Inspired by Romaine Brooks

Unknown artist
Unknown artist

This painting is by an unknown artist. One of our followers asked if I knew who painted it. I don’t.

Differentiating Brooks’s Work

I have to say (as I did to her), you have to see a Brooks painting face-to-face to really appreciate how subtle and sophisticated her surface application of paint was and how subtle the transitions between shades of grays are. She uses a tonal scale, so unless you can actually see the paintings in person, it is very difficult to translate from on-line or reproduction. The values are much richer.

Romaine: “Camp” or not?

ImageYou will have to be the judge, given the recent issue of GLReview that discusses the concept of camp and gives various definitions:

“The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible.” Wilde

“Camp is [understood] not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization.” Sontag

Sontag goes on to say that, “Camp sees everything in quotation marks.” She associates camp with performance, “being-as-playing-a-role,” and with the artificial: “It is the difference…between the thing as meaning something, anything, and the thing as pure artifice.”

Certainly Brooks qualifies as one of the first female dandies, and her creation of an artist-self falls into the category of the performative identity. Her paintings and interpretations of various new women, bisexuals, and internatonal metro-sexuals  positions her as a radical modernist — albeit, as outlined in Romaine Brooks: A Life from the right rather than center or left. What could be more camp than her dramatic 1912 self-portrait or her stylized self-portrayal of 1923? This perhaps explains her enduring appeal across generations and various cultures.