Archive for June, 2011

The Academy versus The Street, neo-Poussinistes versus neo-Caravaggisti

Posted in 16th cent, Andy Warhol, Babylon Beefcake, Caravaggio, Jacques Louis David, Nicholas Poussin on June 30, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I am fortunate to live in a vibrant neighbor, the Arts District of Los Angeles.

7th & Mateo St., Los Angeles

This neighborhood  may  well be  the center of Los Angeles’ Renaissance, for like 15th-16th century Florence, my neighborhood is rich with public work. On a recent jog through town I  confronted  a familiar face plastered upon a derelict wall, St Therese , lifted directly from Bernini’s masterpiece, translated from divine marble to street-worthy stencil.

I wasn’t sure what to think, I was pleased that this anonymous artist found her beautiful face as inspiring as I have ; but I am concerned that there is a lack of reverence that great art is due. We seem to live in a time and place where all imagry is up for grabs, to be clipped and pasted to suit the creator’s taste and imagination. My experience with fellow students, is a dis-regard for the source, what matters is the aesthetic appeal. This saddens and worries me, what is the relevance of great art when it is as desirable and as ephemeral as an image from advertising.

Damn you Mr. Warhol

I am concerned our cultural experience will become increasingly less rich and less rewarding. This isn’t a new argument of course, Nicholas Poussin famously complained that “Caravaggio had come into the world to destroy painting”. Poussin’s opposition to Caravaggio’s “street” art is understandable considering Poussin’s belief that “…the first requirement, which is the basis for all others, is that the subject should be great, such as battles, heroic actions and divine matters…”; Caravaggio’s saints with dirty feet would certainly have conflicted with Poussin’s directive to “disregard anything that is vulgar…” (source:Alain Merot Nicolas Poussin).

Los Angeles is in enthralled with this image of spontaneous street expression, MOCA is enjoying popular attendance with its blockbuster exhibition Art in the Streets. This enthusiasm for uninhibited (illegal ?) expression can be found elsewhere as well, Pasadena Museum of California Art has jumped on the “street” bandwagon with its current exhibition Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas ; recently there was an event downtown in which  skateboarding youth were quite literally given the streets, Wild in the Streets.

As I sit and type this I am aware of how curmudgeonly conservative I appear. I am conservative, but I do not believe that restricts my appreciation of public work with visual merit; my concern is that the traditions I most admire will be lost in a cloud of aerosol .

That said lets look at pretty pictures.

Nomadé

2011 (?)

paste-up

7th and Mateo, Los Angeles

source

Work by Nomadé is difficult to not admire and enjoy, I run by examples quite frequently, particularly around the corner from my home at 7th and Mateo. The work is pasted up and requires  regular maintenance, which often translate into another arresting (no pun intended) image.

Nomadé

2011

paste-up

7th & Mateo

source

This short clip is marvelous at demonstrating the creation,  as you will see, studio preparation is  an important part of the process.

More work by Nomadé can be found at this link.

Please follow the following prompts for more examples to be found in my neighborhood, work by JR, D*Face, Shepard Farey, etc., link and link, you will be in  for a visual treat.

But for all of that robust masculine expression created by Nomadé, I must of course confess an allegiance to that monarchist traitor, Jacques Louise David .

I prefer David’s beefcake to Nomadé’s.

Jacques-Louis David ( 1748-1825)

The Intervention of the Sabine Women

detail

1799

oil on canvas

Louvre

Can I be blamed for preferring the above to this,

Nomadé

I have been “crushing “on David’s noble soldiers since I was a boy, his paintings have continued to give me great joy. A joy  and satisfaction that I doubt a paste-up will be able to sustain.

Although “street” art often requires extensive preparation, this attention to detail  pales to the fifteen years David devoted to his monumental Leonidas at Thermopylae. David strove for  the “ideal beauty” the Academy and subject demanded.

Poussin may well have chided David for defying his decree that an artist must “…make every effort to avoid getting lost in minute detail, so as not to detract from the dignity of the story”, for David made many sketches reworking the composition time and again. The painting has been criticized as over-worked, but again, I am merely infatuated with the virile splendor and painterly virtuosity.

Leonides at Thermopylae

1814

oil on canvas

Louvre

Leonidas at Thermopylae

 detail

I have been in love with the soldier on Leonide’s left for decades, the timelessness of love and art.

For a higher quality image of the painting follow this Encyclopedia Britannica link .

The following are some of the examples of David’s attention to detail, both source links offer very interesting insight into David’s process, well worth a peek.

Leonides at Thermopylae

ca. 1814

black chalk, squared in black chalk

Metropolitan Museum of Art

ca. 1813

Louvre

I will end this Academic love fest with just two more images ,because I can never be satisfied with less.

I appreciate your indulgence.

Study after Michelangelo

1790

black chalk

Louvre

Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces

1824

Musée royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique

I appreciate the opportunity to rant, until next time, take care.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Today’s Favorite Painting

Posted in 16th cent, Babylon Beefcake, Bronzino on June 28, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Agnolo Bronzino

Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune

ca. 1532-33

oil on canvas

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

This image of the aging condottiere Andrea Doria ( 1466-1560) gives this  particular aging old fool inspiration. Although Renaissance Italians  clearly worshipped youth, the majesty of this fully mature man is apparent. 

Off to Gold’s.

Take care,

Babylon Baroque

Monday’s Favorite Painting

Posted in 17th century, Babylon Beefcake, Guido Reni on June 27, 2011 by babylonbaroque

A local treasure, held by  LACMA.

Guido Reni  (1575-1642)

Bacchus and Ariadne

1619-1620

oil in canvas

With such loveliness in mind I can endure the bus ride  back to the mechanic.

Have a great week,

Babylon Baroque

Saint Jokanaan, the Gospel According to Salome

Posted in 15th century, 16th cent, 17th century, 19th Century, 20th century, Baroque, Caravaggio, Decadent Movement, El Greco, Moreau, St. John the Baptist, Titian on June 23, 2011 by babylonbaroque

June 24th is the feast day of the blessed Baptist John.

My previous post concerning Caravaggio and Catamites featured many lovely depictions of the martyr, I would like to continue , for like Salome many artists have found the fellow captivating.

Of course I am unable to think of Jokanaan without thinking of Oscar, without thinking of  his Salome, so why try?

“Jokanaan, I am amorous of thy body!”

Baciccio

1676

City of Manchester art Gallery, Manchester

“How wasted he is!”

El Greco

1600

Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

“He is like a thin ivory statue. He is like an image of silver. I am sure he is chaste as the moon is. He is like a moonbeam, like a shaft of silver. his flesh must be cool like ivory. I would look closer at him.”

Bernardo strozzi

1615-20

Accademia Lingustica de Belle Arti, Genoa

Jokanaan: “Daughter of sodom, come not near me! But cover thy face with a veil, and scatter ashes upon thine head, and get thee to the desert and seek out the Son of Man.”

Salomé: “Who is he, the Son of Man?Is he as beautiful as thou art, Jokanaan?”

Titian

1542

“Thy body is white like the lilies of a field that the mower hath never mowed.”

Andrea del Sarto

1528

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

‘There is nothing in the world so white as thy body. let me touch thy body.”

Valentin de Boulogne

1625-30

Santa Maria in Via, Camerino

“It is thy mouth that I desire, Jokanaan”

Nicholas Régnier

1610

The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

“I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan, I will kiss thy mouth.”

The Apparition

Gustave Moreau

1876

Louvre

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Caravaggio

1608

Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist

Andrea Solari (1460-1524)

“I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan.”

Although we know of Salome’s lust, Saint Jerome (via Omer Englebert The Lives of the Saints) informs us “…that that for a long while Herodias savagely attacked the head of the prophet , repeatedly stabbing his tongue with a dagger.”

Salome’s desire seems decent when compared to mater.

I will close with an image familiar to many of my readers.

I was saddened to discover recently that it is not our dear Oscar in drag playing his most supreme vixen , but is instead an actress, Alice Guszalewice. I will need to look into Alice’s story, but she does look a lot like dear Oscar, so for one Last Dance I will believe it is indeed our hero.

apparently Alice Guszalewice as Salome

I can’t resist this clip from Salome\’s Last Dance, so why try.

In no way was I attempting to be disrespectful or overly ironic concerning the Baptist. I feel that  much of what Wilde expressed was deeply reverent, complicated by human frailty, but still quite reverent.

Wishing a happy feast day of Saint Jean-Baptiste, particularly to the Québécois.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Cardinal del Monte, Caravaggio and the Catamites

Posted in 16th cent, 17th century, Baroque, Caravaggio, Cardinal del Monte on June 17, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Francesco Maria Bourbon Del Monte Santa Maria was a worldly man of sophisticated taste, created Cardinal in 1588, he was a respected diplomat with aspirations to the Throne of St. Peter. Given the Bourbon connection and his pro French sympathies, the Spanish vote would quash such aspirations. That is perhaps just as well,for there are so many popes, they all seem to run together, even for this manic (Renaissance/humanist) papal sympathizer.   The good Cardinal is best known for his promotion of Caravaggio, in particular  securing the commission to decorate the Contarelli Chapel. The tenebristic masterwork ,The Calling of St. Matthew (in addition to The Inspiration of St.Matthew and The Martyrdom of St. Matthew )  mandates we offer gratitude to Cardinal del Monte for making such fine use of his power and influence.

Thank you Cardinal.

Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte

b. 5th of July 1547

d. 27th of August 1627

portrait by Ottavio Leoni, 1616

Caravaggio

The Calling of St. Matthew

1599-1600

oil in canvas

Contarelli Chapel

When I look closely at this marvelous painting , I am frankly drawn to the strange cast of characters this unscrupulous tax collector has surrounded himself with. Soon enough good Matthew will reject worldliness for Our Lord, but Caravaggio captures this moment of revelation with Matthew surrounded by penny pinching money grubbers and  young men/ boys in rakish peacock-ery.

This taste for plumed boys with slashed sleeves seems to reflect the taste of Caravaggio and his patron, rather then the dear Saint.

We will see these boys time and again, with or without their flamboyant finery, in Caravaggio’s work in general and in particular within Cardinal del Monte’s collection. The Metropolitan Museum of Art , which holds The Musicians informs us that Cardinal del Monte’s collection held a number of paintings that suggest a taste less then chaste. Although the Met makes quite a point that these suggestive paintings do not indicate untoward sexual taste; to this dilettantish observer they incriminate just a wee bit.

The most famous, and beautiful painting within del Monte’s collection was the aforementioned Musicians.

The Musicians

1595 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

In addition to the band of musical boys we have,

The Lute Player

1596

Hermitage Museum

The Cardsharps

1595

Kimbell Art Museum

The Fortune Teller

1595

Pinacoteca Capitolina,Rome

The cast of characters within this collection is consistent, I have read the boys who served as models may have been part of the Cardinal’s domestic household. Whether street urchin or livery boy they proved fetching to dear Caravaggio and the Cardinal.

Caravaggio would of course go on to paint a slew of moody marvels, but he returned to the Ephebes from time to time; often as the sainted Baptist, with or without that itchy fur loincloth.

John in the Wilderness

1598

St. John the Baptist

1605

The following has always creeped me out a bit, a bit too nude, too young, too frankly sexual. The ram just a bit too lusty.

St John the Baptist ( Youth with Ram)

1600

Pinacoteca Capitoline

Somehow Caravaggio manages to sex up blessed Francis,

St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

1595

Valiant David receives the Caravaggio treatment as well,

David with the Head of Goliath

1607

It is often noted how fond Caravaggio was of inserting his own gnarly visage into his work, perhaps this is our Michelangelo vanquished by his appetites.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

b. 29 September 1571

d. 18 July 1610 (38!)

portrait by Ottavio Leoni 1621

Until next time,

respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Queen V, Charles Burton Barber RA, and the cult of the pug-dog

Posted in 19th Century, Charles Burton Barber RA, Pug Rescue, Pugs, Queen Victoria on June 3, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Playing upon the theme of my last post, I thought I would explore further the Victorian cult of domesticity; most particularly all things canine.

As many of my readers know, I am unabashedly loony for dogs, I have four, would love more if the landlord would allow. The dear late Queen ( and the current ) share this passion, as did  (do) her subjects.

First stumbling upon a pug-dog, in the guise of a door stop in my Nana’s Bucks County antique shop, I was  immediately enchanted; the fascination for the breed hasn’t waned.

I blame part of my love for the breed on Her Majesty.

Although not a pug, this is a favorite image of the Queen.

after Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson

1897

colored woodcut

National Portrait Gallery

Part of the campaign to secure popularity for the monarchy and the Queen in particular was to stress domesticity, adding a pup or two (or four) to the vignette was of course in order.

Domestic Life of the Royal Family

1848

National Portrait Gallery

There  were many painters of hounds, Maud Earl amongst them.

Maud Earl, 1864-1943

Although there were plenty of painters willing to capture the charms of our canine chums, none did so as effectively as Charles Burton Barber.

Charles Burton Barber

b. 1845

d. 1894

Having studied at the Royal Academy at eighteen, and exhibiting there from 1866, Barber caught the eye of the Queen, commissions ensued.

Charles Burton Barber, for the Queen

Marco

1893

The Royal Collection

By no means limited to painting pug-dogs, I of course find myself drawn to the few well known, very sentimental depictions of the breed.

Blonde and Brunette

Barber totally captures the seductive charm of the breed, this little pup is shamelessly flirting with the viewer.

I know this behavior well.

A Monster

1866

Again, Barber captures the downward tail, ordinarily curled in a double loop, terribly charming.

There are of course other 19th century depictions of the breed, I’m afraid I cannot identify the artist or the  title of the work that follows; I “swiped” them long ago and did not make note of the title. If you happen to have info please forward it to me.

Identified or not, they are very charming .

ca. 1915

In closing I risk the wrath of my own puglets of I fail to include them in this post.

I appreciate your indulgence.

Viola

Rose in background, Viola in the fore.

Viola left, Rose right.

I appreciate your patience, this is quite a “light weight” post, The World’s Oldest Student is mired in finals week.

I hope to improve my offerings during summer break,

Until then,

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150 other followers