Richibi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

Month: January, 2010

Venus of Willendorf

              File:Venus von Willendorf 01.jpg


                                Venus of Willendorf 
                          (24,000 B.C. – 22,000 B.C.)
by giving it prominence in a work of art an artist by definition
idealizes a figure, gives it stature, Andy Warhol did that to our
own cultural overlord, Commerce, with his soup cans, putting
them right up there where altarpieces used to be, these icons 
are even in financial institutions now in fact instead of churches,
supplanting thereby the earlier Christian message, which you
don’t see represented very much in art anymore incidentally,
our present culture not finding much of an even metaphorical
call for it any longer it would appear 
Marilyn” (1960s)
Mickey Mouse” (1981)
the Venus of Willendorf (24,000 B.C. – 22,000 B.C.)
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” (1995)
these last two upending what is in fact only an arbitrary
cultural notion of svelte and silken beauty ever, though
often vigorously held  



“Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” – Lucian Freud


                            “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” (1995)

                                               Lucian Freud  

nudes go back of course to Eden, female nudes to Eve,
but only after genitalia had long given way to fig leaves, 
during the somber and endless Middle Ages,
after the fall of the more licentious Rome, 
did they flourish unadorned again
men have had to wait much longer to be faithfully depicted,
we’re still under the sway, it would seem, of original sin 
paintings which have made historical inroads,
often accompanied by scandal, much indeed as was this one,
though here the shock was arguably less prurient than financial,  
The Toilet of Venus” for instance of Diego Velázquez
or Olympia” of Édouard Manet,
are obvious progenitors 
but see especially Egon Schiele in this case for matching townscapes
though most similarly subversive are their unexpurgated, indeed, males 
Lucian Freud‘s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping incidentally
sold at auction for $33.6 million, in May 2008  
what would Saint Augustine have had to say about that 
watch what Sue Tilly, the sitter, said
psst: “In Farrell v. Burke … the following exchange from the testimony
          of a police officer who had charged a convicted sex offender for
          violating the terms of his probation by possessing obscene materials:
         ‘MR. NATHANSON: Are you saying, for example, that that condition of
          parole would prohibit Mr. Farrell from possessing, say, Playboy magazine?
          P.O. BURKE: Yes.
          MR. NATHANSON: Are you saying that that condition of parole would

          prohibit Mr. Farrell from possessing a photograph of Michelangelo[’s]
          P.O. BURKE: What is that?
          MR. NATHANSON: Are you familiar with that sculpture?
          P.O. BURKE: No. 
          MR. NATHANSON: If I tell you it’s a large sculpture of a nude youth with his 

          genitals exposed and visible, does that help to refresh your memory of what
          that is? 
          P.O. BURKE: If he possessed that, yes, he would be locked up for that.” 
                               from the New Yorker (“Number Nine” by Lauren Collins),

                                                                               January 11,2010 


“Two Cut Sunflowers” (1887) – Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh's Two Cut Sunflowers Painting

                             “Two Cut Sunflowers” (1887)


                                     Vincent van Gogh 




two cut sunflowers 

the painter apportions mostly gold and blue   

to let their moment last forever       






“Winter Mood” – Leonid Afremov


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Winter Mood
Leonid Afremov 

the thick application of paint in this painting, impasto,
and the disorder of acid colours in the foreground leaves, 
bring to mind Cézanne for me, 
and by inference, I guess, the more appealing, I think, Van Gogh
but the Belarusian Afremov, you might find interesting to know,
is from Vitebsk, the birthplace of Chagall,
studied at the school Chagall founded there,
as did incidentally in their times Malevich and Kandinsky also  
but the poetry of solitude by which this work touches me so
I find most reminiscent of Friedrich Caspar David‘s “The Wanderer“,
no less iconic a Romantic figure in art than Byron, Shelley, Keats became,
not to mention in Germany Goethe‘s tragic “Werther“, or in France, Victor Hugo 
in Spain the much earlier Don Quixote, inspired much later his compatriot Picasso,
whose own lonely horseman is to my mind recalled here, 
and in film more recent lonesome cowboys ride instead of on an open range
an empty street through a park in Paris maybe, Dresden, or Toronto
as on life’s journey they find, and we, each our road to follow 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thought I’d pass it along  





“The Journey of the Magi” – Sassetta‏

                                                                                                                                                                          Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni)

The Journey of the Magi (1435)                                                                 


                                                                                                                                                                              the sixth of January was the Feast of the Magi,
should you have forgotten, indeed should you have never known,
when the Three Wise Men travelled with gold, frankincense and myrrh
to Bethlehem, to where Jesus had just been born  
whatever became of all of it I’ve wondered,
and back when I  was learning about it at school,
and how incongruous to be visited by kings
in a life so otherwise cruel  
a star, it is said, led the way, low here on the horizon, 
shimmering incandescently beside the two birds,
not any less innocent all of these than cherubs
cavorting in celebration of the transcendental birth
Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar, on camels out of the East,
are represented on the more Italianate horses, 
along with the equally more Italianate gentry,
to of course reflect Sassetta‘s more Sienese sources 
but the pink castles, essentially indiscriminate, 
are there, I’m sure, 
specifically only to enchant you  
happy new year