Sunday, 27 November 2011

Showgirl Venuses 1: Folies Bergere by Alain Aslan

Agent Triple P appreciates a good showgirl, those be-sequinned, feather-plumed examples of statuesque loveliness that decorate the stages of Paris, Las Vegas and elsewhere, bringing glamour and style (as well as the ability to support often very big headresses) to brighten our lives.

What better way to start this series than with two examples by French artist Alain Aslan for the Folies Bergère.  This famous Parisian music hall was founded in 1869 with a design based on the Alhambra in London.  Unlike the Alhambra, which was demolished in 1936 to make way for the famous Odeon Leicester Square cinema, the Folies Bergère still exists and still puts on shows.

Its future, however, was not looking so bright back in 1974 when former Folies showgirl Hélène Martini took over the direction of the place and ensured its continuation to the present day.  The fact that these posters have Martini's name on them helps us to date them.  We believe that at least one, if not both, are from 1977.

Alain Aslan (b 1930) is probably France's greatest pin-up artist famous not only for his paintings for Lui and Oui magazines but also his sculptures of French national icons.  Currently living and working in Quebec, Canada, we will look at his work more extensively in the future.

One interesting conceit of these pictures is that whilst the feathers immediately say "Showgirl" they are, in fact, just an abstracted background design and not part of her costume.

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