The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hans Thoma (1839-1924) The Prodigal Son (Der Verlorene Sohn) Etching

Hans Thoma (Self Portrait)

Hippolyte Flandrin .. Young Male Nude Seated by the Sea (1835-36)
Emil Salome...The Prodigal Son

Artist: Juan Rivera
Hans Thoma (October 2, 1839 - November 7, 1924) was a well known and well listed German painter and print maker. He started his life as a painter of clock faces. In 1859 he entered the Karlsruhe Academy where he studied under Johann Wilhelm Schirmer (1825-1903) (specialist in landscape painting) and Ludwig des Coudres (1820-1878). He left the Academy at the end of 1866 and moved to Dusseldorf. There he met Otto Scholderer and went to Paris in May 1868. In Paris he was influenced by Gustave Courbet (1831-1877). In spite of his studies under various contemporary masters, his art has little in common with modern ideas and is partly formed by his early impressions of the simple idyllic life of his native district, partly by his sympathy with the early German masters, particularly Altdorf and Cranach. In his love of detail in nature, in his precise drawing of outline, and in his preference for local color, he has distinct affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1890 he had his first successful exhibition at the Munich Kunstverein. He subsequently joined the Munich succession. In 1899 Thoma was made director of a gallery in Karlsruhe and was appointed professor at the art academy there. During his career he received many honors.

Now that we can get back on track somewhat after the last post, I thought I would go back and give the Hans Thoma print Der Verlorene Sohn another look. There are several things going on in that one print which should be addressed. The most obvious is probably the parable itself. There are many artistic interpretations of the Biblical parable out there in every medium imaginable and Thoma's interpretation slides into another territory altogether. I previously mentioned in another post the concept of "appropriation" in Art History. It has and will always be a driving force in so many creative endeavors. Borrowing or using artistic styles and forms in Art History has been a long tradition. In its very essence "appropriation" can be seen as the way humans progress and learn. The first time I ever heard the concept discussed was as an assignment in a painting class. We had to choose a well known painting and "appropriate" that image and in turn "reinterpret" it, make it our own. Believe me, that was a learning experience I will never forget. It literally opened my eyes to the creative spirit in art. In the early twentieth century the most egregious "appropriator" had to be Pablo Picasso. He begged, borrowed, and stole massive amounts of other peoples ideas and did what we all as artist's should be doing, built on the past, reinterpreted it, and moved into territory no one had ever gone before. Let me again present the best definition of "appropriation" I have ever come across:

"To take possession of an other's imagery (or sounds) often without permission, reusing it in a context which differs from it original context, most often in order to examine issues concerning originality or to reveal meaning not previously seen in the original. This is far more aggressive than allusion or quotation, it is not the same as plagiarism, however."

Of course, there are legal issues involved and one is cautioned and well advised to always rely upon a legal expert for guidance when it comes to copyrighted images. Hans Thoma was obviously influenced by Hippolyte Flandrin's painting "Jeune Homme nu assis au bord de la mer, figure d'etude" executed between 1835 and 1836. (Illustrated above along with other interpretations of the parable)

Caption: Der Verlorene sohn (The Prodigal Son) Male Nude
Artist: Hans Thoma (1839-1924)
Medium: Intaglio Print on Paper
Dated: 1919


Here are just a few illustrations of Thoma's works:


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adolf Schmid (1867 - ?) Bronze Relief Nude Boy Playing With A Frog 1902

As I was wondering around the house this morning trying to remember my name and where I was, I ran into this bronze relief in a spare room and thought I would go ahead a post it along with the previous bronze relief by Strandman before researching the print by Hans Thoma. Adolph Schmid was born 17 July 1867 in Stuttgard, Germany and taught arts in Pforzheim. He was a well known chaser (person who engraves) and sculptor for medals, reliefs, and bronzes. In fact he won the gold medal at the Venice Arts Exhibition in 1903. He also designed several coins and is well known in the numismatic world of collecting. As a renowned artist of considerable talent he is list in many artist encyclopedias. The subject matter of this little bronze relief was a favorite topic of many Symbolist connected artists at the turn of the last century. The relief is signed in the casting in the lower right hand corner and dated 1902. During the later part of the 19th century and early 20th century there was a widespread group of artists who used the pre-adolescent and adolescent boy as subject matter for works. I have seen this subject matter referred to as "The Cult of the Ephebe" and "The Cult of Boyhood." It all revolves around the physical culture movements and somewhat eroticization of boys on their physical beauty, grace, innocence (yeah right...I had two boys of my own who at times I would have gladly sold into slavery because of their shenanigans...innocent my foot......Cult of the "Let's see who can be the biggest Jackass on planet Earth" might be a better description of boyhood), and sexual naivety (Naive, but not for long once they find Mr. Happy, it's a whole new ballgame, in fact pocket pool becomes an Olympic sport). The list of famous artists goes on for miles and includes: Ludwig von Hoffmann, Ferdinand Hodler, Hans Thoma, Arthur Volkmann, Magnus Enckell, Jan Preisler, Franz von Stuck, Max Klinger, Max Beckman, Adolf von Hildebrand, Nicholas Friedrich, Hugo Hoppener, Eugene Jansson, Frederick Walker, Karl Hofer, and Sacha Schneider, to mention just a few.

Now, while listing this little bronze, it might not be a bad idea to talk briefly about the Symbolist Movement at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The symbolist began with the idea or ideal first, and then sought to find in nature some "correspondence" or "equivalence" that might be used in such a way as to announce that this art object was not a replication of that object in nature but rather a vehicle for recognition and contemplation of a higher reality. Objects needed to be presented in an iconic way to accomplish this transformation from object to art, thus from thing to evocation. Symbolist color also adopted deliberate distortion of the natural as a means to evoke non-nature. Symbolism shunned the rational, its interest in a state of mind and body in which reason is momentarily suspended.

Caption: Nude Boy Playing with a Frog
Artist: Adolf Schmid (1867 - ?) Germany
Medium: Cast Bronze Relief
Dated: 1902

Here is a companion piece to the above Bronze relief made out of a different material :