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




朱塞佩·阿尔钦博托Giuseppe Arcimboldo



朱塞佩·阿尔钦博托于1527年出生于米兰,是艺术家Biagio Arcimboldo和Chiara Parisi的儿子。阿尔钦博托一家具有贵族血统,最初起源于德国南部,到了中世纪时期,部分家族成员开始移居到伦巴第。

阿尔钦博托的族姓有很多拼写变体:Acimboldi, Arisnbodle, Arcsimbaldo, Arzimbaldo,或者是Arczimboldo。其中“boldo”或者是“baldo”的后缀是中世纪日耳曼语的派生词。同样,阿尔钦博托的名字也有很多写法:Giuseppe, Josephus, Joseph或者是Josepho,以上都是阿尔钦博托签名的写法。

Vertumnus(水果拼成的男人肖像),约1590年,木版油画,70.5 x 57.5 cm,斯库克洛斯特城堡,斯库克罗斯特。

在作品《米兰之夜》(1619年)中,Paulo Morigi描绘了阿尔钦博托的家族以及他的贵族血统。尽管很多资料来源不确定,但是阿尔钦博托一家可以追溯到查理曼时期的名为Sigfrid Arcimboldo的宫廷的大臣。在阿尔钦博托的十六个孩子中,三名是骑士,其中一名还在伦巴第定居。这就成为了阿尔钦博托家族在意大利定居的渊源。为了论证自己的观点,Paulo Morigi宣称他的描述是可敬的绅士塞佩·阿尔钦博托的原话。

《春天》,1573年。帆布油画,76 x 63.5 cm,卢浮宫博物馆,巴黎。

Paulo Morigi继续描述了阿尔钦博托家族在米兰的历史,尽管他只讨论了意大利的分支在米兰居住的历史。他说道,朱佩塞的曾祖父Guido Antonio Arcimboldo在1489年接任他已故的兄弟Giovanni Arcimboldo,当选为米兰的大主教。在1550年至1555年期间,Guido Antonio的私生子Giovanni Angelo Arcimboldo担任米兰大主教。他引导着朱塞佩,并且带他讨论米兰宫廷中艺术家、人道主义者和作家的政治。

《秋天》,1573年。油画,77 x 63厘米。 卢浮宫博物馆,巴黎,法国。

在米兰,阿尔钦博托的父亲对他进行了艺术训练,他也得到了Lombard School的艺术家,例如来自克雷莫纳的杰出画家Giuseppe Meda(活跃在米兰的1551-1559)和Bernardino Campi(1522-1591)的指导。

从阿尔钦博托的艺术中,我们感受到了对达芬奇的艺术和科学的迷恋。实际上,朱塞佩的父亲Biagio幸运地与达芬奇的学生Bernardio Luini是好友。在达芬奇死后,Bernardio Luini继承了几本达芬奇的工作手册和素描。Biagio Arcimboldo确实是研究了这些,几年后,他将达芬奇的人艺术和科学风格教给了他儿子。

《侍酒师》,1574年。帆布油画,87.5 x 66.6 cm,私人收藏,伦敦。


《火》,1566年,木版油画,66.5 x 51 cm,艺术史博物馆,维也纳。

建筑和装饰的观念反映了艺术的幻想和矫饰主义的品味。这也展现了达芬奇对阿尔钦博托的影响力,同样也通过米兰艺术家Gaudenzio Ferrari(1471-1546)的艺术。在米兰大教堂的一份1556年的档案文件中提到,阿尔钦博托的大教堂绘画被Corrado de Mochis转移到了玻璃。在此期间,阿尔钦博托为的神圣罗马帝国王迪、波西米拉国王、已故的费迪南德一世创作了五个象征徽章。

阿尔钦博托的父亲于1551年过世,阿尔钦博托继续在伦巴第工作,一直到1558年前往科莫和蒙扎之前。他为科莫大教堂的挂毯创作了旧约和新约的草图。Gobelins Tapestry手工坊的弗兰德斯艺术家Johannes和Ludwig Karcher(活跃于1517年至1561年)受雇于Gobeline挂毯公司,从这些草图中创作了挂毯。

《圣母的死亡(根据阿尔钦博托的草图设计)》,1561-1562年,挂毯,423 x 470 cm,科莫大教堂,科莫。




Shelley’s Art Musings: Are Artists above Human Condition?

Rodin said: “To any artist, worthy of the name, everything in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as an open book all the inner truth.”

In the art world, past and present, we have seen artists strive for perfection, using their own mental or physical afflictions to benefit their cause, seeking a consciousness which is all seeing. But does this mean that they can push boundaries too far and over step the mark at the detriment of themselves and others?

Obviously, we are aware of how Van Gogh cut off an ear, and how Munch expressed his own personal anxieties through his paintings to combat his demons, but how does this play out with other artists and their impacts on others?

At the beginning of October, multiple women accused Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, of sexual misconduct

In today’s culture, we are seeing the most recent and terrible cases of sexual assault and rape allegations from artists such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.  Reminiscent of the case of Roman Polanski, there has always been a stigma attached with the theatrical and film industry of advantage being taken of either struggling actors or actors preying on the vulnerable. But is this through their strive for perfection that such awful behaviour becomes a belief that they could be above the law? And a reflection of the art which they are involved in has bent their psyche in a way in which pushes them to search for the emotion of all situations.  Does this mean that they can use their position to manipulate situations to their own means?

Kevin Spacey, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors, is now facing a wave of criticism over sex allegations

I want to make it very clear that I am in no way supporting this behaviour, but it seems that there could be a theory here.  After all, Dustin Hoffman is a known method actor, immersing himself in every role that he plays. And there is still speculation around the death of Heath Ledger and his inability to detach himself from the role of the Joker which he had entrenched himself in.

Could it be that Spacey, Weinstein and Polanski have pushed themselves over the boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour through some inability to detach themselves from their art?  We are only to look at some of the films produced and roles played to see that these people are submersing themselves in a (albeit pretended) world of the underhanded and depraved, and if it is alright to behave like that on screen, why not in their real lives?

This behaviour very readily translates to artists gone by.  There is no way in today’s society would we be accepting of artists stealing corpses to dissect them to understand the anatomical nature of the body. Yet we know this happened and in many cases, artists were much more advanced in their understanding of the anatomical workings of the body than physicians of the time.

Roman Polanski is now facing multiple accusations of sexual assault against a child

A well-known case of how life impacted their art is the one of Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel.  The pair met when Claudel was learning to sculpt. So impressed was he with her raw talent that he took her on as a pupil, as well as falling in love with her.  Could this have been Rodin using his position as a teacher to manipulate the feelings of Claudel to match his own?

The affair was a complicated and passionate one, which through the course of time has been overly romanticised in books and films. But what we can attest to is the true love felt between the pair, through the letters that they sent each other and the works of art which they created.

The love affair inspired both artists, as they used their work as a declaration, criticism or echo of one another.

Two sculptures from Rodin which convey the passion felt for Claudel are The Gates of Hell – I am Beautiful, and Eternal Springtime.  Rodin was much freer with his work and muse than Claudel and these two pieces beautifully convey the feelings which penetrated his life in this period.

Auguste Rodin. Eternal Springtime, 1884. Bronze, 64.5 cm x 58 cm x 44.5 cm. Musee Rodin , France

During this time, Claudel needed some space and left France for England.  On her return, Rodin was so happy to have her back that he took her on as his only student and swore to be faithful to her.

Claudel kept her influences much closer to her chest, which was probably the result of Rodin refusing to leave his wife to be with her full time. But her biggest tribute to her teacher and lover was The Bust of Rodin, a sculpture lovingly created, capturing the very essence of the man that she was so in love with.

The complex affair between the two went from 1882 to 1891, and ended when Rodin, again refused to leave his wife for Claudel.  In an uncharacteristic outburst, Claudel expressed her rage in caricatures created of the couple.  This distressed Rodin, seeing her violent nature and he started to avoid her, despite his feelings for her.

Claudel’s work has often been said to have been created out of a process of sublimation. Simplistically put, her work is more of an autobiographical portfolio of the state of the affair she had with Rodin, whereas Rodin himself used her as his muse.  Claudel’s most telling sculpture for this is The Age of Maturity.

Camille Claudel. The Age of Maturity, 1902. Bronze group in three parts, 114 cm x 163 cm x 72 cm. Musée d’Orsay , Paris

The sculpture shows a male central figure being led off by an older woman as the younger woman, outstretched, yearns for the return of the man. This sculpture marked the end of the relationship between Claudel and Rodin.

This is a clear parallel between the life and art between two people. The influence of their feelings envelops their world, to create a beautiful extraction of their time together through the medium of stone.

While the creation of something beautiful came from what is essentially adultery, an act which impacted Rodin’s wife, and Claudel’s family, is what we are seeing today, with the abhorrent acts of artists of our own time, their intrinsically linked mind-set to their art form?