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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Speaking of dreams…

May 15, 2014

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Constantine dreams, “With this sign, you conquer.”  At The Morgan.


Rabbit Iconography

May 17, 2013

Poor wabbit!

I noticed this image on the porch of San Zeno in Verona, a splendid Romanesque church.  Rabbits have a curious set of associations in our culture, don’t they?

  • Cute and cuddly
  • Pesky and destructive
  • Fertile, too fertile
  • Innocent
  • Malign

Not sure what the Christian symbolism behind a rabbit being preyed upon is – I noted it on another facade in Venice, I believe.  One source implied that it alludes to the struggle of the human soul to elude Satan, but it is also true that rabbits sometimes represent souls in thrall to Satan.  There’s one in the lower portion of this detail from Bosch’s vision of Hell.


Urban Flight

May 9, 2013

Venice can can get overwhelming:  the sun, the crowds, the art, the beauty…how much of stuff like this scene above can you take?  Sometimes you just have to flee the city.

Fortunately, The Lagoon beckons.  Within it, are several islands:  Murano for the glass manufacturers; the cemetery; Burano, a small island community of brightly painted houses; and Torcello, about a thirty-minute boat ride a way.  It’s a rather forlorn, marshy place, and practically no one lives there any longer, but it was the place where the people of the Veneto first sought refuge from the Hun invaders.  It grew into a city, but poor resource management led to the silting of their lagoon, bringing mosquitos and malaria, and bad fishing.  They up and left for what became the city of Venice.  The citizens of the new city, practical to the core, looted Torcello for its stone, we would say recycled, so only a few buildings remain.

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Not quite the Grand Canal of Venice, but at the end of the walk, there is a nice surprise.

 

I am not talking about Cipriani’s, the tony restaurant outpost of the ‘famous’ Harry’s Bar that is right down the path from Santa Maria Assunta, but the mosaics inside that church, seen in the left of the photo below.  The structure on the right is the Fosca Basilica, and it is quite plain inside.

The counter-façade of Santa Maria, i.e. the wall inside of the main facade, is covered with a Byzantine-style mosaic of The Last Judgment that is incredible.  (The photos are not mine.)  The one below shows the final trumpet raising some of the dead, including a few that met their ends in the jaws of large fish.

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The dead do not have it easy in these scenes of judgment.

 

Better make sure that you are on the right side of the scale used to weigh souls!

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Scapegoats, Ken Russell, and the PRB

December 15, 2012

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Reading a  book about Victorian photography,Francis Frith in Egypt and Palestine, I came across these statements about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) painter William Holman Hunt and his picture, The Scapegoat:

” …with its elimination of aerial perspective, its aggressive placement of the goat in the foreground picture plane (even Ruskin could not abide its proximity) and its hallucinogenic detail and color…”

“The Jewish sacrifice of the goat, bearing away the town’s moral iniquities, was for Hunt a clear Old Testatment prefiguration of Christ…”

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This called to mind those bizarre images from Ken Russell’s Altered States.  As usual with Russell, there’s a lot more going on in his weirdness than a shallow desire to shock and be outlandish.

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OWS: The Beautiful and the Arcane

October 16, 2011

At the Occupy Wall Street site yesterday, I saw some people wearing a small enamel lapel pin with this design.  I searched in vain for the man who was giving them away – I want one!  It beautifully expresses the facts of income and social inequality in a clean, concise, and compelling graphic.  Bravo to the designer!

Occupy Wall Street + Walter Benjamin +Pauline Christianity = Anaphoric Solidarity.  Whaa?  One of the strangest amalgams of intellectual systems I’ve come across, represented at OWS by two young men at a small table in the center of Zucotti Park.


A Headline I Just Have to Love!

September 26, 2011

Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics:

Yep, that’s what the article was called!  Click on the link to read it!