Nuala's "A Valentines for James Joyce"

A project by Elsa de Brun

Viewing the Collection — August 31, 2015

Viewing the Collection

Two of our group have now completed viewing the entire collection at the Harry Ransom Center. We took notes and digital photos (for research purposes only, so, sadly, we can’t share these) on each piece of art. We had a bit of a shock when we first arrived to view the collection as three of the pieces were not with the rest. Thankfully, the helpful staff quickly located them, so we were able to return and view the “missing” three as well.

Upon our return visit for the final three, we were also surprised to learn that Elsa de Brun created one of the pieces with watercolors rather than her usual pastels. It was a little older than the other pieces and also had a completely different feel from the others. There is probably an interesting back story on how this one became part of the Valentine collection–and if there is one, hopefully we’ll learn it.

The Significance of Elsa de Brun’s Work — August 13, 2015

The Significance of Elsa de Brun’s Work

For those of us standing in the Harry Ransom Center’s Denius Seminar Room, looking at Elsa de Brun’s pastels was an amazing experience. She managed to take the simple medium of pastels into a three-dimensional art form while also keeping the lines sharply demarcated–something often difficult to do with pastels. We were also taken aback by the rich colors that jumped from the paper.

According to an article written by Swedish scholar Dr. Leif Sjöberg (“The Art of Elsa de Brun” in The American-Scandinavian Review,  Winter, 1971-72), at the time, Elsa de Brun may have been one of the only artists in America working almost exclusively with pastels. The medium is notorious for being one that does not hold up well over time and with much handling. However, de Brun played with various techniques, including incorporating other mediums such as watercolor, and using several different types of papers to figure out a method of reducing the danger of degredation to the finished artwork. A result of her technique is that the art takes on a three-dimensional quality while also deepening the color saturation.

The technique described by Dr. Sjöberg was clearly evident to those of us viewing de Brun’s work for the first time. It is also a significant reason that de Brun’s work should not be forgotten. She worked in a medium rarely used by artists and created a technique that enabled the medium to withstand time and handling. These reasons alone would be enough to argue the significance of her work, yet her depth of movement, characterization, and connection with the viewer and with the greater art community are also equally important.

The fact that Elsa de Brun has fallen out of the public’s recognition as a significant artist of the 20th century is a driving force behind this project. We want to make sure the art world does not forget Elsa de Brun and her work.

Beginning the Project — August 12, 2015

Beginning the Project

We are in the beginning stages of starting this project. We have made contact with Elsa de Brun’s grandson, who has indicated he is interested in working with us on this project. We are so excited to work with her family. Hopefully we will be able to work with them on copyright issues so that we can make “A Valentines to James Joyce” available for the public to view. We will keep everyone posted with details as they become available.