Saturday, February 13, 2016

Paul Thevanez

It is strange how these things happen. For two years, whenever we have visited a town not far from us here, also in Hampshire, we have popped into a rather nice, unconventional charity shop which services a rolling rosta of different local charities. In their rather boudoir-like back room they have a series of folders with prints and pictures in. For all that time I have been charmed by a number of images from the 1920s in those folders obviously all by the same hand and presumably cut from the same book. It was only today that I decided they had been there long enough and they were coming home with me. They are the top three images on this post, the ones in colour, which I have scanned. I am sure you can see why they were so attractive.

So of course, the next thing to do is to look up the artist, Paul Thevanez, and suddenly a whole world of Front Free Endpaper goodness tumbles out of the Internet. Thevanez was a Swiss artist who created murals, costume design and watercolour paintings. He was firmly convinced of the link between dance, sculpture and painting and fascinated by the application of the notion of rhythm to painting. He studied in Paris and came into the orbit of both Stravinsky and Cocteau, both of whom he drew in rather exciting portraits that are still extant on the Internet. (In fact, the Cocteau portrait, drawn on a postcard, inscribed by Cocteau and framed, is available to buy if you have a pleasant 1,900 Euros lying around.) He moved to New York and continued his career in art and began a long-distance relationship with the poet Witter Bynner, his senior by some ten years. It is thought that it was Thevanez's influence which led Bynner to move beyond his rather repressed New England approach to his sexuality and to live as a gay man as far as that was possible in the 1920s. But it didn't last, tragically Thevanez died of a rupture appendix in 1921 at the age of 30.

Bynner, devastated by the loss, helped to compile and privately print a memorial volume which is where these prints that I bought today have obviously been culled from. The black and white images below are just a few samples I have picked out from an online version of that book. The top black and white image is self-portrait. How many artists paint self-portraits of themselves not just smiling but laughing, being happy? It is nice to see. The second b/w image is also, a rather more 'arch', self-portrait.

1 comment:

J said...

Nice to have you back with us...

Who links to my website?