Hidden Depths

I have to admit that while I can appreciate Renaissance art — paintings, I mean, not the sculptures, which I love — I’ve always found the old guys to be a little too much on the Christian thing.  I mean, how many Madonna w/Baby Jesus renderings are there?

Take Agostino Carracci, for example.  Here’s his “Judith As Woman” work, which should make her the idol of ultra-feminists everywhere:

Then there’s the “Last Communion of St. Jerome”, which may have been big news back in the day, but which is not that relevant in today’s world.

Happily, Carracci (Agostino, not his several brothers, sons and cousins — all artists themselves) didn’t just confine himself to religious themes.  Here’s his “Landscape with Bathers”:

…wait, what’s that detail over on the right?

Nekkid bodies?  With no carefully-draped linen (see Jerome, above) to disguise their nekkidness?

Well;  it turns out that ol’ Aggie had a whole ‘nother body of work in the I Modi school, which probably gave people fits. I’m not quite sure how many of the examples below are his — the style varies, and some were printed from his woodcuts — but here are a few:

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RFI: Artist

I need some help, and I have no idea where to start.  Observe this oil painting:

All I know about it is mostly supposition:

  • the unknown artist is supposedly Iranian (or perhaps Persian, back when it was painted)
  • he was supposedly a court painter for the Shah of Iran/Persia
  • the painting is one of a small series — this one is called, I think, “Green”, and others are likewise entitled “Blue”, “Red”, etc.
  • it’s quite large:  60″x48″
  • it was purchased sometime during the 1980s, from a gallery in Los Angeles.

That’s all I know.  I’ve looked and looked all over Teh Intarwebz, but nada.

If anyone can shed light on the piece, or tell me where I can look further, I’d be eternally grateful.

Lunch On The Grass

It was a popular theme, for a while:  people having a picnic lunch en plain air, in some park or other.  Here’s (I think) the best-known example of “Dejeuner sur l’herbe”, painted by Edouard Manet:

(all pics can be right-clicked/embiggened)

His similarly named contemporary Claude Monet also did one (albeit less shockingly):

…and Paul Cézanne did two:

  (I’m pretty sure the second was painted during his Drunken Phase, but whatever.)

Here’s Marcel Dyf’s pair:

…although it must be said that Dyf had a thing about barely-pubescent girls, the dirty old sod.

Of course, Picasso had to add his two pesetas:

…while Egon Schiele went off-script completely:

Some American guy followed the trend:

…but he cocked it up completely, i.e. no nudity — I’m frankly surprised that he had wine in the pic.

The theme has continued into the modern era, mostly through photography (here’s Robert Doisneau):

…and in glorious (?) color:

…and even as a party theme:

There’s been some modern art on the topic, of course. Here’s Chinese artist Yue Minjun:

…which made me howl with laughter.  Absolutely brilliant satire.

There was even a French movie entitled “Dejeuner sur l’herbe”.  Here’s a still:

And yes, that was yesterday’s Caption Competition pic.

Calm Invective

Here’s a little oeuvre which deserves airing, despite the appalling grammar:  Indiana Jones And The Last Franchise.

Even though I was not familiar with about 60% of his cultural allusions, the writing was enough to engage me.  After all, you don’t need to be a military strategist to understand that combat is awful, bloody and destructive.  I especially liked this little turn:

And, if you ever haul yourself out of bed and find that you have little to smile about… just look up Disney on Google News. It may not bring you joy, but the schadenfreude will most likely bring a smile to your face. At least a little grin.

That happens early in the piece, and it gets better.  Here’s the pre-climax exposition:

My great-grandfather was a mason. A brick-layer, I mean, not the… well, you know the other type. He was a master of his craft. Back in the 20’s, his skill was in such high-demand that he was paid to travel the world and build structures in places like Shanghai and Glasgow that stand to this day. In an age of cheap, third-world labor, it can be a bit difficult to imagine the artistry, skill, and talent of a good mason. There’s more to it than slopping mortar onto a brick and stacking another on top. You just don’t see a lot of work like what he was doing, these days. Men like him labored to build cities not just for themselves, but their descendants. They spent their lives – some of them gave their lives – so that their descendants would live in a world that they themselves could scarcely imagine. They build us sprawling, glittering skylines of glass and steel and lights. Man-made miracles of engineering and architecture that would be, quite literally, incomprehensible to most humans from before a certain time.

Yet, the cities they built for us, that they left us, are no longer ours. My great-grandfather did most of his work in Pennsylvania and the North-East. He lived in Philadelphia, in a neighborhood his descendants can’t walk through, day or night. His house is still there. I don’t know who lives in it now, if anyone does. I don’t really want to know, either.

All I know is the fruits of his labors, his house, his city — it’s not just that they don’t belong to his descendants, and, arguably, the country he built them for. We can’t even enjoy them. They were wrested out of the hands of the people, and, without consent, broken, smashed, and destroyed by wicked people, who now hand us the smoldering ruins of our predecessors’ lifetime of work, and say with a smile, Here! We made it better! And, if you dare say otherwise, you’re an ungrateful asshole who should be grateful that they’re deigning to give you a damn thing.

Excellent stuff, and well worth the long read.


The immortal line from the late and much-missed Dennis Farina comes to mind (speaking to some Brits when they throw some unintelligible wordslush at him):

“You guys invented the language;  why don’t you fucking speak it?”

Here’s the explanation of the accents behind the language, the accents ranked, and then an explanation of some of the slang.

In terms of difficulty, there are only three that I find absolutely incomprehensible (in order):  Glasgow, Geordie (Newcastle/Sunderland) and Liverpool.

For the record, when I’m in Britishland I tend to speak Public (a.k.a. private) School Pronunciation — after I’ve been there a while and lost my slightly-Americanized/Texas accent.

But I fail, and while I am well-spoken, my native Johannesburg wins by two lengths.