Salvador Dalí: 2 works up for auction

Cropped image of Maison Pour Érotomane, one of the paintings by Salvador Dalí.

 Cropped image of Maison Pour Érotomane, one of the paintings by Salvador Dalí. Photograph: © Salvador Dali. Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali, DACS 2011

The Guardian reports that 2 important paintings by Spanish surrealist  Salvador Dalí , sold to Argentinian countess in 1930s, is up for auction. Countess de Cuevas de Vera, nicknamed Tota, who divided her time between Buenos Aires and France and became friends with many artists and cultural figures active in 1920s and 30s Paris, including Luis Buñuel, with whom she had an affair, as well as Dalí, Picasso, and Jean Cocteau (with whom she might or might not had affairs).

Both works are highly charged and packed with symbolism. The earliest, entitled Gradiva (1931), depicts a mythological figure and character from a 1903 novel by Wilhelm Jensen, in which a young archaeologist becomes obsessed by a female figure shown in a Roman bas-relief. It was a story used by Sigmund Freud as a study of the idealization of beauty and notions of love. Gradiva was also the nickname Dalí gave to his wife, Gala.

Gradiva, which Dalí painted in 1931.

Gradiva, which Dalí painted in 1931. Photograph: © Salvador Dali. Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali, DACS 2011

The other work is entitled Maison Pour Érotomane (1932), (House For Erotomaniac). By all appeance, it is a strange, hallucinatory, work which shows a cello, horse and car emerging from a rock. In the foreground is the artist himself and his wife Gala.

Bompard said the period when the two works were painted was a time when “Dalí became himself”.

Both of the paintings were acquired by the countess and passed through her family. Gradiva has been lent only once, to an exhibition in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the 1980s; Maison Pour Érotomane has not been seen publicly since the 1930s. Each artwork has an estimated value of between £1.2m and £1.8m and will appear at auction at Sotheby’s, London, on 28 February.

“These are the kind of painting that I do my job for,” said Thomas Bompard, head of the impressionist and modern art evening sale. “They are a rediscovery. The quality is A plus plus plus … when you first see them and have to give a price you feel absolutely privileged to be the one to bring these gems to the market for the first time.”

Well then, someone might get lucky and purchase one or both of these artworks…

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The Magic World of Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez

Starligh Room

Starlight Room

Discover a strange and fascinating world — the portfolio of a Spanish photographer Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez.
Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez 913The art of Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez should be divided into two categories — commercial and non-commercial. There is no point in dwelling on his advertising art and portraits. It’s the artist’s “photo manipulation and surrealism” series that is truly amazing.

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The first date // La primera cita

The first date // La primera cita

The source of Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez’s inspiration is the mystical works of his great countrymen Francisco Goya and Salvador Dali. Their influence is strikingly obvious in darkness, mystery and mystique of his works.Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez 2

Mi rascacielos / My skyscraper

Mi rascacielos / My skyscraper

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Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez makes his home in Palma de Mallorca. The vistas on his pictures, however, often photographed outside of Spain. 
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The unique combination of graphics and photography looks intriguing and quite fresh.

Intimate Dinner

Intimate Dinner

Eat Your Kandinsky

Here they are, side by side, W. Kandinsky’s Painting Number 201 and its edible recreation for the sake of science. The edible Kandinsky is a proof that if it looks good, smells good and arranged artfully, it might even taste good. Or you’d choose to eat this rather than an artless pile of chopped veggies on your plate. Or, if you really into Kandinsky, then you’ll eat it anyway and cry with joy.

The article in Flavour states that after painstaking research (and, perhaps, eating a few celery stalks too many) the researchers came to a groundbreaking conclusion:

 These results support the idea that presenting food in an aesthetically pleasing manner can enhance the experience of a dish. In particular, the use of artistic (visual) influences can enhance a diner’s rating of the flavour of a dish.It’s hard to judge how well the challenge has been met, since we can only observe the images of the “artistic visual presentation of food”.

And here’s an excerpt from the article Make your mealtimes more tasteful by , BioMed Central Update:

We love a challenge, so when Flavour published a paper showing that arranging a salad in the shape of a Kandinsky painting improved its taste, we were keen to have a go at making our own artistic meals. The press release about the paper included these images, and the story was covered by the BBC and CBC. Several major UK newspapers covered the research, including The Independent and The Telegraph, and The Guardian covered it in a news piece as well as their food blog.

The taste of food is impossible to judge by the look of it, but the result of the challenge is worthy of a look:

 

Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Dora Maar and edible Dora Maar.

Rene Magritt’s Decalcomania and its scrumptious version.

Edgar Degas’ Danseuse en robe rose and Degas-inspired edible dancer in pink dress.

Mark Rothko’s painting and its meal version.

Oh, my! I’m sure Mark Rothko would’ve chosen beluga caviar for that all-black area of his masterpiece, not a string of what looks like olives. Honestly, caviar or not, I’d prefer edible Rothko to any inedible No 13 any meal of a day.

What can I say, some artists — many artists, actually — depicted food items on their canvasses. You don’t need to be an artist to recreate some of them for your next meal. Mention what inspired you to impress your dinner companions.

Dali's Basket of Bread is easy on ingredients, props and artistry. Substitute white bread for whole grain to give a contemporary touch. Remember, in 1926 whole grain bread was an involuntary choice of lower classes.

Dali’s Basket of Bread is easy on ingredients, props and artistry. Substitute white bread for whole grain to give a contemporary touch. Remember, in 1926 whole grain bread was an involuntary choice of lower classes.

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Get your inspiration from Salvador Dali and serve lobster on a top of an old-fashioned telephone. Make sure it’s not a working phone, in case it rings and you’d be compelled to pick up a receiver.

Recreation of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s (1526 or 1527 – 1593) masterpieces from authentic edible ingredients could easily feed a wedding reception of 300 and, while your guests are chomping on Winter Portrait’s nose, they can get a free lesson in the 16th century Italian art.

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Suggestions for creative serving of eggs, courtesy of the great Salvador:

Salvador Dali GEOPOLITICAL CHILD AND NEW HUMAN

Salvador Dali GEOPOLITICAL CHILD AND NEW HUMAN

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Dali. Public Outdoor Sculptures in Portlligat Village at Girona, Catalonia, Spain

As the Anna Perman’s article suggests, we all love a challenge. Here’s my take on artfully tasteful mealtime:

To the left, is Kazimir Malevich’s famous Black Suprematic Square (1915). To the right,  is my own highly imaginative Malevich-inspired recreation, Max Square Black Dinner Plate, entree. Serves up to 12 art lovers in one sitting (2014).

She, who’d dare to ask for something to eat, will be served yesterday’s borscht and forever deemed lacking in art appreciation. On the other hand, god knows, my yesterday borscht might as well be inspired by an artwork…

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Abstract painting of unknown artist that inspires Ukrainian borscht.

Borscht  (also borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, borshch)

Borscht (also borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, borshch)

Terrific And Terrifying Art Of H. R. Giger. RIP

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Hans Rudolf Giger  died on Monday, in Zurich, from injuries suffered in a fall, according to the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, as reported to the AP. He was 74.

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Swiss artist H.R. Giger, seen here at his “Dreams and Visions” exhibition in 2011, died Monday after a fall in Zurich. Giger’s work includes designs for the 1979 film Alien.

While Giger is best known as a creator of surreal biomechanics an designer of scary creatures for movies, he was also a very skilled artist. Surrealism was  his passion. The artist’s imagination, it is said, was inspired by his dreams.   a

James Cowan, who published Giger’s art books for more than 20 years and has been his friend for just as many years, has this to say in the interview for All Things Considered:

“He would have nightmares, going through passages and tunnels and this sort of thing. And took his dreams and put them on paper.”

“It was his mother who gave him a postcard when he was a little boy of a [Salvador] Dali painting. And it just transfixed him.” 

“He has a place in the pantheon of great painters. No question about it. And if you go back to Salvador Dali and all the great masters of imaginative art, Giger’s right in there.” 

He merged sex, tech and legend; his themes were dark, but not his soul. H. R. Giger was a kind man, and a good friend to many. RIP.

"Giger's vision of a human skull encased in a machine appeared on the cover of Brain Salad Surgery, a 1973 album by the rock band Emerson.

“Giger’s vision of a human skull encased in a machine appeared on the cover of Brain Salad Surgery, a 1973 album by the rock band Emerson.

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Giger’s unique aesthetics also inspired a Giger Bar in Tokyo and in his hometown. 

Le Surrealizme At L’objet (Surrealism and the Object)

video-x15zhnxThe exhibition Le Surrealizme At L’objet (Surrealism and the Object) closed last month at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. Over the years, the Centre Pompidou devoted several event entirely to  Surrealism —  “Surrealist Revolution” (2002), “The Subversion of Images” (2009),  Salvador Dali and now “Surrealism and the Object”.  img_9779

To the extent that made some critics wonder — skeptics that they are — if the surrealist vein is not permanently exhausted by over-exposure. Isn’t the “surreal source” dried up by dint of being so often exhibited  at so many venues all over the world? Can the art lovers be lured again and again into the galleries to take yet another look at the creations of Breton’s band and its adepts?

The answer, apparently, is resounding yes.  The exhibition had a tantalizing premise…
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The idea of the Le Surrealizme At L’objet is to show the integral interaction, interconnection and interpretation of dream and sense, object in its real and physical form with the “sur” of its subconscious representation. In essence, it aims to show the inherent tension and the driving contradiction at the heart of heart of the movement.

Surrealism is rooted in the dream, the subconscious, the secret impulses, intimate, erotic, and then seems to deny reality. Indeed, surrealism favors a world “inside” at the expense of the sensibilities of the real world, as the founding manifesto, launched by André Breton, proclaims.

A hundred or so sculptures and around 40 photographs were brought together, including pieces by Miró, Arp, Dali, Calder, Ernst and more, to substantiate the exhibition’s attempts to follow the inroads surrealist movement. Brassaï. Involuntary sculpture. 1933.

The artwork selection includes the “repercussions of the movement’s ideas that still echo in the art of today” — the works by Cindy Sherman, Ed Rusha and Paul McCarthy. The bias towards ‘installations’ of the more contemporary work  is notable, since installations are “direct descendants” of the surrealist celebration of the object.

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Retrospective Bust of a Woman Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989) 1933. Painted porcelain, bread, corn, feathers, paint on paper, beads, ink stand, sand, and two pens.

René Magritte. This is a piece of cheese. 1936.

René Magritte. This is a piece of cheese. 1936.

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Image

Arnaud Labelle-Rojoux, “A Hands with the Devil” 2013.

Le Surrealisme at l'objet au Centre Pompidou.4

Giorgio de Chirico. Le Surrealisme at l’objet au Centre Pompidou

Hans Bellmer, ‘La Poupée’, 1933-1936 / Dist. RMN-GP Photo : Philippe Migeat, Centre Pompidou © Adagp, Paris 2013

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Salvador Dali, “Lobster Telephone,” 1938.

From Heaven To Hell

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Five centuries separates legendary Italian poet Dante (c. 1265–1321) and  celebrated poet and painter William Blake (1757–1827).

BLAKEIn 1826, William Blake was 65 and in poor health. That year he received a commission to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Blake started the project with great enthusiasm — his worldview resonated with Dante’s rejection of materialism and contempt of the way power corrupts humanity and morality.

Fate, however, was unkind to William Blake. He died months later, befallen by gallbladder illness, while the project was far from completion. Blake worked on the project, quite literary, on his dying day and produced 102 drawings. Some paintings were merely sketches while others — fully developed watercolors.

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The Divine Comedy drawings were never published. Eventually, in 1918, after many travails and changing hands, the paintings were sold at an auction and ended up scattered across galleries in UK, Australia and the United States.blake

All 102 plates were collected in a fabulous volume William Blake’s Divine Comedy Illustrations.

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Salvador Dalí, illustrated several works of classical literature: Don Quixote in 1946, the essays of Montaigne in 1947, Alice in Wonderland in 1969, and Romeo and Juliet in 1975.

In 1957, Dalí was at the height of his fame. More than a century after William Blake had done the same,  Salvador Dalí began working on a series of 100 paintings based on The Divine Comedy. The project was commissioned by the Italian government.

dali

Dalí agreed to complete the artwork in eight years. Then, according to a plan, it should have been released as limited-edition prints dedicated to the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth.

What was to follow alarmed and amazed the art and literary world: the Italian government pulled out of the project. It reacted to the public outcry — Italians were unhappy that the legacy of their national treasure, Dante Alighieri, had been entrusted to a Spaniard. Defiant, Dalí continued the project on his own. The series was completed in 1964.

dali_divinecomedy9

Two engravers spent five years hand-carving 3,500 wooden blocks to be used for reproductions of Dalí’s paintings.

The series was never published as an official English edition of the classic book, much to a great disappointment of everyone who expected for a book arrival. The reproductions of the individual paintings can still be purchased online — often for outrageous prices — and found in an obscure out-of-print book released by the Park West Gallery in 1993.

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Salvador And Alice

Dali with cats. Photographer Philippe Halsman. (No photoshop)

Dali with cats. Photographer Philippe Halsman. (No photoshop)

In 1969,  Book of the Month Club gave its readers a gift of purchasing   Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll illustrated by Salvador Dali. The artist wholeheartedly approved the book and its publication. Have you seen it before? I haven’t.

With the original gouaches published by Maecenas Press-Random House, New York in 1969, the suite now contains 12 heliogravures — one for each chapter of the book — and comes with 1 original signed etching in 4 colors as the frontpiece.

And yes, the Mad Tea Party has melted clock in it.

I love Dali. I admire his talent and a great number of his paintings. I am and forever will be baffled by Alice and her adventures. However, I don’t particularly like the suite of Dali’s illustrations of Alice, and I have a courage to confess it. My suspicion is that these works were rather accidental, done either in jest or in a hurry. Perhaps, even Dali was surprised that these works were taken seriously…

On the other hand, maybe I’m simply incapable of becoming anyone artist’s “devout fan”. Devotion requires unconditional, unrequited, blind adoration. Everything goes: artist’s work, artist’s belongings (underwear is the best, I hear), artist’s “excretions” of any kind — social media is the great depository, too bad Dali didn’t live to experience it.

I‘ll stop blabbering. If you haven’t seen the illustrations, here they are. If you’ve seen them and liked them, then enjoy them again. Or don’t…

Alice

Alice’s Evidence

Run around

The Pool of Tears

Tea party

Mad Tea Party. Noticed the “melted clock”?

Advice From a Caterpillar

Advice From a Caterpillar

Bill

A Caucus Race and a Long Tale

Down the rabbit hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

Quadrille

The Lobster’s Quadrille

Royal Croquette

The Queen’s Croquet Ground.

Who stole?

Who Stole the Tarts?

Pepper

Pig and Pepper

Turtle

The Mock Turtle’s Story

Advise

The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

Book Cover

Alice Frontispiece

Little Butt Music From Hell

boschHieronymus Bosch, (appr. 1450 — 1516) an Early Netherlandish painter, in various accounts was “the inventor of monsters and chimeras”  and his works as comprising “wondrous and strange fantasies often less pleasant than gruesome to look at.” It was believed that Bosch’s art was inspired by medieval heresies and obscure hermetic practices.

These days, however, Bosch often seen as a prototype medieval surrealist, and compared to Salvador Dali. That is why I love them both.

The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of Bosch’s most famous works. It is a triptych with Adam and Eve in paradise on the left panel.

The triptych’s central panel is either (a) a fair warning that such unabashed debauchery won’t do you any good or (b) a dreamy delight in earthly pleasures of paradise lost — a wishful thinking.

Wikipedia article quotes American writer Peter S. Beagle who sees it as an “erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty”.  Disagree about “us, voyeurs”. It’s either “him, voyeur” or “them, voyeurs” — I respectfully abstain from being included. Perfect liberty? Perhaps. Be it thus.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights, Oil-on-wood panels, 220 x 389 cm, Museo del Prado in Madrid

To be fully appreciated, The Garden of Earthly Delights certainly needs to be viewed on large scale. Much larger than this:

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Central Panel

Let’s disregard “erotic derangement” of the center panel, with it’s  “broad panorama of socially engaged nude figures” and turn our attention to Hell — the right panel. It depicts the torments of damnation, vestiges of god-awful hellscape.

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Fascinating as All Hell might be, the subject of this post is but a  small detail of the panel.

Fragment of Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

Fragment of Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

One the torments, offered a la carte in Bosch’s hell, is torture by music. Anyone whose senses were subjected to the offensive sounds of music one strongly despised, could attest to experiencing hell, Hell or HELL.

It seems that no one was paying close attention to the music, written on the damned rascal’s bottom, until recently. Here is how the butt music from Bosch’s Hell sounds:

And below is a video clip — widely available on YouTube but little heard — of the “hellish” melody’s musical arrangement .  Sounds a bit “new-agey” to my taste. The triptych, let’s be reminded,  is dating from between 1490 and 1510. Something old, something new… music from hell, Hell or HELL?

Genius Under Influence, Or Postcards From The Trip

It is impossible to imagine a history of modern and contemporary literature without such glorious drug users figures as English essayist Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, French poet Charles Baudelaire’s Paradis Artificiels (Artificial Paradises), American writer William Burroughs, German writer Ernst Jünger

Jack Kerouac wrote his masterpiece On the Road while popping amphetamines non-stop for several days.

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same,” said Carlos Castaneda. We pretty much know what Carlos did from his The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and other books. He learned the use of hallucinogenic plants–peyote, jimsonweed, and a mushroom possibly containing psilocybinturned, turned into a crow, flew, fought with a diablera for his soul and such. Whether Carlos ate too many mushrooms or his books were a smart literary hoax is open to debate.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, sang the Beatles.  The  initials of the song’s title spell out what? LSD, right?

Stephen King spent most of the Eighties on an extended drug and alcohol binge.

Jean-Michel Basquiat needed heroin to draw or paint. But it is also worth remembering that it killed him.

Lee Child

Lee Child

And now yet another revelation. Lee Child, a famous British thriller writer, whose Jack Reacher novels are so successful that one is sold every two seconds, admits to his lifetime use of cannabis and the fact that he always writes while high on cannabis and hungry. The article’s title is pretty telling:  I’ve smoked cannabis five nights a week for 44 years and my dealer’s on speed dial’: Shock confession by bestselling thriller writer Lee Child. One of the readers commented that Mr. Child must’ve been smoking something stronger than marijuana to agree that Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher.  But that’s beside the point.

Austrian painter Arnulf Rainer used to draw under the influence of mescaline, LSD, psilocybin, and hypnosis. 

Arnulf Rainer

Arnulf Rainer

To me — a forsworn art non-cognoscenti  — the artwork above (crayon on photo) looks exactly what it is — a good photograph obliterated beyond redemption by someone  overcome by psychotic rage. But then again, perhaps this piece of art is best viewed from within a trip. Still, would such experience be even worth a trip?

“The smell of opium is the most intelligent of all odors,” Pablo Picasso said to his fellow addict,  Jean Cocteau. I hope I’m not the only one out there who wouldn’t know.

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol

The poster above clearly suggests Salvador Dali was clean and sober most of the time, but perpetually high on himself. It seems that he never took LSD or other drugs for inspiration, but he did say, “Everyone should eat hashish, but only once.” Hashish can trigger hallucinations. God knows, Dali behaved in most bizarre ways most of the time, although he declared he did not use drugs. It must’ve been something else entirely that helped him release all that exuberance and creative energy…

Absinthe, cannabis, LSD or heroin… It certainly looks like a great number of humanity’s creative geniuses produced their greatest work as mind-altering substances did theirs. So then, is the oft-repeated hypothesis that various drugs liberate the creative powers by taking away inhibitions and stimulating artist’s minds  are all true?

UNDER THE INFLUENCE: TRACING A LONG, TWISTED HISTORY OF ARTISTS AND THEIR DRUGS

A Paris exhibit tries to connects the dots. The Maison Rouge’s exhibition is the first foundation or museum to talk of art and drugs in such detail. It’s entitled  Under the Influence  and subtitled  Artists and Psychoactive Drugs. About 250 works of 91 artists are on view. Many famous artists are represented: Francis Picabia, Hans Bellmer, Jean Cocteau, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Gary Hill, Markus Raetz, and many others who aren’t quite as famous. The emphasis is  contemporary art and the emphasis is mostly on illegal drugs.

The catalog of the exhibit does its best to explain the difference between calming psycholeptics (opium, morphine, heroin), stimulating psychoanaleptics (cocaine, crack, amphetamines) and hallucinogens (defined as cannabis and LSD). Nice. Not everyone knows, regardless of exposure and experience.  Still, some viewers complained it was easy getting lost in the show and keep track who was using what to produce this or that.

A notable, colorful and quite peculiar contributions comes from U.S. performance artist  Bryan Lewis Saunders. He has produced a series of self-portraits under the influence of various substances, including prescription drugs, marijuana, valium, cough syrup and bath salts.

“After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of the self. So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence…” 

It would be most enlightening if Lee Child shared his “visuals” and compare them with Bryan Saunders depiction of marijuana

G13 Marijuana

G13 Marijuana

If you haven’t seen the images or want to refresh your memory (either of Mr. Saunders’ work or your own “under the influence” impressions), take a look at all of them here: Artist Takes Every Drug Known to Man, Draws Self Portraits After Each Use.

Under the Influence exhibit doesn’t give us any answers to the  life’s persistent question  To do or not to do drugs if one has creative aspirations. It only exhibits works of artists under the influence.

As for Mr. Sounders’ excellent adventures with substances: as much as the world might be amused by his experiments, he might not live long enough to have much time basking in a glory of humankind’s appreciation of his sacrifice. 

Now let’s all go and do something creative. 

Smile!

 

Lost In The Last List, Amused Not In The Least

No two people on earth would agree on the world’s Top 200 Artists (20th Century to Now) or, indeed, the order in which they are ranked.

I don’t believe there was newer poll like the one that was conducted by The Times in 2009.  I haven’t seen it then, otherwise I’d remember. The entire list from 1 to 200 can be seen here complete with the numbers, indicating how many ballots were cast for each artist in the list.

The list is as bewildering to me as it has been, according to many forums, for many who are familiar with it or participated in the poll. The number in parenthesis following the name means the artist’s ranking in the list of 200.

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When artist studies painting for many years and claims having been capable of re-creating Flemish masters and the greats of the Renaissance and then creates works like those in the slideshow above, then from the depth of my ignorance, confusion, lack of ability to discern the cut diamond in the mud, I say to myself this (or something similar to it):

Wouldn’t it be the same as if the brain surgeon who mastered the most delicate flesh-cutting implements suddenly approaches operating table wielding a sledge hammer and a carving knife? (quoting myself).

I test-drove this phenomenally bold phrase of mine, crashing it head-on onto several of my friends and got rebuffed as you wouldn’t believe. As an aftermath, I’m rethinking my public position in favor of using less inflammatory similes and metaphors. Still, I retain my right to keep some of my less radical opinions and express them freely.

All right. Enough with insincere apologies.

Granted, I’m no art historian, art theorist or even art therapist. But I’m art lover. With credentials of setting foot into the greatest repositories of arts such  as Hermitage (Saint Petersburg), Louvre (Paris), Museo Nacional del Prado, The Uffizi Gallery (Florence) to name a few.  I simply love “pretty pictures”, literary and metaphorically speaking.

If I were an art historian, perhaps I’d have looked at the paintings differently. My changed perspective would’ve changed my perception. Instead of the mess on the canvas below (Arshile Gorky, ranked 57th on the list) I’d be able to see how and why it is said that Arshile Gorky  “lit the way for two generations of American artists”.

Arshile Gorky (57). Agony

Arshile Gorky (57). Agony

Tragic life of an artist adds a nice touch to the marketing effort, I suppose. And — God Almighty! — Arshile’s lived a horrendously tragic life.  “…his works were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss he experienced of the Armenian Genocide.

No kidding. It wasn’t for nothing that Vosdanig Manoug Atoian changed his last name to Gorky. In Russian gorkiy means bitter, relating both to taste and hardship. He was 16 in 1915 when his family escaped the Armenian Genocide into Yerevan, then Russian-controlled territory, where his mother died in 1919 of starvation. Years later, quite established artist working in the US, he hanged himself at the age of 44, following a colostomy for cancer, a broken neck  and his painting arm paralyzed in a car accident, his wife leaving him and taking their children with her, and his  studio barn burning down. What a goddamn fate! Of course “his works have been informed by the suffering…”

The Number One in the list is Pablo Picasso with 21,587 art lovers giving their loving votes of admiration to him. My personal favorite, Salvador Dalí (11,496 votes) is number 26.

Well, if I were an art theorist, I’d remember by heart this quote I cribbed from the Internet somewhere:

“Dalí challenged the imagination of his age by deconstructing classical imagery and reassembling it with the symbolic imagery of the subconscious. The modernists and later Picasso deconstructed traditional imagery and left nothing but chaos in its place.”

Dalí would’ve agreed, I’m sure. He wasn’t — just as I’m not — a great admirer of Picasso. Whatever Salvador might’ve thought of Pablo, this is how he depicted him in Portrait of Picasso, in the collection of the great Teatru-Museu Dali in Figueres, Spain. picasso dali self

In Portrait of Picasso, in the collection of the great Teatru-Museu Dali in Figueres, Spain, Dali respectfully places his hapless subject on a pedestal, though the carnation might be what one places on a tombstone! The ambivalence and paradox continue: the lute in the elongated spoon, which extends from Picasso’s brain, is said to be “the symbol of the lover,” according to one authority, yet the rock on Picasso’s head, his drooping tongue and chest, and the overall deformity of his facial characteristics seem anything but flattering.

It is undoubtedly one of the most sardonic yet amusing creations to come from the wildly imaginative, sometimes iconoclastic mind of the Master of Surrealism! (From Portrait of Picasso’ Shows Dali’s Sardonic Side )

And an anecdote to go with it: One day Pablo Picasso walked on a thief who was robbing his apartment. Spooked, the robber ran away.  The police wanted a sketch artist to create a facial composite of the perpetrator, but Picasso offered to draw it himself. Based on Picasso’s sketch, the following lookalikes were detained for questioning: fifteen people, two horses, four buses, one utility pole, a plate of fried fish and a chain saw. 

To be continued…