Archive for the LACMA Category

Hidden Within Plain Sight?

Posted in 16th cent, Blessed Virgin Mary, LACMA, Leonardo, Vasari on December 7, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In reading this mornings NY Times, I was once again confronted with the ethical squeamishness of the ongoing search for the missing Leonardo fresco, the Battle of Anghiari. I love Leonardo as much as the next fellow, but I have always worried about the fate of my beloved Giorio Vasari’s fresco that is indeed with us, allegedly covering  The Battle of Anghiari. Whether or not Leonardo’s fresco is still behind the Vasari seems to me unclear; there has been extensive, seemingly thorough research into the whereabouts of the glamorous lost Leonardo, as this August 26th 2011 NYT article details but I have reservations. I am admittedly a dilettantish art enthusiast, but Leonardo’s desire to experiment is well known- we need look no further then the Last Supper, what painterly concoction had Leonardo  experimented with that would lead to the Vasari  commission? One need to read Vasari’s account of Leonardo to see what a huge crush he had on the man and his talents; he would not willy-nilly deface a great Leonardo. I’m fearful we will lose a Vasari for a crumbled ghost of a Leonardo.

I may be biased, Vasari has become a great inspiration to me, he is a meat-and -potatoes sort of painter, gifted but not stellar, best known for chronicling the luminaries of his culture. As an artist struggling with his inadequacies I can relate. In no way am I able to claim even a hint of Vasari’s skill and accomplishment; yet his facing head on the brilliance of Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo is admirable and worthy of emulation.

Today’s article pointed out that given Leonardo’s (well deserved ) celebrity, the Vasari could easily be compromised for a publicity stunt. Alesandro Mottola Molfino (God, I wish I had a name like that), president of Italia Nostra, a conservancy dedicated to preserving Italy’s cultural heritage, said it best: ” We’ve grown weary of using art history as an event or a marketing opportunity”. I frankly could not agree more, how have our museums so thoroughly debased themselves with blockbuster shows aimed solely at pleasing  the gift-shop-hungry hoards? Why must art be viewed as stunt or performance? I am often disheartened at the empty halls of LACMA, where I have the galleries of 15th and 16th century paintings to myself while the tedious Tim Burton exhibition is teeming with lighthearted revelers.

 I must stop, I’m ranting once again.

That said in my lonely meanderings I recently stumbled upon a Vasari at LACMA, I was unaware that we had one in Los Angeles. It is rather typical, large and attractive , perhaps hastily painted in his workshop-the Virgin’s club foot attests to a certain lack of quality control. But even with its terribly minor flaws it tickled my eye, far more satisfying then the mid-century kitsch being celebrated in the Resnick Pavillion below. Given the upcoming season, the feast day of our Savior’s birth, I thought it a fitting image for this post.

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)

Holy Family with Saint Francis in a Landscape


oil on canvas 


Click to enlarge, the details are worth the effort.

As I mentioned in my previous post I will be packing up my studio, preparing for a move to San Diego- my mother-in -law is unwell, I must tend to her. But my concern for this matter trumped my mundane duties, plus I really hate packing.

But I must, so Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, joyous winter celebrations to all.

See you most likely in 2012.

Until that time, take care,


Farewell Los Angeles

Posted in LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Theatre on December 6, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In a few days LA will be a memory, we ship out on the 21st.

I am feeling ambivalent, LA has never been a good fit.

That said I have made many fine friends, I will treasure the memories. The following is a scrap-book of fond remembrances:

My  view will be missed,

I will miss the drama of my apartment.

Nature has been elusive, but I have had a few random encounters.

Although, this tends to be the norm.

I have wonderful memories of the Getty Center, a marvel of a place,

here with my sister Kat and niece Grace, visiting from Philly.

We married in LA, our tiny West Hollywood condo, gotta love that,

making it legal, July 3rd 2008,

a very sleepy Flower-Pug, Daisy

There are of course many sights that I will miss, the beautiful Grauman’s Chinese.

I only visited once, saw something forgettable, BUT the interior, that will not be forgotten.

China Town, although modest in size, is not without its charms.

One of the most dazzling places is the Los Angeles theater, Queen of the faded Broadway beauties.

Difficult to speak of LA without mentioning Street Art,

Regarding the Blessed Virgin, the Cathedral is always worth a visit.

An obvious delight is the Getty Villa in Malibu,

the husband enthroned.

A less obvious palace of delight is the Clark Library in Downtown, a wonder of wonders,

ceiling decorations that are as subtle as a train wreck,

the grounds are a delight particularly given the bustle and grit that surrounds this sanctuary.

Far removed from poverty and grime, the Huntington with its impressive collection of Anglo portraiture and stunning gardens stands aloof and gorgeous in Pasadena.

Always the right choice to spend an afternoon wandering about.

My favorite Sunday jog is up Runyon Canyon, spectacular views of the city and nearly naked flesh.

I have grown incredibly fond of LACMA, I now consider it “my” museum.

I have grown to know the collection, I will perhaps miss this most of all.

Quite simply my favorite painting in LA, Guido Reni’s Bacchus and Ariadne, the placement is particularly handsome.

As I will begin the tedious task of packing up, I will most likely not be making many posts until the new year.

Wishing my readers a very joyous holiday season until that time.

Take care, Babylon Baroque

Philoctetes, Nasty Snake Bites and Traitorous Comrades (plus other hot, fallen, half -naked guys)

Posted in Babylon Beefcake, Guido Reni, Hercules, LACMA, Mantegna, Philoctetes on October 3, 2011 by babylonbaroque

The better half is writing an article on Philoctetes, the Greek warrior favored by Herakles,  who suffered a snake wound, abandonment by his comrades and psychological agony.

My task of course was to find suitable images.

So here they are.

Nicolai AbrahamAbildgaard

The Wounded Philoctetes


Upon entering his own funeral pyre, Hercules entrusted Philoctetes with his bow and poisoned arrows, with which Philoctetes shot Paris. A final victory for the Greeks in the Trojan War.

His comrades proved to be far less valiant.

Guido Reni

Heracles and the Hydra (snake theme)


Philoctetes and his mates were advised by an oracle to make a sacrifice to the  god Chryse. As Philoctetes had made a  similar sacrifice with Hercules in his youth, (the two seemed to be un-naturally close) Philoctetes was chosen to lead the way. As first man in line, he encounters a snake and suffers a vicious bite.

Nicolas Poussin

Landscape with a Man Frightened by a Snake


Montreal Museum of Fine Art

(interesting note, this painting was purchased by the Bloomsbury artist duncan Grant in 1920)

So painful the bite, his howling made the sacrifice impossible to perform. Irritated by his incessant agony and quite stinky festering wound, his loyal comrades abandon him to the nearby island of Lemnos. As Hephaestus had his own foul smelling shop there no one would be bothered by his wails and stench.

Nice fellows.

Jean Germain Drovais 1763-1788

Philoctetes on the Island of Lemnos


Andrea Mantegna



Frankly, not sure how the story ends, seems to be a bunch of angst, will need to read the Beloved’s paper.

Until then, beefcake with wounds.

Jean-Simon Berthélemy 1743-1811

Death of a Gladiator

(I know not Greek, but hot, and a local favorite)



It has been quite some time since I posted but early in September, the very handsome Andy Whitfield died, without being glib, he was known for having played a particularly striking gladiator. I confess I have never seen the show, but this Welshman, of quite striking looks was difficult not to notice. To die so young, 39, adds to the pathos. 

Recquiscat in Pace

I appreciate the patience of my readers, my classes have been quite difficult, even this abbreviated post has taken me away from tasks that need attending to. Until next time, take care, Babylon Baroque


Posted in Ingres, LACMA, Marie Antoinette, Paul Poiret, Vigee Le Brun on January 3, 2011 by babylonbaroque

The Beloved and I spent a lovely rainy Sunday afternoon exploring the new Resnick Pavilion (not terribly new,as it opened in the Autumn of 2010), part of the seemingly ever expanding Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).Ostensibly the purpose of my visit was to gather images of gowns for my niece Grace, an aspiring fashion plate; LACMA has a current  exhibition Fashioning Fashion:European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915 that has proven to be a marvelous resource of frills,corsets, and frippery.

But amongst the gloomy Olmec Colossi , was an exhibition, Eye for the Sensual:Selections from the Resnick Collection which regrettably was closing that day. A treasure house of beautiful objects, exquisitely crafted  for what seems to be the sole purpose of tickling our covetous instincts. I confess to having trespassed several Commandments, most especially the 10th, multiple times.

I open with a detail of the most exquisite bit of porn Les Sirènes appelant Ulysse

The Sirens Luring Ulysses



Henri Lehmann

As I said both the Fashioning Fashion and the Eye For The Sensual were quite exciting, I will be integrating images from both shows, obviously if it is a pretty bit of embroidery it is from the fashion exhibition.

Sacrifice to Pan


Dirk van der Aa


A Satyr Embracing a Bacchante


Pierre Duval

Sacrifice to Diana



Dirk van der Aa


I am crazy for the hound.

African Venus


Charles Cordier

There is a male companion to the Venus but he lacked her strength and powerful grace; she is quite a marvel.

dress and train




This show-stopper is intended for my niece Grace, it is a crowd pleaser.

Gotta love black and gilt embroidery!




This is NOT intended for Gracie, nor the Belgium fetish bots (1900) in the background.

Grown up pleasures.

From courtesan to courtesan…

Queen Dido Receiving Aeneas on His Arrival at Carthage



Giambattista Crosato




Wild about the yallerish green with candy colored sparkle.

Man’s At- home Cap



If there was one object that I positively needed, it is this cap.

I am quite convinced my paintings would improve if this was part of my studio garb.

The Chinese Ambassador


Jean Barbault


Robe à la française





Paul Poiret

This turban was worn by Poiret’s wife Denise for his legendary party of a century ago, The Thousand and Second Night. The hostess was dressed appropriately as the Queen of the Harem, from the looks of this beauty, Poiret’s fete trumped Capote’s Black & White handily.




Somehow Ingres was to give even  the Blessed Virgin  a covetous appearance, here she is perusing the sacred vessels of the Holy Mass as if she were at the Neiman Marcus jewelry counter.

The Virgin with the Host


Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Perhaps no other woman is more  often accused of breaking the 10th commandment then dear Marie, most famously (and incorrectly) said to desire  this bauble,


I was able to pay homage.

The author in the company of Vigée Le Brun’s portrait of the Queen.

I wish I had this vest when visiting the Queen, she would have enjoyed the pastoral theme.





In the end I am forced to cast aside wordly vanity and desire it produces; I must return to my far humbler studio, and like the Magdalen I hope to be the better person.

At least that is how I justify my situation.

The Magdalen Renouncing Her Worldly Goods


attributed to Carlo Maratta

Wishing you a week rich in visual beauty.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque