Women Painting Caves

No, it's not the latest design show on HGTV|DIY. It's what passes for news in some circles:

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

Well, if you hang around these parts, that's olds, not news!

Bring Me The Red Pages

This and other pics of Codex Rossanensis courtesy of calabriaonline.com

This and other pics of Codex Rossanensis courtesy of calabriaonline.com

One of the cable channels is showing the whole run of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in order, and so we're dipping in from time to time. I'm glad to report that it holds up quite well, as sitcoms go. At a certain juncture in tonight's episode, Murray ripped the breast pocket off Ted Baxter's jacket, and I turned to my wife and said, "Watch. Later he pulls off all three." Sho nuff, it came to pass as I had said.

Now, normally I wouldn't spoil in that way, but Continue reading…


Unable to flip the bird

Robert Rauschenberg, _Canyon_, 1959

Robert Rauschenberg, Canyon, 1959. Oil, acrylic, pencil, paper, fabric, metal, buttons, nails, cardboard, printed paper, photographs, wood, paint tubes, mirror string, pillow, & bald eagle on canvas. National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.). (C) Rauschenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, via Wikipedia

2007 saw the demise of Ileana Sonnabend, a legendary purveyor of art created after 1945. Among the famous works in her considerable estate was Robert Rauschenberg's Canyon, a canonical, influential mid-century work well known from survey texts and studies of formal and thematic innovation in contemporary art. The work is neither a painting nor a sculpture, though it includes attributes of both. The artist called it a "combine", and it brings together a variety of media, art supplies, scraps, miscellaneous material, and things.

One of these things is a stuffed bald eagle. Continue reading….

This Is My Body

The Roettgen Pietà

The Roettgen Pietà (Vesperbild), polychromed willow or poplar, 89cm, ca. 1360, Landesmuseum, Bonn


The Roettgen Pietà, a painted wooden sculpture about three feet high, tells us a couple of important things about Christian devotion in 14th-century Germany.

In German, this subject is called a Vesperbild, an image for use during ritual devotions at sundown. More broadly, it's an example of an Andachtsbild, an image intended to stimulate meditation. For this reason, the holy figures are isolated from their narrative context and presented in a pose and a moment that amplify the statue's emotional import.

The body of Jesus has been removed from the cross, and Mary now holds her dead son on her lap and laments his passing. The poignancy of the statue resides in a cluster of double meanings. Just as Mary once held the baby on her lap, she now holds the man. Before, he was brimming with new life; now he is beyond life's end. Once he was beautiful; now he is ugly. Once perfect and intact, now distorted and destroyed. Continue reading….

Where the Hell Is That Painter of Light Guy?

Visit the Museum of Bad Art and be amazed, appalled, and (possibly) angered.

If we're lucky David will favor us with some comments. My only comment is this: though I grasp intuitively that much of this is bad, I lack the language to explain why, and am suspicious that there is someone, somewhere, who using the terminology of art analysis could argue at great length that it is all FANTASTIC.

Miss Piggy, Miss Piggy, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

An Italian museum has defied the Vatican's request that it take down the art shown above.

Maybe my Googe-fu is weak, but I'm not sure why you can even leap to the conclusion that the frog is a Christ figure. Jesus is certainly the most commonly represented crucified figure, and the crucifixion is a central symbol — THE central symbol — of Christianity. But lots of folks got crucified. The frog could be one of the thieves. Or just an undistinguished amphibian who fell afoul of the Romans.