Sunday, May 6, 2012

Art School

For the past few years a big part of my life that has been missing is art. Don't get me wrong I look at A LOT of visual inspiration from the fashion, design and art world everyday - but what I am craving is a little more discussion and intellectual stimulation. From Tumblr to Pinterest the way images are digested now is so non-chalant - there is no discourse. There is just so much out there there is this feeling that you need to see ALL OF IT, AT ONCE, so the endless, thoughtless, scrolling just goes on and on.

When I finished high school I studied art history, film and architecture at university on and off for about 6 years (I took a break midway through to complete my fashion studies). When I started my business I was filled to the brim with excitement and knowledge from all those years of study, and the intention was always to put it into use as I designed. But working alone is a really tough gig, and complacency is my worst enemy. I feel like lately there has been a little 'resting on my laurels' so to speak, and I miss being challenged. Being made to think, really just learning. I am angry at myself for wasting hours online just looking at images, but not thinking. Not applying all my years of study into what I create now. Don't get me wrong I do still put a lot of thought into what I make, but it is leaning towards a very different angle. That being marketability, sales, costs. All important things of course - but the spirit and love of the art world is something I want more of in my daily life and in Hopeless.

So without further ado - and following on from the regular 'Knicker of the Week' posts - I am introducing another regular feature here at Spokes 'n' Daggers - Art School.

Once a week I will share an artwork, a movement or an artist, and share my thoughts. I would LOVE more than anything for some keen commenters to share their opinions, their knowledge and their feelings. I don't care if you know nothing about art or you've just written a PHD on Picasso - I would love to hear from you.

Jean-Honore Fragonard The Swing 1767

I remember one of the first film lectures I attended at uni was a discussion about how the film 'Face/Off' was representative of modern day excess, exaggeration and drama, as previously seen in the Baroque and Rococo periods of the 17th and 18th centuries. I will never forget that lecture, and how it taught me to see patterns in history and really look at film and popular culture in a whole new way. The thought of comparing Nicolas Cage and explosions to Bernini and Fragonard seemed so ridiculous. But there are so many similarities in our modern lives to the frivolity and decadence of this era. Madonna's recent half time show is a prime example of utterly pointless excess, most of what Lady Gaga does too. I wonder if people will look back at these pop stars as romantically as we look back at these artworks in 200 years time?

The main theme of this painting is well known - the love triangle between the girl in the swing being swung by her husband, while she flashes a bit of leg to her lover hiding in the bushes. Pretty raunchy for 1767, but now it is something so innocent. Compared to what we can see with the click of a button nowadays, the romantic innocence of this painting is such a joy to look at. I hope that the spirit of this painting is something I can give to the things I make - lingerie that is a little more innocent and whimsical rather than in your face. 

Going to keep this one short as I've already written quite a bit! Look forward to hearing what you think. 

Gaby xoxo


valerie walsh said...

This is so lovely! It is a little naughty for the time but it does seem so innocent, tastefully so. I love the shoe flying through the air with abandon. It is a special view and makes me feel so much just looking at it, I can't say that about the endless scrolling of current images though. It all starts to look the same. Thank you for sharing.

Nicole said...

Thank you for your comments on this very familiar painting - when I studied costume, this was one that I studied for a very different reason, for what it says about the dress of time. I hadn't even noticed the husband pushing her swing, that's how absorbing I found the gown.

I'm not sure that the Age of Reason was that coy and innocent: after all, this is the time that ladies of the French aristocracy were hosting salons with the intellligensia whilst wearing their lingerie - but compared with the TMI of today, it's very refined and restrained.

Unknown said...

This is a great idea, I know when I finished uni I got rusty on what I loved x

Fran said...

I think you're totally right - that speed at which we view images is so symptomatic of society more generally. We want to consume one image or phenomenon and then move swiftly onto the next, without letting it affect our day-to-day existence. Paintings do seem to illicit a slightly longer look, presumably because of the time given to complete them as opposed to photographs which we take and digest in a moment.

Fascinating stuff. I totally agree we need to inetellectualise our viewing patterns.

esme and the laneway said...

iOne of my favourite paintings. I love the symbolism (subtle and otherwise) and, knowing I will sound like a simpleton, I love the colours!

Heiress Emma said...

Great idea Gaby! I look forward to the series.

I also have a new idea and project: a new path for me. I wish you luck with yours!

(NeverEver) Emma

Devon said...

I was told in art school that the man pushing the swing was a local priest, and the woman the young mans mistress or something like that. The artist painted him pushing the swing as a bit of a dig. I think this period of art was always a bit too floofy and self indulgent for me. Floofy is totally a legitimate art term. But the techniques are certainly amazing, I don't even know how they painted clothes so lushly!


Andi B. Goode said...

I think he might be getting slightly more than a view of her leg haha. I love Rococo. And I will defend it against any criticisms of being too frivolous, etc., for the main reason that all of these criticisms are linked to (and were, even at the time) femininity. Rococo artists were derided by many for being frivolous, decorative and blurring the lines of gender (the men in these paintings, especially of Fragonard and Boucher) often become cherubic youths who are barely discernible from the women. So I suppose I get on the defensive if anyone uses criticisms similar to these just because they are so tied up in a sexist (at the very least) history of criticism. Plus they are infinitely more interesting to me (especially as part of their charm is their naughtiness is so visually tame) than, say, Neoclassicism.
My lecturer delighted in telling us how the shoe is a symbol of her lost, er, 'innocence' as well as all of the other symbols I can't remember. Whilst I do love this era for painting etc I will admit that its the era of Modern Art (and then into Postmodern, etc) that excites me the most. (Though I also adore Boucher's portrait of Madame de Pompadour which shows her intelligence, etc.)
I think I've gone slightly off topic (I NEVER get the chance to talk about art anymore) but I'm looking forward to more of these posts! :)

Gaby - Hopeless Lingerie said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to write everyone!

Nicole - I'm sure thousands of words have been written about this beautiful gown - I have never had the opportunity to study costume, but gosh I would love to know more about that and the goings on of the aristocracy!

Emma - Wishing you all the best with your new venture xo

Devon - Floofy it definitely is - but who doesn't need a bit floofiness every now and then!

Andi - I was so looking forward to a comment from you! And I LOVE the symbolism in all of these old paintings - the shoe as her lost innocence?! Awesome. And a really great point about the gender issues present, and while I dont have anything insightful or constructive to add just yet, I wanted to note that you have really got me thinking.

Rebecca said...

Just found your blog. It's difficult to find people here in California who will slow down long enough to take in the sights, smells and sounds of inspirational things. Of all the times I've seen this painting I never noticed the men! The enthralling color of the dress with its movement was my focus; there was always something in her face that fascinated. She seemed free on that swing, just for that was enough.