Saturday, January 2, 2010

Art Trigger

A reaction to Linda's (and she is indeed, linda) comment about A Modern Olympia, featured in this week's Friday Evening Nudes. I don't especially love the painting but I found it interesting that a painting with such a title would be painted. Sort of like a popular song remake, rarely as good as the original. Who knows? Well, someone must know, but I don't.    ;-)  I don't think Olympia looks herself at all in Cezanne's version.

 A Modern Olympia

Paul Cezanne

Anyway, that triggered the image of the Olympia by Manet. My favorite nude of all time.


And because it's been too long since I posted any poetry, a repeat of the poem by Margaret Atwood, my favorite writer and thinker

Manet’s Olympia
By Margaret Atwood
She reclines, more or less,
Try that posture, it’s hardly languor.
Her right arm sharp angles.
With her left she conceals her ambush.
Shoes but not stockings,
how sinister.  the flower
behind her ear is naturally
not real, of a piece
with the sofa’s drapery.
The windows (if any) are shut.
This is indoor sin.
Above the head of the (clothed) maid
is an invisible voice balloon:   Slut.

But.  Consider the body,
unfragile, defiant, the pale nipples
staring you right in the bull’s eye.
Consider also the black ribbon
around the neck.  What’s under it?
A fine red threadline, where the head
was taken off and glued back on.
The body’s on offer,
but the neck’s as afar as it goes.

 This is no morsel.
Put clothes on her and you’d have a schoolteacher,
the kind with the brittle whiphand.

 There’s someone else in this room.
You, Monsieur Voyeur.
As for that object of yours
she’s seen those before, and better.

 I, the head, am the only subject
of this picture.
You, Sir, are furniture.
Get stuffed


Shadow Shot Sunday

A little Note: I created a photo blog a while back called The Pagan's Eye, where I posted photos I've taken: a slight nod to my creative side and a wink to my flirtation with  digital polaroids.  I haven't been taking many in recent months due to busy-ness with work, school and family. I just noticed that the last photo I posted at The Pagan's Eye was from November 11. The space from that past-time has given me time to think about whether I want to keep a photo blog just for those photo themes (or memes).

It got to be addicting with a different theme for every day of the week:  Ruby Tuesday, Mellow Yellow Monday, SkyWatch Friday, etc. (My apologies for not linking to the bloggers who host them weekly.)  I think I am going to leave up that blog as a diary of what has caught my eye but resume posting entries to the photo memes on this blog. Only less of them. Mary the Teach's two memes - Ruby Tuesday and Window Views and Doorways, are really fun and Mary is a very cool lady. And SkyWatch Friday because it is just as vast as its name-sake, with skies from all over the globe, represented. And last but not least, Shadow Shot Sunday, which is hosted by Hey Harriet - the Photo Surrealist of the blog universe!  Thanks Tracie!

Contemporary Art Shadow Shots
taken at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Mass MoCA
the wall drawings are by American artist Sol Lewitt


Friday, January 1, 2010

The Friday Evening Nudes

Raoul Duffy

Maurice Denis

Armande Guillaumin

The Delvaux below meets a request by libhom, who loves the Surrealists

Paul Delvaux

 A Modern Olympia
Paul Cezanne 
Post Impressionist

Pagan Sphinx Entertainment Highlight - Benny and the Jets

 I like the frames in this video of Bernie Taupin, the lyricist of those great, early Elton John songs.

While I don't hold out much hope for world peace anymore, I will continue to strive to find peace in myself. 

Good 2010 to you!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Father Commerce and Other Post-Holiday Ruminations

Did you cherish your holidays and your family this season? Me, I tried really hard and fell short of my expectations that I would be the perfect person for each and every individual in my life.  Any smart person would have given up trying by now to be perfect but I, alas, mistakenly harbor hope that one day I will not piss off a single person for even one moment.  Ha!

 Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.
~Salvador Dali

There was lots of champagne and good food and beautiful daughters and a loving Old World mother. I decidedly did not receive an iphone from Father Commerce. I find those little gizmos highly distracting. People use their cell phones and other small electronic gadgets while they operate  motor vehicles. If I did that routinely, starting today, I would be dead in three days. Or less. Oh, but I did get a new Canon with a big zoom lens on it. It will be great to be able to photograph birds and the other wildlife around the river and lake. I'm excited.

I think I have a rare form of attention deficit disorder. This is admittedly a self-diagnosis and it may be wacky but I helps me keep my unruly brain in check. Unlike ADHD people, I am often distracted by too much thought - which is really the result of a very long attention span. I don't want to pay attention to too many things at once. I find it overwhelming.  Particularly when it involves driving or operating heavy machinery. For me, a blender constitutes such. I really have to be careful. I also don't understand why so many people don't get that real thinking takes a long time! I'm having this problem with my current instructor. He's way too zippy for me.

I am in a mood. It's not a bad mood, exactly. I just want to tell everyone I love that they should go away from me, please and let me blog. But then, a wonderful thing happens. My daughter SG2, recently turned 21, accepts my invitation to spend the day together yesterday and we click. I took a chance, not altogether sure we would. And we had a wonderful day.. We had a late lunch and then we got our eyebrows waxed. 
I have decided:  one can only eat sushi satisfactorily with another sushi lover.
I promise not to divulge all the eyebrow waxing details. Suffice it to say that I'm very aware of my eyebrows these days. I have been worried that I may frighten people with my shock of white Andy Warhol hair and my jet-black eyebrows. Don't worry. both the eyebrows and the hair remain, and in their respective natural colors. I have merely cleaned up my eyebrows a bit. My daughter approves.  My eyebrows are now more stylish than Warhol's and I hope I'm a tad bit cuter than Andy.

Oh, I got my mother this Christmas and the salt cod!  :-)  And The Runt got some, too!

Pagan Sphinx Warholized

Happy 2010
Be brave and be happy in the new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Annual Winter Visit to Mass MoCA

WP and I headed west to the Berkshires, with my mother and Lovely Stepdaughter #1 along for the cold, sunny ride over the mountain (which was hazy) and into the hamlet of North Adams, Massachusetts. We walked into the factory buildings turned large museum spaces...and into several other planets and universes and galaxies of the creative and neurotic contemporary mind...

 Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams

exhibit of eight artists; a few of whose works I photographed and noted 

(pagan sphinx photo 2009)

detail from a text work by

(pagan sphinx photo 2009)

Whitney Bedford

My mother standing in front of Whitney Bedford's "broken hands", her favorite art pieces at MoCA.  I was impressed by her ability to grasp the cutting-edge art, ask lots of questions about it and be okay with not having exact answers. It blew me away.

(Pagan Sphinx photo 2009)

Shana Lutker 

(Pagan Sphinx photo 2009)

(interior detail)

Shana Lutker’s works in various media mine her
unconscious and psychoanalytic theory. In House
(1986–1996) with Art That I Dreamt That I Made
Lutker fabricated a scale-model of her childhood
home. The house is then filled with miniature
versions of the art that Lutker dreams she has
made. Lutker often reworks these miniatures
into drawings and large sculptures—making real
works from those she has literally “dreamed up.”

(interior detail, #2) 

(Pagan Sphinx photo 2009)

Untitled #3

from the "Disruption" Series

Marco Rios

 Untitled, #3


Lovely Stepdaughter #1 contemplating the slaughter of a manatee??
This exhibit included eyeballs on the ceiling that rained cold tears on museum-mers. I was getting rather wet and ducked out of there fairly quickly after taking this picture.

Lastly, some new additions to the Sol Lewitt wall drawings, which will be on exhibition at the museum for the next two decades


Music for Insomniacs - The Lemonheads - Into Your Arms

Monday, December 28, 2009

Letters from Vincent

Dear Friends and Readers,

I've started a new art feature on the blog. Letters from Vincent will post whenever I have time and inspiration to create a post and whenever the whim strikes me!

I recall vividly the first time I noticed a Van Gogh painting. When I was a fourth grader, I had an evil art teacher. She was so enraged by the bad behavior of my class that she meted out a punishment: for an entire month we would have to create a scrapbook and fill it with images of things we considered to be beautiful and write an explanation as to why we thought it was beautiful. These images could be photographs, original drawings or magazine cut-outs. I don't recall anything else I included in my scrapbook except for an image I clipped from  Life magazine of one of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings. If I'm not mistaken,it was the cover of a book in a Book of the Month ad.

Ironically, it was this assignment meant as punishment that started a life-long passion for art and artists. Van Gogh was especially endearing to me because, as a sensitive and lonely kid, the story of his life, which I learned mostly by looking at art books and reading from his letters to his brother Theo, touched me very deeply.

As I've delved further into my art interests, I'd lost touch with this artist. Perhaps because he is now so well known; his work duplicated ubiquotously. Or maybe like so many things from our childhoods that are given up as they are replaced with things more mature. These posts are my tribute to Vincent:  tucked away but never forgotten.

In the Letters from Vincent posts, I'll take an excerpt from a letter at random and illustrate it with an image or two; the latter of which should put the event, thought or idea conveyed into some coherent context and timeline. If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to mention them. And comments are most welcome, if you have knowledge, thoughts, reactions to share. 

Pagan Sphinx

To brother Theo; an excerpt from a letter written in Arles,
c. 9th. July 1888
read entire letter here

I am thinking a lot about Gauguin, and I would have plenty of ideas for pictures, and about work in general.I have a charwoman now for 1 franc, who sweeps and scrubs the house for me twice a week. I am banking very much on her, counting on her to make our beds if we decide to sleep in the house.


Van Gogh started the first version mid October 1888 while staying in Arles, and explained his aims and means to his brother Theo:

This time it simply reproduces my bedroom; but colour must be abundant in this part, its simplification adding a rank of grandee to the style applied to the objects, getting to suggest a certain rest or dream. Well, I have thought that on watching the composition we stop thinking and imagining. I have painted the walls pale violet. The ground with checked material. The wooden bed and the chairs, yellow like fresh butter; the sheet and the pillows, lemon light green. The bedspread, scarlet coloured. The window, green. The washbasin, orangey; the tank, blue. The doors, lilac. And, that is all. There is not anything else in this room with closed shutters. The square pieces of furniture must express unswerving rest; also the portraits on the wall, the mirror, the bottle, and some costumes. The white colour has not been applied to the picture, so its frame will be white, aimed to get me even with the compulsory rest recommended for me. I have depicted no type of shade or shadow; I have only applied simple plain colours, like those in crêpes.

Van Gogh's bedroom at Arles

Place Lamartine in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, known as his Yellow House. The door to the right was the opening to the upper floor and the staircase, the door to the left served as the guest room he held prepared for Gauguin

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