A wonderful and rare surviving original watercolor and graphite illustration by the legendary Art Nouveau artist Raphael Kirchner. The image shows a sexually provocative “Kirchner Girl” in rolled silk stockings, seductively grilling the many hearts she has stolen. This appeared in print in La Vie Parisienne with the German language quip “Können Diese Herzen Warm Genug Sein?”, which translates loosely to “Are These Hearts Warm Enough?” A published tear sheet is included in the sale.
The notorious French publication La Vie Parisienne was a long running, humorous, and racy magazine which chronicled the exploits and sexual proclivities of sassy and free-spirited French follies showgirls and their often dim witted suitors in risqué, breezy, spicy pulp-like fashion. Raphael Kirchner was a frequent contributor, fans on both sides of the Atlantic were familiar with the adventures of his delightful “Kirchner Girls” who appeared in a variety of humorous and scandalous poses. This original painting is French matted in a fine, antique, original to the artwork Biedermeier wooden frame.
Raphael Kirchner was born in Vienna Austria and, along with Alphonse Mucha, was one of the most renowned art nouveau postcard artists in the Vienna Secessionist movement. The visionary artist later moved to France and worked as cover artist for the wildly popular La Vie Parisienne. His radically risqué portrayals of sexually emancipated women became known as “Kirchner Girls.” His images of libertine showgirls and nude concubines (who were often shown smoking, an activity at once taboo and suggestive) found fans among the avant-garde on both sides of the Atlantic. Kirchner moved to New York City in 1915, and was soon introduced to Florence Ziegfeld by Viennese architect Josef Urban, the man responsible for the ornate design and groundbreaking style which set the Follies apart from other provocative revues of the early 20th century. Ziegfeld, always an innovator, hired Kirchner as a staff artist.
Kirchner’s innovative vision of fanciful hedonism culminated in his life size allegorical paintings featuring the seven deadly sins. Created for the 1916 production of “The Century Girl,” the works were recreated as postcards and hung in the lobby of the New Amsterdam Theater. When Kirchner died in 1917 at the age of 42, Alberto Vargas succeeded him in his position. The influence Kirchner exerted on the style and subject of Vargas’s early work is profound.