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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Careers

Rachel Ruysch, 1706, Godfried Schalcken (left)
Maria van Oosterwijck,1671, Wallerant Vaillant (right)
Two of a kind, separated by a generation and the judgments of art historians.
Seldom does the opportunity arise in which we can judge the judgments of art historians past and present with any degree of objectivity. Art, by its very nature, is subjective. Style is subjective, content is subjective, even the artists technical virtuosity is subjective, ruled by what the artist wished to proclaim, which is likewise subjective. Although they are often linked, the arts and sciences have as their major difference, the subjective verses the objective. Art deals with feelings and aesthetics. Science deals with provable facts which can be replicated by others. The accumulation of vast quantities of such facts yields data. About the only data associated with art has to do with selling prices, which, as every artist will tell you, are anything but objective, thus making them also subjective.
Flowers on a Tree Trunk,
Rachel Ruysch
Flower Still-life, 1669,
Maria van Oosterwijck
Today I came upon the work of two artists who had so much in common they could almost be considered the basis for an art experiment. They also had a couple differences, which we might deem to be outcomes, the only common factor being the judgments of art historians since their time. Maria van Oosterwijck and Rachel Ruysch were both Dutch Golden Age floral painters. Maria was born in 1630, Rachel in 1664, so there was almost exactly one generation between them, though the century which we call the Dutch Golden Age was so consistently economically and aesthetically that the age difference makes little difference. To view their work, one does see differences, Maria (above, left), being more prone to still-lifes featuring flowers while Rachel was more of a purist in that regard, painting pretty much only flowers (above, right). In terms of technique, there was virtually no difference between them. They were both extremely talented within their specialty. Marie, on rare occasions, painted a few portraits.
Vanitas Still-life, 1668, Maria Oosterwijck
Now, the differences. Marie van Oosterwijck died in 1693 at the age of sixty three. Rachel Ruysch died in 1750 at the age of eighty-six, having had a career more than twenty years longer than her competition. They likely knew each other despite their age difference in that Rachel's instructor in Amsterdam was Willem van Aelst, whose studio was across the street from that of Marie Oosterwijck. Van Aelst even courted Marie van Oosterwijck for a time. (She turned down his offer of marriage.) During Rachel's apprenticeship to van Aelst, Marie was already a successful professional floral artist. Whether they were friends or not is an interesting conjecture but not really relevant, even if Marie may have had some limited influence as to Rachel's work. There styles and techniques are simply too much alike to get involved with the subtleties of influences. Much more telling is the fact the Marie Oosterwijck never married, though she did raise an orphaned nephew. Rachel Ruysch, on the other hand, did marry. In 1693 Marie married the Amsterdam portrait painter, Juriaen Pool. They had ten children.
Basket of Flowers, 1711. Rachel Ruysch
Juxtaposed side by side with this ultimate example of the professional "working mother," Marie Oosterwijck could be considered the ultimate example of a savvy professional businesswomen, at a time when neither traits were common in Dutch society and especially the wildly competitive Dutch art world. Marie Oosterwijck had an agent, one who promoted her career and her paintings among the wealthy art collectors and royalty of Germany, France, England, Poland, Austria, and virtually everywhere else that financial fortunes flowed freely for flowery wall decorations. Such royal personages as Louis XIV of France, the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I; William III of England all collected her work. Marie (or rather, her agent) sold three pieces to the King of Poland, and other work to Augustus II, who later became King of Poland. Needless to say, when you're dealing with royalty, the agent earned his keep, while Marie also did quite well for herself.
Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box, ca. 1665, Maria van Oosterwijck
History records that Rachel Ruysch also had an international clientele. But virtually every major artist in Amsterdam during this period could make that claim. In 1699, Rachel and her husband moved from Amsterdam to The Hague (barely 25 miles southwest) where both continued their careers. A few years later, they again moved, this time to Dusseldorf where Rachel became the court painter for Johann Wilhelm, Elector of Palatine. During her lifetime, from the age of fifteen until shortly before her death, Rachel Ruysch's paintings grew to number in the hundreds, some 250 of which have well-documented attribution (many lesser works were quite small to satisfy the local, middle-class market). Art historians have deemed Rachel as among the top two or three floral artists of both the 16th and 17th-centuries. The Dutch love flowers, to the point of being a little crazy, even silly about them (in 1637, there was a financial panic brought on by a bursting "bubble" in the tulip bulb market). In any case, there was a thriving market for floral artists of Rachel's level of renown. At a time when Rembrandt was selling work for something in the neighborhood of 500 guilders, Rachel's flowery efforts were bringing 750 to as high as 1,200 guilders. In 1999, one of her paintings sold at auction for $508,000.
Rose Branch with Beetle and Bee, 1741, Rachel Ruysch.
The beetle (lower left) seems somewhat imaginative.
Art history has not been so kind to Marie van Oosterwijck. Marie often painted vanitas still-lifes, meaning arrangements of objects having to do with the temporal nature of life (another Dutch infatuation). By contrast, Rachel Ruysch's paintings were mostly decorative, beautiful to look at in their exquisite detail, but having little real meaning beyond that. Van Oosterwijck was deeply religious, often imbuing her paintings with profound spiritual meaning through the use of various symbols involving time and the fragile nature of life itself--skulls, hourglasses, books, globes, half-eaten food, money, insects, wilted leaves, and of course, flowers. Van Oosterwijck decorated each of her floral paintings with a butterfly (or moth), seen as symbolic of Christ's resurrection. Van Oosterwijck's work is also far more richly colored than was that of Ruysch. The art critic and biographer, Arnold Houbraken, eulogized van Oosterwijck, but did not consider her to be a professional artist, despite the serious content, the exceptional quality, and the very large sums paid for her paintings by high profile collectors and members of European royalty.
Still-life with Bouquet of Flowers and
Plums, 1704, Rachel Ruysch
Bouquet of Flowers, 1670,
Marie van Oosterwijck
That begs the question as to why. Ruysch was seen by later art historians as one of the greatest Dutch painters of her time, certainly among women artist. Van Oosterwijck, receives only brief, half-hearted, mention by but one writer. Given the similarities in their work, even their level of professional success, that leaves only one likely answer. Rachel Ruysch fit the popular mold of a proper, married, child-bearing mother, who also painted surprisingly well. Marie van Oosterwijck, though in every way her equal, did not. Apparently, traditional, motherly, female stereotypes trump female businesswomen stereotypes both then and since then.

Still Life with Flowers, Insects and a Shell, 1689, Marie van Oosterwijck,
--her final painting.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Julian Onderdonk

The Quarry, Julian Onderdonk. Bluebonnets became his trademark.                  
It's strange, funny, maybe even disturbing, the way we all associate geographical areas with certain styles and content areas in art. If I were to mention Holland, most people would think of windmills and tulips, and perhaps the Dutch Golden Age works of the 17th-century. If I mentioned New York then the Ashcan School or Abstract Expressionism would come to mind. If I mentioned Florida, it would be palm trees, beaches, rockets, and NASCAR (or golf). If I mentioned Texas you'd think cattle, prairie, perhaps cowboys, Indians, desert landscapes, and oil derricks, all painted in a traditional, realistic, conservative manner. What would probably not come to mind, in the case of Texas, would be colorful Bluebonnets, live oaks, seascapes, peach orchards, or Impressionism. Unless you were from Texas, the name Onderdonk would likely not cross your mind either, though that family is practically synonymous with Texas art. President George W. Bush had three Onderdonk paintings hanging in the Oval Office during his term.
Meet the Onderdonks, Eleanor, Julian (self-portrait) and Robert J.    

The San Antonio River, 1910,
Julian Onderdonk
Actually, there were three Onderdonk artists, Robert Jenkins Onderdonk (above, right), his sister, Eleanor Onderdonk (above, left), and Robert's son, Julian Onderdonk (above, center). Yes, Onderdonk is their real name (no one would make up a name like that). When dealing with art families, sometimes it's hard to decide which member to highlight. The father, Robert J., was likely the more prolific of the three, concentrating on traditional Texas folklore, landscapes, portraits, and in teaching art. His sister, Eleanor's art was more inclined toward women, children, portraits, still-lifes and a few landscapes. They were also fewer in number. Julian, on the other hand, despite his relatively short life, (1882-1922) came with the better training pedigree. He studied first with a local artist as a boy, then under his father as a teen, followed by a stint in New York under his father's instructor, William Merritt Chase, and the Art Students League. The younger Onderdonk has been called by some "the father of Texas painting," which may be a stretch, but not without some merit (of the Wm. Merritt Chase variety).
The Fall of the Alamo, Robert Jenkins Onderdonk
Chili Queens at the Alamo, Julian Onderdonk
As sons sometimes do, Julian made up his mind early in life not to be his father's son. That is to say, there is a significant difference in both style and substance between the two. Robert, the father, was a traditional Realist. His painting of Davy Crockett and The Fall of the Alamo (above) is probably his most famous, his best, and is most typical of his work. Notice the hairy figure in the lower left corner, said to be "Sal Squatch," a friend of Mr. Crockett (the figure went largely unnoticed until the painting was recently cleaned). There actually are some historical references to such a figure.

View of City Rooftops in Winter, 1902, Julian Onderdonk
Julian Onderdonk, by way of contrast, was a William Merritt Chase impressionist, not a portrait painter, not a genre painter, nor was he a teacher like his father, but interested only in the more colorful aspects of the Texas landscapes. Except for Julian's own Alamo scene, Chili Queens at the Alamo (above, right), his work seldom contains human life. Julian Onderdonk's The Quarry (top) is typical of much of his work, especially his love of Bluebonnets. At one point in his life, Julian set up shop in New York during the early 1900s, where he had little success. His View of City Rooftops (above), from 1902, speaks volumes as to the loneliness of a big city in winter. He returned to San Antonio in 1909. Julian's San Antonio River (above, left) was painted shortly after his return to Texas.

Coastal Scene, Julian Onderdonk
Landscape with Cacti,
Julian Onderdonk
Although highly revered by the Texas art community today, there is little in Julian Onderdonk's work that screams "TEXAS!!" In fact, most of his scenes could literally pass for some of the more colorful parts of virtually every state in the country. His Coastal Scene (above) is such an example. I have little doubt that the "Peach Tree State" of Georgia would have second thoughts in claiming Onderdonk's Peach Orchard on Mavericks Farm (below) from, 1915. I suppose Onderdonk's Landscape with Cacti (right) might be limited geographically to the Southwest, but even so, it is as appealing for its style and color as for its content. Perhaps Onderdonk's most typically Texas painting (aside from the Prickly Pears) would be his Landscape with Wagon (bottom), though you may have to hunt for the wagon.

Peach Orchard on Mavericks Farm, 1915, Julian Onderdonk

Landscape with Wagon, Julian Onderdonk


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Francisco Oller

El Velorio, ca. 1893, Francisco Oller. Believe it or not, this depicts a funeral, celebrating                     
death of a child going straight to heaven without a "preliminary background check."                    
It's strange that sometimes we think we know something about something which turns out to be something not entirely accurate, at best, and sometimes totally false. For instance, it's fairly accurate to say that Impressionism originated in France. The assumption, therefore, is that all the original impressionists were French. Neither the original premise nor the assumption are totally accurate. First of all, Impressionism was a European art movement, not just one of France. Yes, the big names were pretty much all French, and the movement was the outgrowth of the en plein air Barbizon School a generation earlier, but almost from the beginning there were Spanish, Italian, Swiss, German, and English impressionists. There was even a Puerto Rican impressionist. His name was Francisco Oller.
French Landscape I, 1877, Francisco Oller
...another artist's abandoned working kit, (probably taking a bathroom break).
Francisco Oller Self-portrait, ca. 1910.
Although many are familiar with the work from non-French impressionists, the assumption (again not entirely accurate) was that they were all second-generation followers rather than pioneers like Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro. Oller hit Paris as early as 1858, studying first under Thomas Couture then under Gustave Courbet. Of course, neither of these men were impressionists but both were highly influential, not just as painters, but as rebels, serving to break the academic mold which allowed impressionism to spring forth like garden sprouts in early April. Though modern-day historians all seem to claim Oller as the first Puerto Rican Impressionist; and he certainly was in the right place at the right time to have made a major contribution to the movement, I could find very few of his works which appear to be truly Impressionist. One, however, French Landscape I (above) from 1877, not only gives us a chance to inspect Oller's impressionist credentials, but also presents an interesting visual essay as to the difficulties en plein air painters had to overcome in "backpacking" their "studio" outside. (Likely painted after he returned to Puerto Rico.)

'La Ceiba de Ponce, Francisco Oller, a Puerto Rican Impressionist painting.

President William McKinley,
ca. 1900, Francisco Oller.
Francisco Manuel Oller y Cestero was from Bayamón, (north central) Puerto Rico, the third of four children. Born in 1833, by the age of eleven, young Francisco was studying art with a local painter. By 1848, the boy's talent so impressed the island's governor that he offered to send the boy to Rome to further his studies. The offer was rejected by Francisco's mother who feared her son was too young to travel so far by himself. She was probably right--he was only fifteen. However, by the time the boy was eighteen, his mother relented and young Francisco was off to study art in Madrid. From there he moved on to Paris where he studied painting at the Louvre while supporting himself by singing Italian opera. He had a booming baritone voice. Within a year after arriving in Paris, Oller exhibited some of his paintings next to those of Bazille, Renoir, Monet, and Sisley--all impressionists. For a short time, Paul Cezanne was one of his students.

Hacienda La Fortuna, 1885, Francisco Oller
Coronel Francisco e Contreras,
1880, Francisco, Oller
Oller might have made a stronger name for himself in the annuls of Impressionism had he remained in Paris longer. Apparently, around 1860, he returned to Puerto Rico taking with him his impressionist tendencies (at least insofar as landscapes were concerned) but also his earlier Realist influences, painting portraits of important island social and political personages such as his impressive Portrait of Coronel Francisco e Contreras (right), from 1880. He even did a portrait of President William McKinley (above, left, probably not from life, perhaps even posthumously). By returning to San Juan, as a professional, European-trained artist, Oller became something of a "big fish in a small pond." He founded, in 1868, The Free Academy of Art of Puerto Rico, and later, in 1884, also started an art school for young women. Local sugar plantation owners commissioned Oller to paint landscapes of their holdings much like the Hacienda la Fortuna (above) dating from 1885. Any Impressionism is minimal. At the time, Impressionism was still "catching on" (and slowly at that) in France. It's unlikely such a "arty" manner of painting would have been embraced by Oller's well-to-do clients on this side of the Atlantic.

The School of Master Cordero, Francisco Oller

Platanos Amarillos (detail),
(Yellow Plantains),
Francisco Manuel Oller
During the latter years of his career, Oller began to dabble into Puerto Rican genre scenes such as his El Velorio (top) dating from 1893. His The School of Master Cordero (above) is indicative of both his genre painting style and his intense interest in educating the children of Puerto Rica. About the same time Oller began to apply his hand to still-life painting (below) as seen in his Still Life with Bananas, Pitcher; and Pajuiles (cashew fruit), and his Platanos Amarillos (right). Oller died in 1917 at the age of eighty four. 
Still Life with Bananas, Pitcher; and Pajuiles,
Francisco Oller

A Self-portrait? The date is uncertain. The artist isn't.

For more of Oller's work, click below--
Museo Francisco Oller


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Earth Art

The Great Serpent Mound, Peebles, Ohio (Adams County)                        
This takes a moment to "get"
I think I was about twelve at the time, which would make it around 1957 when I first encountered Earth Art. There is, in southwestern Ohio, Adams County, near the small town of Peebles, a relatively old example of man's shaping the earth beneath his feet into an art effigy--in this case an undulating serpent that has come to be known as the Great Serpent Mound (above). It's over 1,300 feet long, some three feet in height, and depicts a snake with a coiled tail about to eat an egg. The mound was first reported in 1848 by a frontier survey team from the newly founded Smithsonian Museum. Over the years, researchers have attributed construction of the mound to as many as three different, prehistoric, indigenous cultures. Originally, the mound works were thought to be of the Adena Culture (500 AD.) in origin, but more recent carbon dating and evidence from 1996 studies, have caused many scholars to now believe that members of the so-called "Fort Ancient Culture" built it about 1070 AD. They admit, however, that the "Fort Ancient Culture" is something of the ultimate misnomer, in that it did not involve a fort, was not all that ancient, and wasn't really a "culture" so much as a group of relatively diverse Native American communities over several centuries.
Amelia Earhart, "painted" earthworks

Cut along dotted line--earth drawing (or etching).

Earth art elsewhere in the world goes back many centuries before Serpent Mound. Earth art is, after all, simply using the second most available natural art material (after water in it's various forms) to creatively communicate some idea or message. In the case of ancient art, the message may get lost, or at best, muddled in translation, but that makes it no less a work of art. Like our traditional concepts of art, earth art may be divided into three types, roughly analogous to drawing, painting, and sculpture. There is two-dimensional earth art where the earth is merely "disturbed" or etched, as seen in the mesa image (left). Though there is, perhaps, minimal disturbance to the underlying terrain, I count works such as the giant Amelia Earhart image, decorated (or colored) with plant life, as the equivalent of earth painting. Finally, three-dimensional sculptural works such as Ohio's slithering snake, involve instances in which the earth is "mounded" to create an upright or high-relief image. I suppose, technically, monumental "mountain" sculptures such as Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial fit into this category as well.

Mud Man sculpture in The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, England
Call me a purist if you like, but I'm reluctant to consider the introduction of manmade materials of any kind into the category of what I consider Earth Art. For instance, Christo, encircling an island in Biscayne Bay with pink plastic wrap may be pretty, but it's not Earth Art. Along the same line, carving up tree trunks, or binding together various organic materials, even in conjunction with environmental adjustments, is likewise not Earth Art. On the other hand, sand sculpting, temporary as it may be, definitely fits the definition. Though ancient man originated Earth Art, it wasn't until the 20th century that such works began to once more intrigue artists such as Robert Smithson when he took a bulldozer and created his famous 1970, Spiral Jetty (below), jutting out from the eastern shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake. Today, it's been allowed to degrade considerably and can best be seen in photos.

Spiral Jetty, 1970, Great Salt Lake Utah, Robert Smithson

Flamengo Park, Rio de Janeiro, Alfonso Reidy
Smithson awakened a renewed interest in Earth Art around the world. The Japanese have always had an affinity for this type of art as seen in the highly rectilinear, Mondrian-like "painting" involving cut stone, pristine, limestone gravel, and dense grass in a "contemplative garden" (below). Brazilian artist, Alfonso Eduardo Reidy, "paints" only with green grass of varying types and lengths in his swirling Flamengo Park, Rio de Janeiro (left). Meg White's Awaking Muse, (bottom) located on the grounds of the Prairie Center for the Arts near Chicago, dates from 2000. With it, she combines her talent for carving limestone with her sensitivities to the comforting cloak of mounded earth. Her muse looks as if she'd like to roll over and go back to sleep.
Japanese Earth Art.
Awaking Muse, Prairie Center for the Arts near Chicago, 2000, Meg White


Friday, March 27, 2015

Absinthe Art

The Absinthe Drinker, 1901, Victor Oliva
Victor Oliva Self-portrait, 1898 
Every once in a while it happens that I start out intending to write upon one aspect of art and then stumble on some other, related, item that's far more interesting. Today, I began intending to write about the Czech artist and illustrator, Victor Oliva (right). Born in Austria-Hungary around 1861, but living and working much of his life in Paris. I came upon the fact he had two "loves" in his life, the sport of ballooning, and absinthe. In fact, his most famous painting, The Absinthe Drinker (above) from 1901, would seem to indicate he was on a first name basis with "the green fairy." As turn of the century artist go, Oliva was far from alone, and perhaps something of a rank amateur as compared to the artists, writers, and musicians, like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley, Erik Satie, Alfred Jarry, and others. All were known absinthe drinkers.

This painting by Toulouse-Lautrec is so different in style as compared to his
other works some critics contend it was painted under the influence of absinthe.
Vincent van Gogh Drinking Absinthe,
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Some artists didn't imbibe to any great degree, but introduced the hallucinogenic drink into their art in the form of content. Others did both. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, from all indications, practically painted with the stuff at times. His portrait of van Gogh (left), clearly titled Vincent van Gogh Drinking Absinthe, would suggest both artists had a fondness for the greenish liquid. Van Gogh, for his part, didn't "rat" on his fellow artists for their vice but instead, painted a still-life of the highly addictive beverage itself (below, often diluted with lemonade and thus not always green).

Glass of Absinthe and a Carafe, 1884, Vincent, van Gogh
Of all the absinthe artists during the latter part of the 19th-century in Paris, Toulouse-Lautrec is, perhaps the painter most closely associated with the drink. An alcoholic for most of his life, he was especially "into" American cocktails, and is said to have invented one himself, the "earthquake" which was a potent concoction of half cognac and half absinthe. His weakness for alcohol (of any and every flavor) coupled with syphilis, led to his institutionalization and early death in 1901 at the age of thirty-six. Today, there is a brand of absinthe (left) bearing his name.
Toulouse-Lautrec (left) and fellow poster
artist, Lucien Metivet, drinking absinthe, 1895.

So, what, exactly, is absinthe? It's a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage, (90–148 U.S. proof) having an anise (licorice) flavor derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium ("grand wormwood"), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs too numerous to mention. Needless to say, it's seldom consumed full strength, though plenty potent even in diluted form. Perhaps more important than what's in it is what absinthe does. The British author, Oscar Wilde, obviously no stranger to the stuff himself, may have summed it up best:

The first stage is like ordinary drinking; the second [is] when you begin to see cruel and monstrous things. But if you can persevere, you will enter in upon the third stage where your see things that you want to see.” --Oscar Wilde

An Art Nouveau ad for absinthe, ca.1900.
Someone once said, "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder...of absinthe." The spirit drink, has been called “madness in a bottle” and was a central feature of the left bank, Bohemian lifestyle of Paris during most of the 19th century. In 1874, 700,000 litters a year were produced. By 1910 that number had grown to thirty-six million. Beyond simple alcoholism, long term absinthe use led to psychosis and extreme paranoia. Violent love affairs with stab wounds and bullet holes were commonplace. By 1915, the substance (not without a great deal of organized protest in France) had pretty much been banned around the world. A lot of artists who were partial to the drink, were also quite distressed in that it was an important source of revenue for their advertising art (left).

The Absinthe Drinker,
1858-59, Edouard Manet.

However, despite their intimate familiarity with "the green fairy," several artists were directly or indirectly responsible for its eventual prohibition. Perhaps the first was Edouard Manet, who, in 1858-59 painted a work he called The Absinthe Drinker (right). It was originally simply a painting (a portrait, actually) of a familiar drunk named Collardet, who used to hang around outside the Louvre. He was quite familiar to virtually every artist in Paris. (The glass of absinthe and the bottle on the ground were added sometime later.) Considered to be one of his first major works, Manet submitted it to the Salon jury of 1859 where it received only one vote for acceptance, that of Eugene Delacroix. Although the subject was probably considered abhorrent, it was likely the crude manner in which it was painted that "turned off" the jury. "Look, you can see his brushstrokes!"

The Absinthe Drinker, 1876,
Edgar Degas.

Had Manet's Absinthe Drinker been accepted, it would have, no doubt, caused an uproar. That distinction, however, was saved for Edgar Degas' 1876 Absinthe Drinker nearly twenty years later. Unlike Manet's long-forgotten early effort, Degas' Absinthe Drinker was, first of all a woman and in fact, a well-known actress, Ellen Andrée, accompanied by a rather scruffy man named, Marcellin Desboutin, an artist friend of Degas. The dislike for the work was instantaneous, both broad and deep, one critic call it, "The perfection of ugliness… The color is as repulsive as the figures; a brutal, sensual-looking French workman and a sickly looking grisette; a most unlovely couple.” The word "whore" was used quite often by other critics. It was a look at the underbelly of Parisian nightlife no one, least of all art critics, who themselves, enjoyed it, wanted to see exposed. Nonetheless, Degas' painting could be said to have started the outrage and stirred negative sentiment, not just insofar as art was concerned, but against the "drug" itself. The painting finally sold in London in 1892 to boos and hisses. Today it hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris.

Absinthe, 1902,
Axel Törneman
La Muse Verte, 1895,
Albert Maignan

Absinth, 1901, Pablo Picasso.
In the years that followed, painting absinthe drinkers became almost routine in Paris. Some artists such as Axel Törneman (above, left) likely painted their own experiences with the substance. Others, such as Albert Maignan in his La Muse Verte (The Green Muse, above, right) from 1895 have a somewhat playful, illustrative quality. More often, artists such as a very young Picasso, painted a grittier, more desperate, more devastating image of the sad, mentally debilitating effects of absinthe addiction. Around 1990, with the advent of the European Union, absinthe once more became legal. Today there are over two-hundred brands of absinthe being produced in a dozen countries, mostly in France, Switzerland, Australia, United States, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

The Absinthe Drinker,
Portrait of Angel Fernandez
de Soto, 1903, Pablo Picasso.
I couldn't resist adding this modern-day
ad for Bourgeois (middle class) Absinthe.
Must have made for some wild catnaps.