Monday, February 15, 2010

OK, here's something about food

British chef Jamie Oliver gave a TED talk recently that really blew me away. He's such a dynamic, down-to-earth speaker, and he marshals some amazing statistics--for instance, in many locales, today's kids are the third generation never taught to cook, so they subsist on fast food. These same kids have a life expectancy 10 years shorter than their parents. And when shown examples of common veggies "on the hoof"--tomatoes, beets, cauliflower, eggplant, potato--none of them could identify said veggies. Here's a link to Jamie's TED talk--it's only about 18 min. long--you have time to watch it!


Btw, I take back what I said below about the perspectival differences in the two Sassetta images. Having looked more closely at the Journey of the Magi, I do indeed see a perspectivally skewed horse's butt among the procession of figures. But I still wonder mightily about the significance of the monkey being carried in procession. Perhaps an iconographic indicator of the "exotic East" from which the Magi were said to have come?

Now that more than a year has passed...

I'm inspired to begin again with my blog. I've written a talk on the art of Lent to be delivered at Our Lady of Angels Convent on 22nd February. Recently I discovered a well known (to others) Episcopal theologian, Barbara Brown Taylor (here is her homepage). I love her body-based theology and found it useful in writing the talk. I'm debating whether to post the text of my talk here on the blog. Must find out whether I can link to my powerpoint for illustrations.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Honore Daumier's We Want Barabbas (or Ecce Homo), ca 1853-59

Preparing an exhibition of Lenten art for the church I attend is a wonderful opportunity to recall, reexamine, and reappreciate a number of my favorite religious images. Some are famous and others more obscure, some ancient and others more modern.

Having always loved Daumier's paintings (more than his prints), this particular image of Christ after his arrest and scourging appeals to me in its poignancy, especially the telling contrast between the stillness and passivity of Christ and the bloodthirsty, ferocious energy of the crowd. The work is unfinished (like so many of Daumier's paintings), but for that very reason, it conveys its message powerfully in an almost ludicrously minimal number of lines and tones.

Daumier rarely titled his paintings, so art historians called this We Want Barabbas. Recently it's been suggested that it's Ecce Homo. In either case, its power is undiminished.

The painting is in the collection of Essen's Museum Folkwang (see here for the homepage). Click on the picture for a larger image.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is This Really by Sassetta?

I finally found a higher-res image of Sassetta's Adoration of the Magi, but now that I've seen it, I dislike it far more than the Journey of the Magi. In fact, while I definitely am not an Italian late-mediaeval specialist, to me it looks as if it may be by a different hand. For one thing, there's the experiment with the perspectival horse's butt on the left side, while the Journey seems to lack that sort of innovation. And the figures and lighting seem subtly different than those in the Journey. Hmmm, will have to think on this for a bit. I'm on terra incognita here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Sienese Painter of the Franciscan Legend By Bernard Berenson, Pforzheimer Bruce Rogers Collection (Library of Congress)

Some images that should be available in better reproductions obviously are not. The black-and-white photo of Sassetta's Adoration of the Magi is from Bernard Berenson's 1909 book, A Sienese Painter of the Franciscan Legend. There's a color version of this image available from the Oblates of St. Joseph, but the resolution is hardly any better. Originally, the two paintings seen above were part of the same work. The irony is that what was the top half of the original pair, a fragment now at the Met depicting the Journey of the Magi (top image), is available online in beautiful high res. It's a knockout if you're a fan of late Gothic art! In it, the Star of Bethlehem seems to be hovering over the ground, the effect of separating the two halves of the original work. If they were put back together, the Star would appear to hang over the Virgin and Child who appear in the Adoration. (For the bad color reproduction of the Adoration, see here.) To see the Met's image in higher resolution, click the picture above.