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we're in the Albertina in Vienna and we're looking at Alexander if Lansky is brilliant painting a young woman in a flowered hat and I mean you said brilliant I think you meant that it was both brilliant in terms of its drawing and its conception but also in terms of its color I don't think I can imagine a more radically painted or colored image that orange is absolutely fluorescent so this is Expressionism at its most extreme here's an artist who was a Russian he studied actually with ilya repin one of the leading russian artists of the turn of the century and then gives up that high-pitch naturalism for a kind of expressiveness that comes out of Matisse's Fauvism is related to the work of Kandinsky who was a close friend for many years and we have this was just the height of radicality in painting and certainly emerging from the art of Gauguin also and Van Gogh I mean yeah Blonsky was in the middle of that whole current at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century that issue is especially important for Russian artists like this because as Gauguin was looking back to a more rural life and a kind of more direct and and sort of pure lives for instance in Brittany and in the South Seas most famously you know the Russians were often looking back to their folk art they were looking back to Russian icons they were looking back to the simple printed billboards that were being produced at that time they were looking for a kind of veracity a kind of directness a kind of truth in painting and there is a sense of primitivism here although the figure has a sense of sophistication about her an urban sophistication with that fabulous flower hat and the lovely fan that she holds very modestly toward her face but there is something primitive this stick in the dark outlines the abstraction the sense of geometry I think you've gotten directly to the heart of the painting for me at least which is the serious conflict between the subject matter which is modest and almost coy and you have this woman who's not looking at us directly is an emphasis on her eyelashes there's all the accouterments of high-fashion with a fan with a hat but then painted in the most violent most aggressive manner one can imagine there's this expression of 20th century modernism in at its extreme mm-hmm and for me it almost flips back and forth sometimes when I look at this I see her and I see those beautiful long eyelashes and the delicacy of her face and the smallness of her red lips and then other times I look at it and I almost flip a switch and I see harsh black outlines and the gestures that the artist made to create these forms and there's something very wrong about that it's raw it's strident and it's just fabulous to look at but it's also really pleasurable I mean the colors although they're bright they're harmonious they hold together but they're absolutely violent in relationship to the colors that we would expect for instance the woman has a green face she daddy's yellow face but it works sometimes you hardly even notice you have to sort of remind yourself her face is green because in a way it feels natural there is something that is beautifully artificial in that way it's as if this is light that is not the warm light of the Sun but this is the electric light of the modern era this is not painting on canvas this is not even on paper this is actually on cardboard and the artists allow that rich brown color of the cardboard to come through in between the areas that have been painted and it reminds me actually of some of the work that was done by Toulouse Lautrec at the end of the nineteenth century where you had somebody who was interested in the artificiality of light in cafes on stage and there is something about that here the guy did that too right with the ballerinas and light on the stage that's right so there is this notion of the artificiality of color of light of form of representation itself as very much a part of this early 20th century moment this Expressionism this deeply emotional expressive moment you