LES DEBARDEURS: The Long Sleeves

February 14 – April 5, 2007 The Gallery At the Shotwell Street Studio


Ira Yeager is pleased to offer his newest series of figurative work entitled Les Débardeurs, The Long Sleeves. In addition to a traditional exhibition, we have also chosen to release this series in a new digital format so that this group of paintings can be easily accessible to admirers and collectors, not only in the Bay Area, but throughout the country as well. Photographed at the Shotwell Street Studio, the exhibition showcases all 11 paintings in the series as well as installation views of The Long Sleeves in our San Francisco exhibition space. This series continues in the tradition of Ira’s other homage series to great 17th and 18th century European painters including Francisco Goya, Jan Vermeer and Diego Velázquez.


Years ago, I was given a portfolio of engravings which were found in an antique shop at Chartres. I was so stunned, stimulated and excited by the series – really overwhelmed – that I couldn’t look at the works for several weeks and put them aside. The set of engravings, entitled Les Débardeurs, were by Paul Gavarni (nom de plume of Sulpice Guillaume Chevalier, 1804 – 1866). He lived during the same period as the artist Honoré Daumier. Gavarni illustrated all of Balzac’s books, and the engravings in my set were the same style. Les Débardeurs were the Long Sleeves, which like Flappers, Bobby Soxers, Zootsuiters, Beatniks and others, involved style fads or trends, which in time, of course, change, are forgotten and lost. Les Débardeurs were rebellious types, Bohemians, both men and women, and they dressed in wide black trousers, high above the ankle, sashes, bicorn and tricorn hats, funny long yellow wigs, white shirts with long wide sleeves. They also wore black masks. These drawings were especially exciting for me and have been an influence on my recent work because I have for years been producing a substantial body of work, paintings, of people from the 18th century. Being stimulated by this new reference work has set me off on a wild energetic ride of creativity. I enjoy bringing a bit of forgotten history into current consciousness.