When Bill and I were in Providence, we stopped at Symposium Books. The spine of Circles of Thorns grabbed my attention and the cover had an image of "Christ Mocked" by Hieronymus Bosch, now in the National Gallery in London. The author -- Justin Lewis-Anthony -- uses the painting to discuss what being human means now by describing Bosch's symbolism. Bosch has certainly been "abused" over the years by cultural historians who find magic, alchemy, witchcraft, sin and degradation. All sorts of stuff. Lewis-Anthony divides the book into the circles of politics, elements, temperaments, devotions, and quiddity, and shows how Bosch reflects his time and speaks to our time.
I was a little worried after I got the book home and saw that it might be found on the religion shelves that I would find it not of particular interest. BUT it's been great so far, lots to think about. I'm now in the temperaments chapter but had to share.
The quoted words in the title of this post are the subtitle of the book and the picture is from the author's 3 Minute Theologian blog.
I hadn't thought about Bo Bartlett and his realist paintings for some time. And then, last Saturday morning, Moira and I were going to the cafe in Amenia for a coffee and a visit to her studio which is at the top of the same building. A young artist that Moira knows from the Wassaic Project was sitting at a cafe table with a couple friends. We had a nice chat, it was crowded, we went up to the studio. As is so often the case when you meet someone, I didn't catch the name. Moira said he was Man Bartlett and his dad was Bo Bartlett, the painter. I remembered the haunting realist paintings I'd seen several years ago at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. This video is Bartlett's words describing his medical librarian mother who brought home issues of JMLA with old-master covers and about telling your stories in your art and also about letting them go.
One of Moira's in-progress paintings is an Evangelist portrait drawn from imagination but based on looking at many early medieval illuminations. There's an ox in the upper right so it must be Saint Luke. I misspoke and said "Saint Mark" and then found a postcard in my postcard stash of a manuscript at the Morgan which has Saint Mark with the ox of Saint Luke. Hmm. No wonder iconography can be so compelling, so appealing.
You may have noticed the "countdown to withdrawal" widget in the right margin of this blog. It started with Obama's promise to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011. Well, I just noticed that it's counting up now. Sigh.
The original plan was that Bill and I would go on from Boston to New York City for a couple days. For a variety of reasons, we stayed in Boston but did day trips to New Haven and Providence. I had stopped at MASS MoCA on the way from my older sister's near Albany to Boston to see Bill for the week between Christmas and New Year's. The "Memery" show about those using web-based memes was pretty interesting as were the "Workers" and other shows. It was amusing to be in a gallery with portraits taken against Flickr views of sunsets and sunrises: a couple people were taking pictures of the picture wall though I didn't get a picture of either of them as a meme-on-top-of-meme. The other work in that gallery was "No Sunshine" by Constant Dullart. Loved the contrast.
When Bill and I got to New Haven, we found ArtSpace closed so I guess I won't get an up-close visit to the "Library Science" show. We did however have a really good time at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art to say nothing of Atticus Bookstore/Cafe. The Atticus t-shirts were wonderful: one with a caption saying that unattended children would be given immense amounts of coffee and unlimited access to the internet and the other letting us know that censorship led to blindness. The Yale U Art Gallery has a Bosch panel which is from the same altarpiece as the Ship of Fools at the Louvre. I'm very fond of the Ship of Fools and once had to keep standing in front of it because the tour group was hogging the Rolin Madonna of Jan van Eyck. Life is tough. We were running out of time and daylight by the time they chased us out of the British Art Center galleries. I got to see my Sickert painting of the hospital in Venice where they cast my arm when I broke it under the full moon looking out over the Grand Canal. There was also a woman dressed in a fine dress that could have been Fortuny (more Venice) in a painting by Alfred Elmore.
On the 30th, we went down to Providence by train and had a good trip to the "Made in the UK" show at the RISD Museum of Art. The UK show was 20th-century British art from the collection of Richard Brown Baker. I really enjoyed the Grayson Perry vase entitled "May My Ashes Blow Away on the Winds of Change." The label talked about the amphora shape and the blue-and-white drape that echoed the English ware traditions but didn't mention the glazed message inside the lip of the vase that said "Mr Grayson Perry is a real pervert." Thanks to Roberto for really bringing Perry's work to my attention. I also liked the "Study for Figure with Towel" by Keith Vaughan; the last line of its gallery label talked about the joy of being naked in the outdoors. And there was a nice Howard Hodgkin here as well as at Yale where Baker also bequeathed some of his collection.
So I'm rather sorry that I didn't get to NYC this week to see the "Hide/Seek" show at the Brooklyn Museum or to see NYC friends but .... no problem, we had a great time full of art and bookstores (yikes, don't want to see the credit card bills) and visits with friends. A couple movies: "The Artist" and "Young Adult." I'll finish this off with an amusing overheard conversation: the three students were talking about Gropius and I thought "architecture students" but it turns out there must be a bar of that name. Oh, well; it can't all be art.