“Beginning in 1978, when a spherical chunk of oak got lodged in a stream as he was moving it to his studio, the sculptor David Nash has documented its long riverine journey.”
via Soul Sides: ‘A reference for vinyl geeks and graphic artists. Ms Kavel Rafferty’s collection of company sleeves.’
In Italy there lives a fowl
they know as Rooster Death;
but mainly that’s because it has
such dreadful garlic breath.
So if you think your reputation’s
getting rather ghastly
then after meals be sure to eat
a little bunch of parsley.
via Martin Klasch: ‘Charles Weever Cushman… bequeathed approximately 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to his alma mater. The photographs in this collection bridge a thirty-two year span from 1938 to 1969’
The Thames east of London Bridge in 1965: check out all the cargo cranes. You can click on any of these Cushman pictures to see bigger versions.
Apr. 30, 1961 – Aldgate Huckster drawing a crowd. More goodness from the Cushman collection
Covent Garden market, 1961
Covent Garden market, 1961
A very soot-stained Westminster Abbey, 1965
Cotton queen in Sun Bowl Parade. El Paso. 1952
Sightseers at the Parthenon, 1965
Corner store near Galata Kulesi, Istanbul. 1965.
Because it’s Shakespeare’s birthday (probably), a poem inspired by a Shakespeherian bird reference:
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
Much Ado About Nothing, 3.ii.23-5
The winter flocks of round-winged lapwings
with their creaking, bubbling song
are sharing all the gossip gained
all summer long.
They spend the summer slyly lurking
in the tangled tussock-grass
and listening to every word
as people pass.
Now this is my kind of exhibition. I don’t what it is I find so appealing about the Northern Renaissance; obviously, artists like Dürer, Van Eyck and Breugel are among the all-time greats of European art, but I love it all: van der Weyden, Memling, Bosch, Holbein, and indeed the star of this show, Lucas Cranach the Elder.
I like the Italian stuff as well, but there’s something about these northern painters I can’t get enough of. Maybe, as someone with a soft spot for the medieval, it’s because the continuity with the medieval is in some ways more obvious in the north. Maybe it’s because I am myself northern European; maybe there really is a northern sensibility — a gothic sensibility, if you like — which runs a great deal deeper than one might imagine. Or not.
Whatever the reason for them, it’s amazing how much difference these preferences can make. The other day I went up to see the Cranach, but the ‘From Russia‘ exhibition was still running at the Royal Academy and the queues were horrendous, so I popped in to the Pompeo Batoni at the National instead. Batoni was an C18th Italian artist who did history paintings and portraits, many of them English aristos doing the Grand Tour. I didn’t bother to blog about it because I just found it so boring. In the Cranach, on the other hand, I liked every single work, even the ones were it didn’t seem like he was really trying.
And there are a few like that; apparently he was famous at the time as a quick man with a brush, the person to go to if you’d just built a new castle and needed a dozen paintings on assorted themes to brighten up the place. He had a big workshop and churned out lots and lots of work, including many repetitions of the same themes. Compare, for example, these portraits of Martin Luther, all in different galleries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Cranach was a friend of Luther’s, and as well as portraits of Luther he painted biblical scenes illustrating Protestant themes, illustrations for Luther’s German translation of the bible, and other Protestant propaganda material; yet that didn’t stop him taking commissions for prominent Catholics. There was a marvellous portrait of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg who was working on a Catholic version of the bible in German, painted as St Jerome, the man who translated the bible into Latin. He’s sitting in his suitably German-looking study, wearing his red cardinal’s robes, surrounded by animals, including a lion, a parrot, a squirrel and a family of pheasants.
And I don’t suppose Luther would have approved of the sexy pictures of naked, pot-bellied, weaselly-faced blonde girls, who all look the same whether they are supposed to be Lucretia, Eve or Venus. One of these features on the posters for the exhibition, and the National managed to gain a bit of free publicity when it was initially rejected by London Underground as being too racy for them.
As you can tell, I give the show a big thumbs-up. I just don’t understand why it should be so much less popular than ‘From Russia’. It’s just as well it was, though, because these are the kind of paintings you want to get right up to, and take in the details.
» The RA’s exhibition website is pretty rubbish, as usual. Both the paintings above featured in the exhibition but I got the images from Wikimedia Commons. The portrait of a Saxon princess (they know she’s a princess by what she’s wearing, but don’t know which one) is from the National Gallery in Washington. Adam and Eve are in the Courtauld in London.
One night a belligerent young baboon
decided he wanted to challenge the moon.
So he pointed his colourful arse at the sky
defying the moon until, bye and bye,
just as his legs were starting to ache
and his vertical bottom beginning to shake,
along came some clouds and the moon went in;
which he decided to count as a win.