zenpundit.com » art history

Archive for the ‘art history’ Category

A terrible word, -splaining — and a not terribly nice thing

Monday, May 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — Rebecca Solnit and Donald Hall DoubleQuoted, with a touch of Mallory Ortberg ]
.

11a_Jean-Beraud-Scene-de-cafeJean Beraud, Scène de café, from Women Listening To Men In Western Art

**

I’d have called this piece Youngsplaining if it wasn’t such a terrible word. App-ocalypse, ape-ocalypse, and Apple-ocalypse all arose in response to my Google inquiry about -ocalypses, and I have to say it gets tiresome, especially for a student of apocalyptic — and much the same would be true of -splaining, so I won’t call it that, I’ll just let you know there’s a parallelism.

It was Rebecca Solnit‘s essay Men Explain Things to Me that first hovered around the notion that was later named Mansplaining — a word I can tolderate — and the instance which captured the idea naked was one in which a man, all unknowing, tried to explain to Solnit the importance of one of her own books. It is by now a well-known anecdote, so if you already know it, you can skip it. It’s it’s twin that I want to get to.

But in case you’ve not read it before:We were preparing to leave, when our host said, “No, stay a little longer so I can talk to you.” He was an imposing man who’d made a lot of money.

He kept us waiting while the other guests drifted out into the summer night, and then sat us down at his authentically grainy wood table and said to me, “So? I hear you’ve written a couple of books.”

I replied, “Several, actually.”

He said, in the way you encourage your friend’s seven-year-old to describe flute practice, “And what are they about?”

They were actually about quite a few different things, the six or seven out by then, but I began to speak only of the most recent on that summer day in 2003, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, my book on the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.

He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”

So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingénue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book–with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.

Here, let me just say that my life is well-sprinkled with lovely men, with a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened and encouraged and published me, with my infinitely generous younger brother, with splendid friends of whom it could be said–like the Clerk in The Canterbury Tales I still remember from Mr. Pelen’s class on Chaucer–“gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” Still, there are these other men, too. So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, “That’s her book.” Or tried to interrupt him anyway.

But he just continued on his way. She had to say, “That’s her book” three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a nineteenth-century novel, he went ashen. That I was indeed the author of the very important book it turned out he hadn’t read, just read about in the New York Times Book Review a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was stunned speechless–for a moment, before he began holding forth again. Being women, we were politely out of earshot before we started laughing, and we’ve never really stopped.

**

Okay, here’s the DoubleQuote part: the poet Donald Hall has another essay,Out the Window, in which he recounts a deligiously parallel experience:

I go to Washington to receive the National Medal of Arts and arrive two days early to look at paintings. At the National Gallery of Art, Linda [Hall’s girlfriend] pushes me in a wheelchair from painting to painting. We stop by a Henry Moore carving. A museum guard, a man in his sixties with a small pepper-and-salt mustache, approaches us and helpfully tells us the name of the sculptor. I wrote a book about Moore and knew him well. Linda and I separately think of mentioning my connection but instantly suppress the notion — egotistic, and maybe embarrassing to the guard. A couple of hours later, we emerge from the cafeteria and see the same man, who asks Linda if she enjoyed her lunch. Then he bends over to address me, wags his finger, smiles a grotesque smile, and raises his voice to ask, “Did we have a nice din-din?”

**

To revert to “mansplaining” — it also involves woman listening, at least at first, though not necessarily with much enthusiasm –a fact deliciously illustrated by Mallory Ortberg in one of her Toast pieces, Women Listening To Men In Western Art History.

Too funny, if you don’t mind my saying so.

Carambolages, huzzah!

Monday, March 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a brilliant new exhibition breaks the usual museum rules to provoke prodigious & repeated leaps of imagination ]
.

Carambolages Dominos

**

Cath Styles, whose Sembl games are closely related to my own HipBone variants on Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game, recently pointed me to an exhibition called Carambolages that opened recently at the Grand Palais, Galleries Nationales, 3, avenue du General Eisenhower, Paris.

Strolling their website, I was struck by this double image, which in HipBone terms would be called a DoubleQuote, or a Sembl in Cath’s Sembl game:

Carambolages
(left) Sword, Kiribati, Micronesia Islands, Oceania, sd, Paris, Musée du Quai Branly
(right) Bertrand Lavier, Black & Decker, 1998 collection Giuliana and Tommaso Setari

It appears, indeed, that the exhibit in question features a Domino game of Sembls or DoubleQuotes —

Fascinating — and definitely a notable step in the expanding history of bead game variants — which I view, among other things, as an art movement that has yet to be written up as such.

Congratulations, Jean-Hubert Martin! The catalogue will no doubt be as close as I can get physically, but I’m all the way with you in spirit…

Bonne idée, bon chance!

Plus ça change..

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — iconoclasm ancient & modern ]
.

SPEC DQ destruction of altars

**

Ancient:

Eamonn Duffy‘s “prize-winning account of the pre-Reformation church recreates lay people’s experience of religion in fifteenth-century England. Eamon Duffy shows that late medieval Catholicism was neither decadent nor decayed, but was a strong and vigorous tradition, and that the Reformation represented a violent rupture from a popular and theologically respectable religious system.”

& modern:

In Sarah Abu Abdallah‘s “work The Turbulence of Sea and Blood, 2015, we see disarrayed glimpses of multiple narratives such as that of: familial domestic tensions, a juvenile dream of going to Japan, the tendency to smash TVs in moments of anger, and eating fish. While using scenes from the artist’s surroundings and life in Saudi Arabia, like streets or malls, it never attempts to provide the whole picture, but takes a rhizomatic approach to tell a story of the everyday life.

Hat-tip: Hend Amry, who describes the lower image as “Me, this election season”. You see the artist’s description above, “the tendency to smash TVs in moments of anger”. Myself, I view it as a magnificent illstration of the smashing of idols, akin to the Reformation’s dissolution of the monasteries..

Justice Scalia, St Hubert, and the Stag

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — filling a gap the WaPo left behind — with Christ, crucified, between the horns of a stag ]
.

Butler‘s Lives of the Saints tells us of St Hubert:

He is also said to have been passionately addicted to the diversion of hunting, and was entirely taken up in worldly pursuits, when, moved by divine grace, he resolved at once to renounce the school of vanity, and enter himself in that of Christ, in which his name had been enrolled in baptism.

That telling neatly elides the alleged mechanism by which divine grace moved him. As the image that accompanies it in the online version of the tale shows, Hubert is reported to have been out hunting one Good friday while others were at church, when a stag appeared before him carrying a crucifix betwen its horns:

St.Hubert_Ottawa_St.Patrick_RC_Basilica
St. Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Canada

No wonder, then, that Hubert, moved by such grace, became the patron saint of hunters, nor that Justice Antonin Scalia is reported to have been attending a gathering associated with the knightly Order of St Hubertus at the time of his death.

**

From today’s Washington Post, an article which tells us something of Justice Scalia, a fair amount about the Order of St Hubertus, and nothing about St Hubert himself alas:

When Justice Antonin Scalia died 11 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s.

For more on Justice Scalia’s death at the ranch, read the rest of the WaPo piece; for more on the Order, visit its web pages. I trust this post of mine will somewhat remedy the lack of information about St Hubert himself and his remarkable conversion in both places.

**

This story is told of St Placidus:

The Holy Great Martyr Eustathius was named Placidas before his Baptism. He was a military commander under the emperors Titus (79-81) and Trajan (98-117). Even before he came to know Christ, Placidas performed acts of charity, helping the poor and destitute. Therefore, the Lord did not leave the virtuous pagan remain in the darkness of idolatry.

Once while hunting in a forest, he saw a stag which would stop now and then to look him right in the eye. Placidas pursued it on horseback, but could not catch up. The stag leaped over a chasm and stood on the other side facing him. Placidas suddenly saw a radiant Cross between its antlers. In surprise the military commander heard a voice coming from the Cross saying, “Why do you pursue Me, Placidas?”

“Who are You, Master?” asked Placidas.The Voice replied, “I am Jesus Christ, Whom you do not know, yet you honor Me by your good deeds. I have appeared here on this creature for your sake, to capture you in the net of My love for mankind. It is not fitting that one as righteous as you should worship idols and not know the truth. It was to save mankind that I came into the world.”

Placidas cried out, “Lord, I believe that You are the God of Heaven and earth, the Creator of all things. Master, teach me what I should do.” Again the Lord replied, “Go to the bishop of your country and receive Baptism from him, and he will instruct you.”

**

Let the Jägermeister herbal liquor label bring us to our conclusion — and to the third saint associated with a vision of stag and crucifix:

The label on Jägermeister bottles features a glowing Christian cross seen between the antlers of a stag.

JAGERMEISTER label

This image is a reference to the two Christian patron saints of hunters, Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace, both of whom converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision in which they saw a Christian cross between the antlers of a stag.

**

St Eustace, then, is the third saint to whom the same vision is attributed. — and the one whose vision has been most gloriously celebrated in art.

Albert Durer‘s engraving of St Eustace in the Metropolitan Museum, New York:

Durer's St Eustace in the Met

Pisanello‘s St Eustace in the National Gallery, London:

Pisanello's St Eustace in the National Gallery

DoubleQuoting Jacques Louis David

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

[ by Charles CameronNapoleon at the St Bernard Pass goes to Turkey ]
.

Jacques Louis David, Bonaparte, the first Versailles version:

Jacques Louis David, Napoleon 600

Introducing Erdoganist art, tweeted by Mustafa Akyol and RT’d by Hayder al-Khoei:

Erdogan

**

Oh, but it gets better. How’s this for a wild DoubleQuote? I found it while rummaging around for a “best version” of the Erdogan pic:


Switch to our mobile site