Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Bonus letter Z!

September 24, 2023

As a Z-person, I went on alphabetic alert when, in a New York Times Magazine interview (in print 9/17), Roz Chast mentioned a 2007 picture book by her and Steve Martin, The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! (That’s Roz Chast the American cartoonist, and Steve Martin, the “American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and musician” (as his Wikipedia entry puts it):

(#1) Chast’s cover for the book

Now: some very blurby words about the book. And then the two Z pages from it, Martin’s text on the right page, with ornaments by Chast; and Chast’s drawing on the left (illustrating the text, but throwing in many more words with Z in them). There are at least 28 words with Z in them mentioned on these two pages, plus one such word — zebra — that is, cleverly, evoked by drawings but not actually printed.

An ordinary alphabet book would end with Z is for Zebra; gigantically, that’s the standard choice for an exemplary Z-initial word*. This one ends with 5 drawings of zebras but not the word; you don’t need the word in print, because you get it as an automatic associate to the name or image of the letter.

[*note: very small sprinklings of the non-standard choices in these books: zeppelin, zipper, zodiac, zombie, zoo, zookeeper, AmE zucchini, a few others. Plus several stunningly non-standard choices like Zamboni (in A Hockey Alphabet) and ziti (in Food by Letter).]

That is, Chast and Martin chose — surely unknowingly — to exploit a massive mental association between the letter Z and the word zebra to evoke the letter entirely via drawings of zebras. That’s clever, and subtle.


A funny dirty book

September 18, 2023

A book of  XXX-rated comic collages. On offer for free (offer details later in this posting). Here’s the cover page for the book:

A book of 48 collages (8.5 x 12 inch copies on good stock, titled and signed by the artist), in pockets in the book; note all three descriptors — XXX-rated, homoerotic, comic (they’re all significant)


An ideal male body

September 15, 2023

(16th-century public heroic statuary of male nudes, so there will be (small) penises, if that sort of thing worries you)

An ideal male body — or so Kenji Matsuoka pronounced it this morning:

(#1) Side view of [Italian] Oceano / [Latin] Oceanus by Giambologna (1576) at the Bargello National Museum, Florence: a simultaneous imagined depiction of Neptune, the Roman god of waters and oceans (whose Greek counterpart is Poseidon); and flattering tribute to the sculptor’s Medici patron — in a single beautiful male body

Giambologna’s largest marble; it once crowned a fountain in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, but in 1911 it was moved to the Bargello Museum.

KM no doubt chose this particular view of the statue because it shows Oceano’s / Neptune’s penis — a routine feature of public heroic statuary of male nudes (at some times in some places). This is the standard small penis of classical statuary, modestly situated in this work.

I’m assuming that the other elements of the sculpture (like Neptune’s signature creature, the dolphin) are assembled for their individual symbolic values, rather than (as in Michelangelo’s David) illustrating a larger story.


The intrepid explorer of language and image

September 11, 2023

Aka the deadpan laureate of American art. By Jason Farago in the NYT: 9/7 on-line: “The Deadpan Laureate of American Art: Ed Ruscha, intrepid explorer of language and image, prefigured a digital culture of words on the move. A retrospective at MoMA shines new light on his groundbreaking career: the books, the paintings, the room made of chocolate” | 9/8 in print: “Art’s Deadpan Laureate: Ed Rusch, intrepid explorer of language and image, prefigured a digital culture of words on the move. A show at MoMA explores his career”.

A huge show of Ruscha’s career, with a long and penetrating review by Farago in the Times. A review with an enormous number of images of the exhibition and Ruscha’s works, 7 of which I will reproduce for you here (some edited to fit this space).

So: the beginning of Farago’s review; the 7 images (the published images all credited: “by Vincent Tullo for The New York Times”); and an inventory of some of my earlier postings about his works.


Two pleasantries for 9/10

September 10, 2023

My Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting for 9/10, lying uneasily between the silliness of Negation Day on 9/9 (nein nein) and the wrenching anniversary of the horrors of 9/11/2001, and serving as something to show you after the postings I’d been laboring on expanded unmanageably in their scope and after my two-fingered typing hand, already seriously disabled, became barely functional because the middle finger is swollen, inflamed, and effing painful. (Today’s good news is that I got in two hours of Sacred Harp singing via Zoom with the Palo Alto singers — an activity that asks very little of that middle finger.) So, two pleasantries that have came to me on-line:

— in a Pinterest mailing today, an unidentified painting I pegged as surely an attractive Yannis Tsarouchis work (see my 8/12/23 posting “Yannis Tsarouchis”) — indeed, it turned out to be the artist’s Sailor at a table from 1950

— in a Facebook posting by Chris Ambidge on 9/7, from the Green Midget cafe in Bromley, a board offering the items from the Monty Python “Spam” sketch (set in that fictional eatery), which I noted was one of the great pieces of cumulative humor


Japanese symbolic culture, inscribed on León’s arm

September 8, 2023

About my friend (and former caregiver) León Hernández Alvarez (hereafter, LH) and the tattoos covering his left arm, from wrist to shoulder, reflecting his deep sympathy with the symbolic culture of Japan. Here’s LH in a face shot that will serve as an introduction to his text (as I edited it for compactness) taking us on a tour of the ink, along with seven photos he took to accompany the text (as I cleaned them up for presentation here):

(#1) LH showing off the arm (and the muscles he’s developed at the gym)

After most sections of LH’s text (which I’ve boldfaced), there’s some background material about the things depicted in the tattoos, with some photos from real life.

I hope to post separately about LH, including some about his personal qualities, but here I offer four important pieces of biographical data: LH is in his early 40s, he’s Mexican (here on a work visa), he has an MBA and a previous history working in business in Mexico, and (like me) he’s gay.


An artistic allusion

September 6, 2023

(Or, Quoth the Sperm Whale “Swimming Hole”)

From Rod Williams, commenting on Facebook on my 9/6 posting “Rowing on the River”, about a Thomas Eakins painting:

— RW: We [Ted Bush and Rod] have a print that quotes from Eakins’s “Swimming Hole”


in an unusual and delightful way

(#2) The allusive work, by an unknown hand


Rowing on the river

September 6, 2023

From my old friends Bonnie and Ed — Benita Bendon Campbell and her husband Edward Campbell — a Jacquie Lawson birthday e-card for me in which the Biglin Brothers (two muscular young men in a Thomas Eakins painting) row (on the Schuylkill River, the river of my childhood) for the prize of a birthday cupcake (with a purple banner) — to a noisy band rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Deeply satisfying.

(#1) The Lawson version of the Biglins

And now: the Biglins in real life, and (with a dose of homoeroticism) the painter Eakins.


Rubber ducky

September 6, 2023

And now for something completely different: a rubber-tire duck statue in today’s Zippy strip:

(#1) As with all things Griffith, this is a real thing, not a fanciful invention: Villu Jaanisoo’s sculpture Rubber Duck

The Estonian-born creator of this duck heads the sculpture department in the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts.


From the annals of NGN statuary

August 21, 2023

NGN: Not Genitally Nude, used for sculpture in which male genitals are not displayed — but just barely, usually in ways that call attention to the genitals. Surprisingly common in monumental and memorial statuary of earnest intent, and therefore easily found in the Washington / Baltimore area, which is pretty much blanketed by sculpture of this sort.

Today’s example — brought to my attention by Jeff Shaumeyer — is located in the very heart of memorial-historic D.C. It’s also a seriously crowded work of art, with eight different figures arrayed around it: the Battle of Gettysburg victor General George Meade as the central figure on the front, a winged male figure of War as the rear centerpiece, and six other allegorical figures in between these two. Detail of the Meade side:

(#1) Photo from Wikipedia