Posts Tagged ‘The Highwaymen’

Blackpaint 202

October 4, 2010

Michelangelo’s serpent

Looking at the Sistine ceiling version of the Adam, Eve and serpent story (the section in which Eve appears to have been engaging in oral sex), I see that M. represented the serpent as a woman.  Incredibly, I have only just noticed this.  It appears from a perfunctory check on Google that this is the case with other versions of the story; artists show the serpent either as a snake, or as a serpent- or lizard-like female.  In the Hugo van der Goes version, it’s true, the lizard thing looks to me a bit like Max Wall, but the artist was clearly going for female.

Why is this?  Presumably,  it reflects the misogyny of the Early Church – and the artists – but I would have thought a predatory male serpent would be more appropriate for the seduction and suborning of Eve.  As to Michelangelo’s treatment, what is Adam doing there anyway?  Well, we know what he’s been doing – see above – but he’s definitely not there with Eve and the serpent in Genesis; if they were both there, the serpent’s job would have been that much harder and Eve wouldn’t have had the opportunity to corrupt Adam and the sexual politics of the whole thing would be much more complicated.  The Genesis story is nice and simple; serpent (sexless or male in sense of being phallic) corrupts Eve; Eve corrupts Adam.  Men beware women – they are weak and a corrupting force, given half a chance.

Milton and Genesis

In Paradise Lost, the serpent’s body is “occupied” by Satan for the purpose of seducing Eve, and Milton refers to the creature as “he” throughout.  The serpent is also “he” in Genesis, but there is no identification with Satan; the serpent is merely “more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made”.

Job

While I’m on the subject, Satan in the book of Job is clearly not the Devil but a trusted servant of God, who is sent to arrange the trials of Job on the instructions of the deity.  Not sure where or how the two – devil and Satan – became fused.

Angels

I have three favourite depictions:

1.  Giotto’s “Lamentation of Christ”, in which the angels in the sky look as if they are doing “grief”  in an acting class;

2.  Fra Angelico’s “the Annunciation”, in which the angel (Gabriel, was it?) has a lovely pair of butterfly- like wings, red, black, grey and cream, and

3.  Carlo di Braccesco, another “Annunciation”, in which the angel body surfs through the sky on a board, with a long-stalked flower, a lily I think, over his (its?) shoulder.

Listened to Angels Love Bad Men, by the Highwaymen.

“Angels love bad men, that’s how it’s always been,

They give their whole hearts when they fall;

Angels love bad men, that’s how it’s always been,

Love pins their hearts against the wall.”

Poor Tom (again, but I like it) by Blackpaint

4/10/10

Blackpaint 189

September 8, 2010

Michelangelo

Vasari points out that the figure of Jonah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is actually leaning backwards, against the direction of the vault on which it is painted, giving the trompe l’oeil effect by means of foreshortening.  Amazing, when you consider the difficulty of painting quickly, onto wet plaster, big drop below from the rickety scaffolding, looking upwards, one hand stretched and working above his head, paint dripping back into his face and eyes.  This is how he sketched himself at work, not lying on his back as in the film.  How could he have done it, without checking it from a distance to make sure the proportions were right?  (imagine, do a leg, down the ladders to check, shit, too short – up again to change it quick before it dries – shit, too late). 

Presumably, he’d sketched it out on paper or linen (?) and pricked it, held against the curve of the vault – couldn’t have done it without pre-prepared sketches, surely.

The St.Ives Artists by Michael Bird, Lund Humphries 2008

Didn’t credit this great book properly the other day, when I repeated the Terry Frost pissing story (Barbara Hepworth rang a little bell when she wanted her labourers to make themselves scarce).  It’s full of other stories about this remarkable wild bunch – Lanyon punching other artists out, trying – allegedly –  to run down Sven Berlin in his car – but is also great on the movement, if it could be so called, in general and its links to the US Ab Exes and European Abstractionists and Tachistes.  My advice is to buy it immediately.  No, I am not Michael Bird, nor do I know him.

Fiona Rae and Ernst Wilhelm Nay 

Latest in “slightly like” series: actually, think I’ve compared FR to someone else before – anyway, check out her “Untitled (yellow with circles I)”; very like many Nays, in her use of sweeps and circles.  Hers look like 45 rpm singles, his are usually painted discs.  Superficial, and hardly worth a mention – but take a look at both on Google, if only to see how wrong I am; that will be worth it.

Black Prints by Blackpaint

Listening to The Welfare Line, by the Highwaymen;

“So pass around the bottle, boys, let’s talk about old times,

Night’s closing in, it’s cold as sin,

Here on the welfare line”.