Toile de Jouy in 3D! Folly by Beth Katleman

Toile de Jouy in 3D! Folly by Beth Katleman

Mark Chamberlain
Feb 8, 2011

Here's a twist — a Toile de Jouy in porcelain, with Rococo figures depicting dough-boy Americana. I love the lineage of this concept.

Toile de Jouy is a printed fabric originating in 18th century France. Historically, it utilized one or two ink colors to depict pastoral scenes of milkmaids and troubadours set amid copses of trees and ornamental ruins.

Conceptually, one can't help but think that this was produced for the aristocracy or bourgeoisie, smiling down on the little people. I've seen it written elsewhere that the idea of the milkmaid was actually a coded object of desire, or a dirty joke.

But in terms of a vehicle for creative expression, what could be riper? One could place any group of figures in a make believe universe, reduced to the size of a tuft of grass, as per one's experience: an East Village Toile, a Tom of Finland Toile, a Feminist Toile, etc. Here, artist Beth Katleman presents a 3-D version of a Toile in her piece Folly, producing multiple miniature set pieces in porcelain and presenting them on one big blue wall. Her angle is to play with a Kewpie doll kitsch of flea market Americana.

And color-wise, there's a long history of figures rendered in grisaille over a cerulean blue ground, which has fascinated me for years and as I write this I wonder where it comes from—poor artists who can only afford three colors? Oil sketches?? At any rate, the idea is so pure and elemental, it's like squinting into the sun and beholding dear friends.

Possible color recommendations: the press photos are so different from mine here, I'm not sure where to go, other than old stand-bys:


    • Ralph Lauren Emperor VM126
    • Vermeer VM130
    • Renoir VM131
    • Benjamin Moore Covington Blue HC-138

Easel oil-painters — buy a tube of Cerulean Blue True, but why not mix your own? Try Ultramarine and a bit of Ochre, Payne's Grey plus same, or start with Pthalo and grey it out.

Folly by Beth Katleman is at Jane Hartsook Gallery at Greenwich House Pottery,16 Jones Street through February 17

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

Classic Wallpaper Pattern: Toiles de Jouy
Toile: Explained and Explored

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