XXth Century French School
The Kelp Pickers' dated 1930
Oil on canvas
14 x 17.5 in.
This depiction of kelp pickers appears to be a preliminary study for mural work that was especially popular in France during the inter-war period. Many artists of the period would work on book illustrations, posters advertising social causes, and urban design projects as a means of supplementing their meager income.
The glorification of the workers, here retrieving the precious seaweed that serves as fertilizer for the soil, is conveyed through their arduous physical labor, and the artist refrains from personalizing the figures, preferring to emphasizing the back breaking task at hand. The curvilinear form of the cattle is typical of the Art Deco movement, and the dark, earthy tonalities are softened by the background light that subtly draws the viewer into the composition.
XX Century, Ecole de Pont Aven
'The Woman from Brittany'
Graphite on gouache
8 x 12 in.
This delicate work owes subject matter and technique to the school founded by Paul Gauguin at the end of the XIXth century. Its inspiration is derived from in the quaint villages along the Brittany coast near the town of Pont Aven, with its particular brand of folklore and indigenous dress.
The details of the face and gnarled fingers are meticulously depicted, and the figure’s downward gaze reveals her total concentration of the task at hand. The cascade of flowers adds a decorative element to the composition, flattening the pictorial surface and adding a lyrical quality to the work.