24 maart 2017

Hans Makart #3

The large studio of Hans Makart, ca. 1875. (bron: Wikimedia Commons, foto: Josef Löwy)

Eerder plaatse ik deze foto in de post van 9 maart 2015, maar voor deze serie is het nuttig hem nog eens te plaatsen (hk).

Hans Makart in his studio around 1880.(bron: my delineated life)

Een ander prent met een vergelijkbare situatie in het atelier is nog te zien bij alamy.com (hk).

Hans Makart: Der Triumph der Ariadne, ca. 1874. (collectie: Belvedere, Wenen)

Hans Makart: Death of Cleopatra, 1875.

The Viennese artist Hans Makart possessed a formidable appetite for decoration. Upon moving in 1871 into a new studio space, a former bronze foundry with a shedlike hall expansive enough to accommodate his enormous paintings, Makart set about laying a sumptuous feast of adornment (fig. 1). Over the next several years, he heaped every surface, like a groaning banquet table, with a bountiful array of exotic fruits: tapestries, carpets, animal skins, paintings, sculptures, furniture, antique curios, and his signature Makartbouquets, vases filled with tall sheaves of grasses, fronds, and feathers.

This rich visual repast, with its sheer volume and variety, became for generations of observers an object of delectation but also disgust. Disagreements about the merits of the studio’s decoration have had to do with more than a simple matter of taste. Indeed, there has been a fundamental divergence of opinion about exactly what the studio was really like. How exactly did the space look and how was it experienced? During Makart’s lifetime, when the studio achieved celebrity-like fame, daily visiting hours offered intimate, firsthand access to an admiring public. According to one report, “every literate tourist had to see it.”1 But following the artist’s death, when the interior was dismantled and its contents auctioned, interpretations of Makart’s studio became subject to the vicissitudes of representation. To later critics and historians, the space has been known through a handful of photographs, engravings, and paintings, as well as an auction catalogue listing its contents and numerous anecdotal descriptions written by visitors. These materials draw attention to different characteristics of the decoration, and from each, distinct ideas of the studio’s character or meaning have emerged.

The most widely reproduced and familiar image is a documentary photograph taken in 1875. The photograph (or its engraved copies) appeared frequently in the popular illustrated press and in professional journals and books over the following decades. Brightly illuminated and crisply focused, the black-and-white image draws attention to the quantity, variety, and composition of objects within the space. For later commentators, whose knowledge of the studio derived from the photograph, it was precisely all of the stuff that was most striking and, ultimately, disturbing. The terms used by these authors, like Trödelbude (junk room), Möbel-Magazin (furniture warehouse), or vollgepfroft (jammed full), evoke the studio’s dense materiality and disparage its perceived excess. The turn-of-the-century German critic Alfred Lichtwark, for example, characterized the studio, along with the popular Makartstil of home decoration that it spawned in the 1880s and 1890s, as containing “so many sharp ornaments in the most unlikely places, that the inept visitor returned home with inflamed kneecaps. If you really cared about your children, whom you gave pretty old German names to go with the furniture, you didn’t let them go about unsupervised, or they would come out with scratched hands and sore heads.”2 The excess of physical matter, and the bodily threat it posed, made the studio frighteningly inhospitable. All who enter, beware!
...." (bron: West 86th)

“Dutch Artists Party” held in Makart’s studio on December 22, 1879; photographic reproduction of a watercolor by Makart. (bron: West 86th, collectie: Wien Museum, Vienna)

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