Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Art of E. A. Seguy

Here's the Story:
   There comes a time when one questions how their talents and interests can be fully realized in a single career. Personally, I have several interests and passions (many not art related). I spent many years trying to figure out how I could ever incorporate these things into daily life. It took time to see the pieces falling together, however, the big picture is still coming into view for me. You might currently be trying to bring your other passions into your love for art (or vise versa). Well, know it is not impossible! I am pleased to present to you, E. A. Seguy.

   E. A. Seguy (1889 / 1890-1985) was man who proved that all one's interests can be summed into a single career. Seguy was a passionate Parisian entomologist (studied insects) and painter. He combined these loves by creating illustrations and designs of the various insects he studied. During the 20th century, he became quite famous for creating eleven albums of nature-themed illustrations and patterns. These albums depicted insects, flowers, foliage, and other wildlife. In addition, Seguy was one of few artists whose work innovated with time taking on the transition of two classic art styles: Art Nouveau (1890-1914) to Art Deco (1920's- early 1940's).  

His inspiring burst of colors and geometric shapes reflected the intentions of his work to be used for design patterns, wallpapers, and textiles. 

Furthermore, his work is also recognized for utilizing a French printing process called Pochoir, which used stencils to apply pigment to paper (for more details on this process see: E. A. Seguy, Insects, and the Art of Pochoir)

  "Dover Publications reproduced Seguy’s albums in a book entitled Seguy’s Decorative Butterflies and Insects in Full Color. The publisher had this to say about Seguy: 'His aim was to make available dozens of examples of extremely colorful exotic animals that had been unjustly neglected by occidental decorative artists because of their rarity in life and in illustration. It is interesting to note that Seguy, while confident that butterflies would be readily accepted, made the special plea for the other insects that were constructed like wonderful machines and were thus entitled to the same consideration as an airplane fuselage, an ocean liner or locomotive; nature was a successful industrial designer!'"

A direct exert from the article E. A. Seguy, Insects, and the Art of Pochoiby Ashley Jones, a preservation librarian at Walter Havighurst Special Collections (a university library).

E. A. Seguy's Works:

  • Les Fleurs et Leurs Applications Decoratives- 30 Planches (1900 / 1902)*
  • Textiles - 20 Planches (1910)
  • Samarkande - 20 Compositions en Couleurs dans le Style Oriental (1914)
  • Floreal (1920 / 1931)**
  • Les laques du Coromandel (1923)
  • Papillons (1924 / 1927 /1928)***
  • Insectes (1924 / 1928)****
  • Bouquets et Frondaisons (1926)
  • Primavera --Dessins et Coloris Nouveaux (1929)
  • Suggestions (1930) 
  • Prismes - 40 Planches de Dessins et Coloris Nouveaux (1931).

1) The above listing was established through a collaboration of the following sources: NYPL Digital Collection, Textile Designers, & AVXSearch.
2) The links are to digital copies of the title pages from the New York Public Library Digital Collection. For more information see the following sections: Digital Collections of E.A. Seguy's Works  and References & Sources.

Date Discrepancies:
*Textile Designers pinned the date to Les Fleurs et Leurs Applications Decoratives as 1900, but AVXSearch claims it is 1902. Not listed on NYPL.
**Textile Designers: 1920; AVXSearch: 1931; NYPL: not available
***Textile Designers: 1924; AVXSearch: 1927; NYPL: 1928
****Textile Designers and AVXSearch stated Insectes was published in 1924, however, the official title page as seen from the NYPL marks the date at 1928. This might be due to republications.


Digital Collections of E. A. Seguy's Works:
   1. Besides Google Images and other search engines, I would fully recommend the New York Public Library Digital Collections (NYPL) website for viewing E.A. Segue's work. His pieces are arranged in several collections and can be viewed in high resolution. Additionally, if you would like to cite Seguy's work for formal documentation the site provides pre-formatted citations for each image (MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, & Wikipedia). The link is just below.
Please note that this site has a majority of Seguy's works. I know that the entire Prismes album can be viewed. There are title pages for the following works: Papillons, Insectes, Suggestions, Florel, and Textiles . However, I do not know if the all the illustrations for these albums are present. Images that follow after the title pages are arranged by date suggesting that they follow the title page. 

   2. For downloadable PDFs of Seguy's albums and publishings by AVXSearch, you can see the following link below. I am not sure how good the quality is because a membership/account is needed for the site. However, they do offer a 5 day free trail.

3. Another alternative is the link below, a curtsy of Miss Moss, where several of Seguy's albums are available to be downloaded as PDFs.


Own A Piece of E. A. Seguy:
Mr. Seguy's illustrations have been republished and newly collaborated into new album book collections, home posters, decorative pillows, and other mediums. Original album copies are very expensive, but digital/PDF copies are readily available. 

Discovering E. A. Seguy- My Story:
   E.A. Segue's work first caught my eye while scrolling through images of butterfly wing patterns on Pinterest. I instantly fell in love with his vividness of colors and shapes. Picking out the bugs in his kaleidoscope patterns made Seguy's work like a game of I-SPY.  Segue's work was not only fun, but head turning. Some of what I consider to be the ugliest and creepiest insects on the planet where made into beauty pieces of art. It puts a whole new perspective on beauty, that it can be found anywhere if you only have the eyes to see it. 

The Case of the Mystery Man:
  When I first began writing this post, I hit several bumps in my research. One of which was the limited knowledge about the life of E.A. Seguy. Almost every source I read and derived material from claimed this too. Information like Seguy's full name (one source claimed it was Eugene Alain Segue while others claim it was Emile-Alain), when he was in Paris, family and marriage background, cause of death, full listing of his works, and visuals of the entirety of his works were cloudy offering very few leads into Seguy's life. I think this might be due to living a private life style or the that his art was prime during between the World Wars. Once World War 2 started, documented information and/or original pieces of his work might have been lost. There is also the chance such information and works might have been kept within his family or with a private collector.

   Since background information was limited it was very difficult to put the sources into my own words. Majority of the sources seemed to tell the same story and regurgitated the main facts in about every way possible. Other issues stemmed from date disagreements and listings of Seguy's work. Seguy might have created more than just the eleven albums, but details on his works and their republications are difficult to find. I am still on the hunt for textual information and more archived digital copies of his works.

 References & Sources:

 E. A. Seguy, Insects, and the Art of Pochoir by Ashley Jones (Web Post/Article)
[Majority of post material was drawn from this source. Particularly, direct exerts from Dover Publications and exerts about Pochoir art techniques]

The Other Life of Eugene Seguy, Entomologist a Guest Post by Julie Gibbons on Pattern Observer
[used throughout as derived material about Seguy]

Eugene Alain Seguy from Textile Designers (Web Post)
[Documented listings, full name, & images of Seguy's work]

Art Deco Butterflies: The Genius of E.A. Seguy from Treasures of the New York Public Library (Web Source)
[used as a date reference for Papillons] 

E.A. Seguy Search Results from the New York Public Library Digital Collections (Digital Image Database)
[Gallery of digital copies of Seguy's works & dates]

PDF Works of E.A. Segue by AVXSearch (PDF Database)
[PDF copies of Seguy's works for work's listing collaboration]

  Beineke Rare Book & Manuscript Library: Insectes & Papillons apart of the Yale University Library (Database)
This link/source was taken from Eugène Séguy: Insectes by Miss Moss (a Web Post)
[PDF copies of Insectes & Papillons.]