Thursday, May 30, 2013

10 paintings on women immortalized by famous artists

Madame X – John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent, the most successful portrait painter of his era painted this extra-ordinary portrait near the start of his career. He had hoped it would win him fame – and it did, but not particularly in the way he had imagined. The artist approached Virginie Gautreau, a famous society beauty and wife of a French banker, who agreed to his request of being the model for his painting.
Sargent chose the pose for his model carefully - her body boldly faces forward, while her head has a turned in profile - a posture of both assertion and retreat. When the “unpaintable” beauty with her hourglass figure and ivory complexion was finally completed in Sargent’s painting and put on display at the Paris Salon in 1884, it created a full fledged cultural scandal. The public was shocked by her low-cut dress, deathly white make up, and outraged by the fact that one of her dress straps was hanging off her shoulder – a sure sign of impropriety.
The scandal caused Virginie to retire from society and Sargent repainted the shoulder strap once the exhibition was over. He left Paris soon after the scandal, but always maintained that the portrait was the finest thing he painted. The painting was sold by Sargent to the Metropolitan Museum in 1916.

Flaming June – Lord Frederic Leighton

Flaming June is widely considered to be Frederic Lord Freigton’s magnum opus today and vividly portrays the artist’s classicist nature. The painting starkly recalls one of Michelangelo’s “Night” in the Medici chapel in Florence. However, according to Leighton, the set up was not intentionally designed; it came about naturally when his exhausted model Dorothy Dene was resting.
Dorothy Dene who was chosen by Leighton as the one woman"whose face and figure most closely tallied with his ideal" was also an English actress, and modeled for many of Leighton’s works. Dene was also was known as the most beautiful woman in England in the 1890s. Rumors implied that Leighton was in love with Dene before he died, but the artist and the model could never be married because of the long gap in their years – Leighton was seventy and Dene was only twenty-eight!
Flaming June was auctioned in the 1960s, during a period of time known to be difficult for selling Victorian era paintings, where it failed to sell for its low reserve price of $140 USD. But the painting gained immense popularity with the revival of the Victorian Era and was rescued from obscurity when it was purchased by the Ponce Museum of Art in Puerto Rico, where it currently resides.

Madame Ginoux – Vincent van Gogh

L'Arlésienne, L'Arlésienne (Madame Ginoux),or Portrait of Madame Ginoux made news early in the year 2006 for being sold at an auction in New York for more than $40m. The 1890 painting was one in a series of five  paintings created in homage to Van Gogh's friend, the artist Paul Gauguin.
Madame Ginoux, a local from Arles was married to Joseph-Michel Ginoux and was the proprietress of Café de la Gare, where both the artists visited frequently during their stay at Arles. It was during this period that Van Gogh cut off his own ear. The painting was done in a period of deep melancholy for Van Gogh, when his relationship with Paul Gauguin ended and the artist was institutionalized in an asylum.
In the final depiction of Madame Ginoux, Van Gogh diverted from his own, somewhat more animated form of sketching and adopted a treatment that was closer in style to that of Gaugin. On 17 June 1890, Van Gogh wrote of his work to Gauguin, “It is a synthesis of the Arlésiennes, if you like; as syntheses of the Arlésiennes are rare, take this as a work belonging to you and me as a summary of our months of work together.”

Portrait of Gala – Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali’s Portrait of Gala, depicts his wife, his muse and the woman he called as his agent between the genius and the real world, Gala Dali.
The artist’s absolute adoration for his wife, who was ten years older to him, was evident in his paintings in the early 1930s where he started to sign his paintings with his and her name. Dali was noted to be rather unsystematic and uncontrolled with his private affairs and he stated that it was Gala who had saved him from madness and an early death at these times. However, the later years of their relationship had bittered owing to Gala’s numerous extramarital affairs that resulted in her lack of attention to an insecure and self doubting Dali. Most of Dali’s later paintings thus went on to depict Gala in a dark and hazy light.
This portrait of Gala too lacked the fresh, unyielding and overriding expression that was evident in most of Dali’s previous works with Gala. Nevertheless, many of the works that the artist is now famous for were created with Gala as his muse.

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Jan Vermeer

This “Mona Lisa of the North" or the “Dutch Mona Lisa” is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's masterworks and uses a pearl earring for a focal point in the picture. The picture is not a portrait but a study of a woman’s head known in Vermeer’s day as atronie. Like in all of Vermeer’s paintings, the subject for this painting too has never been confirmed.
In any case, the most frequently mentioned candidate for the model for the Girl with a Pearl Earring has been Vermeer’s eldest daughter Maria. Magdalena, the only daughter of Vermeer's principle patron, Pieter Van Ruijven, has also been proposed as a possible candidate. The idea that Vermeer engaged a maid as the sitter has been put forth in recent fictional literature (Tracy Chevalier’s historical novel by the same name), although there exists absolutely no historical evidence that supports this idea.
Despite the fact that Vermeer is known to have painted only 35 paintings, he is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the Dutch Golden Age. Vermeer acquired only modest recognition in his lifetime, but gained widespread respect after his death. His techniques, in particular his mastery of light have inspired modern artists of all types, including Dali.

Fritza von Riedler – Gustav Klimt

Fritza von Reidler was one of the many women employed in the most common theme that Klimt utilized in his paintings:  that of the dominant woman, the femme fatale.
The woman in this popular painting of Klimt emerges from a sitting position in a froth of white lace and heavy satin ribbons with her head being framed by an ornate stained glass window; this framing marks her out as a person of high heritage and importance. Being a son of an engraver in gold and silver it was hardly surprising that the later works of the Austrian symbolist painter   dazzled with the splendor of decorative elements. Klimt adorned every part of the canvas with geometrical and organic forms in gold and silver. It is only the size and bearing that Klimt rendered to Riedler’s stature that keeps her from being flooded by the decorative elements in the portrait.
Although not much is known about Fritza von Riedler, this painting was one of the artist’s most famous and admired work and strongly influenced Klimt’s younger contemporaries. The painting currently resides in the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria.

Whistler’s Mother    James McNeill Whistler

Whistler’s Mother painted by American artist James McNeill Whistler was originally titledArrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother. The painting was rendered in interesting form: Whistler presented in it such overarching angularity that only the contour ofAnna Whistler’s body provided an extent of visual respite.
Several unverifiable legends surround the well known painting. One is that the original portrait subject did not arrive on time, so the artist’s mother took her place. Another is that Mrs. Whistler, who was aged 67 during the painting of the picture was originally supposed to stand for the portrait, but growing tired, sat down for the remainder of her painting.
The painting has been referred to in popular culture to this day – movies, sitcoms, short stories, videogames, et all. (Remember the Mr. Bean movie where the cracked actor sneezes on the painting while overseeing its installation in a museum?) Whistler’s Mother is also looked at as a distinctive symbol of motherhood - The year 1934 had the U.S Post Office issue a stamp engraved with a stylized image of Whistler’s mother accompanied by the slogan "In Memory and In Honor of the Mothers of America."

Portrait of Dora Maar – Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso and Henriette Theodora Markovitch, alias Dora Maar were together as a couple for a decade through the 1930s and 40s. The stunningly beautiful French photographer, poet and painter, was most famously known as Picasso’s private muse, model, companion, and intellectual partner.Their relationship was wild, stormy, and unconventional. Maar greatly suffered from Picasso’s mood swings but her love for him was unconditional. Picasso, who was known for the pain that he caused his lovers, often painted and depicted Maar in grotesque, appalling forms. Maar would often deny Picasso’s ethereal love for her by saying, “All his portraits of me are lies. They’re all Picassos. Not one is Dora Maar.”
However, the series of portraits he painted of her are Picasso’s most esteemed today.
It was one of her portraits that broke all records of their time - Dora Maar au Chat (Dora Maar with Cat) was auctioned at Sotheby's at a closing price of US$95,216,000 to a mystery bidder, making it one of the world's most expensive paintings ever sold.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer    Gustav Klimt

Adele Bloch-Bauer was the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy industrialist who sponsored the artist’s works and supported Gustav Klimt. Adele had an affair with Klimt that started in 1899 and lasted for several years. As a result, she was the only society lady whom Klimt painted twice. Adele also served as a model for his two depictions of Judith. The second picture of her, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, was completed in 1912.
The first portrait of the lady is a gold-flecked portrayal of a Viennese sugar magnate’s wife, and is made of extravagant decorative materials, typical to Klimt's style - It  boasts of  generous expanses of gold and silver leaf  applied directly onto the canvas.
The original painting was plundered by the Nazis and only returned recently to the rightful heirs, who sold it in 2006 to Ronald Lauder for the Neue Galerie in New York for a record US $135 million - surpassing Picasso's Boy With a Pipe(sold for $104 million) as the highest reported price ever paid for a painting. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II was sold in November 2006 for $88 million, the third highest priced piece of art at an auction at that time.

Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci

Nothing official to be said about the Mona Lisa! Most people know that Leonardo da Vinci is the artist, but the woman’s identity is still a mystery to many. There are even some speculations that the lady in the painting is Leonardo da Vinci himself, in female form. However, the most commonly accepted theory is that the woman with the enigmatic smile is Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco di Bartolommeo - the man who may have commissioned the portrait.
To this day the Italians know the lady who was then 24 years and the mother of two sons as La Gioconda and the French, as Joconde, which literally translates to the jocund or playful one. Part of the painting’s fame is derived from the fact that it was stolen from the Louvre in Paris in a sensational heist by an Italian nationalist - but the painting was fortunately recovered two years later.
The mysterious lady presently resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris and is protected in a climate controlled environment and enclosed in bullet proof glass. This room was built especially for the painting and cost the museum over seven million dollars!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

क्यूंकि तुम होती हो!

'यू नो, आजकल जिसे भी पढ़ती हूँ, सबकी कहानियों में सिगरेट होती है, शराब होती है, जिस्म होता है और सेक्स भी....जैसे इन सब के बिना इश्क कभी पूरा नहीं होता और न कोई लव स्टोरी. चेतन भगत को ही देख लो. तुम्हारी कहानियों में ये सब क्यूँ नहीं होता? ऎसा इश्क कैसे कर लेते हो तुम....बिना  सिगरेट, शराब के?'
'क्यूंकि मैं चेतन भगत नहीं हूँ?'
'हाँ नहीं हो, तभी तो तुम्हारा इश्क बस बैचेनी और दर्द से भरा होता है. कभी-कभी सोचती हूँ तुम्हारी कहानियाँ उनसे ज्यादा पवित्र हैं....और शायद इश्क भी.'
'क्यों? क्यूंकि उनमें सेक्स नहीं है इसलिए?'
'नहीं, इसलिए नहीं. क्यूंकि उनमें सच्चाई है बस इसलिए. तुम्हें पढ़ते मैं रूह के सबसे पास होती हूँ.'
हम एक दूसरी की तरफ देखते हैं. वो हौले से मुस्कुराती है.
'मैं जा रहा हूँ.'
'फिर कब आओगे 'विव'?'
'कभी भी... मैं तुमसे दूर ही कितना हूँ? बस एक बियर की बोतल तक!'
हा हा हा..... हम हँस पड़ते हैं.........
'देखो आ गयी न शराब.'
'क्या अब ये भी लिखोगे तुम?' वो हग करते -करते बोलती है.

       ......... और देखो मैंने लिख दिया!


'देखो वो बादल...तुम्हारे जैसा लग रहा है. बिलकुल 'भौंदू'. वो आसमान की ओर उंगली उठाते बोलती है.
'मैं भौंदू नहीं हूँ.'
'हाँ तब तुम बेवकूफ हो. पता है दुनिया का सबसे ज्यादा मुस्कुराने बाला इन्सान सबसे ज्यादा तन्हा होता है.......और जो तन्हा दिखता है वो बस दिखता है....शायद प्रेटेंड करता है दुनिया की नज़र में कि वो तन्हा है. हकीक़त में उसके पास भीड़ होती है और सच्चे लोग भी. तुम उन बेवकूफों में से हो जो तन्हा दिखते हैं.'
'क्यों? तुम्हें क्यूँ लगता है की मैं तनहा नहीं हूँ?'
'क्यूंकि तुम्हारे पास मैं हूँ.' वो धीरे से गाल चूमती है. '...और सिर्फ उसका न होना (My Ex) तुम्हें तन्हा नहीं कर सकता 'विव'. आज में जियो, मुझमें जियो.'
'हाँ, मैं शायद भौंदू हूँ.' मैं मुस्कुराता हूँ. वो मुझसे लिपट जाती है.

        कुछ शामें हसीन बिना बारिशों के भी होती हैं. क्यूंकि तुम होती हो!


'तुमने कभी डस्टर सूंघ के देखा है?'
'तुझे मैं पागल दिखता हूँ?'
'पागल नहीं बेवकूफ, वाइट बोर्ड का डस्टर....सूंघ के देखना मस्त खुशबू आती है.'
'बेबड़ी वो अल्कोहल की बू है, नशेड़ी हो तुम पूरी.'
'मैंने कभी शराब नहीं पी. बेबड़ी नहीं हूँ, समझे.'
'तो क्या हो?'
'आशिक.......तुम्हारी.' वो आँख मारती है.
'छुपचाप काम करो बेटा, शाम को ऑफिस से जल्दी निकलकर घुमने चलते हैं.'
'हाँ, मेरी स्कूटी पे, तुम्हें तो बाइक चलानी भी नहीं आती.' वो खिलखिलाती है.

तुम्हारी हंसी में कितना भोलापन है 'अशु' ....तुम पहले क्यूँ नहीं मिले.

Pic: Lord Frederic Leighton's world famous Painting 'Flaming June'

Sunday, May 12, 2013


                             कभी-कभी बच्चों को देखता हूँ टीवी पे तो लगता है इतना पोटेंशियल में उनमें कहाँ से आया ...इतनी सी उम्र और क्या-क्या कर लेते हैं...फिर एक दिल मायूसी से भर जाता है...इतनी जल्दी झोंक दिए गये कॉम्पटीशन में. क्या करें, माँ-बाप भी तो अपने सपने बच्चों की आँखों में झोंक देते हैं. मुझे अपना बचपन याद आता है...छोटा सा गाँव, छोटा सा स्कूल और उसमें खुद झाड़ू लगा कर फट्टी बिछाकर के बैठा करते थे हम. न कोई बड़े बड़े सपने, न कोई बड़ी बड़ी  बातें. बस घर से निकलो और स्कूल और वहां थोड़ी सी पढ़ाई और ढेर साडी मस्ती और लड़ाई...फिर बस घर आना. एक ही किताब थी दूसरी क्लास में और उसे मैं हर दस दिन में एक बार खरीदता था. कुछ तेरह रूपये की आती थी.

                           आधे लोगों को पढ़ के लगेगा कि किसी तेइस साल के लड़के के एसी कहानी कैसे हो सकती है, क्यूंकि 90's में तो देश तरक्की की राह पर था और कांवेंट्स भी बहुत थे....लेकिन मेरा गाँव तो अब भी वहीँ है....आज भी लोग मौज में हैं और झाड़ू लेकर आज भी अपनी जगह साफ़ कर लोग पढ़ते हैं. 

                         इसीलिए शायद गिरने से डर नहीं लगता. इससे नीचे कहाँ जाऊंगा. समझ आया? छोड़ो, तुम नहीं समझोगे कॉन्वेंट एज़ुकेटेड लड़के-लडकियों.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Still Walking Alone....

                 जब भी लिखता हूँ कुछ, लोगों को लगता है 'थोडा'. जैसे उन्हें चाहिए बड़े-बड़े लफ्ज़, लम्बी-लम्बी बातें. लेकिन सरोकार तो तब है, जब सारे के सारे एहसास समेटे गये हों कुछ लफ़्ज़ों में. कहते हैं 'वो तीन अल्फाज़' तो सारी कायनात के कहे तमाम लफ़्ज़ों से ज्यादा खूबसूरत लगते हैं. फ़िलहाल मेरी वही कोशिशें जारी हैं....कम लफ़्ज़ों में ज्यादा कहने की.

हिज्र की तराई में पले रिश्ते,
न जाने कब गुम हो जाते हैं.

....और हम ताकते रहते हैं,
वापसी के रास्ते को.


उस परीवश का जिक्र
जिस्म में करता है पैदा बर्क़.

....और तन्हाई बस
कट जाती है अतीत में!


ये बरसात
ज़रा उदास लगती है.

जैसे धरती के गम में
बेमौसम ही चली आई हो
एक-दो बोसे लेने.

तुम कभी आओगे बेमौसम?


तेरी आँखों में मेरे ख्वाब.

उफ़! आज फिर
तेरी इश्मत मुन्तशिर हुई होगी!

हिज्र- वियोग
परीवश- परी जैसी
बर्क़ - बिजली
मुन्तशिर- छिन्न-भिन्न
बोसे लेने- चूमने

Monday, May 6, 2013

रोज़गार और माँ

हर दफा घर से निकलते
पोंछना चाहता हूँ
तेरे आंसू.

हर रात,
सिरहाने तेरा हाथ
तकिया बना नज़र आता है.

रोटियों को अलट-पलट
देखता हूँ कई बार.
कि तेरे लम्स का कुछ एहसास हो.

हर दिन,
घर आना चाहता हूँ 'माँ'.
लेकिन क्या करूँ,
रोज़गार भी एक बड़ा मसला है.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Three Noticed Days.

जनवरी 20, 2013, Pune Maharashtra ____

               'प्रदेश  को विकास की ज़रूरत है, लेकिन ये तब तक नहीं होगा जब तक बिहार, उ.प्र. के लोग यहाँ आते रहेंगे.' मेरे सीनियर हैं, पढ़े-लिखे इंजिनियर और कुल नौ साल के करियर में छ: साल यू. एस. ए. में रहे हैं.

                 मैं उनके कॉलेज का नाम पूछ लेता हूँ. वो बड़े गर्व से एक बड़े से इंस्टिट्यूट का नाम बताते हैं. मुझे उनके इस गर्व पे तरस आता है. शायद पढ़ा-लिखा होना और अच्छे कॉलेज से पढना आपके  अक्लमंद होने की निशानी नहीं है. मुझे एसे पढ़े-लिखों से अच्छे अपने गाँव के अनपढ़ पर सीधे-सच्चे लोग ज्यादा अच्छे लगते हैं!


अप्रैल 21, 2013, Mysore Karnataka ____

         मैं उसके साथ मंदिर गया था, ये मंदिर हमारे यहाँ के मंदिरों से अलग है. देश में हर दो सौ गज़ पे बोली बदलती है तो आस्था भी और पूजा के तरीके भी. फिर देश अपना है, तभी तो घर से 2000 KM दूर भी अपनापन लगता है. मैं आदतन 'मंगलाष्टक' पढने लगता हूँ........ "देखो ये दो-दो लोग किस तरह से भगवान की मूर्ति साफ़ कर रहे हैं. बाहर कोई गिरा पड़ा होता तो उठाते भी नहीं!" वो मूर्ति साफ़ करते पुजारियों को देख बोलती है.

                       मैं उसकी तरफ देखता हूँ, उसके चेहरे पर उन पुजारियों से ज्यादा तेज़ था.


Today, Mysore Karnataka ____

              कुछ लिखना तो चाहता हूँ तुमपर भी, लेकिन मेरी सबसे अच्छी दोस्त ने कहा है कि उसे नहीं लगता की कभी तुमने मुझसे प्यार किया था..... मुझे भी लगने लगा है की शायद वो सही है.