Mme Bachelier’s Paintings Are
‘Windows Into Another World’


Bachelier Exhibition Celebrates History’s
Most Legendary Artistic Muse



or a spring night, the evening of Thursday, 3 April 2003, was an unusually wintry one. Although, the changeable clouds and chill winds lent a fitting atmosphere to a soirée promising a series of marvellous delights. For this was the premiere of Anne Bachelier’s spring 2003 exhibition, as well as the book launch for The Princess of Wax/La Princesse de cire, written by Messrs Ryersson and Yaccarino and illustrated by the artist. Neil Zukerman gave the exhibition and book presentation at his gallery, CFM, located in New York City’s SoHo district. And no one fortunate enough to attend this unforgettable revelry would leave less than captivated.

        6:00PM when the by-invitation-only guests
were allowed entry. For the previous three days, the gallery doors and windows had been tantalizingly covered so that not even a glimpse of the exhibition could be seen from Greene Street. Certainly, there was a palpable sense of anticipation as the first invitees crossed the threshold. As they did so, each received a small programme providing biographies of the artist and authors, as well as that of Yolande Bavan, the notable actress and jazz singer, who was to give a reading of the bizarre fairy tale later that evening.
Curtain Going Up!
 

 

A Throng Of Admirers Fill CFM Gallery



It would be foolhardy to even attempt to convey the astonishment viewers experienced upon seeing Mme Bachelier’s latest offering for the first time. Featured among nearly forty new works were paintings evoking the uncanny world of The Princess of Wax, a story inspired by the cultural icon, the Marchesa Luisa Casati, and one written expressly for the artist. Messrs Ryersson and Yaccarino are the authors of Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, the official study of the daring art patroness that has achieved a worldwide success. There was one corner of the reception area devoted to the early-20th century fascinatrix. In addition to a superb Bachelier drawing, displayed here was a photograph of La Casati by de Meyer, as well as a description of the extraordinary exploits of the dashing aristocratic.

(above left: La Casati—The Aristocrat Whose Fairy Tale Adventures Inspired Art)

Perhaps Mr Ed McCormack’s cover-story on the CFM exhibition and book project for Gallery & Studio (March-April 2003) best describes this visual feast of the fantastic: ‘The central figures in Bachelier’s new oils have absorbed some of the flamboyant spirit of La Marchesa Luisa Casati…they appear more assertive, robust, even dangerous…they have blossomed into full-fledged femmes fatales with more than one trick up their silken sleeves.’ In the spirit of decadence conjured up by the paintings, guests refreshed themselves from a seemingly endless supply of vintage champagne and luscious chocolate confections.


The Tragic Lovers From The Princess of Wax Through The Eyes Of Bachelier

Then, as the eight o’clock hour approached, all attention turned to a small stage and podium arranged at the centre of the gallery. By this time, the assembly had grown considerable enough to make it nearly difficult to tilt a champagne flute! Finally, Miss Bavan was summoned to the stage. The extravagant cheetah-print fabrics and golden pleated scarves that draped the podium gave away only a scant hint of the exotic entertainment about to unfold. Indeed, as this was the official launch of The Princess of Wax, the weird narrative had been hitherto unknown save only to the collaborators in its creation.



hush descended upon the gathering as the chiming of bells began to sound.

To be sure, it seemed as if they echoed from across some watery expanse, setting an appropriately haunting mood and signaling the start of the performance. What followed was Miss Bavan’s inimitable rendering of The Princess of Wax. With a gorgeously lyrical voice and movements remarkable for their feline grace, the supernatural tragedy of the tale’s star-crossed lovers was brought to vivid life. And no better backdrop for the reading could have been concocted than Mme Bachelier’s exquisite paintings that surrounded the spellbound audience. A well-earned
and thunderous ovation followed.

 
Miss Bavan Mesmerizes As
Miss Rosasco Looks On


In addition to the pleasure of her delectable vocal performance, Miss Bavan provided visual thrills as well. Devastatingly soignée, she was attired in a cocktail dress of black satin and lace, its sash set aglow by a glinting diamanté buckle, from the spring 2003 collection of John Galliano (Paris). Indeed, the eminent designer personally provided this discreetly provocative garment for the affair. And it should be recalled that Mr Galliano has often cited the Marchesa Casati as an inspiring force, most dramatically expressed in his renowned spring/summer 1998 collection for Dior that was completely based upon her.

(at left: Miss Bavan Devastates In Galliano)


The festivities flowed on, as did the champagne, well past the gallery’s intended closing time. Although before then, several of the most monumental of Mme Bachelier’s works, as well as numerous copies of the sumptuously fashioned book, were acquired by lucky admirers. And during this time, attendees were given the opportunity to chat with the artist and authors. Among the many charming guests was Joan T. Rosasco, noted international fine art exhibition coordinator and author of Voies de l’imagination proustienne. The ever-elegant Miss Rosasco offered a fitting précis to the successful fête: ‘This strange, magical conte cruel cast a spell in the gallery that seemed to be hung with windows into another world. Anne Bachelier’s work is magnificent. And Yolande Bavan’s unforgettable performance incarnated the spirit of the peculiar tale.’


Also sharing in the festivities was Grazia D’Annunzio, the prominent international journalist and Special Projects Editor for Vogue Italia. She just also happens to be the great-grandniece of Gabriele D’Annunzio, the notorious writer who shared an amour with the Marchesa Casati in those quainter days before the Great War.

(from left to right) M Yaccarino, Mme Bachelier,
Sig.na D’Annunzio, M Ryersson

The vivacious Sig.na D’Annunzio was among the first at the reception to set eyes on the book of The Princess of Wax. ‘What a mesmerizing tale! In this Edgar Allan Poe-esque nightmare, Venice and La Casati have never been so enchanting and decadent,’ Sig.na D’Annunzio proclaimed. ‘Anne Bachelier’s illustrations, so surreal and so wonderfully rich in detail, are the perfect visualization of an intriguing, never-ending journey through eccentricity, obsession, love, cruelty, glamour and destiny.’

inally, the merrymakers began their adieus. And as they did so, many glimpsed one last curious sight in a night that was replete with so many wonders. Serenely poised behind the glass walls of a vitrine was the tender little princess of the fairy tale. Lauri Robinson Panopoulos of CFM Gallery, a fine artist in her own right, had constructed the delicate figure for the occasion. And similar to her sister in the mystical story, the sculpted doll was draped in gossamer silks and even sported a tiny wreath of precious amethysts in her flowing locks. So the tableau featuring the doll, seemingly caught en pointe among copies of the book of The Princess of Wax, was surely a fitting finale to an altogether sensational experience.

Shall We Dance? The Princess of Wax Doll By Miss Panopoulos

 

Further artworks and books were snapped up by wise collectors during an all-day book-signing with Mme Bachelier and Messrs Ryersson and Yaccarino on the following Saturday at the gallery. This trend continued throughout the remainder of a truly magical five-week exhibition that will not be long forgotten. And although not present at the previously described events, Lady Moorea Black, granddaughter to and only living direct descendent of the Marchesa Casati, graciously commented on The Princess of Wax from her home in London. ‘This is a beautiful and marvellously produced book,’ the late Lady Moorea praised, ‘and quite a wonderful fairy tale, too.’ One cannot help but believe that her truly unique grandmother would join Lady Moorea in this blessing.

(at left: Book Cover For The Princess Of Wax/ La Princesse de cire)

 

The Courtiers Marvel As The Princess Comes To Life

 

All Artwork © Anne Bachelier

Photographic Reportage © Susan Yaccarino Fernandez

Copyright © The Casati Archives. All rights reserved.