Friday, April 13, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ 2 artists born 13 April, both with "scandalous" reputations.

Glancing down the list of births on 13 April, through the decades, I noticed two artists whose work had been considered by many as scandalous: James Ensor and Pierre Molinier. The two artists were born 40 years apart, Ensor in Belgium in 1860, Molinier in Agen, France, in 1900.

In his final decades, James Ensor was an international celebrity showered with official honors in his native Belgium. But in the 1880s and 1890s, the young Ensor was a scandalous and defiant figure.

This was a period of great social and political unrest in Belgium, and also of incredible cultural ferment. Bursting with mad creativity sparked by the latest developments in the avant-garde, Ensor freely mined artistic sources both high and low, old and new, familiar and exotic, and oscillated unpredictably between painting, drawing, and printmaking. From an advanced mode of naturalism in step with broader European trends, Ensor's art quickly morphed into something so fantastic, bizarre, grotesque, and satirical that even his avant-garde peers had difficulty accepting it. To this day, Ensor's art continues to baffle in its psychological complexity, internal contradictions, and sheer eccentricity.

An account of French artist Pierre Molinier’s colourful life reads like that of the protagonist in an Oscar Wilde novel. A product of France’s oft-fictionalised fin de siècle degeneration, Molinier defied all societal norms to live a life of hedonistic excess. Both homosexual and a transvestite in an era when both were frowned upon – he asbcribed himself the title of ‘lesbienne’ – Molinier pursued fetishism and the latent eroticism of the subconscious mind to its most extreme degree......................
By 1955 Molinier had begun a fruitful correspondence with André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, who dubbed him 'the magician of erotic art' and decided to include his sensual, and at times violent, works in the International Surrealist Exhibition. This marked the artist’s official induction into the movement, and he soon earned a reputation as an artist who would dare to execute the ideas his reputable contemporaries, who included the likes of Salvador Dalí, only dreamt of.

His investigation into fetishism and depravity, both through painting and photography, steadily gathered momentum, culminating in an extensive series of portraits and self-portraits in which Molinier himself often features as a many-limbed woman, a dominatrix, or a devil. When his dwindling health prompted his death at the age of 76, it was executed with the all the charisma his character would suggest; a great lover of guns, he died from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.

James Ensor, 13 April 1860, Ostend, Belgium at 4.30AM.

Pierre Molinier, 13 April 1900, Agen, France at 8.00AM.

There aren't many clear similarities. The obvious factor in Ensor's chart, reflecting his rather rebellious and uncompromising style is Venus(planet of the arts) conjunct Uranus (planet of the unexpected and the rebel). In addition Neptune, planet of creativity, dreams and the mysterious was sitting right on his rising degree - if time of birth is correct at Astrodatabank - it has AA rating so is reliable.

In Molinier's case, data from Astrodatabank, also AA rated, look at the chart shape as a start! It's made up of oppositions forming a cross, and involving the important points in a natal chart: the ascendant/descendant, mid-heaven and nadir! Oppositions can signify irreconcilable differences in a personality, or sometimes a kind of balancing act, an effort to reconcile opposites. Molinier had Pluto (eroticism, intensity) sitting close to his Gemini rising degree, with Venus and Neptune in Gemini also - what better "trade mark" for his style? In opposition to the Gemini planets are Uranus and Jupiter, an excess of the unexpected/futuristic, perhaps attempted balancing of the artist's runaway sexual intensity with an excess of the unexpected, using avant garde methods of photography.

Their common Aries Sun position seems secondary!

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