Fascisca

Fascisca 2005Fascisca

This is the second photograph I have done based on Ingres’ Grande Odalisque (the other is Casalisca). Ingres is one of those artists who can give a certain comfort to artists who have passed middle age as several of his most famous works were painted towards the end of long life. The Turkish Bath for instance, which in the nineteen-sixties at the height of psychedelia, was the source for the cover of  Jimmy Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

Ingres, La Grande Odalisque

It is one of his most sensual and famous works and was painted at the age of eighty-two!

One of the reasons I feel drawn to Ingres is because we share an interest in beautiful fabrics. He, like Tissot  later on, loved the stuff that his sitters’ dresses were made of and used expensive and exotic material to drape around his nudes. Some of my favourite photographic assignments were for textile manufacturers so I had the opportunity to borrow some beautiful cashmeres and silks to dress the sets of both this photo and Casalisca.

Jimmy Hendrix album cover

Ingres’ desire was to make his name as a History painter for which he is largely unknown, he became respected for his portraits, but he is loved for his orientalism – the odalisques and the hamaam. He combined the fascination for the oriental  with a very French interest in fabrics. There is also something haunting in his nudes, this man who loved playing the violin  turned his women into sensual cello shapes; there is something haunting in their looks, something in their shapes, something almost in their touch.

Cinzia

Ingres was and still is considered a reactionary painter, yet he influenced Degas, and more bizarrely still, Matisse, Picasso and the photographer Man Ray. Perhaps it is rather fitting then that I should have decided to set my second Odalisque in the fascist era.  For this scene which is set in a specific year I needed some props. I went to Mussolini’s former home at Villa Carpena, near Forlì where his widow lived until the early eighties, a place with a very inhabited feel about it, and asked if I could borrow some bric-a-brac to set the scene. The curators of the villa, now a museum, kindly lent me the newspapers and magazines, both from May 1936, some original postcards and even Mussolini’s very own black fez. The papers refer to Italy’s new empire in Abyssinia.

5x4" out-take

Mussolini, squat, bald, rustic looking and sounding, was not an attractive man, but he was attractive to women. He had the qualities of a middle eastern potentate: absolute power and voracious appetite – especially for respectable women. I chose the model, 43 year old Cinzia, because she seemed to have those qualities that would have especially appealed. Clothed only in a delightful period hat with a veil, she languorously waits in her drawing room. Half haute-bourgeois, half odalisca; I have called her Fascisca.

To set yourself in the right mood listen to 1930s song, Ma le gambe piacciono di più  by the Lescano trio

Behind the Scenes. I used a Sinar 5×4 view camera as well as the Mamiya. It was shot in a Villa just outside Bologna. This picture has been published in a number of magazines, below is a double page spread from The Sunday Times magazine.

The Paint Strippers

The Sunday Times magazine

Watch a documentary video by Paolo Ganzi

Make-up: Simonetta Baletti of Art and Make-up

www.photonicholas.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s