Alfred Sisley – The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) was a  French landscape impressionist of English origin, who lived most of his life in Paris. Sisley is recognized as perhaps the most consistent. if not inspirational, of the Impressionists, never deviating into figure painting finding that the movement did not fulfill his artistic needs.

Modern, newly constructed bridges were often the focal point for compositions by Sisley and other Impressionists. The motif of the cast-iron and suspension bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne provides a sweeping diagonal thrust across this riverbank scene along the Seine painted in summer 1872. Sisley painted a more distant and less dramatic view of the same bridge that spring. The application of paint in flat, rectangular strokes and the crisp articulation of form are distinctive characteristics of the artist’s work in the early 1870s.

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Nigel Kennedy – Bach (Inventions on Violin and Cello)

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Roger de la Fresnaye – French Artist

Roger de La Fresnaye (11 July 1885 – 27 November 1925) – French cubist/fauvist painter.

He was born in Le Mans where his father, an officer in the French army, was temporarily stationed. The La Fresnaye’s were an aristocratic family whose ancestral home, the Château de La Fresnaye, was near Falaise. His education was classically based, and was followed from 1903 to 1904 by studies at the Académie Julian in Paris, and from 1904 to 1908 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. From 1908 he studied at the Académie Ranson under Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier, whose joint influence is evident in early works such as Woman with Chrysanthemums, 1909. This demonstrates the dreamlike symbolist ambience and stylistic character of work by the Les Nabis group.

From 1912 to 1914 he was a member of the Section d’Or group of artists, and his work demonstrates an individual response to cubism. He was influenced by Braque and Picasso but his work has a more decorative than structural feel and his prismatic colours reflect the influence of Robert Delaunay. He was a member of the Puteaux Group, an orphist offshoot of cubism led by Jacques Villon. His most famous work is The Conquest of the Air, 1913, and depicts a scene with himself and his brother outdoors with a balloon in the background (see below).

La Fresnaye served in the French army in World War 1 and his health deteriorated rapidly after the war. He never recovered the physical energy to undertake sustained work. In the later paintings that he did create, he abandoned cubist spatial analysis for a more linear style. He died in Grasse in 1925.

Cows in a Meadow

 
Conquest of the Air
 
Landscape at La Ferte-Soud Jouarre 
 
White House at Audierne
 
Still Life with Coffee Pot and Melon
 

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Clude Monet – Anglers

Here are two paintings, plus one early study, of Anglers by Claude Monet in the 1880s.
 
Anglers on the Seine at Poissy (1882)
 
 
Two Men Fishing (Study)
 
 
Two Men Fishing (1880-82)
 
 

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Jacques Brel – Le Moribond

Some of you may remember the sickly sweet version of this song by Terry Jacks in the 60s – Seasons in the Sun. Here is the original by Jacques Brel, I have also attempted a translation which is as close to this as i can do ( If you can think of any improvements – let me know)
    

Le Moribond

Adieu l’Émile je t’aimais bien
Adieu l’Émile je t’aimais bien tu sais
On a chanté les mêmes vins
On a chanté les mêmes filles
On a chanté les mêmes chagrins
Adieu l’Émile je vais mourir
C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais
Mais je pars aux fleurs la paix dans l’ame
Car vu que tu es bon comme du pain blanc
Je sais que tu prendras soin de ma femme

 

(Chorus)
Je veux qu’on rie
Je veux qu’on danse
Je veux qu’on s’amuse comme des fous
Je veux qu’on rie
Je veux qu’on danse
Quand c’est qu’on me mettra dans le trou

 

Adieu Curé je t’aimais bien
Adieu Curé je t’aimais bien tu sais
On n’était pas du même bord
On n’était pas du même chemin
Mais on cherchait le même port
Adieu Curé je vais mourir
C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais
Mais je pars aux fleurs la paix dans l’ame
Car vu que tu étais son confident
Je sais que tu prendras soin de ma femme

(Chorus)

 

Adieu l’Antoine je t’aimais pas bien
Adieu l’Antoine je t’aimais pas bien tu sais
J’en crève de crever aujourd’hui
Alors que toi tu es bien vivant
Et même plus solide que l’ennui
Adieu l’Antoine je vais mourir
C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais
Mais je pars aux fleurs la paix dans l’ame
Car vu que tu étais son amant
Je sais que tu prendras soin de ma femme

(Chorus)

 

Adieu ma femme je t’aimais bien
Adieu ma femme je t’aimais bien tu sais
Mais je prends le train pour le Bon Dieu
Je prends le train qui est avant le tien
Mais on prend tous le train qu’on peut
Adieu ma femme je vais mourir
C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais
Mais je pars aux fleurs les yeux fermés ma femme
Car vu que je les ai fermés souvent
Je sais que tu prendras soin de mon ame

(Chorus)

The Dying

Goodbye, Emile, I loved you well
Goodbye, Emile, I loved you well, you know
We sang of the same wines
We sang of the same women
We sang of the same sorrows
Goodbye, Emile, I’m going to die
It’s hard to die in the Spring, you know
But I leave for the flowers with peace in my soul
Because you are good as fresh bread
I know you will take care of my wife

 

(Chorus)
I want all to laugh
I want all to dance
I want all to party like mad

I want all to laugh
I want all  to dance
When it is the time to put me in the ground

 

Goodbye, Father, I loved you well

Goodbye, Father, I loved you well, you know
We weren’t on the same side
We weren’t on the same path
But we were searching for the same port
Goodbye, Father, I’m going to die
It’s hard to die in the Spring, you know
But I go to the flowers with peace in my soul
Because you were her Confessor
I know you will take care of my wife

(Chorus)

 

Goodbye, Antoine, I didn’t like you at all
Goodbye, Antoine, I didn’t like you at all, you know
It is killing me to die today
While you are living so well
And even stronger in your tedium
Goodbye, Antoine, I’m going to die
It’s hard to die in the Spring, you know
But I go to the flowers with peace in my soul
Because you were her Lover
I know you will take care of my wife

(Chorus)

 

Goodbye, my wife, I loved you
Goodbye, my wife, I loved you well, you know
But I’m catching the train to the Good Lord
I’m taking that train before you
But we all take that train when we have to
Goodbye, my wife, I’m going to die
It’s hard to die in the Spring, you know
But I go to the flowers eyes closed, my wife
As I often closed them before
I know you will take care of my soul

(Chorus)

 

 

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Summertime – Edward Hopper

Summertime, 1943
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Oil on canvas

A consummate American Scene painter of the 1930s and 1940s, Edward Hopper, my favourite american artist, depicted landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, representing the modern world around him as a lonely, alienating place.  Born in Nyack, New York, in 1882, he showed an early inclination towards the Visual Arts and attended the New York School of Illustrating and the New York School of Art where he studied with William Merritt Chase.  He also studied with Robert Henri whose paintings of unadorned, everyday city life propelled him to focus his artistic efforts on like subjects.  Drawn to exterior and interior architectural settings usually inhabited by solitary figures or groups of non-communicating individuals, Hopper captured the atmosphere of urban life through a style of painting that uniquely blended realism with abstraction.

Summertime conveys the feeling of a sweltering day in New York City.  The curtain on the window seems set in motion by an interior fan, emphasizing the lack of air.  The strong verticals and horizontals of the architecture and sidewalk, based on preparatory drawings of a particular building Hopper later altered in the finished painting, give the illusion of space horizontally and vertically extended beyond the picture plane.  A solitary female figure in a clinging dress, based on preparatory drawings of the artist’s wife, Jo, creates a counterpoint to the compositional, almost abstract, starkness of the background architecture and the play of light and cast shadows.  Hopper’s artistic manipulation of the scene to convey a mood of eerie loneliness within the formally balanced backdrop of an impersonal city block is most readily evident in the lack of eye pupils and the incorrectly formed shadow of the female figure.  Devoid of any specific narrative, the painting as a whole projects the vast emptiness of modern urban existence. (courtesy of Delaware Art Museum)

Here is the finished painting along with two earlier studies

 

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The Olympic Flame – My Thoughts

Freedom is a Flame that Burns Brighter
 

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