Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Art of Erté[1-2]
Artist Profile (Prints on Paper)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Artist’s Profile of Erté[1]
Russian born artist – Romain de Trirtoff – better known as Erté (from the French pronunciation of his initials, R and T) – has produced a wealth of silkscreens that reflect his dazzling inventiveness, stunning elegance of wit and a refusal to produce formulated artworks.

Erté as a yound man.

He was born on the 23rd November 1892 in St. Petersburg (Russia) and died in Paris (France) on the 21st April 1990. In 1907, he lived one year in Paris. In 1910–12, he moved to Paris at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a designer. He made that decision despite strong objections from his father, who wanted him to continue the family tradition and become a naval officer. He assumed his pseudonym - Erté - to avoid disgracing the family name.

As a young boy he was fascinated by the Persian miniatures he found in his father's library. These miniatures were exotic, and brightly patterned designs, which continued to be important to him throughout his life since they influenced the development of his artistic style.

In 1915 he began a long relationship with Harper's Bazaar, during which time he created over 240 covers for the magazine. His fashion designs also appeared in many other publications, making him one of the most widely recognized artists of the 1920s.

The influence of his work as a result of his high visibility influenced an entire art movement that was to become known as “Art Deco”. He said around 1901 that: "…I did not discover Beardsley until I had already been in Paris for a year".

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s he also created original costume and fashion designs for many of the era’s most renowned screen actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova, Norma Shearer and others. His creations for the stage included extravagant designs for productions at such venues as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris and the Paris Opera, as well as for the Folies-Bergères and George White’s Scandals.

At the age of 75, Erté was encouraged to embark on a new career and began to recreate the remarkable designs of his youth in bronze and serigraphy. The Art Deco movement was hence reborn. A lifetime of international success and recognition has ensured this unique artist's place in the annals of art history, and his original designs grace the permanent collections of prestigious museums throughout the world including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Erté is perhaps best remembered for the gloriously extravagant costumes and stage sets that he designed for the Folies-Bergère in Paris and George White's Scandals in New York, which exploit to the full his taste for the exotic and romantic, and his appreciation of the sinuous and lyrical human figure.

As well as the music hall, Erté also designed for the opera and the traditional theatre, and spent a brief and not wholly satisfactory period in Hollywood in 1925, at the invitation of Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

After a period of relative obscurity in the 1940s and 1950s, Erté's characteristic style found a new and enthusiastic market in the 1960s, and the artist responded to renewed demand by creating a series of colorful lithographic prints (see below) and sculpture. The luxuriously illustrated artworks (shown below) contains a rich and representative selection of images, drawn from throughout Erté's long and extraordinary productive career.

In 1976 the French government awarded Erté the title of Officer of Arts and Letters, and in 1982 the Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris was bestowed upon him.

Some Lithographic Prints of Erté[2]

The Pursuit of Flore.

Oriental Tale.

Her Secret Admirers.

The Slave.

La Traviata.

At the Theatre: Trapeze.

At the Theatre: The Dancer.

At the Theatre: Golden Calf.

At the Theatre: Mélisande.

The Nile.

[1] Erté Artist's Profile.
[2] New Erté Graphics, Erté, Dover publications, New York (1984).

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