Essays in 1970

History of the Harlequinade
January 21, 1970

The History of the Harlequinade is a collection of notes and illustrations compiled by Robert Lenkiewicz c.1970 in relation to the theme of Commedia dell'Arte. The hand-made 18-page booklet is approximately A3 in size (see below for illustration sizes).

The notes discuss the principal characters of the masked-theatre Harlequinade tradition: Columbine, Harlequin, Pierrot, Polichinelle and so on. The images are not original to Lenkiewicz but are hand-drawn versions from the texts cited in the footnotes. But Lenkiewicz has also added his own creation, Pnoob, the innocent romantic fool who features as the artist's alter ego in many illustrations dating from the 60s and 70s.

A number of works from this period, especially those related to the Vagrancy Project, show sitters in Pierrot costume, or other garb from the Commedia -- ironic commentary on the nature of relationships. But the most extensive use of this imagery appeared in a large mural situated in the New Hoe Summer Theatre, which was demolished in 1982. Parts of the mural, which had been papered over in the mid-70s, were saved, including a self-portrait. A portion of the image which quotes a still from Marcel Carné’s 1945 film Les Enfants du Paradis (seen to the right in contemporary newspaper photograph) was also rescued.


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