Saturday, March 10, 2007

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
for Robert

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 ?


Anonymous AJS said...

I'd like to make an argument for libraries as highly sensual environments. I think my twin and I both have fond memories of a certain young, bronze Hermes in one of our libraries. His winged feet rested on top of the card catalog. It is also delightful to tag a library book in the stacks for your lover to find - usually marked to a specific passage - and then hunt throughout the shelves for the one s/he has tagged for you. And thus a dialogue is built. Similar to your concept of the ideal museum visit, one isn't entirely likely to encounter the other party during the hunt...unless one is waiting outside of the library to catch the other in this act of intimacy.

March 11, 2007  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Tiepolo. Dang, I haven't even had coffee yet and you've made me swoon.

I spent time in college doing master copies, and my own focus put me copying Ingres, and Holbein, and da Vinci.

Now I see I missed something important by not copying Tiepolo...or perhaps he was just so elegant, so bravura, I knew I hadn't a chance of following his hand and line.

March 11, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

I prefer the plump Tang woman too. As for Ajax's brother well let's face it, it's good work even if it does little for you in "that" way. (!) How ever I think it is a little "stiff" (no secondary meaning intended) just misses being alive somehow, missing that little extra "movement" that makes a great work. If I was to go into detail:

He is aiming down.

His legs are not believable if you are to be stable in such an action.

The bow is at a funny angle.

The body language is "I am a pretty boy don't you think".

The stance of head and aim is not for one intent on a kill.

May be this is a true "picture" of Ajax's half brother I do not know much about him.

Anatomically it is good. If you like young men no doubt it will appeal.

It would not distract me in your library!

My Grandfather's Nymph of Artemis was in the Library in Hove for many years. Typical of the sentiments of his era she has indistinct nipples and no "penny royal" which causes comment from some! See;

March 11, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

What was going on in those Victorian libraries ? Passionate notes hidden between the covers of books -- secret trysts in the stacks ?

There's the suggestion that eros is connected to learning -- and --- well -- isn't that preferable to our contemporary notion of learning as a dry, disspassionate, science ?

RE: copying Tiepolo --- yes ! let's get together -- find a domed ceiling -- and give it a try (it can't be any harder than copying Ingres and Holbein)

BTW, Robert, I completely agree with your analysis of "Teucer". He's in that fine "pretty boy" tradition begun by the "Davids" of Donatello and Verrochio (and I certainly wish that those figures were in the Ryerson Library as well).

BTW II: Grandfather Mileham was quite a painter. Isn't it your job to make a website for him ?

March 12, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Yes we have a copyright problem but I think we can overcome that with small images! Bridgeman have a few of his works available and they do sell at bit especially over there in the States. 6 cousins involved so it isn't straight forward!

I do have some images of some of his drawings which will go up one day too.

March 12, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Yes, Tang ladies, please. A little more simplicity of line, and a funny hat.

Very amusing on the bow. Like Robert's agreeable critique, too.

I will now picture all your dancing birthday ladies as enormous, because they emerge from clouds of mango-colored silks that are somehow extensions of their own bodies so that they are large, so very much larger than their men: lovely boats to be boarded.

March 12, 2007  
Anonymous C. Rancio said...

Bueno, los patricios venecianos del siglo XVI también vivían en deslumbrantes villas decoradas por Veronés, por jemplo, y luego se batían con los turcos sin titubear...

Sorry, but I couldn't say this in english

March 29, 2007  

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