This claim, or assertion, allows the curators to present a coherent and persuasive narrative. Modern Art is about love and desire. Therefore women artists are central to Modern Art. Or: If love and desire are the core subject of Modernism, then women artists, who focused on love and desire, must be central to Modernism. And the way the same theme and subject — love, sex and the generally female body — is repeated on all the wall labels and is exemplified again and again in the artworks also contributes to this sense of a huge transcontinental network of artists, sculptors and writers all inspired by the same theme.
This strikes me as being very neat, very convenient and not completely true, for one very big reason. I was taught that T. The City of Ambitions by Alfred Stieglitz. Courtesy of the George Eastman Museum. They have nothing — visually or intellectually — to do with love and desire. Room 20, devoted to Russian Modernism, describes the artistic output of Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Lilya Brk and Osip Brik, and Vladimir Mayakovsky mainly in terms of their fluid relationships and collaborations i.
What is underplayed is the crucial importance of The Machine Age to their development of new styles of photography and photomontage, design, experimental film and so on — radical responses to the impact of new technologies on human life which were so acute and perceptive that many of them still influence us to this day. Rodchenko and V. Stepanova descending from an airplane in a still for the film The General Line by Sergei Eisenstein A very rare appearance of a machine in an exhibition overwhelmingly devoted to bodies and desire.
Courtesy Rodchenko and Stepanova Archives, Moscow. For me, this is simply to ignore, underplay and obscure a vital element in early 20th century avant-garde modernist art and literature. An exhibition which ostensibly sets out to tell us that women were interested in more than just the stereotypical concerns of love and sex they were also successful businesswomen and designers , paradoxically goes to great lengths to tell us in sometimes embarrassing detail about the love lives, partners and sensuality and eroticism of these same women.
No, with a handful of exceptions, most of the women in this exhibition are described as being predominantly interested — in their lives and art and writing — in love and sex. Oooh er. It is difficult to read every word of all the wall labels, not only because there are so many of them, but also because so many of them end up saying the same thing. It is, in my opinion, both a narrow view of Modern Art, and a very narrow view of the female, lesbian and gay achievement of the time, both in the art world and beyond.
The two floors of the Barbican Gallery have been divided up into some 23 small rooms, into most of which have been crammed displays about at least two sets of couples, with each couple introduced and explained by sometimes lengthy texts on the wall, as well as scores and scores of key quotes from the respective artists and authors.
Nude with Poppies by Vanessa Bell. Swindon Art Gallery. For when the curators had collated this much information about this many people and assembled this many works all in one place — it turns to be an interesting exercise to detect all kinds of further links and connections between the huge diversity of artists, activities or artworks on show.
Thus the free handout suggests that, as you walk round the exhibition, you look out for the following themes:. A self-portrait by Claude Cahun, subverting gender stereotypes. Courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collections. This is what the exhibition is like. Overflowing with texts, quotes, references, biographical data, artistic theory and, underpinning it all, emerging sooner or later in every wall label for every artist — the axioms of modern identity politics and feminism — gender politics, the body, gender fluidity, transgressive art, gender equality, and so on.
I counted a total of paragraphs of wall text — sometimes very long, densely factual paragraphs. Les deux amies by Tamara de Lempicka. Association des Amis du Petit Palais, Geneve. In the event, this was simply too much for me to take in. The second point is that among the paintings, books, photos and furniture on display there are some real masterpieces , many on loan from abroad, and so a rare opportunity to see many beautiful things in the flesh.
In this respect — my response to the art — I found the smaller, more cramped rooms to be unconducive to aesthetic enjoyment. But it was so small, cramped and crowded that it felt more like a reading and learning space, than an art space. He claimed to be the sole designer of this classic and hugely influential chair. Only decades later did it emerge that she had as least as much input as he did into the design. What a beast! Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe There were plenty of other highlights, but I would single out rooms 14, 15 and The wall labels quote letters they exchanged in which they spoke of becoming, literally, one person, with one taste and one artistic motivation.
I found the juxtaposition of the sculptural abstractions of Nicholson and Hepworth with the playful abstracts of Arp really interesting. These possessed something almost nothing else in the exhibition did — which was charm and humour. Marionettes by Sophie Taeuber-Arp This married couple developed a movement variously titled Simultanism and then Orphism, in which different patterns of colours are set against each other to create disruptive effects.
The Delaunay room benefited immensely from being just about them, with no other couple squeezed in.
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It had more than twenty works hung around the walls, most of them — from what I could see — the calm, restful abstract designs by Sonia, mostly for fabrics and dresses. This made for a really absorbing and beautiful space. Design B53 by Sonia Delaunay. This foursome produced German Expressionist paintings of wonderful colour and vivid design at their self-styled artist colony at Murnau in Bavaria, in the years just before the Great War.
But I switched off all that curatorial chatter, and just stood in awe of these wonderful, beautiful, transcendent works of art. No reproductions can do justice to the shiny vibrancy of the real thing in the flesh. Go and see them for yourself. It must have taken an immense amount of effort by the four co-curators to bring together such an epic collection of objects and art works and to bring order, coherence and meaning to the multiple stories behind them.
If you are a feminist I can see how this exhibition of feminist artists lovingly assembled by feminist curators with scores of texts by feminist scholars would thunderingly confirm all your feminist beliefs. Most of the people the exhibition is targeted at will, I suspect, have heard of Virginia Woolf before, and will know she had a lesbian affair with Vita Sackville-West. My position, after forty years of studying twentieth century art, literature and history, is that the Century of Catastrophes is too diverse and complex to be reduced to any one narrative or interpretation.
For example, this is an exhibition, at bottom, about European and American white women, often very wealthy women Nancy Cunard, Natalie Barney. You could be forgiven for not realising there were things called the First World War and the Russian Revolution during the period the exhibition covers. In fact, now I think about it, jazz is a crashingly obvious and central element of Modernism, from Stravinsky to Eliot, and is depicted in countless modernist art works. The curators make a powerful and persuasive case that Modernism was characterised above all by new thinking about love, eroticism, desire and relationships, much of which promoted the liberation of women and trans people and gays.
And the entire intellectual world was galvanised by the radicalism of the Russian Revolution. Too much was happening. No wonder the art from this period is so excited and effervescent. That there are numerous ways of looking at this period of cultural history. For example, arguably the most important aspect of the era was the collapse of the old European empires — the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman Empires. The entire art of the period could be interpreted in terms of the breakdown of the ideologies, laws and customs which supported them, of which conventions about relations between the sexes are just a small sub-set.
Vide Nancy Cunard, Natalie Barney and the numerous other rich American women who populate the s lesbian room. This exhibition is an impressive and stimulating attempt to write one particular story about early twentieth century art. But it is only one interpretation among a sea of alternative stories. No, I explained. They mean art and literature which is over a hundred years old.
Eventually this stuff is going to be years old. At what point will someone have to come up with a better name? Pablo Picasso. You might just have heard of him, since he is probably the most famous artist of the twentieth century. In Picasso turned Picasso was the most famous living artist. Yet he was restless. Some critics wondered whether Picasso was finished, a man of the past. He consciously set out to prove them wrong, with the result that marks an explosion of creativity and a restless set of experiments in oil painting, sculpture and drawing.
Women are his subject. Or rather, single women. A woman in a chair. Sleeping woman. Woman reflected in a mirror. Or a man saving a woman from drowning. Or women lying around while being serenaded by fauns. But at the imaginative core of the work is one woman. The obsessive repetition of the same woman, sleeping or sitting in a chair makes the visitor wonder whether there was some kind of a trade-off — that Picasso had to limit his subject matter to the tiny world of the studio, and his one, central muse figure — blanking out the entirety of the roaring, industrial, political, urban world of , rejecting every visual thing in the universe except his blonde lover and a few studio props — in order to be imaginatively free to submit it to so many fantastic and brilliant variations.
Each room is dedicated to a month or two, and the audioguide zeroes in on pictures often painted on a specific, named day. Reclining Nude by Pablo Picasso. One way to approach them is via the room devoted to some of the black-and-white charcoal drawings on canvas which Picasso made throughout The commentary very usefully pointed out that the sweeping lines, the curves and arabesques of the charcoal lines, are like a preparation for the paintings. For in the paintings, the scholars tell us there was little if any preparation.
Picasso rarely painted from life — he started from memory and imagination and created shapes and patterns by great sweeping curves of his hand. His habit was to mark out shapes and patterns in black paint and, once he was happy with the composition, to fill in the shape with colour, but quite happy to leave both elements black lines and colour unfinished, rasping the paint, letting undercolours or even blank canvas show through. All of the paintings here benefited from looking at close up to see this technique up close.
Colouring and setting varied a little, but the fundamental idea of the defining black line almost, at times, the thick black line of a cartoon is always paramount. Either angle gives the opportunity for lengthy discussions of either his private life, or the long tradition of painting women in Western art. But when I look at this picture the first thing I notice is the dark blue patterned wallpaper and then the orange frame of the mirror, in other words the overall design of the composition, long before I notice the broad-nosed sleeping blonde with her ripe-apple boobs.
And after processing her shape and curves, it is to the extraordinarily deep blue of the backdrop that my eyes returns. The subject may be a female nude, it may be his hushed-up mistress, she may be passively sleeping and yet reflected, in a semi-surreal way, by the mirror. It is a decorative object, whose subject you can almost ignore, if you will. But there was another, very different style — characterised by uncomfortable angles, distortions, harsh straight lines and geometric interactions. There are quite a few of them here and they feel completely different to the soft curvy sleeping blondes.
The most striking instances are a sequence of smaller works he made which are all variations on the idea of a woman sunbathing — but not a woman as you or I might conceive the subject. Woman on the Beach by Pablo Picasso. But I think this rather typical obsession with sex and the body on the part of critic and seller is missing the more obvious point — which is the entire conceptualisation of the human figure which has, in a work like this, become fantastically stylised.
In the strange combination of the zoomorphic i. The closest he comes to pure abstraction is in the works of his third style, which kept reminding me of the drawings and sculptures of Henry Moore. In both the styles identified above — curvy and angular — the image is essentially flat. The Crucifixion, from the Isenheim Altarpiece circa The commentary goes heavy on the religious subject matter, but what struck me was how Picasso recast almost all his versions by breaking down the human figure into a sequence of Henry Moore-style blobs and craws.
The Crucifixion by Pablo Picasso. It was very much a style of the age. But on the evidence of all these works it does look as if, when Picasso thought of depth and perspective, everything turned into shaded, blobby shapes. There are many more themes and subjects.
It is, ultimately a staggering and exhausting exhibition. How did he manage to think and see and create so many different things in one short year? Picasso was very careful in which works he chose to include in it and, most strikingly, he mixed them all up, eschewing chronological order in order to create a solid wall of art, all of it as relevant as any other. Notice the Roman nose — I wonder who this could be a bust of? Bust of a Woman by Pablo Picasso.
During the illness she lost most of her iconic blonde hair. The result in his art was a series of paintings, large and small, showing the rescue of a drowning woman by a man — all heavily stylised.
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And who is the third figure at bottom right — a passing swimmer or a siren reaching out to drown the unwary? And note the scrappier use of colour — in the earlier sleeping woman pictures the colours tended to be uniform within each section demarcated by a solid black line- — in these last paintings the colours are more blotched and varied within each section. The Rescue by Pablo Picasso. Here, in the last room, the commentary leads off into a load of history, explaining that only a month or so later, in January , Herr Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, and it was only 3 years later that General Franco rebelled against the Republican government of Spain, triggering the brutal Spanish Civil War.
And then World War Tow. And the Holocaust. And the atom bomb. Guernica was still seven years off and even then it is a thing of primitive people and horse. Anyway, I had never seen any of the works in this room before so, in some ways, found it the most rewarding room of the exhibition. The many variations on The Rescue, although mostly done in the big, cartoony, boldly coloured style of the previous rooms, were nonetheless haunting and powerful.
The Rescue by Pablo Picasso To just stand in front of a work and be awed and puzzled and confused and absorbed and transported. These images appear suddenly, as in flashes — outlined against the background of the night, like scarlet paintings executed upon ebony. Saint Anthony a. Rumours and legends spread about his simple life and holiness, and soon he gained a following. He is known to posterity because his contemporary, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, wrote a long biography of him. For many years Anthony was credited as the founded of monasticism i.
In more modern times the Temptation was painted by Max Ernst and Salvador Dali, and was the subject of a symphony by the German composer Paul Hindemith In other words, alongside his painstaking attention to the detail of contemporary life, Flaubert was also fascinated and inspired by a wide range of historical and fantastical subjects. He had a long-running interest in the ancient world of the Mediterranean an interest fuelled by his visits to Tunisia and Egypt and a lifelong fascination with religion, all religions, ranging as far afield as Buddhism and Hinduism.
Inner right wing of the Isenheim Altarpiece depicting the Temptation of St. Personally, I find the history of the late Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity and the efflorescence of its countless heresies, absolutely riveting. I think the reason I like the history of the actual heresies — all those gnostics and Arians, the Adamites, Marcionians, Nicolaitans, Paternians, Archonites and so on — is that they are interesting in themselves, and they really mattered.
There were riots, insurrections, people fought to the death about these beliefs and — arguably — the weakness of the Church in North Africa after centuries of bitter sectarian fighting made it easy for militant Islam to sweep across the region in the 7th century. This was of world-historical importance.
And the arcane Christological heresies of the 3rd or 4th centuries AD are interesting in themselves as thought-provoking explorations of the potential of Christian theology — was Christ a man? Which half was which? Did God speak through him or were his words his own? Has the Son existed for all time, like God, or was he created at some later date i. And how does the Holy Spirit fit into each of these scenarios? There is no sense of risk in their work. Even the primevally wicked Mr Hyde only in fact murders one person.
The worst thing most of these writers did, in practice, was sleep around and get drunk a lot. In a sense the twentieth century made much 19th century literature redundant. The First World War went a long way towards and then the Second World War, the Holocaust and the atom bomb, completed the work of redefining forever the meaning of evil, despair, horror. This is the reason I find the novels of Graham Greene , and their enormous obsession with the sinfulness or damnation of just one person, rather ludicrous.
Also, no-one believes in Christianity any more. Not in a literal hell and damnation, not like they used to. In the Middle Ages the idea of damnation really mattered, psychologically: in Chaucer and Dante it is a real place, with real fire, and real demons skewering your tortured body.
By the nineteenth century, in the hands of a dilettante like Byron, it is a fashion accessory, part of the pose of tormented genius. The Temptation is divided into seven parts. Another day! Surely death were preferable! I can endure it no more! I allow myself to be caught in every snare! No man could be more imbecile, more infamous! He stamps his foot upon the ground, and rushes frantically to and fro among the rocks; then pauses, out of breath, bursts into tears, and lies down upon the ground, on his side. Anthony remains the same miserable moaner all the way through.
There is no change or development, no sense of critical encounters or turning points or sudden revelations. One critic compares the entire book to the panoramas created by magic lanterns in the mid-nineteenth century. These enchanted their simpler audiences by projecting a series of images onto a flat wall. You can envisage the entire book as just such a series of slides.
We find Saint Anthony in front of his hut in the desert as the sun sets. The entire book takes place in the space of this one night, from dusk to dawn.
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Almost continually his thoughts are interrupted by wolves prowling just outside the light of his torch, or by birds, by strange noises. Personally, I found almost all the scenes involving Anthony off-putting because he comes across as so wet and feeble. Here he is imagining the life of your ordinary Alexandrian merchant. The merchants of Alexandria sail upon the river Canopus on holidays, and drink wine in the chalices of lotus-flowers, to a music of tambourines which makes the taverns along the shore tremble!
Beyond, trees, made cone-shaped by pruning, protect the quiet farms against the wind of the south. The roof of the lofty house leans upon thin colonettes placed as closely together as the laths of a lattice; and through their interspaces the master, reclining upon his long couch, beholds his plains stretching about him — the hunter among the wheat-fields — the winepress where the vintage is being converted into wine, the oxen treading out the wheat. His children play upon the floor around him; his wife bends down to kiss him.
Anthony sees this vision because he himself is lonely and hungry. Anthony reminisces about his days back in the city, as a trainee monk, when he was invited by Athanasius to join a set piece debate against the Arians a very popular type of Christian heresy. Out of the darkness comes the Devil, like a huge vampire bat, and under its wings are suckling the Seven Deadly Sins. Instead Anthony hallucinates that his mat is a boat, rocking on a river, floating past the temple of Serapis.
He is lying at the bottom of the boat; one oar at the stem, drags in the water. From time to time, a lukewarm wind blows; and the slender reeds rub one against the other, and rustle. Then the sobbing of the wavelets becomes indistinct. A heavy drowsiness falls upon him. He dreams that he is a Solitary of Egypt. I like passages like this, clips or little scenelets of vivid description. When Anthony wakes the Devil has, apparently, disappeared — very disappointing.
Anthony finds a husk of bread and his jug empty and this prompts a vivid hallucination of a great banqueting table set for a feast, replete with intoxicating sights and smells. Then many things appear which he has never seen before — black hashes, jellies, the colour of gold, ragouts in which mushrooms float like nenuphars upon ponds, dishes of whipped cream light as clouds. It was only the notes which explained to me that what now follows is a sequence in which Anthony hallucinates each of the Seven Deadly Sins in turn.
This one represented the Sin of Gluttony. As in a hallucination the food morphs into lips and then into one loaf on a table which now stretches to right in front of his face. He pushes it away and it vanishes. Then Anthony stumbles over something underfoot, which turns into money, lots of money, a crown, precious jewels. As water streams overflowing from the basin of a fountain, so diamonds, carbuncles, and sapphires, all mingled with broad pieces of gold bearing the effigies of Kings, overflow from the cup in never ceasing streams, to form a glittering hillock upon the sand….
It is the Sin of Avarice. As he throws himself upon the pile it vanishes. He trembles in the knowledge that, had he died in the middle of succumbing to any of these temptations, he would have gone to hell. Now the scene completely changes and Anthony thinks he sees a panoramic overview of the city of Alexandria.
And the blood gushes to the ceilings, falls back upon the walls like sheets of rain, streams from the trunks of decapitated corpses, fills the aqueducts, forms huge red pools upon the ground. Anthony is up to his knees in it. He wades in it; he sucks up the blood-spray on his lips; he is thrilled with joy as he feels it upon his limbs, under his hair-tunic which is soaked through with it.
Next the scene morphs to a Roman city which I deduce is the newish capital of the Roman Empire, Constantinople and Anthony finds himself ushered through countless rooms in a grand palace, past armed guards to arrive in the presence of the Emperor. He is taken out into the balcony overlooking the Hippodrome where the great chariot races are held, walking past prison cells in which are imprisoned his theological enemies, the Arians, grovelling and begging hur hur hur. The Sin of Pride. Anthony enters the mind of the king of kings and is immediately drenched in feelings of lust and cruelty. He climbs on the table and bellows like a bull and then….
Comes to himself. He is alone in front of his hut. He picks up his whip and flagellates himself, enjoying the pain, the tearing of his rebellious flesh, whereupon…. He sees men riding on onagers a kind of Asiatic wild ass and then a procession of camels and horses and then a white elephant with a golden net and waving peacock feathers, which bears the Queen of Sheba.
The elephant kneels, the queen slides down its trunk onto a precious carpet laid out by her slaves and she greets Anthony. Her robe of gold brocade, regularly divided by furbelows of pearls, of jet, and of sapphires, sheaths her figure closely with its tight-fitting bodice, set off by coloured designs representing the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
She wears very high pattens — one of which is black, and sprinkled with silver stars, with a moon crescent; the other, which is white, is sprinkled with a spray of gold, with a golden sun in the middle. Her wide sleeves, decorated with emeralds and bird-plumes, leave exposed her little round bare arms, clasped at the wrist by ebony bracelets; and her hands, loaded with precious rings, are terminated by nails so sharply pointed that the ends of her fingers seem almost like needles.
A chain of dead gold, passing under her chin, is caught up on either side of her face, and spirally coiled about her coiffure, whence, redescending, it grazes her shoulders and is attached upon her bosom to a diamond scorpion, which protrudes a jewelled tongue between her breasts. Two immense blond pearls depend heavily from her ears. The borders of her eyelids are painted black. And she claims they have been searching the wilderness for him and, now they have found him, she will marry him and worship him and anoint him and caress him.
There is a great deal of Miltonic description of the riches and luxuries from far-flung exotic places which she can offer him, but then it focuses down to the pleasure of her body, which sums up a whole world of desire. The Sin of Lust. But Anthony stands firm and after flirting with him some more, she turns on her heel, remounts her elephant and departs along with all her servants, laughing, mocking him. A small child appears. Going up to him Anthony recognises the face of his one-time disciple, Hilarion, long since departed for Palestine.
The Temptation of St. Anthony by David Teniers the Younger Pandemonium breaks out:. The Audians shoot arrows against the Devil; the Collyridians throw blue cloths toward the roof; the Ascites prostrate themselves before a waterskin; the Marcionites baptise a dead man with oil. A woman, standing near Appelles, exhibits a round loaf within a bottle, in order the better to explain her idea. Another, standing in the midst of an assembly of Sampseans distributes, as a sacrament, the dust of her own sandals. Upon the rose-strewn bed of the Marcosians, two lovers embrace.
The Circumcellionites slaughter one another; the Valesians utter the death-rattle; Bardesanes sings; Carpocras dances; Maximilla and Priscilla moan; and the false prophetess of Cappadocia, completely naked, leaning upon a lion, and brandishing three torches, shrieks the Terrible Invocation. As you can see, this glorified list is more a goldmine for editors and annotators than any kind of pleasure for readers. Indeed, the Penguin edition has 47 pages of notes giving you fascinating facts on almost every one of the characters and places mentioned in the text.
But if you read it as text alone, all these names quickly blur. This long section about heretics makes clearer than ever the fact that Flaubert has the mentality of an encyclopedist, a compiler of dictionaries. Flaubert cuts and pastes together the results to produce scenes packed with exotic names, but almost always without any life or psychology and, as here, disappointingly uninformative. Flaubert manages to drain this exciting and complex historical and theological subject of all interest and turn it into a procession of cardboard mouthpieces, who all sound the same.
Their chanting awakens a monstrously huge python which they handle and twine around themselves as they hold a blasphemous eucharist. Time passes and a new hallucination begins. He is in a dark room, a prison cell, among other wretches.
Outside it is sunny, he hears the roar of a crowd, the sound of lions and has a vision of the arena, tier after tier of seats. He is among Christians about to be thrown to the lions. He is in a cemetery where he meets veiled women lamenting the deaths of their husbands, sons or how they themselves were condemned as Christians and persecuted, and then… as they bow and pray together, eat together, their robes slip open and their mouths join and..
This scene fades out and…. This wizened figure repeats basic Hindu teachings about reincarnation, about striving to reach purity so as not to fall into corruption. Then his pyre bursts into flames and he is burnt alive without a sound. Then through a cleft in the rocks comes a voice followed by a white-haired old man leading a young girl with bite marks on her face and bruises on her arm.
It emerges that he is Simon Magus, a magician of the first century mentioned in the Gospels. Apollonius of Tyana Anthony stumbles though the fog to discover Simon and Helen are gone. Now through the fog come a pair of men, one tall and lordly like Christ, the other a short servant. It is Apollonius of Tyana, the sage or thaumaturge, and his servant Dimas. Apollonius declaims grandly. As so often with Flaubert, the reader gets the sense that the author is more interested, intoxicated even, by lists of grand, exotic-sounding and remote peoples and places — than by any kind of sense or logic.
Thus Apollonius:. I have conversed with the Samaneans of the Ganges, with the astrologers of Chaldea, with the magi of Babylon, with the Gaulish Druids, with the priests of the negroes! I have ascended the fourteen Olympii; I have sounded the Scythian lakes; I have measured the breadth of the Desert! But first I had visited the Hyrcanian Sea; I made the tour of it; and descending by way of the country of the Baraomati, where Bucephalus is buried, I approached the city of Nineveh….
At Taxilla, the capital of five thousand fortresses, Phraortes, King of the Ganges, showed us his guard of black men, whose stature was five cubits, and under a pavilion of green brocade in his gardens, an enormous elephant, which the queens amused themselves by perfuming. It was the elephant of Porus which had taken flight after the death of Alexander…. Upon the shores of the sea we met with the milk-gorged Cynocephali, who were returning from their expedition to the Island Taprobana….
So we returned through the Region of Aromatics, by way of the country of the Gangarides, the promontory of Comaria, the country of the Sachalites, of the Adramites and of the Homerites; then, across the Cassanian mountains, the Red Sea, and the Island Topazos, we penetrated into Ethiopia through the country of the Pygmies….
I have penetrated into the cave of Trophonius, son of Apollo! I have kneaded for Syracusan women the cakes which they carry to the mountains. I have endured the eighty tests of Mithra! I have pressed to my heart the serpent of Sabasius! I have received the scarf of Kabiri! I have laved Cybele in the waters of the Campanian gulfs! And so on. There is not a trace of drama, character, psychology, theology or philosophy in sight.
This is quite transparently just a litany of resonant names. Apollonius and Dimas step backwards off a cliff and remain suspended in the air, like Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, before ascending slowly into the black night sky. In fact it starts off with a parade of pre-pagan gods, the blocks of wood or stone which original humans worshipped. Anthony and Hilarion mock the stupidity of the men who worshiped these clods.
Then detours unexpectedly to a quick review of the original Hindu gods and of the Buddha, who tells the story of his life. We have appearances from the Buddha, Oanna of the Chaldeans , the gods of ancient Babylon and their temple prostitutes, Ormuz god of the Persians, the Great Diana of Ephesus with her three rows of breasts. Now he and Anthony see a vast mountain with Olympus on its height and witness the pantheon of Greek gods, one by one lamenting their decline and fall: Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Hercules, Pluto, Neptune, Mars, Vulcan, one by one they lament the loss of their powers and the end of their worship, before going tumbling down into a black abyss.
The lament of Osiris for her lost lover, and the sorrow of the Greek gods are the only pages in the book which I found moving enough to reread and savour. In it we can hear the voice of Flaubert, who from his schooldays believed he lived in a fallen world of stupidity and vulgarity. Let the Earth keep them; and let them move upon the level of its baseness. Latterly go the household gods, those minor deities who gave grace and dignity to all aspects of daily life in ancient Rome, who laid the bride in her bed, tended at childbirth, at sickness, at feasts, during illness.
All scorned, ignored and gone. Finally — surprisingly — a page is devoted to Jehovah, the god of the Old Testament, himself rejected and abused, his followers — the Jews — scorned and scattered over the earth. It was a struggle to read the previous chapters, but these long laments of the dying pagan gods and the imaginative grace and nobility they brought to everyday life is, I think, genuinely moving.
For the first time the text stirred, for me, as actual literature instead of a list of gaudy names. Hilarion gives way to the Devil himself who chucks Anthony onto his horns and carries him up, up and away, through the sky, into space, up to the moon, beyond the solar system, into the realm of the stars, all the time explaining a that the universe is infinite, nothing like the earth-centred structure of the ancient Greeks or Jews b while giving him a compelling lecture on theology the only theology in the text , explaining in a dry logical, professorial manner the unbounded infinitude and one substance of God.
He is infinitely remote, completely Perfect, utterly indifferent. According to the notes, this is a summary of the philosophical pantheism of Spinoza. The Devil drops him in disgust. Anthony regains consciousness by the cliff edge. It crosses his mind to end it all by simply rolling over it and falling to his death. This final chapter is in three parts:. He is approached by a wizened old woman and a nubile young woman. One argues the case for suicide, the other urges him to embrace life.
Slowly it becomes clear they are Death and Lust, respectively. He dismisses them and is confronted by:. The Chimera and the Sphinx. The former attracts men towards pointless delusions, the latter devours seekers after God. They squabble and argue until the Sphinx sinks into the sand and the Chimaera goes swooping off in pointless circles. Their argument morphs into the most genuinely surreal and hallucinatory section in the text, where Flaubert creates a parade of the strangest creatures or human-beasts he has come across in all his reading of myths and legends.
These include:. And all manner of frightful creatures arise: — The Tragelaphus, half deer, half ox; the Myrmecoles, lion before and ant behind, whose genitals are set reversely; the python Askar, sixty cubits long, that terrified Moses; the huge weasel Pastinaca, that kills the trees with her odour; the Presteros, that makes those who touch it imbecile; the Mirag, a horned hare, that dwells in the islands of the sea.
The leopard Phalmant bursts his belly by roaring; the triple-headed bear Senad tears her young by licking them with her tongue; the dog Cepus pours out the blue milk of her teats upon the rocks. Mosquitoes begin to hum, toads commence to leap; serpents hiss. Lightnings flicker. Hail falls. Then come gusts, bearing with them marvellous anatomies: — Heads of alligators with hoofs of deer; owls with serpent tails; swine with tiger-muzzles; goats with the crupper of an ass; frogs hairy as bears; chameleons huge as hippopotami; calves with two heads, one bellowing, the other weeping; winged bellies flitting hither and thither like gnats.
They rain from the sky, they rise from the earth, they pour from the rocks; everywhere eyes flame, mouths roar, breasts bulge, claws are extended, teeth gnash, flesh clacks against flesh. Some crouch; some devour each other at a mouthful. Suffocating under their own numbers, multiplying by their own contact, they climb over one another; and move about Anthony with a surging motion as though the ground were the deck of a ship.
He feels the trail of snails upon the calves of his legs, the chilliness of vipers upon his hands: — and spiders spinning about him enclose him within their network. Finally, in this endless chain of evolutions and transformations, animals turn into insects, flowers turn into rocks, beasts turn to crystal, ice pullulates with life, it is a wild hallucination of the pantheistic vision of life in all things. And now the vegetables are no longer distinguishable from the animals. Polyparies that seem like trees, have arms upon their branches. Anthony thinks he sees a caterpillar between two leaves: it is a butterfly that takes flight.
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He is about to step on a pebble: a grey locust leaps away. One shrub is bedecked with insects that look like petals of roses; fragments of ephemerides form a snowy layer upon the soil. And then the plants become confounded with the stones. Flints assume the likeness of brains; stalactites of breasts; the flower of iron resembles a figured tapestry.
He sees efflorescences in fragments of ice, imprints of shrubs and shells—yet so that one cannot detect whether they be imprints only, or the things themselves. Diamonds gleam like eyes; metals palpitate. His vision narrows right down onto ants, onto the tiniest creatures, onto organisms no bigger than pinheads, furred with cilia and quivering with primordial life. Anthony has seen the origins of life and evolution in reverse, and he bursts out:.
O bliss! I have beheld the birth of life! I have seen the beginning of motion! My pulses throb even to the point of bursting! I long to fly, to swim, to bark, to bellow, to howl! Would that I had wings, a carapace, a shell — that I could breathe out smoke, wield a trunk — make my body writhe — divide myself everywhere — be in everything — emanate with odours — develop myself like the plants — flow like water — vibrate like sound — shine like light, squatting upon all forms — penetrate each atom — descend to the very bottom of matter — be matter itself!
Day at last appears, and, like the raised curtains of a tabernacle, golden clouds furling into larger scrolls unveil the sky. There in the middle, inside the very disk of the sun, radiates the face of Jesus Christ. Or the ending has a more pessimistic meaning: namely that the return to his prayers signals a return to the same rut, the same wheel, and that the next night the whole thing will repeat itself all over again.
I could see that both of these are possibilities but I am happy to leave my reading of the ending completely open because I was just so relieved to get to the end of this long, dense, almost unreadable fantasia of cuttings and notes transmuted into a bizarre sequence of sometimes unbearably tedious scenes. The only moving part of the whole book is the Lament of the Pagan Gods — where the scenario of each of the gods in turn lamenting the decline of their worship and the end of their influence for once was adequate to the feeling of world sadness Flaubert is obviously aiming at.
Also, the final few pages, the almost hysterical hallucination of the very origins of life, are also head-spinningly delirious. But most if it felt like I was at the dentist having a filling. Willett was born in He attended Winchester public school and then Christ Church, Oxford the grandest and poshest of all the Oxford colleges. He was just beginning a career in set design when the Second World War came along.
He served in British Intelligence. After the war he worked at the Manchester Guardian , before becoming assistant to the editor of the Times Literary Supplement , writing scores of reviews and articles, until he went freelance in He had travelled to Germany just before the war and become fascinated by its culture. He met and befriended Bertolt Brecht whose plays he later translated into English. As a freelance writer Willett authored two books about the Weimar period. This is the first of the pair, published by the well-known art publisher Thames and Hudson. The New Sobriety is divided into 22 shortish chapters, followed by a page-long, highly detailed Chronological Table, and a shorter bibliography.
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It was during the second half of the s that the threads which we have followed were drawn together to form something very like a new civilisation… p. The core of the book is a fantastically detailed account of the cross-fertilisation of trends in fine art, theatre, photography, graphic design, film and architecture between the Soviet Union and Weimar Germany. In the introduction Willett confesses that he would love to see a really thorough study which related the arts to the main political and philosophical and cultural ideas of the era, but that he personally is not capable of it p.
Instead, his book will be:. It is neither an art-historical study of movements and artistic innovations, nor a general cultural history of the Weimar Republic, but a more selective account which picks up on those aspects of the period which the writer feels to be at once the most original and the most clearly interrelated, and tries to see how and why they came about. When I was a student I loved this book because it opened my eyes to the extraordinary range of new avant-garde movements of the period: Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Constructivism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, and then the burst of new ideas in theatre, graphic design, magazines, poetry and architecture which are still influential to this day.
You realise how selective and partial his point of view is on the rare occasions when the wider world intrudes. It is amusing, and significant, how much he despises both of them. It was a hateful commercialisation of cubism and fauvism, it was skin-deep modernism. We often judge art by how effectively the artist used these design fundamentals even before we learn about them. The elements of art are the building blocks of an artwork: color, line, shape, form, value, texture, and space.
They are the tools artists use when creating an artwork. They are the ways an artist can organize the elements of art to create a wide range of effects. Each of these art fundamentals are closely related and many of them overlap. When combined, they produce a complete artistic vision. Knowing the elements and principles of art boosts visual literacy.
Artists and creators make more powerful works when they utilize the principles of art. When viewers are familiar with the elements of art, they become more aware of the details and can better appreciate what they see and the message behind it. Connecting with art makes us more empathetic and strengthens the fabric of society. In the age of the internet, understanding how and why advertisers make design decisions can empower students with information and make them less susceptible to manipulation.
Art inspires higher level thinking, focus, a growth mindset, visual literacy, curiosity, respect, and connection. Purchases made through these links help support Art Class Curator at no additional cost to you. This pack of printables was designed to work in a variety of ways in your classroom when teaching the elements and principles of art.
Click here to download the Elements and Principles Printable Pack. Get your Free Download. Color is the visual property of the pigment of an object that is detected by the eye and produced as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light. The human eye is capable of seeing millions of colors, making it one of the most diverse and powerful elements of art.
Each color has three properties—hue, value, and intensity. Hue is the name of a color. Intensity refers to the intensity of a color, often measured by boldness or dullness. All colors come from the three primary colors—red, blue, and yellow. You cannot mix any colors to create a primary color. They are the base hues for all other colors. In this example of primary colors in art , Jacob Lawrence uses only neutral colors with the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow. Jacob Lawrence, Workshop Builders 1 , Looking for more examples of primary colors in art?
To find a pair of complementary colors, simply draw a line from one of the color wheel to the other. Complementary colors are called that because, when placed side by side, they are pleasing to the eye. They create an appealing contrast in artworks. Some of the basic complementary color pairings are red and green, purple and yellow, and orange and blue. In this example of complementary colors in art , Hiroshige uses red and green to create contrast.
For more examples of complementary colors in art, check out the full color in art examples post! To find a pair of analogous colors, simply choose two colors that are touching on the color wheel. Analogous colors create harmony and unity in art because they are made of the same hues. Some of the basic analogous color pairings are blue and green, red and orange, and yellow and green. In this example of analogous colors in art , Vincent van Gogh uses colors next to one another on the color wheel—blue, green, and yellow. Vincent van Gogh, The Olive Trees , Looking for more examples of analogous colors in art?
Warm colors are reds, oranges, and yellows. They pop out towards viewer, and create energy and excitement in an artwork. In this example of warm and cool colors in art , Dorothea Tanning contrasts warm with cool colors to show the clash of rest and restlessness in insomnia.
For more examples of warm and cool colors in art, check out the full color post! Line is an element of art defined as the path of a point moving through space. There are many types of line in art. Lines may be continuous or broken, and can be any width or texture. The great variety of line types make them an especially useful tool in artworks. The direction of a line can dramatically alter an artwork. Diagonal lines create movement an energy. Horizontal and vertical lines add stability and strength to an artwork.
Artesmisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes , — Contour lines form the outside edge of a three-dimensional shape and clearly defines the area it occupies. Look at the face of Leonardo da Vinci below; the contour lines around his facial features give his face form. Leonardo da Vinci, Self-Portrait , c. Looking for more examples of contour lines in art? In this example of gesture lines in art, Marino Marini uses big swooshing gesture lines that capture the action and energy of the subject.
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Marino Marini, Miracle Miracolo , Looking for more examples of gesture lines in art? Implied lines are not made by a physical mark in an artwork, but rather by visual suggestion. Our eyes often follow them automatically, so they draw attention to specific parts of an artwork. In this example of implied lines in art , Grant Wood uses implied lines to emphasize the hatchet in the center.
Looking for more examples of implied lines in art? In this example of expressive lines in art, Edvard Munch uses wavy lines in contrast with a strong straight diagonal line to convey anxiety. Looking for more examples of expressive lines in art? Geometric shapes are precise areas that can be made using a ruler or compass. These shapes can be simple or complex and generally give an artwork a sense of order.
In this example of geometric shapes in art , Picasso uses circles, triangles, crescents, and rectangles.
Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians , Looking for more examples of geometric shapes in art? Grace Hartigan, The Year of the Cicada ,