Tuesday, July 20, 2010

on work

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), Self-Portrait, charcoal drawing, 1924

"April 1910

I am gradually approaching the period in my life when work comes first. When both the boys went away for Easter, I hardly did anything but work. Worked, slept, ate and went for short walks. But above all I worked. And yet I wonder whether the "blessing" is not missing from such work. No longer diverted by other emotions, I work the way a cow grazes . . ."
- excerpt from Käthe Kollwitz's diary

(source for quote: Revelations: Diaries of Women, edited by Mary Jane Moffat & Charlotte Painter, published by Vintage Books, New York, NY © 1974, 75)

Pernice Brothers - Working Girls

Fountains of Wayne - Sick Day

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Friday!

get happy dammit

Judy Garland - Get Happy

I've been reading about miniatures (and zombies) over the summer. The miniatures, shown below, of two charming little girls stood out from the rest of the gentlemen and ladies in fancy dress:
"Portraits of children were extremely rare at this time so these two girls probably belonged to an important family. The portraits were conceived as a pair: one holding a carnation and smiling, the other holding an apple and frowning. It is likely that the patron decided on this singular symbolism with the artist."

I've paired the miniatures with two found photographs of the same little girl for reasons that are completely obvious.

Isaac Oliver, Two Unknown Girls, one aged four and one aged five, 1590, watercolor on vellum,
54 x 43 mm.

found photograph from my collection

Isaac Oliver, Two Unknown Girls, one aged four and one aged five, 1590, watercolor on vellum,
54 x 43 mm.

found photograph from my collection

(source for Isaac Oliver miniature images and caption: The Portrait Miniature in England by Katherine Coombs, published by V & A Publications, London, England © 1998)

Elvis Costello promoting his album Get Happy!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lucy as a Work of Art

Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904), Pygmalion and Galatea, Oil on canvas, 35 x 27 in., ca. 1890, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Below is an excerpt from E. M. Forster's (1879-1970) novel, A Room with a View (1908). In this scene, Lucy Honeychurch breaks off her engagement with her fiancé, Cecil Vyse:

""Don't open the window; and you'd better draw the curtain too; Freddy or any one might be outside." He obeyed. "I really think we had better go to bed, if you don't mind. I shall only say things that will make me unhappy afterwards. As you say it is all too horrible, and it is no good talking."

But to Cecil, now that he was about to lose her, she seemed each moment more desirable. He looked at her, instead of through her, for the first time since they were engaged. From a Leonardo she had become a living woman, with mysteries and forces of her own, with qualities that even eluded art. His brain recovered from the shock, and in a burst of genuine devotion, he cried: "But I love you, and I did think you loved me!"

"I did not," she said. "I thought I did at first. I am sorry, and ought to have refused you this last time, too."

He began to walk up and down the room, and she grew more and more vexed at his dignified behaviour. She had counted on his being petty. It would have made things easier for her. By a cruel irony she was drawing out all that was finest in his disposition.

"You don't love me, evidently. I dare say you are right not to. But it would hurt a little less if I knew why."

"Because"--a phrase came to her, and she accepted it--"you're the sort who can't know any one intimately."

A horrified look came into his eyes.

"I don't mean exactly that. But you will question me, though I beg you not to, and I must say something. It is that, more or less. When we were only acquaintances, you let me be myself, but now you're always protecting me." Her voice swelled. "I won't be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult. Can't I be trusted to face the truth but I must get it second-hand through you? A woman's place! You despise my mother--I know you do--because she's conventional and bothers over puddings; but, oh goodness!" --she rose to her feet--"conventional, Cecil, you're that, for you may understand beautiful things, but you don't know how to use them; and you wrap yourself up in art and books and music, and would try to wrap up me. I won't be stifled, not by the most glorious music, for people are more glorious, and you hide them from me. That's why I break off my engagement. You were all right as long as you kept to things, but when you came to people--" she stopped.

There was a pause. Then Cecil said with great emotion:

"It is true."

"True on the whole," she corrected, full of some vague shame.

"True, every word. It is a revelation. It is --I."

"Anyhow, those are my reasons for not being your wife.""

(source for quote: A Room With A View - Howards End - Maurice by E. M. Forster, published by Quality Paperback Book Club, New York, NY)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

at the age of ten she looked like Greta Garbo

Clarence Sinclair Bull, Greta Garbo for Ninotchka, 1939

"Greta Garbo in a study as Ninotchka (9 August 1939). Garbo needed a hit. Ernst Lubitsch joined MGM to direct her in a cold-war comedy set in Paris, with Garbo as Russian envoy extraordinaire, Comrade Ninotchka. The film was her first popular success for more than seven years."

Clarence Sinclair Bull (1896-1979) worked at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as the head of the Stills Department for nearly 40 years, until he retired in 1961. He photographed over 4,000 individual studies of Greta Garbo.

(Source for Clarence Sinclair Bull's photograph and accompanying caption: The Man Who Shot Garbo, text by Terence Pepper and John Kobal, published by Simon and Schuster, New York, NY © 1989)

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Perfect Skin