Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hungarian Venus: The Corner of the Studio by István Csók




Corner of the studio


Here we have some paintings by the Hungarian painter István Csók who went through many different painting styles in his long lifetime.  One of the best ways to appreciate this evolution style is to look at his painting The Corner of the Studio the subject of which he returned to a number of times.  This is the original painting from 1905 which features the artist, reflected in a mirror, painting a sinuously posed girl.




The studio in question is the one he had in Paris at the time.and here is a photograph, taken in 1903, of Csók in it.  The table he is lying on appears to be the same piece of furniture he has posed the model on in the painting.




This picture looks like a detail but is, in fact, a completely different work (as can be seen from the drapery) and shows how Csók sometimes isolated the model in some versions of the picture.  It is a lovely pose but must have been difficult for the model to hold, with her trunk twisted, for very long.




Here is another, later version with a different mirror and although the girl's face is the same she now has red hair.  It is altogether looser and brighter than the original.




This is another, even looser ,version with a much simpler mirror and less ornate fabrics. It isn't known if Csók actually used a model and painted from life for each version of the painting or just copied his own painting.  As the girl looks the same and they were painted many years apart we suspect the latter.




In this one the position of the curtain is more like the original but the background wall hanging is different again.  The flowers in the foreground are quite different in every way so it is possible the artist painted everything except the girl from life.




This one is the loosest of them all and Csók dispenses with his reflection completely, just focussing on the girl alone, once more.  Her body is just a small element amongst a colourful swirl of a much bigger floral arrangement and an almost abstract background.




Csók was born in 1865, in the region of Hungary near Lake Baloton, the son of a miller.  He studied in Budapest, Munich and Paris between 1882 and 1889.  The following year, his first major painting won a gold medal at the Paris Salon. In 1895 he produced his best known picture, a painting of Erzsébet Báthory (1560-1614), the Hungarian Countess accused of killing hundreds (possibly as many as 600) of young women. Eventually she was walled up in a set of rooms in her own castle, where she died four years later, before a trial could be organised.




Her behaviour sparked legends that she bathed in virgin's blood to keep her looks. Something that Hammer films happily depicted in Countess Dracula (1971) starring the magnificent Ingrid Pitt as the countess. In the opening of the film the credits are shown over the Báthory painting by Csók, showing the countess watching the torture of young girls in the snow by dousing them with cold water so they froze to death.  Csók certainly caught the sexual evil of the countess in his painting.




This photograph shows the artist in his studio painting the Countess Bathory picture in 1895.  This gives a good idea of its monumental size.




Unfortunately the original picture was lost during World War 2 and now only a colour sketch survives.


Vampires (1907)


Csók got married and moved to Paris in 1903; living  there for the next seven years.  While living there he rtirned to the theme of evil women with his erotically disturbing painting Vampires which offered up his typically writhing women, bloodstained lips, red roses and lesbian tinged neck biting.


Magdalena


He moved back to Hungary in 1910 where he focussed on nudes, landscapes and cityscapes of Budapest,  He became a professor at the Budapest Academy of Fine Arts.






Again. here are two versions of the same subject; a young redheaded girl, paiunted some years apart.  He entitled this Honi soit qui mal y pense simultaneously presenting this naked young creature while admonishing the viewer not to think impure thoughts.  Hmm.


Susanna (1920)


Here is a late Renoiresque bather from the twenties.  Csók started to have major exhibitions of his work around the world: Rome in 1914, San Francisco (1917), London (1922) and Pittsburgh (1926),  In addition there were major exhibitions in Budapest in 1914, 1935 and 1955.


Model in the studio (1933)


This one moves away from the studio nude to something rather more titillating with his model pulling on her black stockings.  The picture features another of Csók's characteristic mirrors and reflected in it you can see the painting the model was posing for.





Csók lived long enough to supervise the major retrospective of his work in Budapest in 1955 and died six years later just short of his 96th birthday.

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