One hundred and fifty five

Tigre dans les jungles

1893 by Paul Ranson
MoMA, NY

Ranson can be most easily remembered for his role in the French post-impressionist group, the Nabis; a founding member, he hosted their Saturday afternoon meetings in his apartment. But it is his prints and decorative arts, rather than his painting, that is perhaps most interesting. It is pre-meditative in more than one way, leaning towards an Art Nouveau celebration of natural forms in arts & crafts, as well as a fascination with Japanese art which is Modernist in its relation to Pound. Tigre dans les jungles is Pound-esque in its playfulness with the Japanese style, and similar in effect to Gaudier-Brzeska’s work (see postcard 101). Gaudier’s panther, that fronts the cover of Hugh Kenner’s The Pound Era (published by University of California Press), has the same free-hand exploration, catching the cat pre-pounce some ten years later. Whether Pound and his brood in London were aware of Ranson, probably not, the likeness is interesting. The lines of Tigre are appear merry in their ease of twists and curls; explorative, they embellish their subject; the body is held high, sprightly, while the tail curls delighted to one side, and stripes are whimsical in bunched squiggles down the back. The surrounding jungle then joins in this dancing of lines; the trees bend to their subject while the flowers, even the earth is seems, crowd the tiger in a motion that unites the whole performance. Tigre dans les jungles is play, not only for the composition, but for our tracing eyes.

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