As Anti-Figurative as Music

Study for the Montée, František Kupka

 

Study for Around a Point, František Kupka

 

Circular Forms, Robert Delaunay

 

Joy of Life, Robert Delaunay

 

Untitled, Sonia Delaunay

 

Orphism or Orphic Cubism, a term coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire at the Salon de la Section d’Or in 1912, referring to the works of František Kupka. During his lecture at the Section d’Or exhibit Apollinaire presented three of Kupka’s abstract works as perfect examples of pure painting, as anti-figurative as music.

This movement, perceived as key in the transition from Cubism to Abstract art, was pioneered by František Kupka, Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay, who relaunched the use of color during the monochromatic phase of Cubism.The meaning of the term Orphism was elusive when it first appeared and remains to some extent vague.

The Symbolists had used the word orphique in relation to the Greek myth of Orpheus, who they perceived as the ideal artist. Apollinaire had written a collection of quatrains in 1907 entitled Bestiaire ou cortège d’Orphée (Paris, 1911), within which Orpheus was symbolized as a poet and artist. For both Apollinaire and the Symbolists who preceded him, Orpheus was associated with mysticism, something that would inspire artistic endeavors. The voice of light that Apollinaire mentioned in his poems was a metaphor for inner experiences. Though not fully articulated in his poems, the voice of light is identified as a line that could be colored and become a painting. The Orphic metaphor thus represented the artist’s power to create new structures and color harmonies, in an innovative creative process that combined to form a sensuous experience.

Even after 1913, when Apollinaire had separated from the Delaunays and Orphism had lost its novelty as a new art form, the Delaunays continued painting in their personal shared style. They may not have always called their work Orphic, but the aesthetics and theories were the same. Robert continued painting while Sonia delved into other media, including fashion, interior and textile design, all within the realm of Orphism.

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Bestiary or The Parade of Orpheus

Apollinaire’s first book of poems has charmed readers with its brief celebrations of animals, birds, fish, insects, and the mythical poet Orpheus since it was first published.

 

Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée is a poetic album of 30 short poems by Guillaume Apollinaire with woodcuts by Raoul Dufy, published in 1911.

Though Apollinaire would go on to longer and more ambitious work, his Bestiary reveals key elements of his later poetry, among them surprising images, wit, formal mastery, and wry irony. X. J. Kennedy’s fresh translation follows Apollinaire in casting the poems into rhymed stanzas, suggesting music and sudden closures while remaining faithful to their sense. Kennedy provides the English alongside the original French, inviting readers to compare the two and appreciate the fidelity of the former to the latter. He includes a critical and historical essay that relates the Bestiary to its sources in medieval “creature books,” provides a brief biography and summation of the troubled circumstances surrounding the book’s initial publication, and places the poems in the context of Apollinaire’s work as a poet and as a champion of avant garde art.

Guillaume Apollinaire, was a bibliophile and a specialist in medieval bestiaries. In 1906 Pablo Picasso, a friend of Apollinaire’s had made some experimental woodcuts of animals. Apollinaire published eighteen poems figuring all kinds of semi-mythical animals in 1908 in La phalange, an experimental journal and promised his readers an illustrated edition. Picasso was not willing to cooperate and the poet persuaded Raoul Dufy, an engraver, to provide the woodcuts. Orpheus is present in four of the 30 poems.

Several composers were inspired by these poems to set them to music: Francis Poulenc (1919), Louis Durey (1919), Jean Absil (1944) and others. Francis Poulenc originally selected twelve poems, but only published six. His friend Louis Durey composed a complete cycle (26 short songs; he omitted the poems about Orpheus). Both wrote for baritone solo accompanied by piano.

At Apollinaire’s Grave

At Apollinaire’s Grave (Nic Saunders, 2011) Short film Poster

Haunted by his past, The Poet travels to Paris determined to follow in the footsteps of his literary heroes. What he finds there will change his life and work forever. Allen Ginsberg wrote the source poetry at The Beat Hotel, 9 rue Git-le-Coeur, Paris and the exterior of the hotel is actually used in the film.  This is the second film directed by Nic Saunders based on the work of a member of the Beat Generation.

 
 

“…voici le temps

Oú l’on connaîtra l’avenir

Sans mourir de connaissance

 
 

I

I visited Père Lachaise to look for the remains of Apollinaire

the day the U.S. President appeared in France for the grand

conference of heads of state

so let it be the airport at blue Orly a springtime clarity in the

air over Paris

Eisenhower winging in from his American graveyard

and over the froggy graves at Père Lachaise an illusory mist as

thick as marijuana smoke

Peter Orlovsky and I walked softly thru Père Lachaise we both

knew we would die

and so held temporary hands tenderly in a citylike miniature

eternity

Roads and streetsigns rocks and hills and names on everybody’s

house

Looking for the lost address of a notable Frenchman of the Void

to pay our tender crime of homage to his helpless menhir

and lay my temporary American Howl on top of his silent Caligramme

for him to read between the lines with Xray eyes of Poet

as he by miracle had read his own death lyric in the Seine

I hope some wild kidmonk lays his pamphlet on my grave for

God to read me on cold winter nights in heaven

already our hands have vanished from that place my hand

writes now in a room in Paris Git-le-Coeur

Ah William what grit in the brain you had what’s death

I walked all over the cementery and still couldn’t find your grave

what did you mean by that fantastic cranial bandage in your

poems

O solemn deathsead what’ve you got to say nothing

and that’s barely an answer

You can’t drive autos into a sixfoot grave tho the universe is

mausoleum big enough for anything

the universe is a graveyard and I walk around alone in here

knowing that Apollinaire was on the same street 50 years ago

madness is only around the corner and Genet is with us

stealing books

the West is at war again and whose lucid suicide will set it all right

Guillaume Guillaume how I envy your fame your accomplishment

for American letters

your Zone with its long crazy line of bullshit about death

come out of the grave and talk thru the door of my mind

issue new series of images oceanic haikus blue taxicabs in Moscow

negroes statues of Buddha

pray for me on the phonograph record of your former existence

with a long sad voice and strophes of deep sweet music sad and

scratchy as World War I

I’ve eaten the blue carrots you sent out of the grave and Van

Gogh’s ear and maniac peyote of Artaud

and will walk down the streets of New York in the black cloak

of French poetry

improvising our conversation in Paris at Père Lachaise

and the future poem that takes its inspiration from the light

bleeding into your grave

 
 

II

Here in Paris I am your guest O friendly shade

the absent hand of Max Jacob

Picasso in youth bearing me a tube of Mediterranean

myself attending Rousseau’s old red banquet I ate his violin

great party at the Bateau Lavoir not mentioned in the

textbooks of Algeria

Tzara in the Bois de Boulogne explaining the alchemy of the

machineguns of the cuckoos

he weeps translating me into Swedish

well dressed in a violet tie and black pants

 a sweet purple beard which emerged from his face like the moss

hanging from the walls of Anarchism

he spoke endlessly of his quarrels with André Breton

whom he had helped one day trim his golden mustache

old Blaise Cendrars  received me into his study and spoke

wearily of the enormous length of Siberia

Jacques Vaché invited me to inspect his terrible collection of

pistols

poor Cocteau saddened by the once marvelous Radiguet at his

last thought I fainted

Rigaut with a letter of introduction to Death

and Gide praised the telephone and other remarkable inventions

we agreed in principle though he gossiped of lavender underwear

but for all that he drank deeply of the grass of Whitman and

was intrigued by all lovers named Colorado

princes of America arriving with their armfuls of shrapnel and

baseball

Oh Guillaume the world so easy to fight seemed so easy

did you know the great political classicists would invade Montparnasse

with not one sprig of prophetic laurel to green their foreheads

not one pulse of green in their pillows no leaf left from their

wars‒‒ Mayakovsky arrived and revolted.

 
 

III

Came back sat on a tomb and stared at your rough menhir

a piece of thin granite like an unfinished phallus

a cross fading into the rock 2 poems on the stone one Coeur

Renversée

Other Habituez-vous comme moi A ces prodigies que j’annonce

Guillaume Apollinaire de Krostrowitsky

Someone placed a jam bottle filled with daisies and a 5&10₵

surrealist typist ceramic rose happy little tomb with flowers and overturned heart

under a fine mossy tree beneath which I sat snaky trunk

summer boughs and leaves umbrella over the menhir and nobody there

et quelle voix sinistre ulule Guillaume qu’es-tu devenu

his nextdoor neighbor is a tree

there underneath the crossed bones heaped and yellow cranium

perhaps

and the printed poems Alcools in my pocked his voice in the

museum

now middleage footsteps walk the gravel

a man stares at the name and moves toward the crematory

building

Same sky rolls over thru clouds as Mediterranean days on the

Riviera during war

drinking Apollo in love eating occasional opium he’d taken the

light

one must have felt the shock in St. Germain when he went out

Jacob & Picasso coughing in the dark

a bandage unrolled and the skull left still on a bed outstretched

pudgy fingers the mistery and ego gone

a bell tolls in the steeple down the street birds warble in the

chestnut trees

Family Bremont sleeps nearby Christ hangs big chested and

sexy in their tomb

my cigarette smokes in my lap and fills the page with smoke

and flames

an ant runs over my corduroy sleeve the tree I lean on grows

slowly

bushes and branches upstarting through the tombs one silky

spiderweb gleaming on granite

I am buried here and sit by my grave beneath a tree

Allen Ginsberg

Paris, Winter-Spring 1958

 
 

To watch the trailer of At Apollinaire’s Grave, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

Marked Predilection for Ghosts

“Those who knew Rousseau remember his marked predilection for ghosts. He encountered them everywhere, and one ghost tormented him for more than a year while he was at the toll station. Whenever the good man was on duty, his familiar spirit appeared two feet away from him, taunting him, thumbing his nose at him, and breaking wind with a stench that nauseated the poor official. Several times Rousseau tried to shoot him down with a shotgun, but a ghost cannot die a second time. And if Rousseau tried to grasp him, the ghost would melt into the ground and reappear in a different spot”.

Guillaume Apollinaire

 
 

The Present and the Past or Philosophical Thought, Henri Rousseau, 1899

We Greet You, Gentle Rousseau

Rousseau’s grave with poem by Apollinaire

 
 

“We greet you

Gentle Rousseau, you hear us

Delaunay his wife Monsieur Quával and I

Let our baggage pass free through heaven’s gate

We’ll bring you brushes, paints and canvases

So that you can devote your sacred leisures

In the Real light to painting, as you did my portrait,

Painting the Face of the stars.”

Guillaume Apollinaire

1912

Translation of the inscription

 
 

The poet, writer and critic Guillaume Apollinaire was an influential figure in early twentieth-century artistic circles. For the last few years of Henri Rousseau’s life, Apollinaire was one of his staunchest supporters, and wrote in praise of his work. In 1910, shortly before Rousseau exhibited his last great painting The Dream 1910, he appealed to Apollinaire: ‘You will unfold your literary talent and avenge me for all the insults and abuse I have experienced.’ Rousseau made two versions of the double portrait of Apollinaire with his mistress Marie Laurencin. He grandly titled it The Muse Inspiring the Poet (1909).

An Opera for Gertrude Stein

166_fa59f554bbd760a138fe07d997a74c06Apollinaire et ses amis, Marie Laurencin, 1907

 
 

Marie Laurencin:
[Taking a gulp of her wine.]
I want to know about her shaggy
hair. Did her mother put ribbons
there? I want to touch her long
black locks. What freedom
made her mock
clothing so? Guillaume, Cheri,
hand me my lorgnette.
[Guillaume pulls from his pocket a folded lorgnette, opens out the handle and offers it to Marie. She gives him her brush in exchange for the glasses.]

Gertrude, you magnifying glass, come
link arms that we may study this portrait
together.
[She staggers over to Gertrude and hooks her arm into Gertrude’s. Alice frowns and then takes Marie back to Guillaume.]

Monsieur Rousseau, I want to know
about her shaggy hair.

Pablo Picasso:
Yes, the way it snakes
to her voluptuous
knees.
[Pablo runs his hand down Fernande’s leg as he eyes Marie. Fernande, glaring first at Pablo and then Marie, goes to the table for a goblet of wine.]

Guillaume Apollinaire:
[oblivious to everyone except Marie:]
And her thighs,
her calves!
Who or what
does she
love?

Henri Rousseau:
She loves her mother.

Guillaume:
[Suddenly pulled to his senses.]
You’ve got to be kidding.
Guess her mother doesn’t sit
at the gaming tables all day.
[He takes a goblet and drinks.]

Henri:
[More earnestly:]
She loves her mother.

Gertrude Stein:
Just like me,
having the buttons
to prove it.

Leo Stein:
Buttons?
Leave Mother out of this!
It’s Alice, not Mother,
not me.

Marie
What about
the platypus?
Isn’t the pink-winged
bird a bit like us?
[Drinks and then throws down her goblet.]

Everyone
What?
What?
What is a genius?

Pablo
Henri, come sit
on the throne
I’ve made for you.
[Pablo escorts Henri to the throne.]
The legs are uneven,
the arms a bit cracked.

Marie
Yes, do, Monsieur Rousseau,
before the candle wax melts
and ruins the floor for dance.
[Marie holds her arms out and spins, avoiding the broken goblet.]

Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On

First Act

Opera composed by William C. Banfield to a libretto by the poet Karren LaLonde Alenier

 
 

On March 10, 2002 the music from act II of Gertrude Stein Invents A Jump Early On was workshopped presented under the sponsorship of the National Opera Association and Opera Index at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City in a program entitled New American Opera Previews: From Page to Stage.

Gertrude Stein Invents A Jump Early On–three portraits of Gertrude Stein’s life and work from 1908-1944 as researched and embellished by poet-librettist Karren Alenier. Piano and voice score are completed. Music might be characterized as a fusion of new classical music and jazz. Presented by Encompass New Opera Theatre and Nancy Rhodes, artistic director.

The Pursuit of A Specifically Feminine Aesthetic

Marie Laurencin c. 1912, Paris

 
 

Laurencin photographed by Carl van Vechten, 1949

 
 

Marie Laurencin (October 31, 1883 – June 8, 1956) was a French painter, poet and printmaker. She was born in Paris, where she was raised by her mother and lived much of her life. At 18, she studied porcelain painting in Sèvres. She then returned to Paris and continued her art education at the Académie Humbert, where she changed her focus to oil painting.

Disciple of Henri Matisse, during the early years of the 20th century, Laurencin was an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde. A member of both the circle of Pablo Picasso, and Cubists associated with the Section d’Or, such as Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri le Fauconnier and Francis Picabia, exhibiting with them at the Salon des Indépendants (1910-1911) and the Salon d’Automne (1911-1912). She became romantically involved with the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and has often been identified as his muse. In addition, Laurencin had important connections to the salon of the American expatriate and famed lesbian writer Natalie Clifford Barney. She had heterosexual and lesbian affairs.

During the First World War, Laurencin left France for exile in Spain with her German-born husband, Baron Otto von Waëtjen, since through her marriage she had automatically lost her French citizenship. The couple subsequently lived together briefly in Düsseldorf. After they divorced in 1920, she returned to Paris, where she achieved financial success as an artist until the economic depression of the 1930s. During the 1930s she worked as an art instructor at a private school. She lived in Paris until her death.

 
 

Réunion à la campagne (Apollinaire et ses amis), 1919

 
 

Les jeunes filles (Jeune Femmes, Young Girls), 1910-11

 
 

Le Bal élégant, La Danse à la campagne, 1913

 
 

Portrait de Mademoiselle Chanel, 1923

 
 

Laurencin’s works include paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints. She is known as one of the few female Cubist painters, with Sonia Delaunay, Marie Vorobieff, and Franciska Clausen. While her work shows the influence of Cubist painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who was her close friend, she developed a unique approach to abstraction which often centered on the representation of groups of women and female portraits. Her work lies outside the bounds of Cubist norms in her pursuit of a specifically feminine aesthetic by her use of pastel colors and curvilinear forms. Laurencin’s insistence on the creation of a visual vocabulary of femininity, which characterized her art until the end of her life, can be seen as a response to what some consider to be the arrogant masculinity of Cubism.

Recognize Yourself

Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, Apollianire’s lover and muse from 1914 to 1915

 
 

Reconnais-toi, calligram by Apollinaire

 
 

When in 1915 Guillaume Apollinaire dedicated the calligram poem Reconnais-toi to Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, it represented the woman he was enamoured with, and who was one of his muses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. It is worth nothing that the invention of the calligram is a movement towards abstraction: with the letters of the alphabet, Apollinaire drew the calligram featuring what the outspread words were referring to. Was it a sign of the times that only a few years later Gabrielle Chanel would call her first perfume N°5, replacing the name by a number…?

 
 

“Reconnais-toi
Cette adorable personne c’est toi
Sous le grand chapeau canotier
Oeil
Nez
La Bouche
voici l’ovale de la figure
ton cou exquis
un peu plus bas
c’est ton coeur qui bat
ni
ci confus
l’impure
par le mirage
de ton buste adoré
un comma
à travers un nuage”

February 1915
Poèmes à Lou (Poems to Lou)

 
 

___________________________

 
 

“Recognize yourself
this adorable person is you
under the big Carolina hat
eye
nose
mouth
here is the oval of your face
your exquisite neck
a bit lower down
there’s your beating heart
nor
should we mix with it
the impure
through the mirage
of your loved breast
a comma
through a cloud”

Poetic Embroidery

 

Dedicated to my blogger friend Kate Davies: http://fabrickated.com/

 

 

The detail was breathtaking: lace embroidered with phrases from Jacques Prevert‘s This Love in Luneville stitch like calligram poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, the embellished bust of a corset with Latin phrases taken from eclogues by Virgil,  and gold lamé representing DanteAlighieri‘s Divine Comedy, which required 1700 hours of work. For the Valentino haute couture Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli wanted to enhance and embellish love itself; translating the strongest of human sentiments into a language of dresses. Through embroidery, lamé, ciphers, verses, motifs, the design duo recreated the words of the great poets and writers, from Dante to Prévert through to Pasolini and Virgil. The couture masterpieces required up to two months of work and 2,500 hours of embroidery by the house’s master craftsmen to create the works of art presented at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, to the sound of Moments in Love from Art of Noise

 
 

“Tutto il mio folle amore, lo soffia il ciela”. White tulle cloud dress, hand-painted in grey and embroidered with vermeil colored lame.
Inspired by the song Che cosa sono le nuvole?, lyrics by Pier Paolo Pasolini and composed by Domenico Mondugno.
2.500 hours of embroidery

 
 

“Cet Amour, c’est le tien, c’est le mien”. White silver tulle cloud dress embroidered with Chantilly and jet calligrams.
Lace overlay of the Jacques Prevert poem Cet Amour from 1945, picked out in luneville embroidery, in the spirit of a Calligram by Guillaume Appolinaire in 1918.
2,000 hours of embroidery

 
 

Canzone dell”Amore perduto powder-coloured tulle cloud dress, embroidered with wilted flowers. Overlay of wilted flower petals of painted chiffon, inspired by the lyrics from Canzone dell’Amore perduto by Fabrizio De Andrè (1974)

 
 


Amor Vincit Omnia, embroidered garnet linen corset, with dusty tulle skirts.
Corset embroidered with a Latin phrase from Virgil’s Les Bucoliques (Eclogues):

“Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.” (Love conquers all and we must yield to Love.)
Book X, line 69 (Dryden).