Friday, December 23, 2016

1891-1955: Charley Toorop, Dutch

Self-portrait, 1928
Charley Toorop was a Dutch painter who was active in the first half of the 20th century. Her style was generally realistic, with heavily accentuated lines and strong color contrasts. She did not divert her energies to a variety of art forms, but concentrated forcefully on painting.

Background: Originally called Annie Caroline, Charley was the daughter of Jan Toorop, one of the foremost artists in the Netherlands during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Training: Rather than attending art school, Charley learned art skills from her father.

Career: Charley rejected such advanced, experimental styles as the geometric abstractions of Mondrian, because they had no bearing on reality. She felt that art should serve human values.

At the beginning her career, she allied herself with a group of artists who aimed at depicting the essence of reality, and favored the use of strong colors and heavily lines. Her work first appeared in a show with that group in 1916.

Charley developed a style of confrontational realism, presenting her subjects head on. This applies not only to her remarkable self-portraits in which she penetrates the viewer with her steely gaze, but also to her portraits of farmers, labourers and fishermen.

From 1926-1928 she lived in Amsterdam, where her painting became influenced by film. Her faces appear to be lit by individual spotlights creating strong contrasts between highlights and shadows.

From the 1930s onwards, she painted in a powerful realistic style—notably self-portraits and many female figures. She also did still lifes that were influenced by synthetic cubism.

Toorop's work is widely collected by Dutch museums.

Self-portrait with Three Children, 1929
Private life: In 1912, Charley married philosopher Henk Fernhout. They had 2 sons and a daughter. They divorced in 1917.

Charley remained single the rest of her life, though she is rumored to have had a brief relationship with a Dutch poet.

After much moving about, in 1932, Charley settled in a town in North Holland, where she lived in a house of her own design.

There is a very nice selection of Charley's work on Artnet: Charley Toorop

The Kroller Muller Museum has a huge collection online: Toorop Two

Our photos of Charley's work:

Self-portrait in front of a palette, 1934
Photo by Dan L. Smith, 2015

Fruit and Autumn Leaves, 1952
Gementemuseum / Jan's photo, 2015

Internet Examples:

Farmers, 1930

Clown in the Ruins of Rotterdam, 1941

Photo of Charley in 1951

Self-portrait, 1953

Roses in a Glass, 1953

Still Life with White Pitcher, 1954