View Full Version : Gaze of the Green Lady

31-08-06, 16:57

It's one of the most popular prints ever made and yet many art critics dismiss it as rubbish. The death of its creator Vladimir Tretchikoff has again cast the spotlight on the mysterious Green Lady.

She looks unsmiling down and to her left. She has luxuriant black hair. Dressed in an exotic gold-collared robe, her hands are folded out of sight. So far, so unremarkable, except for her skin, a strange blue-green. In the 1960s and 70s, Chinese Girl - to give the 1950 portrait its proper title - graced many a living room wall across the globe. The Russian-born South African artist Tretchikoff toured the world on the back of his painting's popularity. He generated controversy in interviews, exhibited his work in department stores and became one of the first artists to target the "ordinary" public as the true audience for his work. For those who had lived through the austerity of the post-war years, the Chinese Girl was a slice of exotic colour in a drab world slowly rebuilding. It became the most notable example of the trend for working class people to buy cheap prints to hang in their living rooms.

Boo kitsch

And yet it is common now to dismiss Tretchikoff's work - and particularly Chinese Girl - as kitsch, rather than "serious" art. Critic Brian Sewell is one of those who take a dim view of the phenomenon: "I wish it had never happened."

Designer Wayne Hemingway is a Tretchikoff fan. "I've got 70 or 80 prints. It is more than just what the art looks like. It is what it stands for. The idea of having a Constable on my wall, I wouldn't see the point of it. A Tretchikoff - it means it's exotic, it means something about my background and where I'm from and my nan. Art can be all things, it doesn't have to be something that is beautifully painted." To Hemingway, Tretchikoff was a pioneer, a precursor of Andy Warhol, but someone whose direct commercial appeal generated instant snobbery from the art world. The modern dismissiveness is a product of elitism. "If you were to go out and stand with a picture of his in a cool part of any city and spoke with people who understand modern cool, the majority will say good things about it."

But Sewell does not buy the elitism and snobbery argument. "Nobody could be less elitist than I. Can anybody name another picture by this painter?"

Full story bbc.co.uk (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5298060.stm)

Who cares what Sewell and other similarly vitriolic minded critics think? These people are so far up their own arses, getting off on their intellectual prowess that they forget to see the plain beauty in things. For me, as an English working class male, this beautiful picture holds a special memory for me because I remember seeing it as a young child and being utterly enchanted by it. I love it. I couldn't give a toss what arses like Brian Sewell say.

What do you think of the painting?

Night Crawler
31-08-06, 16:59
I think it's really ugly. The head stands out but the body looks very 2 dimensional.

31-08-06, 17:09
I think the painting's great.

31-08-06, 17:11
When I saw the title of the thread, I read: "Gaze of the Greek Lady" :D And I thought you were referring to me :whi: :D :p

What do you think of the painting?
It's the first time that I see it or hear about it, believe it or not! It looks very interesting as a concept and style, I haven't seen anything like that before.

31-08-06, 17:15
It's okay, not extraordinary. I agree with sewell.

31-08-06, 17:16
Why they would call it kitsch is beyond me.:confused:

31-08-06, 17:30
When I saw the title of the thread, I read: "Gaze of the Greek Lady" :D And I thought you were referring to me :whi: :D :pHahahaha! If your face was green, I'd be worried. :D

Why they would call it kitsch is beyond me.
Likely because it's a product of the 1950's, and the term is so throwaway for those who don't know how to rightly define something from that period (and just as often the 60's and 70's) I think. Or they do so to try to make themselves look intellectual.

31-08-06, 17:37
The woman's ugly, the painting's pretty. :D

31-08-06, 17:55
The woman's ugly, the painting's pretty. :D

I agree with the opposite of that :tea:

Lara Croft!
31-08-06, 18:43
I can't say that I like that painting!

Lara's Boy
31-08-06, 19:18
That is the first time I have seen that painting, and I must say I am rather entranced with it. It just a....different sort of aesthetic appeal (can't think of another way to word it). I love her expression, I love that her face is not angled directly at the viewer, and I love that this is not a "happy" piece.

Green With Envy is what comes to mind, actually


31-08-06, 20:31
What do you think of the painting?

I think it's gorgeous and I love your attitude. :)

31-08-06, 20:35
It's great IMO, there are not many that can create such a realistic painting and add a touch of mystery with that blue-green color.

31-08-06, 22:28
I like it. She's obviously Chinese, but with an American or Western hair style. Interesting technique, looks like a chalk drawing.