Blackpaint 8

Madonna and Child

On the subject of abstract painting and giving titles based on vague resemblances to things in the “real” world:  I did a painting a while back, which, although abstract, bore a strong likeness (I thought) to a hare with a hole blasted in its guts, hanging up to age, awaiting the pot.

A prospective buyer, looking it over, said “I like that one; it’s a Madonna and Child, isn’t it?”  She had interpreted the large orange round shape in the middle, my buckshot wound, as the child’s head.  I was honest; no sale ensued.  Maybe if I’d agreed..

I noticed recently at the National Gallery that there are some decidedly dodgy bits to some of the most renowned paintings.  I’m thinking particularly of the Vendramin Family by Titian; the children depicted seem to me to be really badly painted, compared with the wonderful depiction of the adults – presumably the man himself did the adults and some apprentice did the children.  Same painter, Rest on the Flight into Egypt; correct me if I’m wrong but Joseph’s head is too big, surely? 

Generally, there are some extremely odd- looking babies on show in Renaissance and pre-Renaissance paintings; most of them look like little old men, and one, by Catena I think, has a head like a cannonball.  Lions are strange too; St.Jerome is usually depicted with a lion wandering around or sleeping in his (Jerome’s) study and none of them look right.  Especially the eyes- they look like human eyes, especially one by Durer.  Compare them with the fabulous Assyrian reliefs in the British Museum

I suppose the dodgy lions are explained by lack of familiarity; but what about the babies?  Probably showing my lack of education here – I expect several art historians have written papers on just this point.

I’ve just finished reading Ferlinghetti’s great poem “Autobiography”; echoes of Whitman, Eliot’s Prufrock, Bob Dylan, de Chirico and Joni Mitchell!  I was struck by how much the Beat poets, Corso, Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg remind me of the English poets in the Penguin “Poetry of the Thirties”, particularly O’Connor, Caudwell et al.

Listening to: “The Sun is Shining” by Elmore James and “Lowlands” trad., sung by Anne Briggs.

“The sun is shining, although it’s raining in my heart, (*2)

You know I love you baby,

But the best of friends must part.”


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