Friday, 7 August 2015

But, Why Daddy, Why?

Valdemar Andersen, Poster for the daily Politiken, 1908.
Shown with permission from
Designmuseum Danmark. I apologize for the poor quality
of the photo; it was taken by me for study purposes.

Ida Felicia Noack chose Valdemar Andersen when she was preparing her contribution for the cartoonists' exhibition at this year's Copenhagen Comics. The exhibition challenged the cartoonists of today to each draw a predecessor, interpreting him or her in the successor's own line and telling the story of what made this particular cartoonist stand out. 

Since Valdemar Andersen is known for his ethereal ink line, making his figures first and foremost art rather giving them a solid presence before us, and adding to this women and children as his preferred subjects, Ida Felicia initially toyed with the idea of entering into a dialogue with him to the point that he would be the one to transform her into his image rather than the other way round.

Ida Felicia Noack, Detail of Valdemar Andersen
and Son, 2015.
The idea proved too time-consuming, but her final contribution proved all the more fascinating in that she rotated the figure we have known for more than 100 years, so that we see her face, hearing her speak, accentuating that however ethereal she may seem to be, un-contoured as she is, the two protagonists in his life as in his work were highly intelligent, inquisitive and critical personalities even when it came to his own art.
From the letters between Valdemar and his wife Juliane, we meet her as an avid reader, taking in the latest publications such as the new Henrik Pontoppidan while their son Ib would be sleeping in his pram. She would be the one leading the conversation, discussing with their author friends at dinner. She was highly protective of her husband and would not put up with anything or anyone with whom she disagreed. All of which is in fact present in the original poster of her reading, actively staying informed with a focus on the drawing by her husband heading the page. 


Ida Felicia Noack, Detail of
Valdemar Andersen and Son, 2015.
Their son was very much a product of the two of them. He would be examining drawings before he could even speak, and once he mastered speaking he would be constantly asking his father any how and why that came to his mind. Why did his father use a pen rather than a pencil for this detail and why make that detail in the first place? Juliane would be asking on behalf of the little Ib and his father rarely saying much in the first place would have to answer in a few lines, at times begging Ib to be patient until he returned. The few explanations we have of his art are all prompted by the young Ib's questions. 
Valdemar Andersen, Ib at the easel, 1910.
Shown with permission from The Centre for Maps, Prints and Photographs, The Royal Library.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo; it was taken by me for study purposes.


Valdemar Andersen, detail of the sketch above.
We are so privileged to have a series of sketches of the 3-year old Ib as the easel by his father studying the concentration of the boy, how he would be placing his head to this side and then the other, and how he held the brush or pen, which he had either copied or had been told how to, obviously dialoguing as he went along. A young child who wanted to learn about the world by way of drawing it. 

Valdemar Andersen, detail of the sketch above.

All of the above Ida Felicia incorporated into her poster-size exhibition entrance. What was intended to be on Valdemar, ultimately comprised both Valdemar and Ib with a defining appearance of Juliane: 

Ida Felicia Noack, Valdemar Andersen and Son, 2015.

Juliane did have the striped kimono in actual life; she posed in photos taken by Valdemar Andersen wearing it. We cannot tell the color of course, but as a mature artist in own right her son took that very kimono back to a piece of drawn Japan, making it all about the green stripes and combining them with the allusion to the Japanese block print Van Gogh once copied of running persons covering for the rain only in this case aligning the diagonal with the trees and pylons we know so well from Ib Andersen's own works: 


Ib Andersen, from "Magasinet" for the daily Politiken, 1942.


The artworks shown by Ida Felicia Noack and Ib Andersen are courtesy of Ida Felicia Noack and the family of Ib Andersen and must not be reproduced without their permission.


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