jueves, 6 de abril de 2017

Kei Viti
Malanesian Images
Jena Charlot          

Cantú Y de Teresa     Collection


Jean Charlot was born in France in the 1880’s. He had Aztec ancestors and moved with his mother to Mexico after studying at the Ecole de Beaux arts in Paris and serving as an artillery officer at the end of WWI. He quickly established himself in the art community of Mexico City in the very early 1920’s and befriended Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Orozco, main figures in the Mexican Mural movement of the early twenties that quickly spread to the USA.

Charlot and the others visited the USA and taught – mostly in New York City – the true fresco technique, which Charlot taught to the other Mexican muralists. In 1947, Jean Charlot moved his family to Colorado Springs, Colorado to take over as head of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Art School from which Boardman Robinson had just retired. He also taught at the private school for boys in Colorado Springs, The Fountain Valley School.
Qaravi Yaqona: Kava ceremony 

Charlot resigned over a dispute involving tenure and other differences of opinion with the administration of the Art Center. He moved to Hawaii to teach at the University and remained there for about thirty years until his death in 1979. He won many awards for his work.
He has written many scholarly essays and books and lectured and taught at a host of schools. He is the person who singlehandedly resurrected the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada, the great Mexican engraver of popular art – especially the “Day of the Dead” skeleton figures that are so well known today.

Also living in Paris was Jean Charlot's great-uncle, Eugène Goupil, a collector of Mexican works of art. Jean, who began to draw around age two, grew up surrounded by pre-Hispanic antiquities. Years later (1926-28) he would be commissioned as staff artist for the Carnegie Institution expedition to Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, and would publish books and articles on Mexican art and produce paintings, graphics and murals with Mexican themes.

Charlot was educated at the Lyeé Condorcet (where he won the French national scholastic boxing championship in the medium weight division in 1912) and studied informally at the école des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Soon after the onset of World War I and the failure of Henri Charlot's import-export firm, which did business primarily with Germany, the family, in much reduced financial circumstances, moved to the village of St. Mandé. Henri died shortly thereafter.

In the French countryside near his home and during travels in Brittany, the teenage Charlot painted small landscapes in oil on paper and pursued what was to become a lifelong interest in folk imagery. Drafted into the army near the end of the war, he became an artillery lieutenant. An officer in the Senegalese Troops, Charlot was given the command when his predecessors had been killed in battle. He was young and considered expendable. While encamped at Sézanne, he began drawings for the fifteen print woodcut series Chemin de Croix, Way of the Cross. Charlot entered Germany with the French army on Christmas Day 1918. During the French occupation of the Rhineland Charlot, bivouacked between Mannheim and Cologne, had the opportunity to view paintings by 16th century German masters, especially Stephan Lochner and Mathias Grünewald which ". . .were a big influence, but," he remarked, "I always go back to folk art" (In Morse 1976:viii). 
The Chemin de Croix was cut in Landau, Bavaria, in 1920. "The stations were large woodcuts on pearwood, cut in part with hammer and chisel, and closer in technique to carving than to engraving" (Charlot 1972, vol. I:228). The portfolio was printed in an edition of fifteen at Chaumontel, France, after Charlot was discharged from the army. In 1920 Chemin de Croix was shown at an exhibition of liturgical arts held at the Louvre, along with three designs for liturgical textiles and two friezes in watercolor (1/10th scale) for decoration of a new church in a Paris suburb that Charlot claimed was his "first serious attempt at mural painting" ([1963] 1967:178). 

In his teens, Charlot had become one of a Catholic group that called itself Gilde Notre-Dame ("Parisian adolescents (who) used to gather in a crypt") made up of sculptors, stained glass makers, embroiderers and decorators (1972, vol. I:285). The resumption after the war of what Charlot calls his "career as a French liturgical artist" was cut short by the cancellation of the commission for the church mural just after he had completed the scale drawings. This "first heartbreak at the realization that a born mural painter is helpless without a wall. . ." ([1963] 1967:178) was one of the factors that precipitated a journey to Mexico in 1920. 

Charlot comments, "On this first trip to Mexico I did nothing at all. I was stuck aesthetically in 18th century France." Later he wrote: "My life in France was on the whole rational, national, obeying this often heard dictum that a Frenchman is a man who ignores geography. There were though, simultaneously, un-French elements at work. Russian, sephardim, Aztec ancestors, warmed my blood to adventure. In art, I accepted as part of my patrimony, the monstrous chubby forms of Indian idols, the squatty masked heroes of Mexican cosmogony, without letting go a whit of those other models, Poussin's Eliezer and Rebecca, and Ingres' Apotheosis of Homer" (Charlot, 1954:103). After a brief return to Paris where he exhibited paintings, including L'Amitié, in the 1921 Salon d'Automne, Charlot was again off to Mexico, "for good," this time with his mother. 

In the article, "Mexico of the Poor," written in 1922 in French and translated by Diego Rivera into Spanish (published in a slightly different version in English in Mexican Life, March 1926), Charlot records some of his early impressions of Mexico: "At six o'clock in the morning, I was in the streets. Automobiles and ladies were still asleep, and the true features of the town emerged. Beautiful beings people the street like Ladies of Guadalupe innumerable. They move noiselessly, feet flat to the ground, antique beauty come to life. The wealthier quarters are as empty and soiled as a music hall at noon, buy everywhere else, among those low-lying houses, cubic and freshly daubed, processions are staged. At first glance the crowd is the color of dust. Flesh and cloth, both worn out with use, melt into this grey which is the very livery of humbleness. Eye and mind soon learn to focus, and this race, its confidence won, attests to its beauty through fabrics, its straw, its flesh" (Charlot 1972, vol. II:99). 

In the Mexico City suburb, Coyoacán, Charlot sometimes painted at the open-air school, an annex of the Academy of San Carlos. He shared a studio with Fernando Leal, one of the founders (with Rivera, Siqueiros and Guerrero) of the Syndicate of Revolutionary Painters, Sculptors and Engravers of Mexico, dedicated, according to their Resolutions, to "do work useful to Mexico's popular classes in their struggle, meanwhile producing an art aesthetically and technically great" ([1963] 1967:243). 
Charlot produced a series of small woodcuts and oils, primarily portraits. Many of his contemporaries in Mexico -- David Alfaro Siqueiros, Manuel Martinez Pintao, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Xavier Guerrero, Nacho Asúnsolo, Henrietta Shore, Sergei Eisenstein, Anita Brenner, Edward Weston and Tina Modotti --are represented in portraits by Charlot. 
For two years Charlot concentrated on mural paintings in fresco. He had become an assistant to Diego Rivera, the leading figure of the Mexican socio-political school of painting, who in 1922 was working at the Escuela Preparatoria (the National Preparatory School in Mexico City) on an encaustic titled Creation. A month after beginning at the Preparatoria Charlot started work on a mural of his own. In The Mexican Mural Renaissance, Charlot wrote that in Paris he had fallen in love with the texture, transparency, and lack of "cuisine" (lack of clichés or technical trickery) of the portable frescoes of Marcel Lenoir and had decided from the first to do his Mexican mural in true fresco. "I borrowed from Diego the French treatise of Paul Baudoin, founder of the Fontainebleau fresco school, and at the same time cultivated and probed the ways of Mexican masons and Mexican mortars, an easy feat in the Preparatoria building where a wing was still in the process of construction" ([1963] 1967:181). Charlot's The Massacre in the Main Temple, 14' x 26', is the first work of the twentieth century Mexican mural movement completed in true fresco. [1]
Diego Rivera and his assistants, nicknamed "Dieguitos" (little Diegos), were next commissioned to paint the walls of the Ministry of Education in Mexico City, an enormous building with two courts. Charlot trained masons in the preparation of walls for fresco and instructed the other artists in technique. Rivera began in the ground floor "Court of Labor," and the second floor "Court of the Fiestas" was consigned to Xavier Guerrero, Amado de la Cueva and Charlot to decorate; in Charlot's words ". . .a first try at communal painting" (1972, vol. I:391). Rivera eventually took over this court too, and all but three frescoes are his. Charlot painted nine decorative shields and three murals (each 16 1/3' x 7 2/3') of Mexican folk scenes: Cargadores (Burden Bearers), Lavanderas (Washerwomen), and Danza de los Listones (Dance of the Ribbons). The latter was destroyed by Rivera in 1924 to make space for his triple panel composition Market Place. 
The following year Charlot completed a mural, Shield of the National University of Mexico, with Eagle and Condor, at the Pan American Library. In 1923 he published his first article on Mexican art, on the work of the sculptor Manuel Martínez Pintao (El Democrata, August 5, 1923), and participated in an independent group exhibition in New York, his first in the United States. 
In what is sometimes called his "dark period," Charlot produced more than four dozen small easel paintings (c. 10" x 14") in oil on canvas of Mexican subjects. Several of these subdued works were studies of a Mexican Indian woman, Luciana (Luz) Jiménez, a friend and favorite model. Luz instructed him in the Aztec language, Náhuatl, and furthered his interest and knowledge of Mexican folk culture. He created woodcuts for publication in periodicals such as Irradiador (Enlightener), and to illustrate the poems of German-born Mexican List Arzubide, Esquina: Poemas (Mexico City: D. F. Libreria, 1923), and Manuel Maples Arce, Urbe: Super-poema bolchevique en 5 cantos (Mexico City: Andres Botas & Hijo, 1924). The latter author was a good friend and leader of the Estridentismo (lit. "strident") group of avant-garde writers and poets. Charlot became secretary of this organization. He also introduced some symbolist French poetry into Mexico. From 1924-26 Charlot was art editor of the influential periodical, Mexican Folk-ways, publishing such articles as "Aesthetics of Indian Dance." 
In 1925, Charlot in the company of Frances Toor, Anita Brenner and Luz Jiménez' family, made a pilgrimage to Chalma, a Catholic shrine at a pre-Hispanic cave-site sacred to the Indian God of the Caves, ". . .a very long trek --three days more or less from Milpa Alta, with two nights on the way" (In Morse 1976:157). Charlot drew profound personal and artistic inspiration from the folk-religious activities he observed on this pilgrimage. Works from the mid-1920s include several paintings and graphics on Chalma and other Indian themes. He illustrated several books by Anita Brenner, a native of Mexico and the author of socio-cultural histories of the country. Charlot "discovered" the popular artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), and produced the study, "A Precursor of the Modern Art Movement, the Printmaker Posada," which was published in Revista de Revistas, August 30, 1925. Also in 1925 Charlot exhibited in the Mexican section at the Pan American Union in Los Angeles. The following year, there was an exhibition of his paintings at the Art Center in New York. 
An opportunity to broaden his knowledge of Mayan history, culture and customs came about when Charlot served as staff artist of the Carnegie Institution expedition to the archeological site Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, by Earl Morris, Jean Charlot and Anne Axtell Morris (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution Publication 406) was published May 21, 1931. Charlot later noted it was "perhaps the last such archeological publication to be illustrated mainly with drawings instead of photographs" (In Morse 1976:46). Two years later, he completed a series of lithographs with the printer George Miller, the most ambitious of which, Great Builders I and Great Builders II, are an imaginative reconstruction of the building of the temples at Chichén Itzá. Charlot's archeological renderings and descriptions were also included in A Preliminary Study of the Ruins of Coba, Quintana Roo, Mexico, by J. Eric Thompson, Harry E.D. Pollock and Jean Charlot (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, Publication no. 242, March 1932). 
After the completion of the Yucatán project in 1928 Charlot and his mother moved to New York where he rented a small apartment on the top floor of 42 Union Square from the artist Morris Kantor. The apartment was unheated, which probably contributed to the death of his mother from pneumonia in January, 1929. In New York Charlot's work was shown in the Mexican government-sponsored group exhibition at the Art Center in 1928, and in a retrospective at the Art Students League in 1930. He also participated in Mexican group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Fogg Museum, and


illustrated The Book of Christopher Columbus (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930) by the poet Paul Claudel, whom Charlot first knew in Washington while Claudel was French ambassador to the United States from 1927-33. 
On a brief trip to Mexico in 1931, Charlot met his future wife, Dorothy Zohmah Day, who was visiting Ione Robinson, a fellow art student on a Guggenheim scholarship in Mexico. Returning to New York, Charlot taught at the Art Students League in 1931-32 and painted portraits and Mexican and religious scenes. Illustrations of his work in various media from 1924-31 appeared in Jean Charlot, Peintres Nouveaux, August 1932, with an introduction by Paul Claudel. Edward Weston, by Merle Armitage and Jean Charlot (New York: E Weyhe) was published in 1932.
Charlot's greatest legacy may be his murals in fresco. Among these are: 
Hopi Snake Dance and Preparing Anti-Venom Serum (25' x 25'), Administration Building, Arizona State University, Tempe (1951); Fresco Class in Action (11' x 25'), and Mestrovic's Studio (9' x 25') in the Student Lounge, O'Shaughnessy Building, University of Notre Dame (1955 and 1956). Also, at St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Charlot executed fourteen panels symbolizing the Fine Arts (each 3' x 3') for O'Laughlin Auditorium (1955) and The Fire of Creation (5' x 6') in Moreau Hall (1956). Psalm of the Good Shepherd (c. 16' x 24'), was painted for the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lincoln Park, Michigan (1955); Inspiration of the Artist (14' x 16'), for the Des Moines, Iowa, Art Center (1956) and Calvary (34' x 32') for St. Leonard Center, Centerville, Ohio (1958). Fresco murals for St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas (1959), are: Trinity and Episodes of Benedictine Life (21' x 29'), Monastic Chapel; St. Joseph's Workshop (4 1/2' x 6 1/2'), Brother's Chapel; and Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Four Apparitions (9 3/4' x 12') for the Abbey Crypt. Also in 1959 Christ as the Vine, with Saints (11' x 15') was painted for the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Rock Hill, South Carolina.  Village Fiesta (9' x 45'), for the Shaw Dormitory at Syracuse University was accompanied by a related film (1960). On the ceiling and apsidal wall of the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Farmington, Michigan, Charlot painted the frescoes Our Lady of Sorrows and The Ascension of Our Lord (c. 1300 sq. ft.) in 1961. In 1963 Charlot made a trip to Fiji and painted Black Christ and Worshipers (10' x 30') over the main altar of St. Francis Xavier Church at Naiserelagi, and the side panels St. Joseph's Workshop and The Annunciation (each 10' x 12').

Residents of Hawai'i enjoy viewing many of Charlot's fresco murals in locations throughout the State. Early Contacts of Hawai'i with the Outer World (11' x 67') was painted in 1951-52 at the Waikiki branch of Bishop Bank. (This later became First National and then First Hawaiian Bank.) In 1966, when the building was destroyed, this mural was divided into smaller panels. Charlot executed Commencement (10' x 36'), on the second floor of Bachman Hall, University of Hawai'i (1953); Chief's Canoe (8' x 20'), Catamaran Cafe, Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, Honolulu (painted in 1956; since removed from the wall); Compassionate Christ (10' x 7'), St. Catherine's Church, Kapa'a, Kaua'i (1958); Inspiration, Study, Creation (15' x16'), Jefferson Hall, East-West Center, Honolulu (1967); Battle of the Malinches (4' x 8'), Maryknoll Elementary School, Honolulu (1967); Angels in Adoration (10' x 19'), Grace Episcopal Church, Ho'olehua, Moloka'i (1967). In 1974, Charlot painted the fresco mural The Relation of Man and Nature in Old Hawai'i (23' x 104') at Leeward Community College, O'ahu and, in 1978 another fresco for Maryknoll Elementary School, Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (5' x 4').

Lynton Richards Kistler

Printer.  Born in Los Angeles, CA on Aug. 30, 1897.  Kistler's studio was born from his
father's lithotype studio of 30 years.  In the late 1920s he began exploring lithography as an art medium.  With artist  Jean Charlot, he began producing color lithography in the early 1930s. For the next 40 years he collaborated with Feitelson, Shoppe, Sheets, Landacre and other artists in printing the finest quality color lithography. Kistler died in Orange County, CA on Nov. 9, 1993. 

Exh: Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1933; Moss Gallery (LA), 1997.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
City Directory; Journal of the Print World, Fall 1997.

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