Creative muse : a Deco fantasy, 2018
Foam core, imitation gold leaf, imitation silver leaf (aluminum), bristol paper
approx. 30 feet x 14 feet
When creative people feel extremely inspired, it is often referred to as having a CREATIVE MUSE.
This window represents three creative muses, one within printmaking (panel 1 – Lilian May Miller (1895-1943) shadow box base, gender neutral paper figure muse representing printmaking and squid “ink” bas relief), another creative muse in painting (panel 2 – Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980) shadow box base, gender neutral paper figure muse in repose representing painting, and self-portrait with bird poop sign) and finally, a creative muse in sculpture (panel 3 – Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) shadow box base, gender neutral paper figure muse representing sculpture, and koi fish bas relief). The final panel allows viewers to take a holiday selfie and tag the window (panel 4 – holiday selfie card).
Lilian May Miller (1895-1943)
Female Art Deco Printmaker
Lilian May Miller was an American painter, woodblock printmaker and poet born in Tokyo, Japan. In the world of art she marked her place with imagery, while she attended presentations in traditional kimonos, and signed her paintings with a monogram.
She practiced oil painting, watercolor painting, book illustrations, photography, and printing. Trained in Japan in traditional painting styles and techniques, Lilian May Miller created lyrical sketches, ink paintings and woodblock prints representing people and landscapes from Japan and Korea, the countries where she spent most of her life.
Miller made Shin-hanga woodblock prints, a 20th-century version of traditional Ukiyo-e prints, or pictures of the floating world, which were popular beginning in the 1700s. Because they were prints they were readily available and inexpensive artworks. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt created greater interest in Japanese work as an art form in the late 19th century, partly through Edmond’s books Outamaro and Hokousai. They first identified the cultural movement of Japonisme. Of the western women who began making shin-hanga wood prints, or “creative prints”, Miller was the only one born in the orient. The others, who had all lived in Japan, were Helen Hyde, who first made the Japanese prints in 1901, Elizabeth Keith and Bertha Lum. The shin-hanga prints included scenes from the contemporary world, like western dress and electricity.
Woodblock print production was traditionally a team effort, led by the artist’s direction. Several woodblocks were cut from the artist’s sketch and watercolor painting, each woodblock for a specific color. Then a printer would make prints by pressing the woodblock with its associated colored ink onto paper. Miller did the work herself, creating the initial image and woodcuts and making the prints.
In September 1920 she turned to woodblock printing, creating images of Korean people and countryside, which she sold in Tōkyō and the United States. She was living as the tenant of the artist and promoter Bertha B. Lum (1869–1954). Miller began to work with the block-carver Matsumoto, who had previously worked for Helen Hyde, and the printer Nishimura Kumakichi (1861–ca.1941), whom Bertha Lum relied on for her own print productions. Shortly thereafter there was a dramatic falling-out between the two artists. Miller also struggled with a relationship with Elizabeth Keith, who began as a friend but later developed into a rival. From 1920, she made her living as a print-maker. The images, mostly of scenes of Korean life, were sold in Tokyo, Seoul, large American cities, Shanghai, and Peking. Many of Miller’s prints were produced on postcards.
REFERENCE: “Lilian May Miller”. Wikipedia.com. Updated July 3, 2018. Accessed December 8, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilian_May_Miller
Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980)
Polish-American-French Female Art Deco Painter
Tamara Łempicka was a Polish painter who spent her working life in France and the United States. She is best known for her polished Art Deco portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy, and for her highly stylized paintings of nudes.
Born in Warsaw, Lempicka briefly moved to Saint Petersburg where she married a prominent Polish lawyer, then travelled to Paris. She studied painting with Maurice Denis and André Lhote. Her style was a blend of late, refined cubism and the neoclassical style, particularly inspired by the work of Jean-Dominique Ingres. She was an active participant in the artistic and social life of Paris between the Wars. In 1928 she became the mistress of Baron Raoul Kuffner, a wealthy art collector from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the death of his wife in 1933, the Baron married Lempicka in 1934, and thereafter she became known in the press as “The Baroness with a Brush”.
Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, she and her husband moved to the United States and she painted celebrity portraits, as well as still lifes and, in the 1960s, some abstract paintings. Her work was out of fashion after World War II, but made a comeback in the late 1960s, with the rediscovery of Art Deco. She moved to Mexico in 1974, where she died in 1980. At her request, her ashes were scattered over the Popocatépetl volcano.
In the winter of 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, Lempicka and her husband moved to the United States. They settled first in Los Angeles. The Paul Reinhard Gallery organized a show of her work, and they moved to Beverly Hills, settling into the former residence of the film director King Vidor. Shows of her work were organized at the Julian Levy Gallery in New York, the Courvoisier Galleries in San Francisco, and the Milwaukee Institute of Art, but her shows did not have the success she had hoped for. Her daughter Kizette was able to escape from occupied France via Lisbon and joined them in Los Angeles in 1941. Kizette married a Texas geologist, Harold Foxhall. In 1943, Baron Kuffner and de Lempicka relocated to New York City.
In the postwar years, she continued a frenetic social life, but she had fewer commissions for society portraits. Her art deco style looked anachronistic in the period of postwar modernism and abstract expressionism. She expanded her subject matter to include still lifes, and in 1960 she began to paint abstract works and to use a palette knife instead of her smooth earlier brushwork. She sometimes reworked earlier pieces in her new style. The crisp and direct Amethyste (1946) became the pink and fuzzy Girl with Guitar (1963). She had a show at the Ror Volmar Gallery in Paris in May and June 1961, but it did not revive her earlier success.
REFERENCE: “Tamara de Lempicka”. Wikipedia.com. Updated December 3, 2018. Accessed December 8, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamara_de_Lempicka
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968)
African-American Female Art Deco Sculptor
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was an African-American artist notable for celebrating Afrocentric themes. She was known as a multi-talented artist who wrote poetry, painted, and sculpted but was most noted for her sculpture. At the turn of the twentieth century, she had achieved a reputation as a well-known sculptor in Paris before returning to the United States. Warrick was a protegé of Auguste Rodin, and has been described as “one of the most imaginative Black artists of her generation. She created work with strong social commentary; for instance, she made a sculpture of Mary Turner, a young, married and pregnant black woman who was lynched in Georgia in 1918 the day after protesting the lynching of her husband. Warrick is considered a forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement among African Americans promoting their literature and art.
Warrick created works of the African-American experience that were revolutionary. They represented art, nature, religion and nation. She is considered part of the Harlem Renaissance, a flourishing in New York of African Americans making art of various genres, literature, plays and poetry. The Danforth Museum, which has a large collection of her works, states that Fuller is “generally considered one of the first African-American female sculptors of importance.”
In Paris, she met American sociologist W.E.B. DuBois, who became a lifelong friend and confidant. He encouraged Warrick to draw from African and African-American themes in her work. She met French sculptor Auguste Rodin, who encouraged her sculpting. Her real mentor was Henry Ossawa Tanner while learning from Raphaël Collin. By the end of her time in Paris, she was widely known and had had her works exhibited in many galleries.
Samuel Bing, patron of Aubrey Beardsley, Mary Cassatt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, recognized her abilities by sponsoring a one-woman exhibition including Siegfried Bing’s Salon de l’Art Nouveau (Maison de l’Art Nouveau). In 1903, just before Warrick returned to the United States, two of her works, The Wretched and The Impenitent Thief, were exhibited at the Paris Salon.
Returning to Philadelphia in 1903, Warrick was shunned by members of the Philadelphia art scene because of her race and because her art was considered “domestic.” She exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1906, which was a center of art in the city. However, this treatment did not prevent Fuller from becoming the first African-American woman to receive a U.S. government commission: she created a series of tableaux depicting African-American historical events for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, held in Norfolk, Virginia in 1907.
Warrick exhibited again at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1908. In 1910, a fire at a warehouse in Philadelphia, where she kept tools and stored numerous paintings and sculptures, destroyed her belongings; she lost 16 years’ worth of work. The losses were emotionally devastating for her. At that point she was financially dependent upon her husband, socially detached from African-American contacts, and desolate about her career.
REFERENCE: “Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller”. Wikipedia.com. Updated October 26, 2018. Accessed December 8, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_Vaux_Warrick_Fuller