Saturday, 19 January 2013

The 31 Women Number Two, Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp  was born today, the 19th January 1889, in Davos, Switzerland.    
Sophie Taeuber in 1927 working on her
Cafe Aubette project in Strasburg
Sophie Taeuber was a Swiss artist who was a very important participant in two major art movements and a contributor to a third, Surrealism. She was a founding member of the Modernist movement into pure abstraction in Western art. Her C.V. reads like a twentieth century Renaissance woman. She was a Dada artist and performer, an avant-garde dancer and abstract artist, creating paintings, drawings, collage, relief and concrete sculpture. In between art projects, her creativity was hugely diverse. She treated all forms of expression as equally valid: dance, choreography, puppetry, textiles, costume, jewellery, interior and theatre design as well as the fine arts.  

She was also a teacher of art and crafts, a publisher and she designed her own house. She counted most of the western avant-garde as her friends and worked in collaboration with numerous other artists including Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara and Jean Arp, her husband.

In spite of her significance to the course of modern art, she has suffered the seemingly inevitable eclipse behind the reputation of her husband, like so many other women artists. Not much of her writing is available, she contributed small articles to the magazine Plastique, which she edited and published. Also still extant is some of the teaching material that she wrote for her design students during the 1920’s.

Is there really that much difference between short story writing & blogging?

This interesting question has been posed in an online discussion group. Experienced short fiction writers will wince, but others who spend their lives immersed in new media may struggle with the idea that there is any difference. This was my reply to the question. Any comments?

I've been writing short stories for many years, blogging for a few of those and I think the two can go together very well, provided the short fiction is just that, short! 4000 words is ok for a short story, but too long for a blog entry, few will want to read anything that big. 1000 words is flash fiction (though personally I think that's too long for flash, but that's a different discussion!) and is fine for a blog, though even shorter is better.

The other thing is, a short story is a work of art and not written in five minutes. It should be carefully crafted, well edited and exude perfection! Flash fiction should be especially well tended. On the other hand, a typical blog entry is informative, conversational and less formal, not precisely put together; anything goes provided the typos are kept under control. So decide if your blog entry is a work of art or an informative article, and proceed accordingly.

btw, a great place to try out your short fiction is:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Book review; Aline Meyer Liebman, Pioneer Collector and Artist

my book review of
Aline Meyer Liebman, Pioneer Collector and Artist
by Margaret Liebman Berger
This book, by Aline Meyer Liebman's daughter, provides insights and some useful information on a woman who was a photographer, art collector and  practicing artist and also an active, generous patron of the arts. Her love of modern art led her to be an important supporter of Alfred Steiglitz' revolutionary galleries in New York City in the 1920's.

As well as providing indispensable support to Steiglitz, Aline's enthusiasm for modernism led her to be a founder of the New York based Museum of Modern Art, contributing at its creation in 1929 with both finance and her time. She continued to serve MoMA on the museum's committees for many years and remained concerned with the practical expansion of MoMA's remit. In 1948 she made a financial donation specifically for the purchase of photographic works by younger artists.

The book suffers a little from not being professionally put together and published privately. The writing is non-academic and it lacks a bibliography. Nonetheless, as a family tribute it is better than average and the illustrations include some of her photographs and paintings, which are not available elsewhere. The book also has unique value as a reminder of artist and art collector Aline Meyer Liebman. She is one of a few overlooked women whose enthusiastic patronage was vital to the success of modern art in the early years of the twentieth century.
The book is out of print and I bought a second hand copy via

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The 31 Women - Number One, Gypsy Rose Lee

Gypsy Rose Lee in 1937, with one of her dogs
I decided to begin with Gipsy Rose Lee as her birthday, 9th of January is the first in the year - although it may actually have been on the 19th of February, or on a different day entirely. To understand why, and what she was doing in an art exhibition, you must read the biography below!

Gypsy Rose Lee        Born Jan 8, 1911 or Feb 19, 1912..?           Died April 26, 1970

In 1943 Louise Rose Hovick was by far the most famous of all the 31 Women, but as an artiste rather than an artist, under her stage name of Gypsy Rose Lee.
From childhood she had a career as a dancer, actress and then a stripper and burlesque performer, gaining her fame & notoriety. She was a multi-talented, self-educated woman and a great self-publicist who read voraciously and described herself as the Literary Stripper. Introduced into New York’s artistic circles in 1940, Gypsy decided to try her hand at the visual arts. Two shows at Peggy  Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery included Gypsy's work, however her aspirations to be a visual artist were short lived.  She remained friends with Peggy and many of the artists but her own creations were just one of her many hobbies, soon replace by another.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Exhibition by 31 Women - Resolution for this blog.

As I still seem incapable of doing anything new in the way of creative writing, I've returned to my work on the 31 Women. These artists are defined as a group by their participation in the 1943 "Exhibition by 31 Women" which was held at Peggy Guggenheim's New York City gallery, Art of This Century. I've been researching and writing about this exhibition and its participants for several years. I will post a list of the artists here, and over subsequent weeks I'll post a paragraph or six about each of them.
Many of these artists are not well known and if you have any information about the lesser known ones (marked  *) I'd be delighted to hear - just post a comment and I'll get back to you. I'm interested to know the whereabouts of any works by them,  especially work in private hands.

The 31 Women (and where they were active as artists)

1  *        Djuna Barnes - France/USA

2     *     Xenia Cage (Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff) - USA

3          Leonora Carrington - UK/France/Mexico

4          Maria Elena Vieira da Silva - Portugal/Brazil/France

5      *  Elisabeth Eyre de Lanux - USA/France

6          Leonor Fini - Italy/France (born Argentina)

7   *     Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (Else Plotz) (The Dada Baroness) - Germany/USA/France

8      *    Suzy Frelinghysen - USA

9      *    Meraud (Guinness) Guevara – UK/France

10     *   Anne Harvey – USA/France

11    *    Valentine Hugo - France

12    *    Buffie Johnson  - USA          

13        Frida Kahlo - Mexico/USA

14   *     Jacqueline Lamba (Breton) - France/USA

15        Gypsy Rose Lee - USA

16   *     Aline Meyer Liebman USA

17    *    Hazel McKinley (Guggenheim, King-Farlow) – USA/UK

18    *    Milena Pavlovic Barilli – Yugoslavia/USA

19        Louise Nevelson - USA

20        Meret Oppenheim - Switzerland/France

21    *    Barbara Reis (Poe-Levee) - USA

22        Irene Rice Pereira - USA

23        Kay Sage (Tanguy) - USA/Italy/France

24    *    Sonja Sekula - Switzerland/USA

25   *     Gretchen Schoeninger - USA

26     *   Esphyr Slobodkina - USA

27        Hedda Sterne – USA

28        Dorothea Tanning - USA/France

29        Sophie Taeuber (Arp) - Switzerland/France

30   *     Julia Thecla - USA

31    *    Pegeen Vail - USA/France/UK/Italy (b. Switzerland)