Monday, May 11, 2015

Artist of the Week: Lucien Levy-Dhurmer


Lucien Levy-Dhurmer was a master of pastels, painter of fantastical scenes, portraits and beautiful Mediterranean landscapes. He was born Lucien Lévy to a Jewish family in Algiers. From 1879 Lucien Levy attended drawing and sculpture classes at his local school in Paris. In 1886, he met Raphael Collin, who advised him in art training.

 Lucien Levy-Dhurmer's pastel and charcoal picture "Medusa" or "Waging Wave" (shown here) was completed in 1897. The artwork is an excellent example of the symbolist style. Symbolists prefer vision to sight. The art is tinged with spirituality and plunges into beliefs, myths and legends. For them woman is often a deadly creature, a poisonous, raging being, a monster of accursed beauty. The world of appearances fades away before the dream like universe; the elements come to life, take human form and become nightmarish figures. They call themselves Symbolists, these painters, draughtsman and artists who share the same goal: to make the invisible visible, to cling to fate, dreams from the subconscious and other places. Lucien Levy- praise for the academic attention to detail with which he captured figures lost in a Pre-Raphaelike haze of melancholy, contrasted with bright Impressionist coloration. His portrait of writer Georges Rodenbach is perhaps the most striking example of this strange and extraordinary synergy. Lucien Levy Dhurmer began to use pastels a great deal, this medium with its suggestive blurred effects, lending itself to the magic of symbolism; several of his contemporaries, particularly Fantin-Latour and Khnopff, were equally attracted by his pastel technique. He was influenced by the ideas both of Khnopff and the Pre-Raphaelites (this latter influence can be seen particularly in his rather languid women and his idealized figures). Levy-Dhurmer exhibited frequently at the Salon d'Automne.

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