Rebecca Fortnum on the Henry Moore Centre

In my latest publish on Gwen John I discussed that it was unlucky that for a few years she was considered considered one of Rodin’s fashions somewhat than as an artist in her personal proper. Just some days later I am reminded of this by an exhibition that focuses on Rodin’s relationship with different girls in his life. There’s an exhibition on on the Henry Moore Centre in Leeds that’s of curiosity to portray, drawing, sculpture and set up practitioners. Rebecca Fortnum has managed to convey all these practices collectively right into a small one room exhibition that demonstrates how sharply centered analysis can be utilized to drive work ahead. It is usually an excellent instance of how one can curate a small area and with last exhibits on the horizon, it might be helpful to go and see this exhibition if solely to evaluate how effectively it makes use of the out there area. 

Rebecca Fortnum: ‘Les Praticiennes’ (Hoffman, Anna)’ 2022, oil on gesso board. Portray primarily based on authentic work by Malvina Hoffman, ‘Masks of Anna Pavlova’ 1924, tinted wax, The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, New York.

Rebecca Fortnum, ‘Les Praticiennes (Bernhardt, Louise)’ 2022, oil on gesso board. Portray primarily based on authentic work by Sarah Bernhardt, ‘Louise Abbéma’ 1878, marble, Musée D’Orsay, Paris.

The cross fertilisation of various facets of apply is fascinating. Initially now we have Fortnum’s work primarily based on pictures of sculptures. All of the work are made at the same dimension and orientation, in order that they match neatly right into a grid of pictures. The unique topics would have been sculptures made by the ladies that Fortnum has researched. These sculptures would have been photographed on the time utilizing black and white movie, then these pictures would have been rediscovered later both as authentic photographic pictures or as black and white prints of them in a ebook. Fortnum then makes work of the faces of those sculptures working from the pictures, including color as she does so. Subsequently sculpture, pictures and portray are fused collectively as Fortnum seeks to infuse life again into these pictures, in some ways making these girls come again alive to us by infusing the entire of 1 wall of the exhibition with color. 

On the adjoining wall are massive framed black and white drawings constituted of the faces of the sculptures these girls labored on, most of that are after all males. These pictures are bigger, organised in a extra natural presentation and are manufactured from a wealthy black chalk on paper. Thus making this wall extra imposing, particularly as these males primarily look instantly out at you, somewhat than turning their gaze inwards. 

On a 3rd wall is one massive black chalk drawing of a full size statue; Bessie Vonnoh’s Sarah Bernhardt. This single picture in some ways sums up the problems Fortnum is presenting. Vonnoh is offered as an artist who’s able to making full size sculptural portraits, Bernhardt is offered as a big girl of her time and by Fortnum isolating the drawing, we’re requested to consider this picture’s double significance. 

Rebecca Fortnum was a latest artist researcher in residence on the Henry Moore centre and had used her time as a researcher to observe the lives of girls who had labored with Rodin in the course of the time of his fame, both as studio assistants or as members in his artwork courses.

Rodin devoted vital time to instructing girls to sculpt, in addition to using them as studio assistants. At the moment, different artists seldom labored with girls and for essentially the most half, girls working in sculpture in turn-of-the-century Paris encountered demeaning prejudice. What 

Fortnum discovered was that every one of Rodin’s feminine assistants had extraordinary and normally unpublished, life narratives and he or she determined to subsequently make a physique of labor to treatment this. 

Fortnum chosen sculptural works by twelve girls who she had researched and located to be not simply related to Rodin’s studio, however who had been making sculptures in their very own proper.  She has made portrait work from their work, and has exhibited these work towards hand designed wallpaper, the work forming a daily rectangle set out towards the wallpaper’s regularly graded pink patterned floor. These pictures of girls usually have their eyes closed or downcast, reflecting both an inside religious life or a sure modesty that was anticipated of girls on the time. 

“In my choice these girls are depicting girls (usually a buddy or peer) with their eyes downcast or closed, trying away. I benefit from the ambiguity implicit in each the signalling of empowered absorption or self-containment alongside a studying of social conformity and feminine modesty. The viewer might resolve which.” – Rebecca Fortnum

Essentially the most intense picture that sits inside the ‘male’ wall is that drawn from Camille Claudel’s Bust of Rodin. His beard is somewhat like a drive of nature, cascading down like a waterfall, an indication of his male virility. This depth I think about is a component and parcel of what Fortnum is making an attempt to signify, the ‘heroic’ stance anticipated from romanticised male artists being maybe as a lot as a lure because the demure downward solid stances of the ladies depicted, each women and men trapped inside the expectations of their time and society. The rewriting of historical past is nevertheless all the time simply that, it would not change what truly occurred, it may possibly solely be for the long run. By seeing the previous for what it was we hopefully do not make the identical traps for ourselves once more, however as Margaret Atwood pointed out, ‘Males are afraid that girls will giggle at them. Ladies are afraid that males will kill them.’ 

Camille Claudel: Bust of Rodin

Rebecca Fortnum, ‘Les Praticiennes (Warrick Fuller, Maxwell)’ 2022, carbon pencil on paper. Drawing primarily based on authentic work by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, ‘Poet (Portrait of Maxwell Nicy Hayson)’ c. Nineteen Twenties, painted plaster

Rebecca Fortnum, ‘Bessie Vonnoh’s Sarah Bernhardt’ 2022, Carbon pencil on paper.

The total checklist of the artists which have offered supply materials for Fortnum’s work contains:

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923)
Kühne Beveridge (1879-1944)
Camille Claudel (1864-1943)
Hilda Flodin (1877-1958)
Sigrid af Forselles (1860-1935)
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968)
Anna Golubkina (1864-1927)
Malvina Hoffman (1885-1966)
Madeleine Jouvray (1862-1935)
Jessie Lipscomb (1861-1952)
Clara Rilke-Westhoff (1878-1954)
Bessie Potter Vonnoh (1872-1955)
Ottilie Maclaren Wallace (1875-1947)
Emilie Jenny Weyl (1855-1934)
Enid Yandell (1869-1934)

See additionally:

Whether or not or to not use principle Rebecca Fortnum approaches her analysis from a standpoint inside Feminist Concept. The exhibition is a transparent instance of how analysis can drive apply, however how do you resolve what kind of principle to make use of as a assist for analysis?