January 16, 2018
I have been reading this book because I am fascinated by medieval art, and I see a lot of reliquaries. The book is sort of rambling, and it jumps around thematically, but it has focused my attention on these objects lately, so I took another trip to The Cloisters to see a few. I drove in, and decided to park and walk around Washington Heights with my camera a bit before going to the museum.
First off, again, the Port Authority Bus Terminal with that fantastic reinforced concrete roof by Pier Luigi Nervi. I was struck by this view from my car, and walked back to capture it. It conveys, for me, the creepily attractive monumental and oppressive nature of some modernist architecture. The tower in the background, one of four known to traffic alert listeners simply as “The Towers,” gives the view a Futurist look.
Once in the museum, I went to see the three little ladies, reliquaries purportedly containing the skulls of martyred women, three of the 11,000 killed with Saint Ursula.
Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it made me think of this final scene from Mystery of the Organism.
January 7, 2018
I revisited one of my favorite buildings in Manhattan; the multi-storey sub-basement of an old apartment building in Washington Heights, amidst the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Complex.
It really does seem like a dungeon to me.
It’s barely visible from this perspective amidst the hospital behemoths that recall to my mind the fantasies of Saint Elia.
Manhattan Schist, so it’s called, is prominent up here, and from such soil, great structures grow.
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, we had barely two seasons: I love the winter!
After all this gawking at icy splendor, I retreated to The Cloisters.
Son of Clovis?
Saint Lawrence Being Roasted: The story goes that after grilling for a while, he declared, “I’m well-done, turn me over!” Thus, he is the patron saint of cooks.
March 31, 2014
Enough said about him…
And about this capital, down below, I like the way the corner is turned with one beast that has two bodies, maybe a good side and a bad side, depending on where you stand.
A bit of Nature/Nurture.
December 25, 2012
Trebuchet – lower left
A common secular theme in medieval artifacts, often in beautifully wrought ivory cases for whatnots and mirrors. Knights attack the castle of love, defended by maidens who have only buckets of roses with which to repel the attackers. Sometimes Cupid lends a hand…to whom? The knights use the usual run of siege tactics, and sometimes a trebuchet is present.
Another view of the one above
Lower left – another trebuchet
Trebuchet on the right
For a change of pace, the two left-hand panels on the case below show the story of that lovable old coot, Aristotle, tutor of Alexander the Great, being humiliated by Phyllis. The ones on the right tell the tale of Pyramus an Thisbe, from Ovid, and known to most through its later incarnations, such as Romeo and Juliet and The Fantasticks.
More siege craft and love below.
March 21, 2011
Another visit to The Cloisters, the museum at my doorstep. Above, the face of a full-length figure from a portal, clearly showing the stylistic influence of Chartres. (It would have been painted.) The naturalism is clear, but it’s a far cry still from the naturalizing style of the Italian Renaissance which shows up in a panel from Milan that is included in the collection: Medieval by chronology, but not style.
These faces, blurred because I obeyed the injunction against the use of flash, see more like collective dream images of what a king and queen should look like.
Some capital ideas, showing just how much drama can be squeezed into a small space at the top of an arcade column. The ape-man theme, wrought in precious metal, is in evidence elsewhere in the museum as well.
This tomb effigy shows the ideal of the Christian knight. His feet rest on a crouching lion, indicating his strength and courage. Many tomb effigies have such animal features, often small dogs, which I believe indicate the person’s faithfulness or loyalty.
No visit here is complete without a glimpse of the End of Days, provided in The Treasury, where an illuminated manuscript of The Apocalypse is on display.
A strange grotesque in the margin seems to be the equivalent of Monty Python’s “and now this…”
This volume from a Spanish translation of Saint Augustine’s City of God is what got me started reading that very long book.