Archive for January, 2012

Saint Anthony, the Abbot of the Desert

Posted in Georges Melies, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Saint Anthony the Abbot on January 17, 2012 by babylonbaroque

As today is the feast day of St. Anthony the Abbot, I thought it best to honor him with this image of the poor fellow bedeviled by temptation.

The painting, now at the Kimball Art Museum is by the ridiculously young Michelangelo, 12 or 13, frankly all terribly depressing ; for more details read this 2009 New York Times article

Michelangelo Buonarroti

(1475-1564)

The Torment of St. Anthony

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Once again faithful Vasari provides clues to this wonder, to Vasari’s glee the young fellow made a “perfect pen-and-ink copy” of the Martin Schongauer original. Working from a copper engraver the ambitious boy had purchased on his own, he dazzled his contemporaries and secured “considerable fame”. Not content to sit on his laurels (something I would be all too willing to do), the young Buonarroti quickly began a colored copy, according to Vasari:


“…in order to copy some of the strange looking demons in the picture he went along to the market and bought some fishes with fantastic scales like theirs.”

Detail of “fantastic scales”

source, NYT, click for more details

Given the blessed abbots desire for solitude, I think he makes a wonderful patron for artists; I am deeply drawn to images of the saint happily ensconced in his charming hermitage, a decorative skull comfortably placed on his rustic worktable. Perfection.

This weekends paper had an article concerning solitude and creativity, it only confirmed my own beliefs; if you wish, check it out with this link.

Those familiar with my blog know my penchant for George Méliès, I wasn’t going to replay this St. Anthony clip, but since I saw Hugo this weekend I really could not resist. It is incredibly delightful and funny.

For those inclined to something less irreverent, here are two prayerful clips, less fun but…

and

I will now close, must dash off to the gym, then lock myself in my hermitage; I happen to have a skull- fuschia, with glitter.

Anthony would have approved.

Happy Feast Day Saint Anthony!

Take care,

Babylon Baroque


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Settling in with Jared French

Posted in 15th century, 20th century, George Tooker, Jared French, Pierro della Francesca on January 12, 2012 by babylonbaroque

As it has been quite some time since my last post, I have felt increasingly anxious about updating. Given the length of time in which I last checked in I really wanted this post to be rather special.

Alas it isn’t going to be. My new life, here in San Diego is frankly banal, frightfully banal. I am here, ostensibly to tend to the mother-in-law; I spent most of today cooling my heels while she had her hair done.

I need to work on this.

Until that time, I will continue to lock myself in my studio, and in between my monastic retreats continue to patronize the numerous used bookshops in Hillcrest. They offer great solace, particularly as I am essentially living in a cultural wasteland.

Once again lovely musty books come to my rescue.

What popped out on a recent afternoon  visit were several volumes on Piero della Francesca, a great favorite and one volume on Jared French. I’ve been thinking about French ever since George Tooker died. When I had written that post I felt a strong connection between Tooker ( and French) and Piero della Francesca. I quickly found out this was common knowledge, but I still  find it very exciting. As I personally struggle with incorporating humanist elements into my own work, to see how seamlessly French accomplished this is encouraging, daunting and thrilling. One painting (of many exciting paintings) really stands out, that is Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone; it is such a rich image, its Renaissance roots are palpable.

Jared French

Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone

egg tempera on gesso panel

William Kelly Simpson

 source

The book I happen to be reading concerning French and his work is Nancy Grimes’ Jared French’s Myths, it really is marvelous, you might want to add it to your own collection. She points out the della Francesca inspiration, particularly concerning this painting; she very reasonably presents the Baptism of Christ.

Pierro della Francesca

Baptism of Christ

1448-50

egg tempera on poplar board 

National Gallery, London

That connection is quite right, but so many of della Francesca’s painting must have influenced French ( and Tooker and Cadmus). My own random browsing of della Francesca’s work led me to his still arresting image of Hercules.

Hercules

1465

Fresco

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Stumbling about, I came upon this sketch by French for Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone; I’m always bewildered and intimidated by the “sketches” of the great.

source

What is so very frustrating about French isn’t his enigmatic images, what is so challenging is how little seems to be known about the fellow. Grimes does an admirable job piecing together bits of the puzzle; but from my research I could find very little new information. Even Wikipedia was mute.

I rather prefer the mystery that surrounds this boy from New Jersey ( my own home state), I will continue to grapple about for new tid-bits, enjoying his incredible work as I go about the task.

Jared French, January 25th 1939,

taken by Carl Van Vechten

source

This video clip has many more images of French’s work, worth checking out if so inclined.

Once again, please pardon this rather pedestrian post. The dust from packing has just settled, my studio is now freshly set up, still much to do of course, but beginning to feel a bit like home; albeit one  situated in a rabidly right wing environment with a rather daunting homophobic mother-in-law.

Wish me luck.

Until next time,

Babylon Baroque