nouveau.
A French Art Nouveau silvered bronze sculpture by Leo Laporte-Blairsy featuring a glass globe by Daum Nancy. The globe is in translucent blue glass decorated with white five-pointed stars. "La Voie Lactée" (The Milky Way) was first exhibited at the Société des Artistes Français in 1904 for which Laporte-Blairsy was a awarded the high honor of a first class medal.In this daring work by controversial Art Nouveau sculptor Laporte-Blairsy, the spirit of creation is depicted as a regal, elegant beauty. Resolving herself out of a swirl of cosmic dust scattered with stars, she gently suspends the expanding galaxy (of Daum glass) with an expression of intelligence and pride of creation. The sculptor''s early embrace of electricity is integral to the design: the figure is lit from within by this new form of illumination which, at the time, represented the revolutionary soul of invention. Laporte-Blairsy is also famous for a statuaryfountain, situated in the central square of Toulouse, of the graceful and mysterious Clémence Isaure, a legendary Renaissance noblewoman who was the benefactor of and inspiration for the first poetry festival in Europe.The young woman holding the glass globe wears a collar in the shape of a five-pointed star. The collar is decorated along its border with more five-pointed stars. The woman also wears a five-pointed star in her hair, and the lower portion of
her flowing dress and her cape are covered with more five-pointed stars, including some that pierce the metal. Her billowing sleeves help to frame the globe. She wears bows on each shoulder.Laporte-Blairsy was an incredibly divisive artist in his time. To the critics of the avante-garde literary magazine, "La Nouvelle Revue," the lighting of Laporte-Blairsy was a revelation. The magazine lauded Laporte-Blairsy as being "infinitely ingenious.... the Scheherazade of electric lamps.... bringing about a second enlightenment." By comparison, the lighting of Leo Laporte-Blairsy offended the immutable sensibilities of the Parisian old-guard. Maurice Hamel remarked in the 1904 "Revue des Arts Décoratifs" that Laporte-Blairsy broke the artichtectonic laws of decoration, labeling the artist a rulebreaker, or "hors-la-loi". In comparison to the inoffensive figuration of the French Renaissance, the rhythmic drapery of Laporte-Blairsy was tormented. Part of Laporte-Blairsy''s technical innovation was bringing out the unique characteristics of incandescent lighting. While gas powered lighting required vents and open structure, Laporte-Blairsy used the globe and balloon motif to trap and emit bewitching glows. The end of the 19th century marked the centenary of the invention of the hot air balloon. The recent flight of the Wright Brothers, coupled with numerous high profile hot air balloon flights, made balloonmania rise to an all time high. A similar sculpture is featured in "Art Nouveau and Art Deco Lighting," New York, 1978, by Alastair Duncan, p. 111, fig. 52. Also in "The Paris Salons 1895-1914, Vol. V: Objets D''Art & Metalware," Woodbridge, 1999, p. 367 (design illustrated). And in Victor Arwas, "Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic," London, Andreas Papadakis, 2002, modèle reproduit p. 270.
A French Art Nouveau lithograph, "Lait pur stérilisé de la Vingeanne" by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. This poster, advertising ''pure, sterilized milk from Vingeanne'' presents the viewer with a wholesome image of a young girl (the artist''s daughter), perched on a chair, drinking from a bowl of milk with both hands. Three cats crowd around her feet, their mouths open as if meowing plaintively.Sterilized, or pasteurized milk was a new product in 1894, and it was shipped to Paris from the Quillot Brothers dairy in the Vingeanne district of east-central France as Steinlen''s poster informs us.Steinlen employed his favorite familiars, his young daughter Colette and his beloved cats, to convey the message of the healthfulness of pasteurized milk, inspiring the American poster designer, Louis Rhead, to write: "When I saw it in Paris last year, it seemed to me the best and brightest form of advertising that had yet appeared."Since his childhood, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen had shown an aptitude for depicting cats, frequently making them the focal point of his works. A caricature of Steinlen published in 1898, shows a wave of animals threatening to completely engulf the artist, with a giant cat at his left shoulder. Steinlen was born in Lausanne in 1859 and, after arriving in Paris in 1881, soon became a member of the artistic community in Montmartre, of which Henri de Toulo
use-Lautrec and Adolphe Willette were also members. Steinlen and Toulouse-Lautrec depicted several of the same subjects in their work but it was the Swiss artist who enjoyed greater fame during the artists'' lifetimes, no doubt due to his ability to undertake more commercial work, such as this poster for Vingeanne milk, which reached a greater audience than Toulouse-Lautrec''s controversial graphic work.
A French Art Nouveau lithograph, "Elles" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Women are the focus of the portfolio Elles, one of Lautrec''s greatest achievements in lithography. This series of carefully observed brothel scenes thwarts the expectation of the titillating or the tawdry, instead presenting quiet moments of mundane intimacy between a lesbian couple, possibly the Moulin Rouge clown Cha-U-Kao and her partner Gabrielle, who both appear in other works by Lautrec. Likely inspired by an eighteenth-century Japanese precedent, Elles proved to be a commercial failure for its publisher, Gustave Pellet, who specialized in erotica, because it delivered not an exotic fantasy, but rather an intimate portrayal of women Lautrec knew firsthand and the milieu in which they lived and worked.
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