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APRIL 2022

WELCOME TO THE EAST  FINCHLEY OPEN  ARTISTS APRIL NEWSLETTER


CHARITY AUCTION
 
This year we are again running our online Charity Auction in aid of Homeless Action in Barnet. The auction will be online on our website from 15th - 23rd April 
From 15th April log on to www.eastfinchleyopen.org.uk and follow the links to Charity Auction
On May 1st you will be able to log on to our website and see our members take on the Queens Jubilee!

And not forgetting this year we will be running our normal
Artists Open House Weekends 
in the Summer
25/26 June and 2/3rd July


We also have exhibitions at the Phoenix Cinema and the Original Gallery in Crouch End later in the year

If you are viewing on gmail remember to click 'display images' and 'view entire message' when you reach the bottom.


JULIUS SHULMAN was an American photographer

MIKE COLES writes:-

"WHAT GOOD IS A DREAM HOUSE IF YOU HAVEN'T GOT A DREAM?" - JULIUS SHULMAN
 
The term ‘American Dream’ was coined by historian James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book, Epic of America.  He described it as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" - although the Dream concept had already been around for over 100 years.

In the 19th and 20th centuries America was a magnet for successive waves of immigrants from Western and Eastern Europe.- the Irish, Jewish and Italians prominent among them, seeking a better life. At first, they settled in urban districts of large Eastern cities but as they made good, many moved out and were replaced by new communities – Korean, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Central American and many others.


“The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is believed to be achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance”.

Home ownership, along with education, is a key marker of attaining the American Dream. It is a symbol of financial success and independence.

By the 1930’s successive generations of (white) immigrants who had made a success of their lives, and were wealthy enough, could take the ultimate steps to attain the best that the American Dream could offer - and to many that meant California and in particular Los Angeles.

Let’s go back in time to a hilltop above Hollywood in Los Angeles.
Case Study House No 22 (the Stahl House) photo by Julius Shulman
Now let’s imagine this scene

               It’s May 9th 1960 – a balmy evening in Los Angeles. It’s warm and the ever-present smell of jasmine wafts through the open windows. Two (white) women are seated in a living room overlooking Hollywood with the glimmering lights of downtown in the distance. The maid is mixing Pina Coladas in the kitchen.

               The women are dressed in party clothes. They have been to the beauty 'parlor' to fix their hair. The owner of the house, one of the woman's husband, is at the tailors collecting his new check 'sport' coat. He will wear it to the party tonight at the golf club where he will be honoured as ‘Golfer of the Year’.

                At work he has just been promoted to Senior Executive Vice President for Regional Sales at his company that makes sanitary porcelain. Their son is in his Junior year at UCLA – they say he will be captain of the football team. Their daughter is in her last year at High school – the school says she is a gifted student – they even have a sticker for their car.

                A light breeze blows a couple of leaves on to the swimming pool outside – but that’s OK – the pool boy will deal with it tomorrow.


                The women discuss which fondue set to buy – everybody’s getting one.


(A London suburban impression but for a more accurate view of what happened that night in May 1960, when the photo was taken – see later)

British architect Sir Norman Foster has written: “If I had to choose one photograph, one architectural moment, of which I would like to have been the author, this is surely it.”

The photograph, Case Study House No 22  (also known as the Stahl House), was taken by Julius Shulman. Over time it has become the most famous photograph ever taken of Los Angeles, representing the pinnacle of Californian Modernist architecture and the Dream at the end of the American rainbow.

The photo captured the excitement and promises that owning a house held, and propelled Case Study No. 22 into the forefront of national consciousness. The most iconic building in L.A. – this single image would encapsulate the hopes and dreams of L.A.’s future.
Architect Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House No. 22, was unlike any home ever constructed at the time.


(If we had revisited the same view 5 years later, we would be able to see the burning buildings of the Watts district across in South Los Angeles as race riots took hold. Racist real estate policies limited African Americans' ability to move out of segregated urban neighbourhoods, and discrimination restricted their access to skilled and professional jobs as well as higher education. In 1965, anger and desperation turned into violence triggered by rumours of police brutality. The violence in Watts — the most destructive urban uprising in US history at that time — lasted a week, involved more than 10,000 people and left at least 34 dead.)

The Dream was under pressure. Now the middle classes would live in gated communities with tight security and armed response to anyone (non-white) who had no reason to be there.
Left: Case Study House No 22 - a colour version taken during the day  Right: Julius Schulman at work
Let's go back a few more years -
 
From the 1930’s a group of American West Coast architects created a new housing style – now known as Californian Modernism. Hallmarks of this style are attention to indoor-outdoor living, open plans, rectilinear structures, often constructed with steel frames, and extensive use of glass.

California Modernism can be interpreted as a variation of international modernism, but which tailors its approach to the weather, climate, and materials which are unique to California. The principal features are: blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor, including interior courtyards as a means of bringing nature into the home, Linking the home to nature and its surrounding landscape, framing views and allowing emphasis on the specific materials used in the construction. 

One of these Californian architects was Richard Neutra, a prominent modernist who had worked for Frank Lloyd Wright - both were steeped in the European Bauhaus tradition. He mainly built suburban single-family detached homes for wealthy clients.

Julius Shulman was born in 1910 to an orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, and after a spell on a small Connecticut farm moved to Los Angeles at the age of ten. Shulman first gained an interest in photography at High School when taking an optional photography course. At the University of California, he earned pin money by taking photographs for fellow students.

Graduating in 1936, he was enlisted by a friend, who was working as a draftsman for Richard Neutra, to take photographs of a new, Neutra-designed building in Hollywood with his amateur Kodak Vest Pocket camera. (The Kun House is one of the modernist architect’s iconic landmarks. The very first all-electric home in L.A., it was designed for Josef Kun, a journalist, and completed in 1936.) When Neutra saw the pictures he asked to meet the photographer and proceeded to give Shulman his first assignments which enabled him to launch his career in architectural photography.
Left; Shulman's breakthrough 1936 photo of Neutra's 'Kun House' that attracted the architects attention. Right: Shulman's photo of Rudolph Schindler's 'Fitzpatrick House' also in 1936
But back to Case Study House No 22, the photo at the very top.

The wartime growth of the aerospace industry brought to Los Angeles an influx of workers from across the country attracted by the climate, landscape and high paying work at the Hughes, Douglas, Northrop  and Lockheed aircraft factories and their many suppliers. As a result, Los Angeles became the fastest growing city in America. With this rapidly growing population came a need for relatively affordable, replicable houses for post-World War II family living. This set the stage for the Case Study House Program.

The idea for the program came from the editor of the Los Angeles-based Arts & Architecture magazine John Entenza.

In the January 1945 issue Entenza promoted and sponsored a competition to design and construct modern, affordable, easily built houses. He envisioned solving the problem of housing shortages and anticipated the coming building boom that would follow World War II, and before that the Depression. They would serve serve as a models for post-war living, providing the public and the building industry an opportunity to access affordable, mid-century modernism and simple designs.

Eight prominent architects were selected for the first eight buildings including Richard Neutra and also Pierre Koenig, and it was Koenig who built Case Study No 22. The Case Study project was ambitious -  two of the houses were designed in 1945 but not completed until 1949. Nevertheless, it was so successful that it ran until 1966 and saw 350,000 visitors tour the open homes before clients took up residence. Floor-to-ceiling glass, steel frames, horizontal lines, modular components, open-floor plans and multi-purpose rooms were all elements of the Case Study’s take on modernism.

The project was meant to be a service to the average hard-working Americans, not bijou built houses on massive budgets. The plan was to build models of cheap, stylish homes that middle-class Americans could enjoy.

“it is important that the best materials available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”

However, predictably, despite Arts and Architecture magazine’s conscious effort to present the project 
as social philanthropy, it ended up being architects playtime in very high-profile neighbourhoods such as the Hollywood Hills, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Most of Case Study Houses, including Case Study No 22, didn't look like anything an ordinary American could afford. They seem to be go against the announcement’s rules that the houses “must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual “performance”. The Case Study No 22's flat roof, for example, would be a questionable choice of form over function. It’s location on a rocky outcrop was a construction nightmare.

But if John Entenza and his magazine can be credited with branding this new form of modernism as a lifestyle, it was architectural photographer Julius Shulman who sold it.
Some of Julius Shulman's other work - he favoured black and white but did some colour too, including a cocktail party all respectable Americans could aspire to.
A total of 36 houses and apartment buildings were commissioned; a couple dozen were built, and about 20 still stand in the greater Los Angeles area. Some have been remodelled, but others have been well preserved. Eleven were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

The irony is that almost all the Case Study houses were one-offs, modernist gems that were never replicated. Instead of using the best of post-war technology, the building industry used the booming market to populate the ever expanding suburbs with housing built by a de-unionised and deskilled workforce. Wooden frames were vastly cheaper than steel and required less skill to manage. Case Sudy House No22, (The Stahl House), represents an alternative history - custom-built precision architecture that everyone wanted but few ended up getting.

Some photographers are synonymous with the cities they have immortalized. Arthur Fellig, (Weegee) in New York. Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris for example. The photography of Julius Shulman beckoned post-war America to Los Angeles: Take off those overcoats and relax! Sip martinis in space-age houses! Create paradise in your own backyard! (Terms and Conditions apply)

Shulman documented nearly 8,000 subjects over a 72-year career. His work, whether in black and white or colour isn’t just about composition and light. It is about lifestyle – and it’s just waiting for you!

Shulman retired from active architectural work in 1989. The Shulman’s archives of more than 250,000 meticulously filed negatives were transferred to the Getty Research Institute in 2004 and have since become a major source of information for publishers and researchers. His photographs continue to appear in hundreds of magazines and books.  He died at his home in Los Angeles, California on July 15, 2009; he was 98 years old.

Postscript
 
What was it really like on the evening of May 9th 1960 when the 'Case Study House No 22' photograph  was taken?

In case you are interested in the technical details of the photograph. The camera was a Sinar large format plate camera with black and white film. The two women who were models were sitting in the dark and remained reasonably still for seven minutes while the first exposure was taken– of the outside and the city below. After seven minutes they were alerted to freeze for a short flash exposure that lit the interior.

The reflection of the flash is carefully hidden behind a pillar between the two women. Like O Winston Link and Cartier -Bresson, Schulman only usually took one picture and got it right first time.

JULIUS SHULMAN: “It was a warm night, and I was inside photographing the house with Pierre. (Pierre Keonig, the architect), I happened to step outside and saw the view, and here the girls were sitting through the glass, just having a conversation. My assistant was setting some lights for me—we were doing an interior photograph—and then when I saw what was going on, I quickly came back in the house and told everyone, “We’re changing the composition,” brought the camera outside, and readjusted the lights”.

LELAND Y. LEE: “I was Julius’s assistant. Julius worked very fast, but you had to wait for the right light, especially doing night pictures. There was a lot of improvisation, cutting branches and moving them to hide bare spots or create the illusion of land where it didn’t exist. We had to manoeuvre and place lights mostly to avoid reflections in the glass. Sometimes it would help to open a sliding glass door”.

PIERRE KOENIG: (architect) “You don’t see it in the picture—it all looks serene—but in the background all hell is breaking loose. People are running around, and junk and trash is piled up. If I had a proclivity for an ulcer, I’d certainly have had one that night”.

To undermine things a bit more - The whole magic of the house was front facing - over the city. If you thought at the back there would be a lush tropical garden with palm trees, then you would be out of luck. Here is the back on May 9th 1960. It just looks like a tin shed - which basically it was at the time  - too cold in winter and too hot in summer.
Julius Shulman was a skilled and innovative photographer. He used and managed light to enhance the building put in front of him and reflect the architects vision. A vision that was a lot more than some steel and glass - maybe a dream. But that's all in your mind.
MEMBERS NEWS - CHRISTINE WATSON PS
Congratulations from everyone to past EFOA chair and renowned pastel artist Christine Watson, who has been elected to be a member of the Pastel Society, (which is the Pastel Society equivalent of being an RA).

Christine has now been added to the Pastel Society website which is www.thepastelsociety.org.uk.
Christine has also had a print selected to be hung in the Pull of the Print exhibition at the Linden Hall Gallery in Deal, Kent

30th April to 31st May.

https://lindenhallstudio.co.uk/exhibitions/45-the-pull-of-the-print-an-exhibition-of-works-by-members-of-the/overview/
MARIA PRYMACHENKO

"I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian."  Pablo Picasso (on visiting one of her exhibitions in Paris in 1936)

Maria Prymachenko was a Ukrainian folk-art painter. A self-taught artist, she also worked in embroidery and ceramics. She was born on  12 January 1909 to a peasant family and spent the majority of her life in the village of Bolotnya in the Kyiv region, (only 19 miles from Chernobyl). She attended school for four years, before suffering from polio, leaving her disabled, which impacted her life and art.

Prymachenko's paintings are considered a prominent example of European "naïve art," a term used to describe work by artists without formal training. The painter rose from humble beginnings to earn the prestigious title of People's Artist of Ukraine in 1970, when the country was under Soviet control.

In the 1930’s she had several operations and was subsequently able to stand on both legs, and at the same time in Kyiv she met her beloved fellow countryman, the Red Army lieutenant Vasyl Marynchuk. In March 1941 she gave birth to their son Fedir. A few months later Ukraine was occupied by the Nazis.

She experienced all the horrors of war. Her brother Ivan was shot by the Germans, and later her husband was also killed. The hard war years were exchanged for post-war poverty, working on a collective farm, and bringing up her son. She had neither the time nor the strength for painting. But her intensive artistic energy was still there and eventually she returned to painting - predominantly small compositions with animals, birds and landscapes on leaves from school sketchbooks.

In time, the character of her paintings changed. The white backgrounds of the 1930s works gave way to coloured ones in the 1960s, her technique moved from the transparent watercolours with clear graphic contours of her early works to thick intensive gouache. But the world of her images remained unchanged, as well as the virtuosity of line and colour.
 
Ukrainian country life was her canvas. Her gouache and watercolour works are vibrant and imaginative, depicting symmetrical red poppies tucked in a small vase or fantastical bull-like animals sprouting two-headed snakes - expressive and consistently advocating for peace. Images had often арреаred to the artist in dreams and later materialised in her compositions.

Maria Pryimachenko’s artworks depict fabulous mythological beasts and take their roots іn folk legends and fairy-tales, nourished bу real life and culture of the Ukrainian реорlе.
Above: Maria Prymachenko's work 'A Dove has Spread her Wings and asks for Peace' has become a symbol of protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as above in San Francisco
A couple of weeks ago Invading Russian forces destroyed the museum in Ivankiv, a city northwest of the Kyiv, that was home to dozens of her works. The Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum was burnt to the ground.

Vlada Litovchenko, director of the Vyshhorod Historical and Cultural Reserve, confirmed the “irreparable loss.” -“The idea of creating an international movement to protect historical monuments in case of armed conflict was written into the basic principles of UNESCO,” Litovchenko said. “Since 2014, the Russian Federation has been systematically violating international humanitarian law and international conventions for the protection of cultural heritage, here now and over the past 8 years on the Crimea Peninsula.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent assertions that the country is historically and culturally part of Russia -- a pretext for last month's unprovoked invasion -- have led to fears that his military may seek to destroy examples of Ukraine's unique artistic traditions. For this reason, Litovchenko believes that the museum in Ivankiv was a direct target, not a victim of collateral damage.

Maria Prymachenko died in 1997 at the age of 88
PAINTING BY NUMBERS
Reading this newsletter, have you ever thought 'I'd like to try to do some painting but I'm never going to be as good as those EFOA people'. Well there is a simple way you can start. Do you remember when you were a child, painting books where you painted by numbers? Well now painting by numbers has grown up.

How does it work? You email a French company with your favourite photo of your pet, or family or anything really, as long as its not too complicated, and they send you in return a paper canvas with your photo broken down into outlines and colour numbers plus the numbered paints and some brushes. A 40cm x 50cm picture costs about £25, but there are smaller and bigger sizes. You then paint in the numbers yourself and show your friends (it's up to you whether you mention how you did it!)

Who knows, after the experience you might try something without numbers with the left-over paints - and you are on your way!

This is the company - if you don't have a picture of your own they have plenty of ready made ones..
https://artnumbers.co.uk/collections/top-sale
WALKING THROUGH A POMPEI VILLA BEFORE VESUVIUS

Archaeologists at Lund University near Malmo in Sweden have recreated a Pompeiian villa destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD using virtual reality technology to better understand how visitors would have seen the ancient home. 

The researchers carefully created a digital model of the ancient home known as the House of the Epigrams, a villa excavated in the 1870s and so named because it contains mythical paintings accompanied by Greek epigrams.

While the owner of the house is impossible to know for sure, researchers have suggested it may have belonged to a Lucius Valerius Flaccus due to a signet ring bearing his 'sigil' being discovered there. Regardless, the home’s lavish decorations and numerous impressive frescoes indicate it belonged to an important patrician family.

Here is a short video giving some background:

Exploring Pompeii by virtual reality - YouTube
ABOUT EAST FINCHLEY OPEN ARTISTS
Find out about us on our website www.eastfinchleyopen.org.uk
There you will find details of all our current members plus photo's of their work and contact details plus information on recent and upcoming exhibitions
MEMBERSHIP:  If you are interested in
joining East Finchley Open Artists please contact the Membership Secretary at membership@eastfinchleyopen.org.uk
If anything comes up in the newsletter that you would like to respond to, please get in touch
Send your comments to  mikecolesphoto@gmail.com
If you have any thoughts on how East Finchley Open Artists can improve their value to the local community please contact:-    chair.efo@gmail.com
To visit the EFO website with details of all the EFO artists and much more click on this link:-

www.eastfinchleyopen.org.uk
Copyright © 2022  East Finchley Open Artists - All rights reserved.
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