Sunday, September 19, 2010

"La Paresse" by Felix Vollotton

This woodcut is by the innovative (for his time) Swiss artist Felix Vollotton. Vollotton's prints were known for his flat planes of black and white and patterns instead of gradations.

I love Vollotton's prints for all the same reasons I love the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley (who was likely influenced by Vollotton.) There's something fun about the figures and the world they inhabit. The postures and poses of people and creatures have personality. But there is also something eerie about them. The patterns and textures on clothing, furniture, and fabrics are suggestive and seem to move. The larger planes of white seem lit up, while the black shadows seem like deep holes. Pictures such as these carry me to another world, and I'm both delighted and cautious to be there.

The woman in this picture is just laying on a bed petting a cat, right? So why do I feel like there's much more to the story? It just seems sort of pretty at first, but the longer I look and notice details the more my imagination carries me away. The zig-zag edge of the blanket seems to comb the floor. The pillows and blankets behind the woman's body appear to have hair and creepy crawlies all over them. The bed appears to sink under the woman's outstretched arm, so is it really a bed or something else? The strange angle, the woman's nakedness, and the stretched body of the cat heighten some sense of drama. And yet the woman's pose is relaxed. Her head leans on its side and she gently kicks her legs back and forth. After all, she's just laying on a bed petting a cat, right?

1 comment:

  1. I like how the woman and cat are connected in their stark whiteness while the patterns nearly shimmer with movement.