Saturday, March 03, 2012

An 1888 painting and others by Serusier

from w
While Gauguin gets all the gongs, an artist Serusier, who painted alongside him, produced equally if not better, paintings. From a sale catalogue: Another superb work is Lot 8, "Les Deux Lavandieres au Bord de La Cascade," by Paul Sérusier (1864-1927). This 29-by-36 5/8-inch oil on canvas was executed circa 1890 in Brittany where the artist worked with Paul Gauguin to whose oeuvre it bears a strong similiarity. Indeed, it looks like a masterpiece "Although greatly influenced by Gauguin," the catalogue observed, "Sérusier's paintings often surpassed those of the elder artist with their daring abstraction, and the present composition is an example of this tendency. In this picture, which was once attributed Gauguin, Sérusier employs the rich palette that was popular among the artists working in Brittany. The organic treatment of the sky and the figures, however, is evidence of Sérusier's own distinctive technique." It has a modest estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $624,000, setting a new auction record for the artist.

I retrieved a lovely book on Post-Impressionism that was being thrown out as unsuitable to send to Pacific primary or secondary schools - as some of my favourite artists belong to this period - Gauguin, Van Gogh, (but not Cezanne or Seuret). One artist not known as well, Serusier painted an astonishing picture in 1888 that is far ahead of his time.

The Talisman, or The Swallow-hole in the Bois d'Amour, Pont-Aven, 1888 (panel) by Serusier, Paul (1864-1927); oil on panel; 270x215 cm; Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France; Giraudon; French. How abstract can you get - for that time - when Gauguin was painting peasants in France and Toulouse Lautrec was let loose in the Moulin Rouge.

So who was this guy, Serusier? And note; this painting is referred to as 'unfinished' so I guessd he was going to 'fix' it up.

Brittancia notes:
VPaul Sérusier, in full Louis-Paul-Henri Sérusier (born November 9, 1864, Paris—died October 6, 1927, Morlaix, France), French Post-Impressionist painter and theorist who was instrumental in the formation of the short-lived, but highly influential, late 19th-century art movement known as the Nabis. The group was noted for its expressive use of colour and pattern in the mode of Paul Gauguin. Sérusier’s early paintings featuring the people and landscapes of Brittany are noteworthy for their muted, contemplative mood, which the artist achieved by using firm contours and blocks of unmodulated colour.

Sérusier’s father was a businessman of Flemish descent. As a boy, Sérusier attended the Lycée Condorcet, a secondary school that placed much emphasis on the study of philosophy, and he received a baccalaureate in letters in 1883. Not much interested in thesales job that his practical father helped him obtain, he determined to become an artist and in 1885 entered the Académie Julian, a noted private art school in Paris. While there he met and befriended the young Maurice Denis, who would become a major influence in the revival of religious art in France. During the summer of 1888 Sérusier traveled to Pont-Aven in Brittany, which was a popular gathering place for artists. There he met French painter and theorist Émile Bernard, who at the time was engaged in translating the theories of the Symbolist poets to the medium of paint. That summer, in conversations and painting sessions, Bernard and his friend Paul Gauguin developed their notions about the freedom to move beyond Impressionism and its studies of light and nature—to simplify, interpret, and arrange nature.

On the last day of his vacation, Sérusier painted with Gauguin, who encouraged him to forgo modeling, perspective, and all such attempts at three-dimensional effects and to use a simplified colour palette. The experience brought about an epiphany.

Sérusier produced an unfinished painting—a demonstration of technique, really—that he took back to Paris to show his friends. Formally calledLandscape at the Bois d’Amour at Pont-Aven (1888), it was known to the Nabis as The Talisman, and it is considered the first Nabi painting.



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