Sunday 1 January 2012

New Year – old art enters the public domain

As regular Art & Artifice readers will know, New Year celebrations are not just about watching fireworks, dancing, and eating and drinking enough to survive a resolution ridden January. The real point of the New Year is to celebrate the fact that a lot more works enter the public domain. 1709 blog has looked at some of the key literary and musical works which have entered the public domain (particularly the works of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce).

Amongst the artists whose work has entered the public domain, we have the sculptor behind Mount Rushmore, a cubist, an anti-cubist, a “Glasgow Boy”, the most expensive female Indian painter and several photographers and designers.

We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible but if there are any artists who died in 1941 that we have missed, please use the comments section below to let us know.

Simultaneous Windows on the City, 1912
Robert Delaunay was a French artist who cofounded the Orphism art movement (a form of cubism noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes).

His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee (whose works entered the public domain last year).

Sources: Art Icons and Wikipedia

Building Mount Rushmore

Gutzon Borglum was an artist with a penchant for carving political figures. He is most famous for creating the Presidents’ heads at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (and for being referenced in National Treasure 2!). He also created the famous carving on Stone Mountain which depicts three figures of the Confederate States of America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis, as well as other public works of art including a six-ton bust of Abraham Lincoln, and a series of sculptures in Manhattan's Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

In 1916, Borglum was appointed to cut away much of the copper surface of the statue of liberty torch's flame and install glass windows. Snow and rain leaked in through the windows leading to corrosion. In the mid-1980s the old torch was removed and placed in a museum. The replacement torch is covered with gold leaf.
For a gallery of Borglum’s work, see here.
Sources:, Statue of Liberty Blog and wikipedia

Churchill by Lavery
Sir John Lavery, one of the “Glasgow Boys” first entered the world of art through a job touching up photographic negatives in Glasgow. Before long he had developed a considerable reputation. Indeed, his early work was hung next to Manet's Bar at the Folies Bergère at the 1882 salon.

Although appointed an official artist in the First World War a combination of illness and a car crash during a zeppelin bombing raid kept him from fulfilling this role as war artist. He later moved on to portraiture and painted everyone from Winston Churchill to John McCormack. After the war he was knighted and in 1921 he was elected to the Royal Academy.

Sources: Wikipedia and

Three Girls

Amrita Sher-Gil was an eminent Indian painter, sometimes known as India's Frida Kahlo. She is reportedly the 'most expensive' woman painter of India. She had a Eurasian upbringing, born in Hungary, studying art in France but living much of the intervening period in the Punjab. After receiving considerable critical acclaim in France, in 1934, Sher-Gil returned to India and evolved her own distinct style which tended to take Indian villagers and beggars as her subject.
Sources: and wikipedia

Alexander Sakharoff, 1909
Alexej von Jawlensky was a Russian expressionist painter active in Germany. His work has grown in reputation and price tag. In February 2008 his Schokko mit Tellerhut sold for £9,400,000. Despite having built a strong reputation and made a lot of friends in Germany, when The Great War began, Jawlensky was expelled from Germany due to his Russian citizenship.

Source: wikipedia

1919 propaganda - Beat the Whites
El Lissitzky was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, typographer, polemicist and architect. He was an important figure of the Russian avant garde, helping develop suprematism and designing numerous exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus and constructivist movements, and he experimented with production techniques and stylistic devices that would go on to dominate 20th-century graphic design.

El Lissitzky developed a suprematist style of his own, a series of abstract, geometric paintings which he called Proun (effectively suprematism in 3D). He took the principles one step further and between 1923 to 1925 developed the idea of “horizontal skyscrapers”. Each proposed “sky scraper” was a flat three-story, 180-meter-wide L-shaped slab raised 50 meters above street level. Lissitzky argued that as long as humans cannot fly, moving horizontally is natural and moving vertically is not.

Fountain of Naiads, Rome
Mario Rutelli was a Palermo based Italian sculptor. His masterpiece is a Fountain of Naiads on the Piazza della Repubblica in Rome. He dedicated himself to big monuments such as the monument to Anita Garibaldi on Janiculum Hill in Rome.
Among his surviving works are the statue of Goethe at Munich, and a war memorial in Aberystwyth.

Source: Rome Tour

Alice in Wonderland furnishing fabric
Charles Voysey was an English architect, and furniture and textile designer. His early work was as a designer of wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings in a simple Arts and Crafts style. He is renowned as the architect of a number of notable country houses. He was one of the first people to understand and appreciate the significance of industrial design.

Voysey was influenced by the work of William Morris, the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau. Unlike most Vicotorian design, he was concerned with form and function i.e. simplicity over the ornamental and decorative.

Sources: The V&A and Wikipedia

Water Rats
Francis Meadow Sutcliffe made a living as a portrait photographer. He is today known for his extensive photographs of the people of Whitby, a town he lived in and knew well.
His most famous photograph, Water Rats, was taken in 1886.

A selection of his photos available here.

Seiki Kayamori was a Japanese photographer who spent the latter part of his life in Alaska. The FBI suspected him of spying. Two days after the attack, awaiting his arrest, Kayamori committed suicide. No credible evidence has ever been produced to indicate that he was a spy. Many of Kayamori's photographs are now kept in the Alaska State Library.

Maximilien Luce was a French Neo-impressionist artist. Luce is best known for his pointillist canvases. Like Pissarro, he was active with anarchist groups in Paris in the 1890s. During World War I, Luce painted war scenes, depicting soldiers struggling against the horrors of the Great War.

The Kolkhoznik, 1931

Pavel Filonov formulated the principles of analytical realism, or "anti-Cubism". According to Filonov, Cubism represents objects using elements of their surface geometry but "analytical realists" should represent objects using elements of their inner soul.

From 1932 onward, Filonov literally starved but refused to sell his works to private collectors. He wanted to give all his works to the Russian Museum as a gift so as to start a Museum of Analytical Realism. He died of starvation on December 3, 1941 during the Nazi Siege of Leningrad.
Source: MOMA

1 comment:

mathinker said...

As the advance of technology / medical knowledge extends the human lifetime, one wonders if "copyright terrorist" groups will spring up which will plot to murder creators so that their works will enter the public domain earlier.

What if science discovers the secret of how to accomplish cryogenic suspension and reanimation? Will the copyrights of frozen creators never expire? What a chilling thought!