Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Sylvia von Harden and Otto Dix

Sorry, forgotten the source, but it's everywhere on the 'net!

This famous portrait of journalist Sylvia von Harden is amongst the best-known work of the German expressionist Otto Dix; there are many reproductions of the painting on numerous websites.

Von Harden herself related the background to the portrait following Dix spotting her in the street:

'I must paint you! I simply must! ... You are representative of an entire epoch!'
'So, you want to paint my lacklustre eyes, my ornate ears, my long nose, my thin lips; you want to paint my long hands, my short legs, my big feet—things which can only scare people off and delight no-one?'
'You have brilliantly characterized yourself, and all that will lead to a portrait representative of an epoch concerned not with the outward beauty of a woman but rather with her psychological condition.'

I have always loved the picture every since a former girlfriend introduced me to Dix's work at an exhibition at the Tate Gallery; to me it is utterly redolent of Weimar Berlin rather as Dix observed himself.

Here's a photograph of her:

Sylvia von Harden

There are parodies too.

First this one. I do not know who painted it since despite the fact I have lived in France for five years, I cannot understand fully the long French text that accompanies the picture on this site. If someone could explain what it's all about, I'd be most grateful. If I were putting up a picture it would say underneath: Portrait of Madame Helga Dubuc by XXXXX!

Edit: I revisited the source of the picture above, and it seems to me from attempting to plough through the gross verbiage that accompanies the image, that the portrait was made but Mme Dubuc's husband. I might be wrong of course, but then there's nobody like the French for dramatising the dramatic!

Whilst the above portrait was obviously inspired by Dix's, the next one is a straightforward parody. I love the pout!

From "Forbidden Fruit" by Larry Fink

Finally I really cannot say much about this one!

Interesting to notice the positions of the hands.

Talking of hands, I'll finish with another favourite portrait: Edith Sitwell painted by Vorticist Wyndham Lewis. According to a biography of Sitwell I read, the sittings were cancelled after the painter developed a romantic interest in his subject and so the hands never appeared!

Until the next time.

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