Sunday 4 July 2010

    The Art of Hieronymus Bosch


    Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) was born to a family of artists Hertogenbosch, from which his name was derived and where he worked all of his life. Although some of his paintings are fairly traditional, he also created pictures that rank among the most powerful imaginative fantasy scenes in the history of art.

    c. 1480-90. oil on panel. Prado, Madrid.”]His work was popular and influential during the 16th century, but then long forgotten. Since his rediscovery in the early 20th century he has continued to fascinate and perplex viewers.

    His work is known for its use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives. The paintings depict a weird world full of grotesque and horrifying creatures, giving vivid form to the fear of Hell that haunted the medieval minds of that time.

    c. 1500. oil on panel. Prado, Madrid.”]His work once rediscovered influenced the famous artists of the surrealist movement, especially the work of Salvador Dali.

    Among Bosch’s most famous works is the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.

    The wooden triptych was painted with oil and consisted of a square middle panel flanked by two rectangular panels that can close over the center as shutters. When folded the outer panels display a painting of the earth during the Creation.  It is currently located in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

    Bosch, Hieronymus. The Garden of Earthly Delights. c. 1500. oil on panel. Prado, Madrid.

    This painting was probably made for the private enjoyment of a noble family.

    It is named for the luscious garden in the central panel,

    which is filled with cavorting nudes and giant birds and fruit.

    God is absent from the central panel. This panel shows humanity acting with free will and engaging in various sexual activities. The impression of a life lived without consequence. In reference to astrological alignments at the time this was painted, a lot of the instruments of torture are also musical instruments.


    The triptych depicts the history of the world and the progression of sin.

    Outer wings (shutters), depicting the third day of creation.

    Beginning on the outside shutters with the creation of the world, the story progresses from Adam and Eve and original sin on the left panel to the torments of hell, a dark, icy, yet fiery nightmarish vision, on the right.

    On the left panel the painting depicts paradise with Adam and Eve and many wondrous animals,


    the earthly delights with numerous nude figures and tremendous fruit and birds

    illustrates a world deeply engaged in sinful pleasures on the middle panel,

    and hell with depictions of fantastic punishments of the various types of sinners on the right panel.


    When the exterior panels are closed the viewer can see, painted in grisaille, God creating the Earth.

    This work inspired Alexander McQueen’s finale collection.

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    Saturday 3 July 2010

    McQueen’s Angels and Demons


    With a pattern of angel wings undulating over her shoulder blades, the model walked through the gilded salon in one of Alexander McQueen’s final creations before he chose to leave this world.

    Sixteen of the late designer’s final creations were put on display in a gilded ballroom in the headquarters of Francois Pinault as a solemn and chilling soundtrack played in the background.

    The private show took place to the classical music Mr. McQueen had been listening to as he cut and fitted the 2010 autumn collection. Models walked slowly and solemnly to the haunting operatic music.

    Suzy Menkes, of the New York Times, called the show ‘a requiem for a great designer:

    His vision of Gothic glory, with a world bathed in religious symbolism, was translated not just with immense subtlety and beauty but also with the urgent futurism that was the essence of his spirit.

    Talking about how the collection was created Sarah Burton, McQueen’s right hand, said the designer had turned away from the world of the Internet, which he had so powerfully harnessed in his last show. She added:

    He wanted to get back to the handcraft he loved, and the things that are being lost in the making of fashion. He was looking at the art of the Dark Ages, but finding light and beauty in it. He was coming in every day, draping and cutting pieces on the stand.”

    Mr. McQueen created his last collection by folding and pleating material by hand on standing dress forms, often using a single bolt of fabric. The royal materials included silk duchesse, gold metal jacquards, brocades, fil coupe satin organzas and silk chiffons, matched with shoes of crocodile skin, the soles hand-carved in gilded wood.

    The Dark Ages were reinterpreted in the form of cape-coats and short drop-waist pleated dresses, with tapestry bodices in rich regal fabrics like red, ivory and gold.

    The collection included 16 outfits inspired by Byzantine art and Old Masters paintings. In the work of master carver Grinling Gibbons, McQueen found details which he translated into crocodile shoes with gilded wooden heels hand-carved into elaborate columns of twisted ivy festooned with acorns.

    There were chill moments, such as when the Paris sunlight caught the sculpted heel of an ankle boot revealing the carving of a broken skull. The skull had come to be something of a McQueen trademark, but here it appeared crushed.

    McQueen referred to the collection as “Angels and Demons” in tweets just weeks before his death. Inspired by Medieval art, the models had banded heads (sometimes with mohawk-like gold feathers) and severe nude faces reminiscent of Madonnas and Byzantine royals.

    The designs were heavily religious, and featured ornate embroidery, deep red and gold hues and dramatic capes.  Made of fabric that translated digital photographs of paintings of high-church angels and Bosch demons, the collection referenced history. The abstractions of Hieronymus Bosch paintings were not just printed on the sensuous and shapely outfits, where a taut bodice grew out of a multifolded hipline or emerged from soft fabrics flowing around it. Instead the images, with a focus in the British royal heritage of lions rampant or Grinling Gibbons’s wood carvings, were screened, manipulated and digitally woven.

    The underlying religious theme echoed again and again in sumptuous, gold, ecclesiastical embroideries; in silk jacquard woven with patterns of angels and angels’ wings; in the hand-painted gold feathers visible under the draped skirt of a one-shouldered, short gown; and in the stained glass, church- window jewellery which filled the necklines of sharply cut peplum-jackets and dresses, and adorned the wrists.

    The entire line was made up of divine, royal-looking dresses and coats in addition to one fierce, gold pantsuit.

    Using the digital scanning and laser printing techniques, McQueen employed Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” on one top, Byzantine motifs on another, images of saints pulled from frescoes in a dress, and angels photographed from bas-reliefs in a gown.

    His spectacular dresses referenced art masterpieces such as Hieronymous Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights."

    Also northern European saints, including St. George and St. Nicholas, were incorporated into some of his gowns.

    Sandals wreathed in gilded roses matched the salon’s ornate decoration, while the mirrors reflected the models’ golden feather Mohawks. The intense workmanship was of couture quality, which is the way Mr. McQueen had been moving his signature line.

    In this 16-piece collection Alexander — Lee — McQueen showed his sensitivity to history, his powers of research, his imagination, his technical skills and his love of women, often misinterpreted or misunderstood, but here evident in every fold and feather.

    So whimsical and delicate.

    The lighter, romantic side of the designer’s nature shone through, too, in a smoke-grey and silver silk jacquard “angel” gown with gold-feathered “wings” on the shoulder, a long, split skirt revealing a cloud of silk chiffon; and in a regal, full-sleeved gown in cream duchesse satin and silk chiffon, worked with gold thread. The model looked like a medieval queen.

    The closing look was breathtaking and felt like a glimpse of heaven.  As the final model appeared in the high-collared, long jacket handcrafted from gold feathers and worn over a white tulle skirt scattered with gold embroidery, an aide whispered: “There is no more.”

    “Each piece is unique, as was he,” concluded the moving show notes.

    Alexander McQueen's last collection, featured 16 looks, including a cape-dress embroidered with golden dragons and hand-carved, gilded shoes.

    In the words of Jess Cartner-Morley from the Guardian UK

    ‘All hail the last emperor. Long live McQueen!!!’

    The presentations, which would have been made in McQueen’s favourite venue, the opulent La Conciergerie, had he lived, were instead staged in the Hôtel de Clermont-Tonnerre. This 18th-century hotel particulièr is the family headquarters of PPR SA, the luxury French conglomerate which, through its ownership of the Gucci Group, has a 51 per cent stake in the Alexander McQueen label.

    Music ~ The sombre music, sung by the German coloratura soprano, Simone Kermes, included Dido’s Lament from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, intensifing the solemnity of the occasion.

    {Sources & photos: via, NY Times & Telegraph UK}

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