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.

Dark Art

I really, really like the work of one-time civil engineer and now photographer Alec Dawson.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, each one of Dawson’s eerie still-life pics is a volume.  Here are several of my favorites (right-click to embiggen).

In case you missed the detail:

Some suggest abandonment:

And then there are the more explicit (and even more tragic) ones:

I could write a short story — or possibly a novella — about each and every one of these, simply because of the feelings and emotions contained in that simple picture.

I’m not even going to get into the lighting, other to say that it’s a rare skill to light a night scene without making it look contrived and artificial.  And if these pics are nothing else, they’re realistic, almost hyper-realistic.

While all the above are part of Dawson’s Nocturna  series, here’s a video sample of Nobody Claps Anymore.  The man’s a genius.

Never Mind Your 5-Year-Old

…it appears that even a raven can do what Jackson Pollock did:

It’s Jackdaw Pollock! Odin the raven paints just like the American artist whose work is worth millions

A creative raven has the art world in a flap after producing a stunning range of experimental paintings – with her beak.

Eleven-year-old Odin uses an array of vivid animal-safe paints and food colourings to make her amazing abstract works, which are flying off the shelves…

My favorite part:

for up to £15.

…which is about what people should be paying for Pollock’s stupid splashes and daubings, instead of millions.