Friday, April 23, 2010

The Friday Evening Nudes

NOTE:  See also the post below this one which features my photo on the cover of a professional journal. It isn't Life but still very exciting for me!

The Nudes of Pan Yuliang
(1899–1977) was a Chinese painter born Zhang Yuliang.[1] Sold to a brothel as a child after the death of her parents, she was raised to become a prostitute. She attracted the attention of Pan Zanhua[1] a wealthy official, who bought her freedom and married her as a second wife. She began painting, eventually traveling to Paris to study, where she won some acclaim. Her paintings of nude models violated cultural norms in China and generated much controversy. She was forced to move to France to pursue her work. She remained there until her death in 1977.

Pan Yuliang Self-Portrait

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sky Watch Friday

My SkyWatch entry this week was taken close to home; right across the road, in fact. I don't take for granted how lucky we are to enjoy this every day. Even, when as this moody sky implies, it's looking like rain. And as I await the arrival of my significant-other who is stuck in Zurich until Tuesday (yes, it's the volcano), I am also grateful to have him to share my life and this view with.

Peace and Love,
Pagan Sphinx

Check it out by clicking  here and enjoy a tour of international skies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

National Poetry Month - Mary Oliver


I have been thinking
about living
like the lilies 
that blow in the fields.

They rise and fall
in the wedge of the wind,
and have no shelter
from the tongues of the cattle,

and have no closets or cupboards,
and have no legs.
Still I would like to be
as wonderful

as that old idea.
But if I were a lily
I think I would wait all day
for the green face

of the hummingbird
to touch me.
What I mean is,
could I forget myself

even in those feathery fields?
When van Gogh
preached to the poor
of course he wanted to save someone -

most of all himself.
He wasn't a lily,
and wandering through the bright fields
only gave him more ideas

it would take his life to solve.
I think I will always be lonely
in this world, where the cattle
graze like a black and white river -

where the ravishing lilies 
melt, without protest, on their tongues -
where the hummingbird, whenever there is a fuss,
just rises and floats away.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Artist of the Week: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Note to you all:  my apologies for not being quite present in the blogging world. I'm on vacation this week but as fate would have it, the Icelandic volcano has wreaked havoc on our plans. WP was due home from Zurich yesterday but he now can't get a flight out. I'm trying to fill up the days in lieu of our vacation plans:  lots of "to-dos" and a little fun thrown in, too.

Peace and love,
Pagan Sphinx

French painter, printmaker, draftsman and illustrator

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born into an aristocratic family in the south of France in 1864. His father, Count Alphonse, was a notorious eccentric known for all kinds of unpredictable behavior: from washing his socks in the river (unheard of for an aristocrat!) to galloping off to a hunt wearing outlandish costumes, to simply disappearing for long stretches of time. The young Henri never became very close to him.

Unknown at the time, Henri suffered from a genetic condition that prevented his bones from healing properly. Fatefully, at age twelve, he broke his left leg. And at age fourteen, he broke his right leg. Both legs ceased to grow, while the rest of his body continued to grow normally.
At maturity, Lautrec was 4 1/2 feet tall. But his great misfortune was a sort of blessing in disguise, at least from our perspective. After his accidents he was no longer able to follow his father in the typically aristocratic pastimes of riding and hunting. Instead, he focused on sketching and painting. Read the rest of this biography here.

His stunted physique earned him laughs and scorn, and kept him from experiencing many of the physical pleasures offered in Montmartre, a sorrow that he drowned in alcohol. At first it was beer and wine. Then brandy, whiskey, and the infamous absinthe found their ways into his life.
Art and alcohol were his only mistresses, and they were mistresses to which he devoted all of his time and energy. He was doing one or both almost every day of his life until he died.

 "Of course one should not drink much, but often."


THE singer Aristide Bruant (1851-1925) was the very embodiment of the Montmartre café-concert scene. Among the most combative of performers, he delighted his audiences with his insulting and domineering treatment of them.

Every woman who entered his club, Le Mirliton, was escorted in with an audience chorus, led by Bruant himself, of "O how pale she is."
When the bourgeoisie came to spend money in his cabaret, he addressed them as "pigs" and worse. Bruant's songs celebrated the outlaw and the prostitute. He consciously sought out themes that would appeal to his audience, and support his carefully cultivated public image. Ever the self-promoter, the posters he commissioned and the songbooks he published helped establish his fame in his own time as well as posthumously. 

Today we know Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as the archetypical bohemian artist of the belle époque, the "beautiful era" in Paris in the last decade of the 19th Century. He helped usher in the new century, and died when the job was done.
Lautrec captured the spirit and emotion of the era in his posters and portraits. Although his handicap and his alcohol abuse kept him from enjoying some of life's pleasures, Lautrec clearly shared in the joie de vivre of the time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Radio On - The Decemberists

 A big thank you and hug to a blog friend who sent me, and quite unexpectedly, something very musically tempting in my email this Sunday. But alas, I am hopeless with music files and I don't know how to make it play.  Let me tell you now that, I have unzipped, downloaded and extracted 'till I'm almost blind. Looks like I'm pleasuring myself again tonight.   ;-) 

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