Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Deluxe Fanart - Clémentine Beauvais

I've just been to the new Eugène Delacroix exhibition at the Louvre in Paris.

Image result for delacroix la liberté
probably the most famous boobs in French visual culture

Aside from the above, there was a series of quite interesting paintings that showed Delacroix's fascination for literary characters, particularly visible in his keen practice of Hamlet fanart, which he kept up throughout his whole life:

Image result for delacroix hamlet

Using different media, and varying viewpoints, and constantly improving his practice:

Image result for delacroix hamlet

He seemed to be particularly fond of that scene, as you can see. But also of many others, including the death of Ophelia, who wasn't much more clothed in death than Liberty was in guiding the people:

Image result for delacroix hamlet

People liked his fanart a lot and kept asking him to make more. He also made Dante fanart and Goethe fanart. That's his Mephistopheles:

Image result for delacroix faust

You can tell he loved drawing monsters, especially flying, evil ones. After all, Mephistopheles is the biggest villain, like, ever, and Delacroix's fanart really captures that, I think.

Even more interestingly, Delacroix was clearly interested in Hamlet cosplay, and identified so strongly with the main character that he not only dressed up as Hamlet, but also made self-portraits to celebrate and immortalise the moody result:

Related image

Strangely enough, the exhibition documents failed to identify those paintings and lithographs as fanart and self-portrait in cosplay. They called it tributes, homages, illustration and reverence to great literature, but didn't quite seem to grasp the degree to which our bookish paintbrush-virtuoso was a very adorkable lifelong Hamlet fan, not just some painter who chose Hamlet as an object.

It's like when they tell you that David Lodge does pastiche or that James Joyce's Ulysses enters in intertextual resonance with The Odyssey, or that Wide Sargasso Sea proposes to reread Jane Eyre with unprecedented postcolonial audacity, and it's funny because any normal person would also expect to call it what it is, namely fanfiction.

They do spot fanfiction and fanart when young people do it. One hopes it's a phase, my goodness! Please, let them grow out of that derivative stuff as soon as possible.

But when it's deluxe derivative enough, like Delacroix-does-Dante-derivative, let's have it back, and stick it in a museum, and call it a tribute...

Clémentine Beauvais is a children's and young adult author in French and English, as well as a literary translator. Her latest YA novel, Piglettes, is out with Pushkin Press. Her next novel, In Paris with You, will be out with Faber in June.


Susan Price said...

Ha! On the nail, Clementine.
They do fan-fiction.
She does pastische.
I do audacious intertextual resonance.

Rowena House said...

Deluxe post! When will the next opportunity arise to point, and say, "Ah! Audacious intertextuality. What resonance!" Then quaff a flute or two. :o)