Creative personality: Erte, fashion designer of the Art Deco era
Art Deco is called the most mysterious style of the 20th century. Exotic, bright, built on the shaky symmetry of refined lines, it replaced the lush asymmetry of the Art Nouveau era. The style, which embodied the restless curiosity of the age of discovery and research, absorbed the ancient Greek archaic, drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian, African and Aztec culture, went hand in hand with technical innovations. The father of Art Deco is called the legendary designer Erte.
Erte is the pseudonym of a man who called himself a French artist of Russian origin. Roman Petrovich Tyrtov – from the first letters of his name and surname, a sonorous nom de plume with a Western accent turned out – was born in St. Petersburg in 1892. His father, an admiral in the navy, was proud of the history of the family, whose roots could be traced back to the 16th century. He expected that his son would follow the glorious path of his ancestors – he would become a military man, but from childhood the boy wanted not only to draw, but to invent clothes. Roman designed his first costume at the age of 5. At the age of 15, Monsieur Tirtoff comes to Paris for the first time and, of course, the city immediately imperiously captures him, but it will take another three long years before the already adult Roman quarrels with his father and leaves to live in the city of dreams. "In order not to disgrace the name," the boy will come up with a pseudonym,
Fame and success did not immediately find their future favorite. “Young man, do anything in life, but never try to become a costume designer. You won’t succeed," with these words, a certain Carolina, the owner of the then famous fashion house, threw Erte’s creations into the trash. Centuries later, the name of this lady is remembered only because of the absurdity of this phrase. The first to believe in the genius of the future “knight of Art Deco” was the legendary Pot Poiret. It was he who came up with the shirt cut of dresses, which is still fashionable today, he introduced the kimono into fashion, he was called "the man who took off the corset from women." Talented, loud-voiced, generous, he did not skimp on the recognition of someone else’s genius, perhaps because he himself was not deprived of nature. His Fashion House shimmered and shimmered like a living illustration of an oriental tale. Erte,
In 1915, two fashion magazines at once – Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue – will offer him to decorate their pages. Young – Erte barely 20 – the artist did not even think about the choice, he just tossed a coin. So Harper’s Bazaar found a great illustrator for many years. From January 1915, when Erte drew the first cover for the magazine, until 1936, when the last one fluttered out from under his pencil, he painted the models that made him and Harper’s Bazaar famous. “What would our magazine be without the cover of Erte?” said the director of the magazine, William Hirst.
Orders from Illustrated London News, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal and again from Vogue rained down on the artist. But besides this, he managed to draw for theatrical and ballet productions, collaborated with Hollywood. The stars of the New York Music Hall in Radio City, the dancers of the Parisian cabaret Folies Bergère performed in costumes from Erte, you can admire his work in the cult film "Ben-Hur", and the outfits invented by this "art deco elf" were worn by such stars like Anna Pavlova and Irina Bordoni, Joan Crawford and Marion Davis. Jewelry, artistic bronze, delicate silk-screen printing – here he also left the imprints of his genius. One of Erte’s most famous drawings, the Symphony in Black, was copied during his lifetime and after his death and, one way or another, reproduced thousands of times.
No matter what Erte painted, the center of this universe was a thin, unsteady, tender woman. A Greek goddess and an Assyrian princess, a timid pearl of a harem or a bright star of a music hall, a rare bird and an exotic flower – it did not matter what the ruler of this world was wearing. All these draperies, shawls, handbags, scarves, chains and gloves are just epithets in the complex language of fashion, the notes of his score. Erte’s fans were looking forward to his new works in order to plunge into the wondrous world created by the artist. They cut and kept illustrations from magazines not as colorful role models, but as doors to a beautiful garden, where this refined knight, the creator of bizarre dreams, wove a ghostly dreamland from Art Deco, invited them. There, from the cradle of fashion, he awakened the most secret female dreams from slumber.
For many, Erte is the embodiment of the Art Deco style, but the artist wrote about himself like this: “I must say that I do not belong to any of the art schools, the special style of my drawings serves as a tool for expressing the beauty of the image. In art, I’m an individualist."
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