BeWILDered

You just have to wonder: which part in this painting is responsible for the lions’ bewildered expressions? Is it the shock of the nude? The shrill tone of the flute? Am I, the spectator, that scary?

The Dream, 1910 || Henri Rousseau || Oil on canvas

“Entirely self-taught, Henri Rousseau worked a day job as a customs inspector until, around 1885, he retired on a tiny pension to pursue a career as an artist. Without leaving his native France, he made numerous paintings of fantastical jungle landscapes, like the one that fills The Dream.

Living in Paris, he had ready access to images of faraway people and places through popular literature, world expositions, museums, and the Paris Zoo. His visits to the city’s natural history museum and to Jardin des plantes (a combined zoo and botanical garden) inspired the lush jungle, wild animals, and mysterious horn player featured in The Dream. “When I am in these hothouses and see the strange plants from exotic lands, it seems to me that I am entering a dream,” he once said.

The nude woman reclining on a sofa seems to have been lifted from a Paris living room and grafted into this moonlit jungle scene. Her incongruous presence heightens its dreamlike quality and suggests that perhaps the jungle is a projection of her mind, much as it is a projection of Rousseau’s imagination.” [source: MoMA]

June 16th, 2019

Square Space

Jennifer Bartlett
Rhapsody, 1975-76

When Rhapsody was first shown, in 1976, it occupied the entirety of the art dealer Paula Cooper’s Manhattan gallery space. Consisting of 987 one-foot-square steel panels covering an expanse of more than 150 feet, the work has an overall monumentality, but its small panels invite intimate interaction. Together they represent Bartlett’s attempt to create a painting “that had everything in it,” she has said.

Each of Rhapsody’s steel panels was baked with white enamel, silkscreened, and then painted. Its range of imagery—from photographic images to abstract shapes—presents a variety that undermines any sense of stylistic unity. “It was supposed to be like a conversation,” the artist has explained, “in which people digress from one thing and maybe come back to the subject, then do the same with the next thing.” Looking at Rhapsody is like listening in on this conversation. A viewer can step back and see the ebbs and flows, or come in close and engage deeply with a single topic, sentence, or line. [Source: MoMA]

June 16th, 2019

Rainbows

“Camp is ‘those men and women…leaking laughter and tears while reliving their favorite nuances from…Off-key strains of Somewhere over the Rainbow.'” —J. Bryan Lowder, 2013

Burberry, Christopher Bailey Cape, A/W 2018-19
Salvatore Ferragamo Sandal, 1938, designed for Judy Garland & Gucci, Alessandro Michele Shoe, resort 2017
Bridget Riley, Elysium, 1973/2003 – Acrylic on canvas

Camp: Notes on Fashion @The Metropolitan Museum of Art, paired with Bridget Riley’s painting from the Met collection.

June 1st, 2019

Went Camping

“Camp is a means by which cultivated taste is deliberately thrown into reverse so that aesthetic absurdities become desirable.” —Scott Byrd quoting John Canaday, 1968

Gucci || Accessory set, pre-fall 2019
House of Moschino || Jeremy Scott || Bag A/W 2017-18 (grey synthetic leather and silver metal)
Giles Deacon || Stephen Jones || Headpiece, S/S 2012 (white ostrich feathers, white coque feathers, and orange and black crystals)
Chloé || Karl Lagerfeld || Necklace A/W 1983-84
Marc Jacobs || Ensemble, S/S 2016
Wild and Lethal Trash || Walter Van Beirendonck || S/S 1996
Mary Katrantzou || Ensemble, S/S 2011
Jeremy Scott || S/S 2011 || A prosciutto inspired dress, perhaps after the controversial Meat Dress by Franc Fernandez, which Lady Gaga wore at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards; that dress was made from 40 pounds of flank steak, but Jeremy Scott’s one is an ‘elegant’ white and pink latex
Walter Van Beirendonck || Ensemble, S/S 2009 || Nude synthetic-spandex knit printed with a trompe l’oeil male body motif & Vivienne Westwood || Ensemble, A/W 1989-90 || Nude synthetic-spandex mesh, pink silk-synthetic satin, white synthetic lace, and red acrylic

“Camp transforms what was ugly yesterday into today’s object of aesthetic pleasure.” –Umberto Eco, 2007

From Camp: Notes on Fashion, The Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition at The Met. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ”Notes on ‘Camp”’ provided the framework, and 250 objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present took care of the entertainment.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

June 1st, 2019

Hollywood Busts

Similar expressions, millenia apart.

Bust of Belisarius, 1785-91 || Jean-Baptiste Stouf || Marble

Belisarius (about 505-565) was a Byzantine general whose military prowess was envied by the emperor Justinian, who banished and allegedly blinded the general. The subject was popular among French eighteenth-century writers and artists, both as political allegory and as a means of depicting the pathos of a fallen hero. Stouf skillfully rendered the crinkled skin around the eyes, the sunken cheeks, and the luxuriant curls of the beard and hair with a subtlety that belies the challenge of carving stone.

Belisarius at the Getty Center || James Dean at Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles

May 10th, 2019

The Goddess Nicotina, c. 1860

Unmasked

From a photo album accompanying the exhibition ”Oscar Rejlander: Artist Photographer” exploring the life and work of one of the most influential photographers of the 19th century.

”Oscar G. Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813-1875) was one of the 19th century’s greatest innovators in the medium of photography, counting Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron among his devotees.

Oscar G. Rejlander was born in Sweden and moved to England in 1839, working first as a painter before turning to photography in 1852. He made a living as a portrait photographer while experimenting with photographic techniques, most notably combination printing, in which parts of multiple negatives were exposed separately and then printed to form a single picture. Rejlander moved to London in 1862, where his business continued to grow and where his wife, Mary Bull, worked alongside him in his photography studios.” [source: The Getty Center]

For more photos by Oscar Rejlander, please visit this Art Blart article.

The Getty Center, L.A.

May 10th, 2019

Bar at the Folies-Bergère

How would Manet react, I wonder…

Daughter of Art History, Theater A, 1989 || Yasumasa Morimura
Daughter of Art History, Theater B, 1989 || Yasumasa Morimura

Since the early 1980s, Yasumasa Morimura has been appropriating and restaging famous paintings, casting himself in the role of the figures depicted. By fabricating elaborate sets and costumes, he does not merely replicate his sources but also presents a pastiche of references that simultaneously pay homage to and satirize the original works. [source: The Getty Center]

Los Angeles

May 10th, 2019