Day 308- Aloïse Corbaz- Perpetual Ecstasy

It’s Day 308 and I am so excited about today’s artist.  I wish my arm (tennis elbow) wasn’t hurting me so badly today because I think I could’ve done a little better with the coloring.  I also liked the article that I found about her.  It makes a good argument regarding drugs vs. creativity.  I wonder how many artists anti-psychotic drugs are affecting today.  I am a very anxious person and I like to contribute a lot of that energy to being creative.  It’s also why I am very anti-drug…I think it’s good for some people, but I also think we live in a very over-medicated society.  Well, moving on.  I don’t really want to make this post about that, but it did make me think.  🙂  Please join me in honoring Aloïse Corbaz today.

Aloise

Aloise

Marie Christine- Aloise

Marie Christine- Aloise

Aloïse Corbaz (1886-1964) was born in Lausanne. She dreamt of becoming an opera singer, but was sent off to Germany as a children’s governess, where she worked in Potsdam, at the court of Emperor William II. Upon returning to Switzerland in 1913, she began her anti-military ranting and adopted delusional behaviour. She was interned for schizophrenia in 1918 and remained interned for the rest of her life.

Aloise drew with coloured pencils, reinforcing the contours of the drawings with graphite pencils. She used geranium petals to add rich reds hues and frequently added toothpaste to her drawings. Towards the end of the 1950s, she switched to wax crayons when her eyesight began to decline.

There are 834 known drawings by Aloïse containing 2,000 compositions. Many of the works are

Aloise Drawings

Aloise Drawings

two-sided and 20 are on large rolls of paper. The exhibitions in Lausanne showcase about 300 works, including sketchbooks.

Her drawings depict exotic flowers and animals and often include illustrious figures such as Napoleon, the pope, Abraham Lincoln, the empress Elizabeth or Lucretia Borgia, or heroines of opera (Tosca, La Traviata, Manon Lescaut, Mary Stuart, Ann Boleyn).

Waterloo- Aloïse

Waterloo- Aloïse

Aloïse, a major figure of art brut, also known as outsider or raw art, produced all her phantasmagoric drawings during her long internment for schizophrenia. Had the Swiss artist been medicated, she might not have produced anything at all.
On the occasion of two key exhibitions dedicated to Aloïse this summer in Lausanne, the question of whether her creativity would have survived modern medication has surfaced.

Antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants relieve the distress of innumerable individuals, but they can also switch off creative drive.

The debate has taken on new relevance since the publication of a scientific study that establishes

Aloïse

Aloïse

a correlation between schizophrenics and highly creative individuals. Low levels of dopamine receptors allow more uncommon associations to take place in their brains.

Antipsychotics regulate the dopamine, thereby reducing the ability to make unexpected (creative) connections.

Interned for schizophrenia at the age of 32, Aloïse for the next 46 years exorcised her torment by dreaming up a world of her own that she transcribed in notebooks and drew on sheets of paper.

“It is unlikely that Aloïse would be institutionalised today,” Pascale Marini, curator of the exhibition taking place at the Collection de l’Art brut told swissinfo.ch. She would have been medicated instead and therefore deprived of the protected environment that ultimately allowed her art to flourish.

“Perpetual ecstasy”
Aloïse had begun to draw almost immediately after her internment in 1918, at first secretly on bits of salvaged papers, where she also consigned her unruly thoughts. She was gradually supplied with the colouring pencils and large sheets of paper that would allow her to make her hallmark drawings.

Aloïse

Aloïse

“She created a world for herself in which she was the demiurge, the total artisan. It was a perfect retreat,” Marini explained. By showcasing this world in the exhibition, the purpose is not to illustrate Aloise’s schizophrenia, she added, but to show the role of creativity in allowing people like her to deal with their torment.

Aloise herself qualified creativity as “miraculous”, “the only source of perpetual ecstasy.”

Jean Dubuffet, the French painter behind the concept of art brut, had been following her work for almost 20 years and often visited her in Switzerland. Upon her death in 1964, he expressed the opinion that her art had cured her (see sidebar).

It was Jacqueline Porret-Forel, a young general practitioner interested by Aloïse who had introduced her work to Dubuffet. He immediately recognised the singularity of her mental vision, an observation that was to inspire him when he later identified other art brut creators.

Porret-Forel was to become Aloïse’s window to the outside world from their meeting in 1941 onwards and may even have acted as a catalyst to her explosive creativity over the next ten years.

“She could feel my interest in her,” Porret-Forel told swissinfo.ch.

Living through drawings
Spearheading Aloise’s recognition, including as far as Japan, where several Aloïse exhibitions have already taken place, Porret-Forel is

Aloïse

Aloïse

also the author of the recently online-published catalogue raisonné. After all these years, at the age of 96, her enthusiasm for Aloïse remains as fresh as ever: “She keeps me going,” she observed with a smile.

“She wanted more than anything else to be incarnated in her drawings. It was a way for her to exist, to regain possession of the body from which she felt detached,” Porret-Forel recalled. “She was never happier than when the flower or animal that she had just drawn represented her.”

Aloïse

Aloïse

She too is convinced that Aloïse would have led a very different life had she been administered the antipsychotics that had been available from the 1950s onwards. “Antipsychotics completely transform inner worlds,” she said.

Aloïse would have drawn differently, if she would have drawn at all, elaborated Porret-Forel, although, as a doctor, she believes that there is little justification to deprive anguished individuals of relief through medication.

This opinion is not necessarily shared by all. Edvard Munch, painter of the “Scream” famously said “[My troubles] are part of me and my art.  They are indistinguishable from me, and it [treatment] would destroy my art.  I want to keep that suffering.”

The case of Aloïse is however somewhat different, Porrt-Forel suggested, because she believes, as Dubuffet did, that her exceptional gift helped heal her.
Not art therapy
On the other hand, she thinks it wise to set right a number of misconceptions: “Contrary to popular belief, there are no more artists

Aloïse

Aloïse

amongst the mentally disturbed than there are in the population at large,” she said, nor are art brut creators only to be found amongst the mentally unstable.

“What I have observed over the years, including by studying the writings of Jean Dubuffet, is that

art brut is made by individuals who have a mental – not visual – vision of the world.” These can include mediums.

Aloïse

Aloïse

They lay their mental images on whichever support is at hand. This one-way process is entirely different from that of traditional artists who work back and forth between what they see and what they have created. In this respect, art brut is not to be confused with art therapy either.

Asked whether modern medication would not sound the knell of art brut, she answered that because it is not a movement, but a concept: “There will always be people with personal mental visions that differ from ours.”

Above article, The Creative Schizophrenia of Aloise is from swissinfo.ch.

I also loved that my artist from yesterday, Edvard Munch was mentioned in this article!  I hope you enjoy my piece today.  It was hard to color on canvas with my arm in pain and now I’m thinking I should’ve done it on paper and then adhered it to the canvas, but oh well!  I think it definitely capture’s Aloïse’s spirit.  I will see you tomorrow on Day 309!  I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far and time is already running out!  Whew.

Best,

Linda

Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz Linda Cleary 2014 Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz
Linda Cleary 2014
Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Side-View Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz Linda Cleary 2014 Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Side-View
Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz
Linda Cleary 2014
Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Close-Up 1 Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz Linda Cleary 2014 Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Close-Up 1
Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz
Linda Cleary 2014
Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Close-Up 2 Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz Linda Cleary 2014 Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Close-Up 2
Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz
Linda Cleary 2014
Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Close-Up 3 Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz Linda Cleary 2014 Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Close-Up 3
Fantasy Land- Tribute to Aloïse Corbaz
Linda Cleary 2014
Colored Pencil & Pastel on Canvas

Day Thirty-Eight- Louis Wain- Cat Man

It’s Day 38 and I got the keys to my very own house!  How exciting is that?  I also somehow painted a painting today!  AND I was super duper excited about my artist.  My friend Stefan reminded me of this artist and I was going to add him to a summer date and just couldn’t wait because I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to paint.  Join me in celebrating Louis Wain!

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

Louis Wain (5 August 1860 – 4 July 1939) was an English artist best known for his drawings, which consistently featured anthropomorphized large-eyed cats and kittens. In his later years he may have suffered from schizophrenia (although this claim is disputed), which, according to some psychiatrists, can be seen in his works.

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

Louis William Wain was born on 5 August 1860 in Clerkenwell in London. His father was a textile trader and embroiderer; his mother was French.  He was the first of six children, and the only male child. None of his five sisters ever married. At the age of thirty, his youngest sister was certified as insane, and admitted to an asylum. The remaining sisters lived with their mother for the duration of their lifetimes, as did Louis for the majority of his life.

Wain was born with a cleft lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. As a youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher there for a short period. At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and his five sisters after his father’s death.

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

Wain soon quit his teaching position to become a freelance artist, and in this role he achieved substantial success. He specialized in drawing animals and country scenes, and worked for several journals including the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, where he stayed for four years, and the Illustrated London News, beginning in 1886. Through the 1880s, Wain’s work included detailed illustrations of English country houses and estates, along with livestock he was commissioned to draw at agricultural shows. His work at this time includes a wide variety of animals, and he maintained his ability to draw creatures of all kinds throughout his lifetime. At one point, he hoped to make a living by drawing dog portraits.

At the age of 23, Wain married his sisters’ governess, Emily Richardson, who was ten

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

years his senior (which was considered quite scandalous at the time), and moved with her to Hampstead in north London. Emily soon began to suffer from breast cancer, and died only three years into their marriage. Prior to Emily’s death, Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, a stray black and white kitten they rescued after hearing him mewing in the rain one night. Emily’s spirits were greatly lifted by Peter, and Louis began to draw extensive sketches of their cat, which Emily strongly encouraged him to have published. She passed away before she could see this come to fruition for Louis, but he continued to create these cat sketches as a promise to his beloved Emily. He later wrote of Peter, “To him, properly, belongs the foundation of my career, the developments of my initial efforts, and the establishing of my work.” Peter can be recognized in many of Wain’s early published works.

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

In 1886, Wain’s first drawing of anthropomorphised cats was published in the Christmas issue of theIllustrated London News, titled A Kittens’ Christmas Party. The illustration depicted 150 cats, many of which resembled Peter, doing things such as sending invitations, holding a ball, playing games, and making speeches, spread over eleven panels. Still, the cats remain on all fours, unclothed, and without the variety of human-like expression that would characterize Wain’s later work. Under thepseudonym of George Henri Thompson, he illustrated numerous books for children by Clifton Bingham published by Ernest Nister.

In subsequent years, Wain’s cats began to walk upright, smile broadly and use other exaggerated facial expressions, and would wear sophisticated, contemporary clothing. Wain’s illustrations showed cats playing musical instruments, serving tea, playing cards, fishing, smoking, and enjoying a night at the opera. Such anthropomorphic portrayals of animals were very popular in Victorian England and were often found in prints, on greeting cards and in satirical illustrations such as those of John Tenniel.

Wain was a prolific artist over the next thirty years, sometimes producing as many as several hundred drawings a year. He

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

illustrated about one hundred children’s books, and his work appeared in papers, journals, and magazines, including the Louis Wain Annual, which ran from 1901 to 1915. His work was also regularly reproduced on picture postcards, and these are highly sought after by collectors today. In 1898 and 1911 he was chairman of the National Cat Club.

Wain’s illustrations often parody human behaviour, satirising fads and fashions of the day. He wrote, “I take a sketch-book to a restaurant, or other public place, and draw the people in their different positions as cats, getting as near to their human characteristics as possible. This gives medoubly nature, and these studies I think [to be] my best humorous work.”

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

Wain was involved with several animal charities, including the Governing Council of Our Dumb Friends League, the Society for the Protection of Cats, and the Anti-Vivisection Society. He was also active in the National Cat Club, acting as President and Chairman of the committee at times. He felt that he helped “to wipe out the contempt in which the cat has been held” in England.

Despite his popularity, Wain suffered financial difficulty throughout his life. He remained responsible for supporting his mother and sisters, and had little business sense. Wain was modest, naive and easily exploited, ill-equipped for bargaining in the world of publishing. He often sold his drawings outright, retaining no rights over their reproduction. He was easily misled, and occasionally found himself duped by the promise of a new invention or other money-making scheme.

He travelled to New York in 1907, where he drew some comic strips, such as Cats About Town and Grimalkin, for Hearst

Louis Wain- A painting done after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Louis Wain- A painting done after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

newspapers. His work was widely admired, although his critical attitude towards the city made him the subject of sniping in the press. He returned home with even less money than before, due to imprudent investment in a new type of oil lamp.

Some speculate that the onset of Wain’s schizophrenia was precipitated by toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be contracted from cats. The theory that toxoplasmosis can trigger schizophrenia is the subject of ongoing research, though the origins of the theory can be traced back as early as 1953.

Louis Wain

Louis Wain

When his sisters could no longer cope with his erratic and occasionally violent behaviour, he was finally committed, in 1924, to a pauper ward of Springfield Mental Hospital in Tooting. A year later, he was discovered there and his circumstances were widely publicized, leading to appeals from such figures as H. G. Wells and the personal intervention of the Prime Minister. Wain was transferred to the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Southwark, and again in 1930 to Napsbury Hospital near St Albans in Hertfordshire, north of London. This hospital was relatively pleasant, with a garden and colony of cats, and he spent his final 15 years there in peace. While he became increasingly deluded, his erratic mood swings subsided, and he continued drawing for pleasure. His work from this period is marked by bright colours, flowers, and intricate and abstract patterns, though his primary subject remained the same. He is buried in his father’s grave at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, London.

Read more of his biography at wikipedia.

Keyboard Cat!

Keyboard Cat!

So many cats…so little time.  I am very happy that I came up with an idea of what cat I wanted to paint right away.  I would’ve been overwhelmed that I didn’t paint cats doing ballet or tap-dancing or something absurd like that.  I decided to paint keyboard cat!  One of my favorite newly famous kitties!  I hope you enjoy my Wain tribute as much as I enjoyed creating it.  I feel it captures his spirit, but it also has a modern twist to it. 🙂  See you tomorrow on Day 39!

Best,
Linda

Green Eyes!

Green Eyes!

Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Side-View Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Side-View
Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 1 Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 1
Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 2 Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain Linda Cleary 2014 Acrylic on Canvas

Close-Up 2
Keyboard Cat- Tribute to Louis Wain
Linda Cleary 2014
Acrylic on Canvas