Thursday, February 08, 2007

Liebestod



Contrary to the impression I might have given in my last post -- I actually enjoy the cemetery sculpture gardens -- and visited several last Summer, including Graceland , Bohemian National , and Oakwoods (whose pieces are displayed in this post)

My over-the-top favorite was, of course, Graceland -- and I have already arranged for friends to pitch my corpse over the wall on the first moonless night that follows my demise.




Which is not to say that I think cemetery sculpture should be anyplace other than a cemetery.

But that's part of my ever-developing-theory of visual art: there's no such thing as bad sculpture -- there's just some sculpture that's in the wrong place -- and all sculpture deserves to be somewhere -- even if it's only in (or buried beneath) the sculptor's home.






Let's face it -- cemetery sculpture is mostly lugubrious -- slow -- turgid -- peaceful but too peaceful -- so it needs to be kept in the special place for which it was intended.

(most of it is also too stiff and awkward to get posted to this blog -- but still, in its proper place, it serves the function of honoring the vast multitude of people who don't care about such things)





Unfortunately, Chicago doesn't have much of my favorite kind of cemetery sculpture - i.e. those featuring young female nudes -- and here is a good link to those French and Italian cemeteries that are famous for them.




So the above piece, from Oakwoods (about a mile south of the University of Chicago) is as close as we come.

But isn't it a perfect juxtposition: the spirit of life placed into the monuments of death ?





Mostly what we get in Chicago are these heavenly, sexless creatures -- which at least can be elegant and graceful -- qualities mostly absent in the big city that's bustling away outside these quiet sanctuaries.

Well -- maybe what we really need are beautiful, quiet sanctuaries without the visual clutter of tombstones --- but that seems to be beyond the imagination of modern American civic leaders.

5 Comments:

Blogger Robert said...

Marly is clearly going to keep us up to the mark Chris.

I tried so hard to resist using that phrase "Over the Top" when referring to grave stones only to be “pipped to the post” by you!!!!

Sorry!

Great to know you will not leave them out anyway.

The grave yard at Brookwood (in Hampshire England) is enormous with many many sculptural monuments which are inevitably under threat from deterioration. I seem to remember there are some important works there. I have found a large A.B. Pegram for you in Wales which I will put up on my English post with the other little ones which you will find “interesting”.

February 08, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Having read your post again, I must add that the French have some very bazaar grave stones. One I remember has a hand coming out from underneath it. I will try and fine a picture for you, it is in a sculpture book I have in the studio.

February 08, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

"But that's part of my ever-developing-theory of visual art: there's no such thing as bad sculpture -- there's just some sculpture that's in the wrong place -- and all sculpture deserves to be somewhere -- even if it's only in (or buried beneath) the sculptor's home."

Chris! You're softening! "No such thing as bad": perhaps I have caught you in a wavering moment. You're not a little under the Chicago weather, are you?

Pitching your corpse over the wall sounds oddly jolly. May the weird Goreyesque party find itself in the very distant future! And what about a sculpture or two to go with it? You could change the ways of lugubrious cemetery sculpture with a bevy of happy naked ladies. Soon every man would want a naked lady to accompany him to his last bed.

February 10, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Yes --- why did ancient emperors and pharaohs get buried with statues of soldiers/horses/cooks/servants --- instead of naked, attractive young women ?

Maybe it's only Muslims who believe in sex after death -- and, sadly, they're iconoclasts.

And thankyou again, Robert, for sending me so many links and pictures.

I wish I'd started blogging about 40 years ago. Think of how many sculptures -- and how many fascinating people -- I'd have found by now !

February 10, 2007  
Anonymous Joy In Life said...

Fine, Marly, but let's even it out. May I have an au naturale male for my grave? How about that male satyr in the Louvre, the one Bernini (?) tampered with? Heck, I'll make my own.

Thanks for the links, Chris. Hee-hee. An excuse to tromp around the country a little more before I go.

February 15, 2007  

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