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Paul Chabas (1869 - 1937)
Seaweed (ca. 1909) - Paul Chabas
Paul Emile Chabas was a painter and member of the Académie des beaux-arts living from 1869 to 1937 in France. He was a student of William Bouguereau (1825-1905).
Paul Chabas's September Morn wins the kitsch label because it lacks interesting features: contrast, coordinated lines, and a worthy subject but rather leans toward the melodramatic. Its success rather derived from scandal than from anything else. Ironically the scandal causing this fame was provoked by the person that wanted to prohibit people ever seeing it - if he had done nothing, it's likely nobody would even remember the painting
His preferential subject was a nude young girl in a natural setting. His most famous painting is September Morn, not because it was particularly better or worse than any other of his paintings, but because it was reproduced massively following a scandal, set afire by Anthony Comstock, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Ultimately, the painting would be labelled as - and often cited as an example of - Kitsch, which in that case would probably apply to most other works by Chabas too. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Emile_Chabas [Sept 2004]
Matinee de Septembre (1912) - Paul Emile Chabas
September Morn (1912) - Paul Emile Chabas
Matinee de Septembre (or September Morn) was painted by the French artist Paul Emile Chabas (1869-1937) over three summers, ending in 1912, and won a medal in a Paris art show that year but did not create any sensation.
Paul Chabas's September Morn wins the kitsch label because it lacks interesting features: contrast, coordinated lines, and a worthy subject but rather leans towards the melodramatic. Its success rather derived from scandal than from anything else. Ironically the scandal causing this fame was provoked by the person that wanted to prohibit people ever seeing it - if he had done nothing, nobody would probably even remember the painting, and even less probable that it would still be on display in a major museumThe next year, when it was in a window of an art gallery in Manhattan, New York (USA), it caught the attention of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), a self-appointed crusader against "vice" at the time whose campaign to have the "dirty picture" suppressed made it famous. The public relations pioneer Harry Reichenbach claimed to have brought it to Comstock's attention as a contract job for the targeted gallery.
Lithograph copies of the artwork were popularly sold for over a decade, extending the succes that followed the scandal.
Ultimately, the painting would be labelled as - and is often cited as an example of - Kitsch. Copies of the image are still sold on postcards, etc...
Still today - for whatever reason - September Morn probably belongs more to the collective unconscious than any other of the images Paul Chabas created.
The original painting is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_Morn [Sept 2004]
Picturing Paedophilia: The Salon Nymphettes and Child Pornography of ‘la Belle Époque’
In nearly every Salon of the Artistes Français and Nationale des Beaux-Arts from the turn of the century until the outbreak of the First World War, Francis Aubertin and Paul Chabas exhibited paintings of naked pubescent girls. Although pictured in such seemingly innocuous roles as frolicking in water or gathering seaweed, unlike the Salon paintings of Virginie Demont-Breton, Aubertin’s and Chabas’ girls are represented invariably unescorted and unprotected. Consisted with the sexually awakened children of Bouguereau and Gérome, these nymphettes are posed as knowing and as perky and pouting as Nabokov’s Lolita, in the titillating postures explored and exploited by child pornographers for the paedophiliac’s delectation. Far from being censured, in 1912 Chabas won the Section de Peinture Médaille d’Honneur for Matinée de Septembre, while Aubertin’s Chants sur l’eau was acquired by the Ville de Paris for the Petit Palais.
In light of the relationship established between child pornography and paedophilic projection by recent research, this paper will question whether such artworks can continue to be exhibited as innocent of paedophilic dimensions or whether they may need to be historically and theoretically recontextualised as awkward, anomalous and aberrant.--Fae Brauer, University of New South Wales --http://www.aah.org.uk/confs/2001aah/2001s16.html [Sept 2004]
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