Orienting the eye: I was all set to re-frame Charles Dufresne’s monumental painting “Retour de chasse” (The Return of the Hunting Party), above, in current and historical socio-political contexts, but then I heard about the Viennese tourism office’s cynical response to the reluctance of the cities of London and Hamburg to run its publicity posters for the country’s celebrations of the Expressionist painter Egon Schiele on the centennial of his death at 28. Rather than simply pull the posters featuring work like “The girl in orange stockings” and “Nude Self-Portrait,” it draped the subjects’ privates in banners reading “Sorry — 100 years old but still too daring today,” accompanied by the inevitable hashtag. In other words, the Viennese tourism office desecrated the art it was supposedly promoting and debased the memory of the artist it was supposed to be celebrating. I realized that even if they often comment on, rebel from, or reflect contemporary mores and debates, artists should not always be subjected to them. I also couldn’t help recall a colleague’s insistence that a female nude by Eugene Dinet — who spent most of his adult life in Algeria and converted to Islam — which we once published and which was to my eye a natural study denuded of any exoticism was Orientalism of the worse sort. (If any context could be appropriately applied to Dufresne’s circa 1913, 83 1/8 x 115 inch oil on canvas — apparently the most controversial work of the last Salon before World War 1, on sale for Artcurial’s November 28 Impressionism & Modern auction Tuesday in Paris — it would seem to be that furnished by Ballets Russes, whose version of Michel Fokine’s “Scheherezade” premiered in 1910 with Ida Rubinstein and Vaslav Nijinsky.) But the painting, signed at the lower left, ultimately deserves to be judged, evaluated, perceived, and received on its own intrinsic merits. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 30,000 – 50,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
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Contact Paul Ben-Itzak at email@example.com. Paul Ben-Itzak was educated at San Francisco's Mission High School, the San Francisco Center for Theater Training, and Princeton University, where he studied with Robert Fagles, Joyce Carol Oates, Ellen Chances, and Lucinda Franks. Also at Princeton, he was founding managing editor of the Nassau Weekly and began contributing to the New York Times, Reuters, the Associated Press, Atlantic City Press, and many others, later writing for the Arts & Liesure section of the Times. As a San Francisco-based correspondent for Reuters, he was one of the first reporters to cover the AIDS crisis, also covering the arts, the tech sector, and the financial markets. In 1998, he co-founded the leading international arts journal The Dance Insider & Arts Voyager (http://www.danceinsider.com ) and, later, Art Investment News (http://www.artinvestmentnews.com). Paul has also worked as a DJ, children's theater teacher and playwright, and made his debut as an actor on the New York stage in 2011, playing Weston in Sam Shepard's "Curse of the Starving Class." To date, Paul has translated the sketches of Boris Vian, reviews of theater performances , French tourism sites, and research proposals and articles from CNRS and other researchers. His editing work includes dissertation level papers. View all posts by danceblogger