Jorge Arevalo in The New Yorker, and beyond

Jorge Arevalo Illustration of Audrey Tauto France

Audrey Tautou

I came upon Jorge Arevalo, well I nearly passed him by. If you read or have ever read The New Yorker then you will know that in amongst the endless words which you pretend you are swimming with but have long-since drowned, in amongst all these words are occasional pictures and photographs of which to serve as some relief from those words but are as often and quite rightly demanding our attention too. I must admit I usually but glance at them eager enough to keep up with those words but on this occasion I was distracted enough by an illustration to decide to explore its creator’s work further.

This particular issue was the October 22, 2012 one and the illustration in question was not even attached to a written piece but in the Goings On About Town which I usually rush through as not actually best placed to gad about New York what with being on the other side of the Atlantic and all. More particularly it was in the Movies Opening section illustrating ‘Nobody Walks‘.

Nobody Walks Jorge Arevaldo IllustrationWith the web an easy enough task to delve deeper and or wade wider and his own website  was quickly stumbled upon. It greets us with a photograph of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin). Clicking on we see his illustrations. There is not much detail on his website and perhaps there does not need to be.

His site does detail his clients, the list is not that long but again perhaps it does not need to be including as it does in addition to the aforementioned New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.

He has a number of books published of his portraits and illustrations too – I am not going to detail them as I have enough to gabble on about here. But if you like what you see here and want more of his work then there are links to his publications on his site too.

Juliette Binoche by Jorge Arevalo

Juliette Binoche

I’ve not included all the photos as what would be point of that when you can visit his site on his own terms and what-have-you, but instead a list of those not featured here who you may want to see illustrated in this fashion – Kate Moss with and without Pete Docherty, Chet Baker, Kate Hudson, Sasha Grey, Martin Scorsese, Lady Antebellum, James Franco, Kanye West, Jonas Brothers, Garrincha, Jane Reno, Jackie Kennedy, James Brolin, Elijah Wood, Chloe Sevigny, Pharrell Williams, Grace Coddington, Stacy Peralta and Alexander McQueen. A lot. Or enough.

Meryl Streep by Jorge Arevalo

Meryl Streep

Miles Davis by Jorge Arevalo

Miles Davis

The ones I have included I have kept my responses, bubbles of thought to a minimum  –  as I’m not you and you’re not obviously me therefore and it follows you will respond in your own unique way so I don’t think you are much interested in my view overmuch. We are all narcissists together on the world wide web after all. But anyway bravely, foolishly I include a few of my thoughts in words however invisible they may be to you between Arevalo’s portraiture.

Amy Winehouse by Jorge Arevalo

Amy Winehouse

Disgracefully I have never written about Amy Winehouse – her music, her voice, her life – what’s that about (?) but then I read your blogs dear subbers and you’ve not written about her either – what really is up with that?

I like the unfussy statement of Arevalo’s portraits. A kind of a doodle but super-charged in full colours.

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo

Mad Men – y’know those Ad Men

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo
More mad men…

Mad Men by Jorge Arevaldo
Mad Women…

His time frame stretches from Dean Martin to Miley Cyrus, the young at heart Dean to the old head on young shoulders Miley …

This picture of the Olsen Twins captures their innate spookiness well I feel.

The Olsen Twins by Jorge Arevalo

The Olsen Twins

The next of the singular time-defying Grace Jones and it looks like she is singing I’ve Seen that Face before!?!

Grace Jones by Jorge Arevalo

Grace Jones

Some of his illustrations are a bit more busy but no less bold.

The Black-Eyed Peas by Jorge Arevalo

The Black Eyed Peas

Charlotte Casiraghi by Jorge Arevalo
Charlotte Casiraghi, some minor European Royal

So if this has wetted your appetite, piqued your curiosity, stirred wonder in your hearts…you know what to do.

Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency

Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency

This series is to mark the 200th anniversary of this brief but revolutionary and creative period. At its helm the Prince Regent himself, the great patronizer of art and design.

On the BBC 4 website she asks us when was Britain at its most elegant and most decadent, its most stylish and most radical. Her answer as you might expect is that it was the regency and she goes on to explain why she thinks that. Also detailed on this page is what we can expect from this series. It looks at the man the era was named after, the Prince Regent, along with other Royals and Aristocrats as well as its working people and how they all experienced this decade, 1811 to 1820. Also covered are the celebrities of its age – the likes of Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Joseph Turner and John Constable.

Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency The Prince of Whales

The Prince of Whales

In the first episode Warts and all – Portrait of a Prince she looks at how the Prince Regent, George IV, was obsessed with outdoing Napoleon – “not on the battlefield but in terms of opulence, bling and monumental architecture’. The BBC iPlayer page provides further details of this episode.

She finished her opening introduction advising us that there was a lot more to the regency than Mr Darcy!

Her team at Kew Palace on discussing what the public know about The Prince Regent, reported on a visiting little girl who said he was ‘Sad Mad Bad and Fat’!

George was the United Kingdom’s ruler but a regent not its king owing to the temporary absence of his father George III due to his incapacitating mental condition, yet despite this he was the subject of much virulent irreverent satire by commentators and cartoonists. It is hard to imagine any of our present royal family being pictured as a whale which in ‘The Prince of Whales’! he was. Nearly two hundred years on our satirists seem very tame if not obsequious to our current heads of state – whether Royals, Lords or Commons.

Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and His Wife

Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and His Wife

The program looks at George’s art collection – he bought prodigiously – including the most expensive in his collection Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and His Wife.

Alongside his collection the program looks at the extensive collection bequeathed to Dulwich College by Peter Francis Bourgeois, landscape artist and court painter to George III which unlike the Prince’s private collection was open to the public. His collection could have been left to the British Museum but he considered it was ran by snobs and too closely associated with the Regency Inner Circle. He was of the father’s royal court not the son’s. Hence his bequest to the Dulwich College. The Architect John Soane built an art gallery within the college grounds to house them, also out of money left by Bourgeois. It was the first gallery open to the public.

Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency The Prince

The Prince Regent

The Prince Regent also liked his clothes – his budget for fashion as extravagant as that for his art-works. The most fashionable man in London at this time was Beau Brummel – whose influence also extended to the Prince. The program uses ‘Dandy’ by The Kinks to showcase their outfits – Brummel himself is credited with inventing the suit. Though when saying his budget it is notable that he bought his extensive wardrobe on credit – he ran up huge debts, many remaining unpaid.

At this time Britain was the reigning European superpower having just beaten the French and Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo  – but the Prince Regent had little to do with it not being a soldier let alone on the fields of battle. But he was clearly vain-glorious and self-delusional and had become the subject of many paintings with him as the conquering war hero – Wellington a mere shadow of him. Appearance trumping reality reminding that spin is nothing new just the methods of its commission.

The royal portrait painter was Thomas Lawrence, president of the Royal Academy, and referred by Lucy Worsley as the ‘Chief Flatterer’ and very definitely counter-weight to the cruel cartoon caricaturists. Lawrence was the Photoshop of his time, routinely taking pounds and years off the monarch.

To most of his subjects these paintings would be all they would have seen of him. Appearance clearly was more important than reality.

I look forward the next episode Developing the Regency Brand which will explore its architecture as part of the rebuilding of Britain during this period.

Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency Dulwich College

Dulwich College

Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters – history unspun…

Wallis Simpson: The Secret LettersThis Channel 4 program based on fifteen hitherto unrevealed letters between Wallis Simpson and her second husband Ernest Simpson overturns what we the British public have come to understand about the whole WE (Wallis, Edward) affair.

Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters narrated by Samuel West and written and produced by Simon Berthon tells a very new story.

Edward VIII gave up his throne for Wallis – a grand romantic gesture – we never considered what she gave up for him.

The secret letters of the program’s title were discovered by Wallis Simpson’s latest biographer Anne Sebba for her book ‘That Woman’. They show that the love between the abdicated King and Mrs Simpson was unrequited – he desperately in love with her but she still in love with her second husband Ernest. He had passion for her, she only affection for him.

Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters Anne Sebba

Biographer Anne Sebba

She had conspired to aspire in British Society and, well, who better, than the future king to achieve this. But she was to succeed in capturing more than the king’s manifest material comforts and honours, instead the King’s very heart and soul

Two stories have endured, one that she, Wallis, a Scarlet woman, double-divorcee (scandalous in the 1930’s if unremarkable now) and whisper it she was an American – undermining genteel English society – or exposing its hypocrisy – as you like it.

The second story is a more romantic one – what the King gave up for her – against all the odds and the might of the English establishment – and their ultimate exile – not just physical but emotional, social and political.

Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters - Ernest Simpson

Ernest Simpson

These letters tell a new tale – as in the first story Wallis was certainly a cool and calculating schemer and as in the second story the King did give up his kingdom for her – but the exile for Wallis was a very different one. The king had given up his throne for love, she had given up love for the king.

The letters establish not just that Wallis was still in love with Ernest – a very different WE – but that the divorce itself was an illegal exercise in collusion – a fabrication of infidelity.

She writes to him of the King ‘what can I say when I am standing beside the grave of everything that was us’ – this line alone lays waste everything we had ever thought about the love between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

That ultimately Wallis Simpson was the hunted not the hunter. And she had wanted out. She had wanted to exit the affair waiting for his royal coronation and duty to inevitably put her out of the regal picture – she did not know that he planned to abdicate. Their affair then became public and they then went into French exile. When discovering his plans to secede to his brother George VI she had pleaded with him not to – he did not want to listen. A further letter to him explaining she and Ernest were meant for each other and that she and Edward could never make each other happy resulted in Edward threatening to slit his throat!

Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters - Wallis

Wallis Simpson

The pending marriage between Edward and Wallis was referred to between Ernest and Wallis as ‘the final catastrophe’ and of which Ernest considered Wallis entirely blameless. When on June 3 1937 they finally married it is well documented not one member of the Royal family attended.

As well as these tangled web of relationships between Wallis, Edward and Ernest the program explores the early life of Wallis – her parents and her upbringing and her first marriage to Earl Winfield Spencer Jr.

The program reminds that like Diana Spencer and Kate Middleton the press have always had an obsession with Royalty and long before these two princesses were subject to intrusive press and paparazzi attention Wallis Simpson was similar prey to their prurient camera eye.

This program turns upside down what we had thought we knew about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

A soon to be released film directed by Madonna of the couple titled ‘W.E.‘ as English actress Andrea Riseborough as Wallis and James D’Arcy as Edward VIII – Ernest Simpson is played by David Barbour. I wonder how incidental his part will be in the proceedings of this film knowing as we now do his far more central role. As Princess Diana was to state so memorably about her ultimately doomed marriage to Prince Charles ‘there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded’. The third there was Camilla Parker-Bowles, a very present factor, whereas Ernest a very absent factor, but no less significant because of that.

I understand that the film is now completed and ready for a December 2011 release in the USA – I wonder how much of this Channel 4 show or the Anne Sebba biography writers Madonna and Alex Keshishian would have been aware of?

If not aware then ‘W.E’ perhaps will have to content itself in being the last of that particular 20th Century English Royal myth.

And now another film – about ‘WEE’ not ‘WE’ – is waiting to be shot. I wonder what director will best tell it?

Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters Edward and Wallis

Wallis and Edward

Princess Catherine Doll – and other Royal souvenirs

I received an Email today from Gadget site Firebox where all the merchandise listed was to cash in – sorry, honour! – the coming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

From Top Trumps to Tea Towels.

I think they have likely hit a winner with this Princess Catherine Doll though – at £35 a pop Firebox and its manufacturers really could be minting it.

If I were ever to be famous I think being turned into a mass-production doll would be one of celebrity’s more pleasing outcomes!

I was amused by the disclaimer too ‘Posable doll bearing a purely coincidental resemblance to Kate Middleton’.

I just wonder how many more royal wedding souvenirs with an unintended passing likeness to the future monarch there will be!