Friday, June 27, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Mystery Pic...Escher, Schuiten?

This picture is a mystery and a fantasy - Neptunian then! It's all about buildings and structure though, so in another way it's Saturnian. I found this large (36"x28"), nicely framed print in 2006, in a junk-cum-antique store in a nearby town. It was marked "Unique print, frame and mat alone are worth the asking price". True enough. The print has been tastefully framed and triple matted by someone, who at some time obviously loved and valued this picture. (Image might enlarge if clicked upon - not sure though).

When I first saw the print I was immediately attracted by the light in the window of the building in the foreground, the architecture of the doorway and windows reminded me of a building where I once worked. But the entire fantasy cityscape was and remains a mystery. I've been unable to find any information as to its artist or source. It's a good quality print. I've wondered if it might originally have been part of an even larger illustration, it sometimes gives that impression.

Those hilly structures are reminiscent of Italian hill towns, but there is no hint of vegetation or trees in the picture, and there are just too many buildings to fit that theory. The architecture is definitely European though, but not British. The picture reminds me of some of Escher's early work which depicted Italian landscapes. At right is the first lithograph ever made by M.C. Escher -"Goriano Sicoli, Abruzzi" (1929). Escher's illustrations were, as far as I know, in black and white, or occasionally black with some other colour. I doubt that our picture is a print of an early Escher illustration, but the artist was almost certainly influenced by Escher.

Perhaps my picture illustrated the artist's idea of a city of the future, or from another dimension? Whenever I gaze at it I always come back to the lighted room in the foremost building - perhaps someone in there was dreaming.......

I posted the photo of the picture on my blog in 2007, with request for ideas. Only one comment was received, from Ariana, remarking that, "It feels very Dutch & medieval, out of a fairy tale".... Indeed!

My husband posted a photo of the picture on his Flickr page, asking for ideas. He received the suggestion that it looked like something Francois Schuiten might have created. A flurry of research ensued. It does look like Schuiten's style, in his Les Cités Obscures (literally The Obscure Cities, but initially published in English as Cities of the Fantastic). It is a graphic novel series set on a Counter-Earth, created by Belgian comics artist François Schuiten and his friend, writer Benoît Peeters in the early 1980s. In this fictional world, humans live in independent city-states, each of which has developed a distinct civilization, each characterized by a distinctive architectural style. (From Wikipedia)

I've been unable to trace anything of Schuiten's that is even near to similar to the city in my picture, despite continuing to search over the years since 2006. One would expect, that if it had been produced in large format for framing, then it would be one of his well-known popular images, and would turn up online somewhere. Many of his illustrations contain similar colours and shades to those in my picture, and his drawing style is very similar, even though subject matter differs a lot. It's the nearest we've come to solving the mystery.

If any passing reader recognises the picture or the style, or can add any further information at all, I'd be delighted to hear from them.

UPDATE - Many thanks to commenter "Kidd" for information leading to this discovery:

AND Googling further I found a video with (I think) Jean Pattou himself appearing and taking over at around 3.31 mins.
My schoolgirl French isn't up to following the presentation, but more of the artist's works pop up to the bottom right of the video as the presentation proceeds.



mike said...

"Unique print, frame and mat alone are worth the asking price"...well, what else is there? I think they meant to put a period after "unique print"...LOL.

I've never seen it before. Do you have it hanging near "Black Magic Woman" (another unknown...but I think the artist is in denial)? It reminds me of book-jacket-art.

My mouse and pointer aren't operating normally and I can't isolate a portion to copy-paste into Google Image, so you may want to attempt that, specially the Escher-esque might obtain some similars that could lead to identification.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Ah well, antique dealers aren't known for their proof-reading skills.

No it's not near Black Magic Woman. It has hung in various places in the house over the years. :-)

I see what you mean about book-jacket art. It's certainly the work of a skilled illustrator. The size of the print, even if it was never part of a larger piece, means that it must have been available either as a poster (seems better quality than that though) or for framing at some time, for some reason.

I hadn't tried searching Google Image in the way you suggested (didn't know that was possible) but have done so just now. Nothing even vaguely similar came up - lots of architectural paintings - of the true oil painting type, but nothing similar with a more illustration-ish feel, which this definitely has.

François Schuiten remains a strong possibility, yet I can't pin this pic down to anything of his online. The size of it precludes the idea that somebody had once cut it out of published material - graphic novel or comic book - in order to frame it.

Thanks for your thoughts on this though.

Anonymous said...

Allo ...
It eeez perhaps "1984" by Jean Pattou (b.1940)
His site is interesting.


Twilight said...

Anonymous (Kidd) ~ Hi there!

Thank you, thank you!! At last the mystery is solved. I wasn't certain at first because I couldn't find the exact picture on Pattou's website, then I Googled Jean Pattou "1984" exactly as you had indicated and it brought up the image I'm about to add to my post, above.

Merci beaucoup! :-)

LB said...

Yay, Kidd!

It always makes me sad when an artist's work goes unrecognized and without credit.

I know my own modest creations are like my children, expressions of my soul. I also realize how, with no one to inherit or care for them when I'm no longer able, it's likely they'll end up as orphans someday, dependent upon strangers to love them.

mike (again) said...

Hoooray! Mystery solved...I luv a good puzzle and a good solution. Most surprising that you could post this morning and have an answer within hours (neglecting your and anyjazz' previous post)...the power of the internet.

Kidd...I went to the link you provided and it is operated by a person named "lili", how did you put the pieces together to solve this??? Or were you aware of Pattou's "1984" previous to Twilight's post? I'm always trying to increase my search ability. I'm surprised this contemporary piece wasn't in Google Image's search results.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Awww! Someone will love them, LB, count on it!

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I was amazed ! And so grateful. What a difference 7 years made eh!

Anonymous said...

Bonjour, Monsieur Again !
J'utilise Firefox avec "Tineye" en tant qu'extension.
I can right-click on an image and view the comparative results in a jiffy.
... Ha ha ... I am so ... not french.


anyjazz said...

Success! I still remember the day you found that one. You often find something excellent under a table or behind something else.

Good work!

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ Yes - and exactly where were you hiding when I found you? Hmm?

LB said...

Twilight ~ Thanks! Guess with today's New Moon in Cancer, I'm feeling a little protective of my children. Who knows - maybe someday some treasure-hunter of the future will discover one of them hiding "under a table or behind something else."

mike (again) said...

Kidd - thanks for the TinEye information...I bookmarked it. Can't believe it beat Google Image. I just plugged-in Twilight's image URL and it returned the correct info in 2.3 seconds and stated it had searched 5.64 billion images.

Twilight said...

LB ~ :-) That's the way it's done.