Antique Fables

I started a new WordPress blog last week after I returned from New York. As of today, I have three posts on KargardeniaEclecticisms and Airy Nothings, all biographic memorabilia. Ooh. I like that. I don’t know where Kargardenia is going but I may change the subtitle to Biographic Memorabilia.

WordPress had a cute start-up page. It’s relevant here because it uses a partial quote from Act 5, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. You can read Theseus’s whole speech to Hippolyta below the Romani girl.

Cute start-up page…

You haven’t written anything yet, but that’s easy for you to do later! Here’s your chance to get your site looking just the way you want it to before the words start flowing. Some inspiration from someone who knew a thing or two about writing:

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

– William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

"Polish gypsy girl early 20th century" via Scarch

“Polish gypsy girl early 20th century” via Scarch

THESEUS

More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold—
That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy.
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
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♠♠♠
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NOTE: Midsummer post inspired by Shakespeare. Photo inspired by Helen of Troy.
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Water’d Heaven

I don’t have anything planned for this week’s post. My grandson has been visiting for the past few weeks so I’ve been somewhat preoccupied. We went to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, I think on Wednesday, a dread hot day.

I took these two pictures in Land of the Tigers with a Canon Power Shot SX130.

Tiger, Karen Gardner 2014

Tiger, Karen Gardner 2014

THE TYGER – William Blake (1794)
Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
Thirsty Tiger, Karen Gardner 2014

Thirsty Tiger, Karen Gardner 2014

What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 
When the stars threw down their spears 
And water’d heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright, 
In the forests of the night: 
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
♠♠♠
NOTE: To hear THE TYGER read by Tom O’Bedlam of Spoken Verse, please refer to Dost Thou Know, the April 23, 2012 post on this very blog.  

Bacon Freud

I’m riffing off the Times “Top 200 Artists of the 20th Century” list (see previous post) with what Forbes magazine on Nov. 11, 2013 said was “The Reason Why Francis Bacon’s ‘Lucian Freud’ Is Worth $142 Million.” 

British artists Bacon and Freud were famously friends and friendly rivals. Bacon is 12th on the list while Freud is 30th, well ahead of Edvard Munch’s 46th ranking. Munch’s “The Scream” held the previous art auction record when it sold for $120 million at Christie’s New York on May 8th 2012 (see The Scream Thickens.)

There is a confluence of factors as to why the piece sold for such an astronomical price, but the main reason, according to the author is “As the ultra-wealthy become even wealthier, the top-end of the art market, along with real estate and other luxury sectors, have experienced an incredible surge as cash is being channeled into alternative investments.”

Three Studies of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon 1969

Three Studies of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon 1969

That’s evident by the price fetched for “The Scream.” To be a little more specific as to why “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold for so much lies in the Bacon market. It has an intrinsic value given its importance from an historical perspective.   

“The subject matter is very important for the Bacon market given the well documented camaraderie and rivalry he had with Lucian Freud,” said Kenneth Galbraith, an art market analyst.

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HISTORICAL NOTE: This excellent feature article ran in The Spectator on Dec. 14, 2013:

Friends, soulmates, rivals: The double-life of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud

 

 


The List

The Times on-line (in association with Saatchi Gallery) compiled “The Top 200 Artists of the 20th Century to Now” in order of significance according to 1.5 million participants. The Times said the point of the list was not to agree with but to argue against.

Wally with a Red Blouse, Egon Schiele 1913

Wally with a Red Blouse, Egon Schiele 1913

Frida Kahlo does not merit her top spot of 19. How can this solipsistic painting by-numbers-style recorder of her own misery be placed above Munch [46th], with his otherworldly scream?

Woman with a Black Hat, Egon Schiele 1909

Woman with a Black Hat, Egon Schiele 1909

In Frida Kahlo’s case, the Times should have argued that  no one would know who she was if it weren’t for Diego Rivera (155th.)

Egon Schiele (22nd) was unknown to me but he is more significant than Salvador Dalí (26th) and Georgia O’Keefe (40th) both of whom have numerous postings on this blog.

Schiele was an Austrian painter and protégé of Gustav Klimt, who was 3rd, which annoyed the Times because Andy Warhol (8th) was more influential to the post-modernism movement. I’d argue yes, much of Klimt’s work was decorative, but he was more influential to the Vienna Secession. Remember fin de siècle?

I should devote an entire post to Egon Schiele but I’ve already started this one. He would be annoyed by my saying so as he was brooding and extremely arrogant. He was only 16 years old when he entered the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1906.

A year later Schiele sought out Klimt, who mentored younger artists. Klimt took a particular interest in Schiele’s talents, which helped launch his career. Schiele’s early works are practically imitations of Klimt. I think the Woman with a Black Hat (above right) is Emilie Louise Flöge, Klimt’s lifelong companion.

Two Girls Lying Entwined, Egon Schiele 1915

Two Girls Lying Entwined, Egon Schiele 1915

Schiele left the Academy after three years because it was too conservative. He founded the Neukunstgruppe (“New Art Group”) with other dissatisfied students. Free of constraints, Schiele explored the human form; many found the sexual explicitness of his works to be disturbing if not pornographic.

I think this is as far I’m taking Egon Schiele. Unfortunately, he died at age 28 during the 1918 flu pandemic. 

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NOTE: I have only 20 or so painters and photographers from the the Times Top 200 so there’s plenty of food for fodder for future arguments.

 

 

 

 


Desired Tempo

Man Ray, Indestructible Object, 1923/63 image via Francis M. Naumann  © Man Ray Trust

Man Ray, Indestructible Object, 1923/63 image via Francis M. Naumann © Man Ray Trust

Man Ray created the readymade Object to be Destroyed in 1923. Why he titled it so is a mystery to me other than it’s an offbeat Dada concept of time. The eye on the metronome was to watch him in his studio as he painted.

After Lee Miller left him in 1932 he made a new version called Object of Destruction, replacing the original eye with her eye (see previous post.) An ink drawing of the piece was published in the journal This Quarter with the following instructions:

Man Ray, Object of Destruction  © The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Man Ray, Object of Destruction © The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Cut out the eye from a photograph of one who has been loved but is seen no more. Attach the eye to the pendulum of a metronome and regulate the weight to suit the tempo desired. Keep going to the limit of endurance. With a hammer well-aimed, try to destroy the whole at a single blow.

The 1923 Object to be Destroyed was destroyed with a single blow in 1957, not by a hammer well-aimed but by gun shot. The Jarivistes, a group of art-movement protesters, stole the one-eyed metronome on display at Exhibition Dada. Man Ray ran after the thieves crying,”You’re stealing my painting!”

The object was set down on a Paris street corner not too far from the gallery. “Why shoot it?” pondered a police official after the fact.

The Jarivistes readily announced that they “are not surrealists but sure realists,” not a movement but “motion itself, perpetual motion.” To their objections to Dada, Man Ray wearily noted:  “These things were done 40 years ago. You are demonstrating against history.” — TIME Magazine, April 1957

When he filed a claim with the insurance company, the agent suggested he buy an unlimited supply of metronomes with his reimbursement. Man Ray replied not only would he do just that, but he would retitle the work Indestructible Object. 

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NOTE: The original eye may belong to the celebrated Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), his lover, model, and muse during most of the 1920s.

 

 


Eye of the Storm

 

Lee Miller's Eye, 1932, silver gelatin by Man Ray,  (Lee Miller archive, England, © 2010 Man Ray Trust

Lee Miller’s Eye, 1932, silver gelatin by Man Ray, (Lee Miller archive, England, © 2010 Man Ray Trust

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NOTE: A thunderstorm just passed. A gust felled a branch to the roof. I thought of this eye I had. And a great title for this post. 

 

 


Touched by an Angel

San Francisco, California, USA --- Poet Maya Angelou walks along the beach in San Francisco. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

San Francisco, California, USA — Poet Maya Angelou walks along the beach in San Francisco. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Maya Angelou (Apr. 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

♠♠♠

Academy of Achievement • Washington, D.C.

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