Lightning Strikes Twice!

July 15, 2018

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This painting is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the “Painted in Mexico” exhibition that originated in Los Angeles.  Jesus displays his “carnal” heart – a very popular object of veneration at this time – while a personification of the Church uses the Eucharist to send a beam of light to illuminate a bible.  I like how the beam is not reflected from the pages, but is instead transformed into jagged lightning bolts that strike dead the enemies of the church (and the Jesuits, who supported the cult of the sacred heart against its opposition.)

The image of Jesus is a direct adaptation of this earlier, less complex picture.

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The sacred heart, representations of which originated in the middle ages, was at first shown iconographically, i.e. as a stylized heart shape, but eventually become anatomically correct.  Not quite clear on whether this is a bleeding heart…

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Up on the roof, there is a different, more ironic sort of veneration going on.A70A693E-A4E8-446D-9FA5-564D485B6FAC

 

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Correspondences

June 25, 2018

Two guys who get what they want; make their dreams come true.418E2346-651B-4D54-98ED-46F053CC56A6

Benjamin gets Elaine in The Graduate, but that last scene goes on a wee bit too long.  Did Elaine just throw her life the wrong way?

Joe marries Susan, and into the money, just not the way he had planned it in Room at the Top.  Susan thinks he’s getting sentimental after all, poor girl.


Correspondences

June 18, 2018

Via the Cloisters Museum and The Nib.

Other correspondences here.


Saint Sebastian

June 18, 2018

Mantegna-049-St.Sebastian-1480-1485The unfortunate Saint Sebastian – I guess the saints are all unfortunate, since they all meet grisly deaths, but then, that’s their good fortune from the Christian point of view… -is a familiar figure to lovers of art history.  Also familiar to male lovers of men, since his image is popular as a gay icon in wildly different forms, many in the realm of kitsch, or camp, as it were.  I get that he’s a young, strapping fellow (patron saint of athletes for some reason), and the voyeuristic, masochistic, erotic aura that hangs, or can be projected about him.  (Did Oscar Wilde really say that in this image he looked a bit like a “mournful pin cushion,” or is that just something my girlfriend told me in high school?)  Once he was released from his martyrdom in Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde did adopt the pseudonym, Sebastian Melmoth, the first part for the saint? and the second a reference to the long-suffering protaganist of Maturin’s early 19th century gothic tale Melmoth the Wonderer.

This image by Mantegna is just one of the most famous showing the saint’s martyrdom by archery at the order of Diocletian, or is it?  Yes, those two fellows in the right foreground have done their duty, and tied and shot up Sebastian, a former member of the emperor’s Praetorian Guard who kept his Christianity secret so that he could give help to the persecuted Christians.  He was found out, and Diocletian ordered him killed…but is he dead?  He appears alive to me!

I know that saints are the subjects and producers of miracles all the time, but if their sainthood is based on being murdered for their faith, shouldn’t they…er…be dead?  This set me off on a little art historical research regarding the saint, and I quickly found that he did not die from the fusillade of arrows, although you can hardly accuse the archers of negligence in carrying out orders.  He did survive, miraculously, and was fetched and tended by Saint Irene.  During the middle ages, because he had survived his execution by arrows, he was invoked for help against diseases, especially the bubonic plague.

Since he was undeterred by fear of death, and since his cover was quite obviously blown, his next move after recovering from his wounds was to go to the emperor’s palace, hide in an alcove or stairwell, and furiously upbraid Diocletian for his sins when he finally happened by.  Naturally, the emperor was furious:  not only was the man not dead as he had ordered, but he returns and insults him directly!  Diocletian ordered his men to club Sebastian to death – perhaps considered a more certain technique – and then to throw his body into the sewer, sometimes noted as the cloaca maxima.  Eventually, his body was retrieved, but the scenes of his actual death, and subsequent disposal and retrieval are vastly less common in art history than the picturesque and unsuccessful first try.

Here we have the saint being pitched into the sewer, as painted by Lodovico Carraci.  His suspension in the air just as he is beginning to fall in seems awkward to me.

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The work below, by Altdorfer, shows the saint’s body being retrieved from the sewer, or at least from out of the muck, but friends who will bury him in the catacombs near the resting places of the apostles.  His body seems little the worse for his immersion in the sewer.

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Scenes of Sebastian’s actual execution by clubbing are a bit more plentiful:  here is one by Veronese.

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Josse Lieferinxe did a set of paintings of the saint for altarpiece dedicated to him, and this image shows him being beaten to death:  in the background the executioners dump his body into the sewer.

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Another beating, but I have not identified the painter.

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The three images below are from a tiny chapel dedicated to St. Sebastian in Venanson in southern France.  The chapel is not well documented on the internet, but the painter of these frescoes is identified as Giovanni Baleison.

If you need a reason to take a trip to Provence, this site, and the even less documented one in Roubion should be reason enough.  The only photos of individual panels of the frescoes I could find online are licensed, and have a copyright logo watermark.  The two below show the saint being dumped into and retrieved from the sewer.

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This image of the chapel frescoes shows the panel of the saint’s dumping in situ.

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Finally, to bring us back nearer to the present, we have an image of a studio session with Muhammad Ali posing as Saint Sebastian, part of series of famous men standing in for the saint.

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Sebastian’s head, or “skull cap” is preserved here, supposedly.

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Future Present

June 14, 2018

Wet Planet or Disk Outside PA 42nd St
Both of these images are from NYNJ Port Authority bus stations: the first one outside the main terminal at 42nd Street; and the other at 178th Street. The latter building has a roof platform by the innovative master of reinforced concrete, Pier Luigi Nervi. I think the towers and the terminal look like something from the notebooks of the futurist Antonio Saint’Elia. For some pinhole images of Port Authority “monuments,” including the Calatrava extravaganza, visit this post.
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Summer Pinhole

June 14, 2018

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Although it is well into June, here in northern NJ it seems as if the summer weather has only just arrived: there hasn’t been much sun for pinhole photography around here! The top picture is my first try in a long time, taken on an old movable bridge across the Hackensack River. (The bridge, and the expensive rehabilitation thereof, were controversial.) I seem to be having some sort of problem with my paper prints: when I squeegee them, it appears that I am damaging the surface somehow. This never happened before.

The sound of “squeegee” can’t help but bring to mind that rascally photographer, Weegee.  I had him in mind when I did this picture.  I call this one “Pinhole Weegee,” and it happened in my backyard.

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After visiting the Alhambra in Andalusia a few weeks ago, I felt that for my summer snoozes on the back patio, I must have the soothing sound of sprinkling water about,  so I purchased this low-market ceramic birdbath and fitted it out with a solar powered fountain.  So far, it works, mostly.  I call this one “Bird and Bath.”

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Fibonacci in Action…

June 12, 2018

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…or so I’ve heard.