Visiting the museum with friends
Actually --- I hate to go to the museum with anybody -- or if I do -- we arrange to meet at the coat check at closing time.
But internet friends are different -- they tag along in the back of the mind -- without ever competing for attention -- and somehow I just want to look at whatever my internet friends have been posting.
So ... first I joined Otto von Karajanstein
in looking at Tang guardian figures -
and this one seems to be first cousin to the one showing in the R.O.M.
Overall - these figures do not please me as much as the plump Tang women
..they just seem to be knocked off in a hurry.
Definitely lively and spirited
but absent a sense of complete resolution
--like an Italian Perseus or Heracles might have
They feel like good ice sculpture --
thrown together at the last minute for a temporary event
--although, of course, the maker has already done a few thousand of them.
and they do feel spatially aware
i.e. they're not just the contorted monsters
that might inhabit a modern amusement park
These are like the heros of "Journey to the West"
and these are like the monsters those heros are always defeating
The Tang Buddhist world was filled with monsters
who lived in deserted areas west of civilization
And thank goodness these creatures were kept under foot
for at least a few hundred years -
until they came charging out of the desert
..after heroes like him had already retired to a monastery
Then it was back to the library to shoot some English sculpture
This handsome dude is "Teucer, Brother of Ajax" (1884)
by Sir William Hamo Thornycroft (1850-1925)
And .. OK.. practicing heterosexual that I am,
I'm kind of turned on by buff, young naked guys taking heroic poses in the library
We had the same thing in my high school library
(Walnut Hills High School, Cincinnati)
with a beautiful, circular, domed library
and statues of naked guys standing around
I'm not sure how that's supposed to be conducive for study
Although I understand the principle: sound mind in sound body etc.
Even if there is something stiff and heavy about this idol
of youthful virility
(and don't you just know he's not very bright.
Why did he bring that bow into the library anyway ??)
Finally, it's time to join Sir Gawain in looking at Tiepolo's
Tasso cycle ("Rinaldo and Armida")
that once adorned the "small room of mirrors"
in the Venetian Cornaro Palace.
Tiepolo rules !
Every nuance fits like each note in a symphony
And his world feels so Roman -- so ancient
It's all breathtaking
and as sensual as it can be
(and as it should be -- after all, this is a bedroom -- not a library)
And here's his poor son -- Tiepolo Jr. -- Domenico.
No - he's a not a bad painter --
But look at dad --
imagine the impact of this design on an entire room
... and look at this wonderful detail --
how even this mini, distant landscape is composed with energy and flair
(not to mention the solid volumes in the foreground)
..or this delightful detail.
Blow it up to full size ...
and you'll see how every turn of the brush
is as careful as a Sung calligrapher
What if you grew up in a Venetian palazzo decorated in this way.
Would you ever want to leave home -- oppress Croatian peasants -- and fight Turkish pirates?
Wouldn't you just want to retreat behind your lagoons,
live off the interest of your investments,
and wait for Napoleon to finally bring his cannon to the coast ?