“Face masks” in art before covid-19. Part 2

Mother and Child, 1977, by Romare Bearden. Technique: silkscreen with photolithograph, signed in pencil.

“Face masks” in art before covid-19. Part 2

AUTHOR:Dr. Alisa PalatronisPUBLISHED:October 6, 2021
SOURCE:www.z-antenna.comLENGTH:9 minutes (1822 words)

In our primal article Face masks” in art before covid-19. Part 1 we have already start the investigation of surreal, and sometimes unnormal depiction of faces and heads in the visual art. Let’s continue the artsy research!

In this article we will continue talking about so-called “face masks” in art which were created and were known to the world before covid-19, the pandemic of XXI century. To answer the question “What is its meaning?” the author of this article relies on the already existing opinions of art experts, giving them certain references.

Fantômas by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre

A poster for the third Fantômas serial, 1913, by French film director Louis Feuillade.

Illustration: A poster for the third Fantômas serial, 1913, by French film director Louis Feuillade.

Fantômas wears his iconic black hood and black leotard, more sinister features than the traditional gentleman thief’s domino mask and tuxedo.

Image source: wikipedia

Phantomas (fr. Fantômas, the phantom man) is one of the most popular characters in the history of French crime fiction where he represents a transition from Gothic novel villains of the 19th century to modern-day serial killers. Fantômas is a fictional character, a brilliant criminal who hides his face, one of the most famous antiheroes of French literature and cinema.

Fantômas character was firstly created in 1911 and appeared in a total of 32 volumes written by French writers Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre (Souvestre was also a lawyer, journalist, and organizer of motor races). Subsequent 11 volumes were written by Allain alone after Souvestre’s death. Later, a number of serials and films directed by French, American and Belgian filmmakers were created (reference 1).

Ubu Imperator by Max Ernst

Ubu Imperator, 1923, by Max Ernst

Illustration: Ubu Imperator, 1923, by Max Ernst

Image source: max-ernst.com

Max Ernst, in full Maximilian Maria Ernst, (1891, Brühl, Germany – 1976, Paris, France) was a German surrealist painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the surrealism and Dada art.

In Ubu Imperator, an anthropomorphic top dances in a vast, empty landscape. The red Ubu Imperator marked the entry of Ernst in the articulated stage of surrealism by his use of a literary narrative that was sometimes personal, sometimes political. The title, “Ubu Imperator,” translates as the Commander, yet the central figure lacks the stability and authority a leader usually commands in both art and life. (references 2 and 3).

Note: According to Magazine.artland.com, Dadaism, or Dada art, was a movement with explicitly political overtones – a reaction to the senseless slaughter of the trenches of WWI. It essentially declared war against war, countering the absurdity of the establishment’s descent into chaos with its own kind of nonsense.

Dali’s self-portrait with “L’Humanité”

Self-portrait with “L’Humanité”, 1923, by Salvador Dali

Illustration: Self-portrait with “L’Humanité”, 1923, by Salvador Dali

Image source: provokr.com

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquess of Dalí de Púbol gcYC (1904, Figueres, Spain – 1989, Figueres, Spain) was a Spanish surrealist artist.

According to the article written by Ines Valencia, Dalí used a cutting from the communist newspaper L’Humanité to create this self-portrait, where he portrays himself as a worker, attracted to the idea of rebellion. He made many self-portraits which accentuate different facial features to emphasize that he is the subject of the painting. However, in this painting his famous mustache is missing because he created this painting during his younger years (reference 4). The reason why the mouth area is missing can only lead to a question with a speechless answer. Is it a worker whose voice is muted?

Another provoking, mouth-missing self-portrait Splitting into Three Harlequin, 1926, by Dalí, is available on salvador-dali.org.

Nowadays, tattoo makers are inspired by Dalí art and create their own Dalí self-portraits, one like presented here.

The Sunday Quests by Max Ernst

Les invités du dimanche (The Sunday Guests), 1924, by Max Ernst

Illustration: Les invités du dimanche (The Sunday Guests), 1924, by Max Ernst

Image source: arthistorynewsreport.blogspot.com

Max Ernst, in full Maximilian Maria Ernst, (1891, Brühl, Germany – 1976, Paris, France) was a German surrealist painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the surrealism and Dada art.

In this work, Ernst made use of a series of printed images of women’s hairstyles as the prompt for the creation of a sequence of bizarre and haunting figurative personages. He was deeply interested in alchemy and in alchemical illustration.

This work also appears to be highly auto-biographical, perhaps alluding to the ménage à trois that existed between Ernst, Paul and Gala Éluard in that period (reference 5).

Attirement of the Bride by Max Ernst

Attirement of the Bride, 1940, by Max Ernst

Illustration: Attirement of the Bride, 1940, by Max Ernst

Image source: canvasstar.com

Max Ernst, in full Maximilian Maria Ernst, (1891, Brühl, Germany – 1976, Paris, France) was a German surrealist painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the surrealism and Dada art.

The original painting is in Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice. Max Ernst liked to define himself as a bird-man, the one who holds here the phallic symbol of the poisoned arrow (references 6 and 7).

Print of Salvador Dali by Weegee

Original gelatin silver bromide print of Salvador Dali, around 1960, by Weegee.

Illustration: Original gelatin silver bromide print of Salvador Dali, around 1960, by Weegee.

It is a surreal, mirrored portrait of the painter, likely to originate from a Paris shoot (reference 8).

Image source: centurymodernism.com

Arthur (Usher) Fellig (1899, Złoczów, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Zolochiv, Ukraine)  – 1968, New York City, U.S.), known by his pseudonym Weegee, was a photographer and photojournalist. He was known for his stark black and white street photography in New York City.

Fantômas by André Hunebelle

The trilogy of Fantômas movies, 1964, by French master glassmaker (fr. maître verrier) and film director André Hunebelle.

Illustration: The trilogy of Fantômas movies, 1964, by French master glassmaker (fr. maître verrier) and film director André Hunebelle.

Image source: trailerfromhell.com

Phantomas (fr. Fantômas, the phantom man) is a fictional character, a brilliant criminal who hides his face. Phantomas is one of the most famous antiheroes of French literature and cinema. It appears first time in 1911 in volumes written by French writers Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, later remade to movies by various filmmakers.

The popular depiction of Fantômas as wearing a blue mask, black gloves, and using technological devices did not originate in the novels, but is a result of the popularity of the trilogy of Fantômas movies directed by André Hunebelle in the 1960s (reference 9).

Ladies and Gentlemen by Andy Warhol

from the silkscreen series “Ladies and Gentlemen”, 1975, by Andy Warhol

Illustration: from the silkscreen series “Ladies and Gentlemen”, 1975, by Andy Warhol

Image source: artsy.net

Andy Warhol (born Andrew Warhola Jr. in 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. – died 1987, New York City, U.S.) was an American artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.

Warhol chose 10 Polaroid photographs for his silkscreen series “Ladies and Gentlemen,” which portray the drag queens as confident, coy, and vulnerable. Warhol once mused: “They do all the things: They think about shaving and not shaving, of primping and not primping, of buying men’s clothes and women’s clothes. I guess it’s interesting to try to be another sex.” (reference 10).

Note: drag queen is a man who ostentatiously dresses up in women’s clothes.

Mother and Child by Romare Bearden

Mother and Child, 1977, by Romare Bearden. Technique: silkscreen with photolithograph, signed in pencil.

Illustration: Mother and Child, 1977, by Romare Bearden. Technique: silkscreen with photolithograph, signed in pencil.

Image source: artsy.net

Romare Howard Bearden (1911, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. – 1988, New York City, U.S.) was an African-American artist, collagist, and songwriter.

Romare Bearden blended images of African-American life with references to religion, popular culture, and Classical art and myth. Bearden sought to give the African-American experience a universal and Classical representation. Not rarely, Bearden drew the political injustices of his time into a universal, allegorical context (reference 11).

Girl with tear by Roy Lichteinstein

Girl With Tear, 1977, by Roy Lichtenstein.

Illustration: Girl With Tear, 1977, by Roy Lichtenstein.

Image source: paintingstar.com

Roy Lichtenstein (1923, Manhattan, New York, U. S. – 1997, New York, U. S.) was an American pop artist.

As described on Artsy.net, Roy Lichtenstein mined advertisements and comics to make groundbreaking paintings that brought American pop culture into the gallery space. He undermined the distinction between painting and printing as he made canvases that looked as though they’d come from a commercial press.

Roy Lichtenstein rarely painted abstract paintings like “Girl with Tear”, as he commonly known by his naturally looking-comics drawings, such as Blond Woman.

Darth Vader and the Clone army in Star Wars

Star Wars villain Darth Vader

Illustration: Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

Image source: independent.ie

Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

About Dart Vader

At the very beginning, Darth Vader is known to the viewer as Anakin – a young man who is the “Chosen One” of Jedi Prophecy, who will bring balance to the Force, in other words, who will bring peace to the universe. Anakin had been Obi-Wan Kenobi’s brilliant student, but was swayed to the dark side by Palpatine. Anakin had chosen to walk on the dark path only because he believed doing so would save Padme’s (his beloved) life. Anakin personally killed all the boys-students of Obi-Wan’s school and betrayed all whom it was possible, led by Palpatine’s insidious advices. Anakin battled Obi-Wan on a volcano and was badly wounded, he barely was able to breathe. Paltapine took care of his “new student” and Anakin was then reborn as Vader. He now wears a helmet covering all his head, as his mouth now being connected to tubes which supply oxygen for breathing. He hides his invalidity and weakness under the mask. As Vader, Anakin spends the following decades serving under the Palpatine’s Galactic Empire. However, when later Vader (Anakin) sees that Palpatine was willing to kill his and Padme’s son, Luke, because the latter had joined the Jedi, he killed Paltapine and therefore destroyed the Palpatine’s Galactic Empire. Ironically, this was Anakin’s way fulfilling his role as the Chosen One: redeeming himself by defeating his master to protect his son, while sacrificing himself (references 12, 13 and 14).

About the Clone army

star_wars_clone_army In 2002’s “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” the cloners had been secretly creating a Grand Army of the Republic comprised entirely of clones.

Here are the excerpts from Starwars.fandom.com about how the armor of the Clones was developed:

“The armor could be standardized and produced rapidly due to the fact that clone troopers were genetically identical soldiers. Despite the advantages it offered, Phase I was uncomfortable to wear due to the Kaminoans’ unfamiliarity with human ergonomics. Due to its lack of comfort, Phase 1 armor was often called the ‘body bucket’ by clones.

The armor was also standardized and produced rapidly as the clones were genetically identical soldiers, modeled on a single template—the human bounty hunter Jango Fett.

One frequently used armor variant was the HT-77 Cold Assault Armor, which provided clone cold assault troopers with improved breath filters and insulation for arctic conditions.

Clone SCUBA troopers were outfitted with Clone Dive Armor for underwater combat. As such, SCUBA gear was lighter than regular armor and featured fins, life-support equipment—providing oxygen to breathe—and propulsion packs.” (reference 15).

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fant%C3%B4mas#Films
  2. https://www.max-ernst.com/ubu-imperator.jsp
  3. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/ernst-max/artworks/
  4. Dali’s inspiration
  5. http://arthistorynewsreport.blogspot.com/2017/02/max-ernst-at-auction.html
  6. Attirement of the Bride
  7. https://www.canvastar.com/en/max-ernst-attirement-of-the-bride
  8. https://www.centurymodernism.com/shop/current-sales/photographs/original-salvador-dali.html
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fant%C3%B4mas
  10. https://www.artsy.net/artist-series/andy-warhol-ladies-and-gentlemen
  11. https://www.artsy.net/artwork/romare-bearden-mother-and-child-9
  12. https://www.looper.com/460637/questionable-things-we-ignore-in-the-star-wars-franchise/
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skywalker_family
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader
  15. https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Clone_trooper_armor

To be continued…


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