Fascinated by the Shape of Butterflies

“….I was practically born holding a pen between my fingers, I started tracing shapes which recalled women’s legs at an age when female anatomy was not at all interesting to me. Probably I was not more than five or six years old. I think that it all came from the fact that when I was a child I loved to leaf through the Paris fashion magazines my mother left scattered around the house: of course they had illustrations of women sometimes wearing lingerie or see-through negligées (…) I was fascinated by shapes, lines, graphic signs which lured my observing and precocious eye…”

Renè Gruau
1994

 
 

Undated Gruau’s illustrations

 
 

Eisenberg Originals Butterfly-Printed Tulle Stole, Evening Gown, 1951

 
 

Crescendoe Gloves Advertisement, circa 1954

 
 

Advertising for Cori, 1959

 
 

“A butterfly surrounded with a thick tissue of the Maison Givenchy, thus creating a beautiful costume especially for Audrey Hepburn.” International Textiles, edition of December 1966. The actress Audrey Hepburn portrayed by René Gruau in Paris (France), after the filming of How to Steal a Million (William Wyler, 1966), in November 1965. This illustration is also known as Lady Butterfly

Best Recognized from Above

Emblemata-Butterfly, 1938

 
 

Butterflies, 1950

 
 

Circle Limit with Butterflies, 1950

 
 

Symmetry Watercolor 70 Butterfly, undated

 
 

In 1948, the Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher created his Regular Division Drawing number 70, a repeating Euclidean pattern of butterflies.Escher was well known for his repeating patterns, which had two characteristics: they filled the plane without gaps or overlaps, and they exhibited color symmetry. M. C. Escher became fascinated with the geometric processes of tessellation and his imagery took a biased towards asymmetrical natural forms of which insects were often his subject matter. He made the comment that insects are generally best recognized from above.

The Power of Poetry to Humanize External Nature

Portrait of Alfred Tennyson by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1865

 
 

“…Sometimes I let a sunbeam slip,
To light her shaded eye;
A second flutter’d round her lip
Like a golden butterfly;

“A third would glimmer on her neck
To make the necklace shine;
Another slid, a sunny fleck,
From head to ankle fine,

“Then close and dark my arms I spread,
And shadow’d all her rest—
Dropt dews upon her golden head,
An acorn in her breast.

“But in a pet she started up,
And pluck’d it out, and drew
My little oakling from the cup,
And flung him in the dew.

“And yet it was a graceful gift—
I felt a pang within
As when I see the woodman lift
His axe to slay my kin…”

Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Talking Oak
(Fragment)

 
 

First published in 1842, and republished in all subsequent editions with only two slight alterations: in line 113 a mere variant in spelling, and in line 185, where in place of the present reading the editions between 1842 and 1848 read, “For, ah! the Dryad-days were brief”.

Tennyson told Mr. Aubrey de Vere that the poem was an experiment meant to test the degree in which it is in the power of poetry to humanize external nature. Tennyson might have remembered that Ovid had made the same experiment nearly two thousand years ago, while Johann Wolfgang Goethe had immediately anticipated him in his charming Der Junggeselle und der Mühlbach (The Young Apprentice and the Millstream). There was certainly no novelty in such an attempt. The poem is in parts charmingly written, but the oak is certainly “garrulously given,” and comes perilously near to tediousness.

The Light of a Butterfly’s Wing

“…She could have done it differently of course; the colour could have been thinned and faded; the shapes etherealised; that was how Paunceforte would have seen it. But then she did not see it like that. She saw the colour burning on a framework of steel; the light of a butterfly’s wing lying upon the arches of a cathedral. Of all that only a few random marks scrawled upon the canvas remained. And it would never be seen; never be hung even, and there was Mr Tansley whispering in her ear, ‘Women can’t paint, women can’t write …’”

Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse

 
 

Sunflower and Butterfly, photo by Julia Margaret Cameron, undated

A Floral Fairy-Tale

RED Valentino Spring/Summer 2014 Collection. Photos courtesy of Women’s Wear Daily

 
 

Creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli made a floral fairy-tale theme set the tone at RED Valentino.There were also macro floral prints on flirty tops and dresses framed by black-and-white gingham, and a butterfly motif in yellow or pink on button-up shirting and full skirts.

Prismatic Butterflies

Sketch of a custom Valentino Haute Couture dress by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. The dress is a tulle gown with butterfly wing inserts on the bodice and flying butterflies on the skirt. The cape is embroidered with nacre micro sequins and lined with a multicolor organza butterfly.

 
 

Perry performing during the acoustic section of the tour (including By the Grace of God, a mash-up of “The One That Got Away” and Thinking of You, and Unconditionally). Newark, New Jersey in July 2014.

 
 

The Prismatic World Tour is the third concert tour by American singer Katy Perry, in support of her fourth studio album, Prism (2013). The tour began on May 7, 2014 in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the Odyssey Arena.
A portion of the money generated from tickets for the second leg of the tour were donated to UNICEF, Autism Speaks, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Perry first teased the tour during her We Can Survive event at the Hollywood Bowl on October 23, 2013, where she encouraged fans to see her on her 2014 tour, stating that it would be “magical”.

Letting the Light In

Prism (2003) is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry. The promotional photographs and album cover were shot by Ryan McGinley.

 
 

After ending her California Dreams Tour, Perry stated that she intended to “live a little” before recording any new material that was “worth listening to”. When ex-husband Russell Brand left her on December 30, 2011, she felt devastated and contemplated suicide. Perry revealed to Vogue in June 2012 that she planned to record a “darker” album than her previous records. She stated: “It was inevitable, after what I went through. If I had a time machine and could go back in time, I would. But I can’t, so, you’ll discover another part of me.” To Interview, she admitted she aspired to include a more acoustic vibe to the record.

The development of Prism started when Perry was embarking on the California Dreams Tour. She began with a process she deemed “slow cooking”, which consisted of recording random “fragments of ideas” into her mobile phone’s dictaphone application. A member of Direct Management Group, Ngoc Hoang, then transcribed the audio files, which he inserted into what Perry described as a “treasure chest”; such object was consulted by Perry later on during the album’s recording sessions. While Perry started recording the album officially in November 2012, accompanied by Greg Wells and Greg Kurstin, she noted she was still in a “dark place”, and that she had not “let the light in”. The sessions began again in March 2013, following a trip to Africa which Perry credited as having “put [her] priorities in perspective”, thus leading her to “do more work on [her]self”. Perry also viewed a video made by Eckhart Tolle, which discusses loss. She commented: “When you lose something, all your foundations crumble—but that also leaves a big hole that’s open for something great to come through.”

Bread-and-Butterfly

Illustration by John Tenniel

 
 

Stills from Alice in Wonderland (Clyde Geronimi; Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske, 1951). This British-American animated fantasy comedy-adventure film was produced by Walt Disney Productions and based primarily on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with several additional elements from Through the Looking-Glass

 
 

‘And then there’s the Butterfly,’ Alice went on, after she had taken a good look at the insect with its head on fire, and had thought to herself, ‘I wonder if that’s the reason insects are so fond of flying into candles — because they want to turn into Snap-dragon-flies!’

‘Crawling at your feet,’ said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), ‘you may observe a Bread-and-Butterfly. Its wings are thin slices of Bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.

‘And what does it live on?’

‘Weak tea with cream in it.’

A new difficulty came into Alice’s head. ‘Supposing it couldn’t find any?’ she suggested.

‘Then it would die, of course.’

‘But that must happen very often,’ Alice remarked thoughtfully.

‘It always happens,’ said the Gnat.

After this, Alice was silent for a minute or two, pondering. The Gnat amused itself meanwhile by humming round and round her head: at last it settled again and remarked, ‘I suppose you don’t want to lose your name?’

‘No, indeed,’ Alice said, a little anxiously.

Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass
Chapter 3, Looking-Glass Insects

A Proud Flower

Early illustrations for The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery

 
 

“I believe that for his escape he took advantage of the migration of a flock of wild birds. On the morning of his departure he put his planet in perfect order. He carefully cleaned out his active volcanoes. He possessed two active volcanoes; and they were very convenient for heating his breakfast in the morning. He also had one volcano that was extinct. But, as he said, “One never knows!” So he cleaned out the extinct volcano, too. If they are well cleaned out, volcanoes burn slowly and steadily, without any eruptions. Volcanic eruptions are like fires in a chimney.

On our earth we are obviously much too small to clean out our volcanoes. That is why they bring no end of trouble upon us.

The little prince also pulled up, with a certain sense of dejection, the last little shoots of the baobabs. He believed that he would never want to return. But on this last morning all these familiar tasks seemed very precious to him. And when he watered the flower for the last time, and prepared to place her under the shelter of her glass globe, he realized that he was very close to tears.

“Goodbye,” he said to the flower.

But she made no answer.

“Goodbye,” he said again.

The flower coughed. But it was not because she had a cold.

“I have been silly,” she said to him, at last. “I ask your forgiveness. Try to be happy . . .”

He was surprised by this absence of reproaches. He stood there all bewildered, the glass globe held arrested in mid-air. He did not understand this quiet sweetness.

“Of course I love you,” the flower said to him. “It is my fault that you have not known it all the while. That is of no importance. But you–you have been just as foolish as I. Try to be happy . . . Let the glass globe be. I don’t want it any more.”

“But the wind–“

“My cold is not so bad as all that . . . The cool night air will do me good. I am a flower.”

“But the animals–“

“Well, I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies. It seems that they are very beautiful. And if not the butterflies–and the caterpillars–who will call upon me? You will be far away . . . As for the large animals–I am not at all afraid of any of them. I have my claws.”

And, naïvely, she showed her four thorns. Then she added:

“Don’t linger like this. You have decided to go away. Now go!”

For she did not want him to see her crying. She was such a proud flower . . .”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince

A Visual Knockout

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007) is a biographical drama film based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir of the same name. It starred actor Mathieu Amalric as Bauby.

 
 

The film is a visual knockout. Schnabel draws on Bauby’s fantasies to blast moviegoers with a kaleidoscope of dreamy images — some subtle, some banging loud — and an array of captivating music and sounds. Critically acclaimed, the film received many awards and nominations including the Best Director Prize at Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film & Best Director, as well as 4 Academy Award nominations.It would go on to win numerous international awards, including a BAFTA for adapted screenplay, and Golden Globes for best foreign language film and best director.

Although made in France with a French-speaking cast, the film was originally to be produced by the American company Universal Studios, and the screenplay was originally in English, with Johnny Depp slated to star as Bauby. According to the screenwriter, Ronald Harwood, the choice of Julian Schnabel as director was recommended by Depp. Universal subsequently withdrew, and Pathé took up the project two years later. Depp dropped the project due to scheduling conflicts with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. (Gore Verbinski, 2007) Schnabel remained as director. The film was eventually produced by Pathé and France 3 Cinéma, in association with Banque Populaire Images 7 and the American Kennedy/Marshall Company, and in participation with Canal+ and Ciné Cinémas.

Painter-director Julian Schnabel said his influence for the film was drawn from personal experience:
“My father got sick and he was dying. He was terrified of death and had never been sick in his life. So he was in this bed at my house, he was staying with me, and this script arrived for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. As my father was dying, I read Ron Harwood’s script. It gave me a bunch of parameters that would make a film have a totally different structure. As a painter, as someone who doesn’t want to make a painting that looks like the last one I made, I thought it was a really good palette. So personally and artistically these things all came together.”

The script written for the film has been criticized by Bauby’s closest circle of friends as not faithful to events and biased in favor of his ex-partner. His late-life partner Florence Ben Sadoun claims to have been a faithful companion, visiting him frequently at Berck-sur-Mer, the hospital where he lived during his final days. Bauby notes her visits in his memoir. Sylvie de la Rochefoucauld also claims to have visited him frequently at the hospital.

While Bauby was still alive, French director Jean-Jacques Beineix made a 25-minute film, Assigné à résidence (or House Arrest), that captured Bauby in his paralysed state, and the process of the book’s composition

About 200,000 Blinks

French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby photographed by Jeanloup Sieff, 1996

 
 

On 8 December 1995 at the age of 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby (author and editor of the French fashion magazine ELLE), suffered a massive stroke and lapsed into a coma. When he woke up twenty days later, he found he was entirely speechless; he could only blink his left eyelid. Called locked-in syndrome, this is a condition wherein the mental faculties remain intact but most of the body is paralyzed. In Bauby’s case his mouth, arms, and legs were paralyzed, and he lost 27 kilograms (60 lb) in the first 20 weeks after his stroke.

Despite his condition, he wrote the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking when the correct letter was reached by a person slowly reciting the alphabet over and over again using a system called partner-assisted scanning. Bauby composed and edited the book entirely in his head, and dictated it one letter at a time. To make dictation more efficient, Bauby’s interlocutor, Claude Mendibil, repeatedly recited a French language frequency-ordered alphabet (E, S, A, R, I, N, T, U, L, etc.), until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter.The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and an average word took approximately two minutes. The book also chronicles everyday events for a person with locked-in syndrome.

The French edition of the book was published in France on 7 March 1997. Bauby died suddenly from pneumonia ten days after the publication of his book, and is buried in a family grave at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon) describes what his life is like after suffering a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. It also details what his life was like before the stroke. The evocative title comes from Bauby’s notion that while his body was submerged and weighted down — impossible to move — his imagination and memory were still free and as light as a butterfly’s wings: “My cocoon becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court.”

An Inquisitive Butterfly

“Did I ever mention that her bare arm bore the eight of vaccination? That I loved her hopelessly? That she was only fourteen? An inquisitive butterfly passed, dipping, between us.”

Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita

 
 

Handwritten draft dedicated to Vera Evseevna Slonim, Nabokov’s wife. In the summer of 1948, Nabokov wrote the firsts texts of a novel, drafted on the back of his entomology index cards. This drafts were for his most famous work: Lolita.

 
 

Vera ended her own budding career as a writer to support her husband as critic, reader, and typist, and sustained the family through her work as secretary and translator. After moving to the United States of America in 1940, she learned to drive and chauffeured her husband on many field trips, notably in the North American West, to hunt butterflies. To protect him she carried a handgun. Nabokov relied on her in his work and “would have been nowhere without her.” During his lectures, she would sit in the front row. She was his inspiration, editor, and first reader; all his works are dedicated to her. Lolita was saved by her from the flames more than once. However, personal letters pertaining to her and her marriage were destroyed.