Friday, February 27, 2009

Suffering Is Optional

When Andrew Wyeth died recently, it came as a bit of a shock. Even though he was 91 years old, Wyeth remained energetic and amazingly retained most of his eyesight and dexterity to the very end. It was a much different case for Auguste Renoir. Born February 25, 1841, Renoir struggled with rheumatoid arthritis for approximately the last 25 years of his life, yet never stopped working. I had always heard stories that Renoir needed to strap the brush to his crippled hand in later years. According to a 1997 article in the British Medical Journal by Boonen et al titled “How Renoir coped with rheumatoid arthritis”(registration required), the bandages in photos of Renoir late in life (above) were applied not to hold the brush in place but to absorb the sweat of his hands, which could have led to painful sores if left alone. Unable to hold his palette, Renoir balanced it on his knees, leaving the arrangement of colors onto the palette to assistants. Doctors believe that Renoir’s problems began around the age of 50, progressively worsening until he was unable to walk at all after reaching 70. Yet, despite all these ailments, Renoir continued to paint, and paint beautifully. In fact, the brushwork remained energetic, if slightly shorter, while the colors took on a whole new vibrancy.

In addition to painfully crippled hands, Renoir eventually suffered from ankylosis of his right shoulder that left it virtually paralyzed. Renoir actually was ambidextrous and painted with his left hand after breaking his right arm twice as a younger man, so he attempted to paint with his left hand (above) to compensate for his right shoulder. It’s a testament to just how ambidextrous Renoir actually was that experts can’t distinguish the right-handed Renoirs from the left-handed ones. Even painting with both hands, Renoir’s stiffened body forced to him move as much as possible to reach the canvas. He painted increasingly smaller and smaller sections at a time, slowing down his productivity. Ever inventive, Renoir designed a picture rolling system that scrolled the canvas on wooden slats joined by an old bicycle chain. Renoir cranked the device to move the canvas up and down as he wanted. The paralyzed American painter Chuck Close uses a similar, although much more modernly mechanized system to move his huge canvases around.

For a painter used to painting out of doors, a wheelchair must have seemed an insufferable prison. Fortunately, Renoir’s devoted family and servants helped him move outside when he was well enough to work out of doors. The photo above shows Renoir being carried in a sedan chair in 1917 through the Renoir family’s garden in Cagnes-sur-Mer. Renoir’s burly cook apparently would lift the frail artist in her arms and carry him about. Renoir’s family chauffeur would similarly drive the artist around the nearby countryside in search of new subjects to paint. As much as I’ve always loved Renoir’s work, after I learned of his physical problems and his continued desire to paint, I gained a whole new respect for him as an artist and a person. All of Renoir’s work is so full of joy, but to know just how much pain was endured in the pursuit of that joy makes it all the more jubilant to me. Some great distance runner once said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Renoir felt the pain, but chose not to suffer but to live, and to create.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Change We Can Believe In

In just another of the many signs of the radical changing of the guard with the Presidency of Barack Obama comes news that the First Couple will be decorating their private living space with modern art by masters such as Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns (whose Three Flags, from 1958, appears above). Interior designer Michael Smith is asking museums across the country to suggest works from their modern and contemporary art collections that they’d be willing to loan to the Obamas. After the previous 8 years of anti-intellectualism, anti-modernism, and anti-Americanism, it will be nice to know that the work of living, breathing artists will grace the walls of the leader of the free world and inspire him to new heights. Perhaps this signals a new embrace of culture and the arts by our government, even at this time of financial crisis. At the very least, I doubt Obama will request any art just because he thinks the guy looks like him.

The Art of Death

While recently reading Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, which brilliantly covers the entire range of that period’s relationship with death, including the act of killing itself, I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been, to find Winslow Homer’s Sharpshooter on Picket Duty (above, from 1862). Born February 24, 1836, Homer served as an artist-correspondent for Harper’s Magazine during the American Civil War, sketching and painting many images that would be translated into etchings for mass consumption. Homer painted many scenes of everyday Union Army life, but also included disturbing images such as that of the sharpshooter. Faust explains how the improved rifle technology increased the accurate range of the shooter, allowing snipers to kill from seemingly out of nowhere at any time, thus inspiring an endless sense of dread that death could come at any moment. Such sharpshooters became pariahs among even their fellow soldiers, with their green camouflage uniforms leading others to call them “snakes.” Homer himself failed to understand the psychology of these cool killers. "I looked through one of their rifles once,” Homer wrote years later. “The impression struck me as being as near murder as anything I could think of in connection with the army and I always had a horror of that branch of the service."

Even Homer’s images of moments of tranquility in wartime such as Home, Sweet Home (above, from 1863) hold the sense of impending death. The two men in the foreground listen to the band in the distance play the song “Home, Sweet Home,” but any memories of domestic bliss only make the reality around them seem that much bleaker. It was such moments in the camps that would often be interrupted by the bullet of a sharpshooter or a shell fired from a great distance. Faust writes of how the death of some men eating dinner in a tent hit by an exploding shell shocked the survivors more than the deaths they witnessed in combat. Entering combat at least prepared soldiers for the worst, whereas death in times of ease planted the seeds of unrest that slowly drove men insane with worry over forces beyond their control. Snipers and artillerymen, aided by enhanced weapons, seemed like cruel gods of fate looking forward to shattering moments such as listening to music in camp solely for the pure irony.

Homer’s The Veteran in a New Field (above, from 1865) shows how even the end of the war itself couldn’t end the hold of death upon those who had fought and those who had waited for those fighting to return. Sweeping his long scythe like the Grim Reaper himself, the veteran strips off his uniform jacket and gets down to the work of the farm seemingly at the very moment of his return, hoping to work away the blood staining his hands. The cloverleaf insignia on the soldier’s canteen identifies him as a member of the First Division of the Second Corps of the Sixty-first New York Volunteers and the farm itself comes from Belmont, Massachusetts, but the man himself is everyman of the Civil War and, by extension, any war. Despite the success of his Civil War work, Homer never returned to the role of war correspondent, leaving that job to younger, less-jaded eyes. Homer saw too much death during the Civil War to want to see more. For the rest of his career, Homer searched for images of human reconciliation with nature, often through hunting and fishing. Yet still, those images continued the art of death for Homer and never bridged the gap that the Civil War had torn open.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flying Start

What if Gauguin had never gotten to Tahiti? What if Van Gogh had never traveled to Arles? How many more artists can you think of that enriched their art through travel? How many artists throughout history would have realized their dreams if only they had the means to expand their horizons? How many artists today could soar to new heights if given the chance to see more of the world?

In the spirit of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, British Airways announces Great Britons—a contest in which emerging British talents in fashion, art and design, innovation, sport, community, or performing arts can win one of 180 flights to any British Airways destination in the world. All you have to do is tell your story and explain how travel could help you develop your talents. Prove that you have the same thirst for excellence that Olympians and Paralympians do. The final winners will be decided by a public vote.

So, if you’re a British artist wishing you could study Renaissance Italy or Ancient Egypt firsthand, here’s your chance. Good luck!

Boy Wonder

At the tender of age of just 13, Fyodor Vasilyev began taking classes at night to learn how to paint. Born February 22, 1850, Vasilyev felt pressure to support his family after the death of his father and hoped to take the skills he’d learned as a painting restorer and use them as a maker of pictures himself. A few years later, Russian landscape painter Ivan Shishkin fell in love with Vasilyev’s sister and soon began teaching Fyodor his secrets. Shishkin eventually introduced his young protégé to other great Russian painters of the time, including Ilya Repin, who also took Vasilyev under his wing. Before turning twenty, Vasilyev, the boy wonder of Russian painting, was creating works such as Illumination in St. Petersburg (above, from 1869). It is truly amazing just how quickly Vasilyev put into practice the lessons and advice he received. Illumination in St. Petersburg looks like something Whistler might paint if he found himself in Russia on a cold, dark night pierced by gaslight. The way the moon silhouettes the great dome in the distance like a white nimbus brings the entire picture together. The quick execution of the people bustling along the street brings to mind the Parisians of the Impressionists, just beginning to work around the same time.

Like the Impressionists, Vasilyev was influenced by the artists of the Barbizon School, such as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, and Théodore Rousseau. Vasilyev most likely learned of the Barbizon style through Shishkin, but once he knew the basics of the style, he quickly made it his own. Vasilyev’s Thaw (above, from 1871) unites the bleakness of earth and sky in the middle of an unforgiving Russian winter. The sky seems almost more solid than the ground, which is divided by swirling ruts that reveal the dark earth beneath the snow and give the surface as much a sense of movement as the clouds above. The great horizontals of Thaw make it seem to extend forever—as “endless” as the famous Russian winters themselves. Vasilyev takes care to derive maximum drama from every element of nature, just as Corot, Millet, and Rousseau took the Forest of Fontainebleau and squeezed every last drop of interest from it.

Vasilyev’s Wet Meadow (above, from 1872) shows how he was able to do more than winter snowscapes. The richness of detail in the foreground enhances the sense of depth as Vasilyev moves back into the picture plane and softens the focus. Again, the clouds above rival the best that the Barbizon artists have to offer. Still only 22 years old, Vasilyev seemed poised to rule over the Russian art world for decades. Sadly, after a little more than a year after painting Wet Meadow, Vasilyev was dead, a victim of tuberculosis. Vasilyev’s tuberculosis forced him to paint indoors. He painted Wet Meadow entirely from memory. Just as he was gaining fame and seeing more that Russia’s great landmass had to offer as subject matter, Vasilyev’s life and career were over. Fortunately, Vasilyev lived on in the sense of influencing the next generation of Russian landscape artists, who followed his example of taking the best of the French style and making it distinctly Russian.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Garden Party

The story of Nils Büttner’s The History of Gardens in Painting is essentially the story of the garden in human history itself—a wish to return to paradise physically, spiritually, or both. Using the usual Abbeville Press style of lavish illustration, Büttner works his way through the beginnings of art history to the present day, hitting upon the usual suspects such as Claude Monet and the Impressionists (above, Monet’s Iris Bed in Monet’s Garden, from 1900) but also calling forth artists less well known for their natural touch, bringing both those artists and their periods into fresh perspective. Büttner’s text strikes at the heart of the human fascination with green oases and how the philosophy underpinning that fascination has changed in tandem with Western civilization’s evolving relationship with the earth. “[E]ven illustrations of actual gardens intended as topographical records are often echoes of human hopes or longings or projections of symbolic meanings,” Büttner writes. From the ancient Romans to the most modern of modern artists, the garden has held a unique place in the creative mind of mankind and reflected many of the central concerns of each age.

Büttner begins with the Romans and “the ideal of the Roman villa, which over time had come to epitomize otium, that exquisite calm, far from the hectic bustle of city life, universally considered necessary for any kind of intellectual activity.” The Romans actually borrowed this garden ideal from the Greeks and Egyptians, from whom they borrowed almost everything else. When living gardens were impractical, painted ones sufficed. A garden landscape of the Villa of Livia (above) created a grotto-like effect in a windowless, underground room. Büttner easily transitions from this Roman contemplative use of the painted garden to the religious contemplative use of the early Christians, who linked Christ with the lost paradise of Eden. Without getting bogged down in detail, Büttner explains how flower symbolism developed around figures such as Christ and the Virgin Mary into a full-grown visual garden of salvation for believers. Büttner shows how even the garden of courtly love, a parallel development to the Christian painted garden, bought into the idea of garden as the means of salvation. “Nothing that conflicts with the ethic of courtly love is admitted into the garden,” Büttner writes, “wickedness, hate, greed, envy, and miserliness are banished from it as surely as are old age and poverty.” Sacred and profane love follow the same program of green power.

When Büttner reaches the Renaissance and Baroque periods, we truly get a sense of how the garden became an ideological battleground in art. In addition to presenting familiar names such as Fra Angelico, Botticelli, and Andrea Mantegna, Büttner pulls out fascinating artists from the shadows of art history such as Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen. Van Oostanen’s Christ as Gardener (above, from 1507) depicts Christ as literally a gardener, with spade in hand, but “the garden here tended by Christ,” Büttner writes, “is to be perceived topologically as a symbol of the human soul.” Diving deep into the vast seas of religious images of these periods, Büttner always manages to resurface with a precisely apt picture to get his point across. Similarly, Lucas Cranach the Younger’s 1569 painting The Lord’s Vinyard shows a figure tending the garden of the human soul, but Martin Luther rather than Christ, who has been betrayed by the poor stewards of the Catholic church, according to the Reformation. The ancient Roman’s idea of the garden as philosophical facilitator gives way to a free-for-all atmosphere in such works in which the physical garden itself is reduced to nothing but a stage prop for propaganda.

As the power of the church began to fade and secular power took command, the garden as ideological battleground changed from a spiritual landscape to a landscape of social and political standing. Kings began to surround their palaces with elaborately structured gardens, such as the Gardens of Versailles. “Both the elaborate garden structures and the floral splendor displayed were luxuries reserved for the upper classes,” Büttner explains, “and thus clear evidence of social distinction.” When Rubens paints his self-portrait titled Peter Paul Rubens with Helene Fourment and Nicolas Rubens in the Garden in 1630, he shows himself as the owner of an elaborate garden to flash his “credentials” as a member of the elites in one single image. Romantic artists such as Caspar David Friedrich resisted Rubens identification. In The Garden Terrace (above, from 1811-1812), Friedrich shows a seemingly simple image of a young woman reading in the garden. However, Büttner deconstructs this painting to show how Friedrich disdains the young woman reading and ignoring the natural beauty around her, preferring instead the sublime wilderness beyond. “Perceived as the symbol of rationalism, the French garden is here contrasted with religious faith, a specifically German virtue,” Büttner explains. Suddenly, a garden scene not only depicts a philosophical distinction but also a nationalistic one, concisely capturing the convoluted web of ideas that underlie much of the garden imagery of the early nineteenth century before the Impressionists.

When the Impressionists and post-Impressionists arrive on the scene, Büttner’s narrative picks up speed and falls in line with the standard story of modern art. “The pure artistry in Monet’s pictures and those of the Impressionists developed a dynamic of its own,” Büttner writes, “one that caused objectivity to retreat into the background in favor of a total focus on artistic subjectivity.” Van Gogh takes this a step further and, in Büttner’s eyes, helps originate “the notion, commonly held to this day, that the artist as a creative subject, working for himself without commissions, adds new images to the reality of his time that must be engaged.” Later, German Expressionists such as Emil Nolde engage artistically with Van Gogh’s work in paintings such as Nolde’s Trolhoi’s Garden (above, from 1907). Büttner’s text helps restore the centrality of the garden and nature itself in the evolution of modern art—specifically as the origin of the vibrant colors that inspired the Impressionists and every movement on down to the Abstract Expressionists. Taking examples from artists not normally associated with garden scenes, such as Gustav Klimt and Edvard Munch, Büttner proves that the garden motif belonged not just to nature lovers but also to anyone addressing the course of modern art.

Paul Klee believed that the artist must hold “conversations with nature.” Klee’s Rose Garden (above, from 1920) is just one example of the many wonderful individual conversations within the larger dialogue of Western art with the idea of the garden found in Nils Büttner’s The History of Gardens in Painting. The garden may seem absent from the world of contemporary art, but Büttner believes that “[t]he garden painting fell into disrepute only when it degenerated into kitsch,” citing Bob Ross’ “happy little trees” and Thomas Kinkade’s sappy cottage gardens. Today’s focus on ecology will help reenergize the garden as a fruitful site of artistic exploration. If I have one complaint with Büttner’s text it is his laser-like focus on Western art to the exclusion of other traditions. A complete world history would be a tall order, but some inclusion of the garden in Chinese history (Craig Clunas’ Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China would be a great source) or the influence of Japanese garden painting on the West via Japonisme, a huge factor in the development of Van Gogh and others, would certainly add another dimension to Büttner’s argument. However, The History of Gardens in Painting remains a valuable compendium of how artists have lost themselves in gardens over time in the never-ending pursuit of paradise.

[Many thanks to Abbeville Press for providing me with a review copy of Nils Büttner’s The History of Gardens in Painting and for the images from the book shown above.]

Monday, February 23, 2009

Native Intelligence

Growing up in California, Grace Carpenter Hudson watched her mother teach the local Pomo Indian children, one of the first whites to bring school education to that tribe. Born February 21, 1865, Hudson developed an early fascination with the customs of the Pomo as much as with the Pomo people themselves. After years of learning art and attempting portraits and other genres, Hudson finally decided to indulge her interest in the Pomo Indians and painted National Thorn (above, from 1891), which promptly won awards and gained Hudson widespread fame as a painter of “Indian” pictures. Much of the American Indian painting genre consists of “manly” visions of violence and Wild West theatrics ala Frederic Remington and his kind that is long on drama but often painfully short on the facts. Hudson’s close association with these native people allowed her access to the facts of the case, but it is her empathy for the Pomo that really sets her apart from the crowd. Some may argue that it took a woman artist to recognize the humanity of Native Americans, but I think that it was more a case of her upbringing emphasizing the fundamental humanness of the Pomo that shaped her view of them.

By the time that Hudson began to paint the Pomo and record their customs and way of life, the Pomo and most other Native American groups were already beginning to disappear and assimilate into American culture. Paintings such as The Seed Conjurer (above, from 1896) hint at a larger mythology of the Pomo without giving any further detail. Both Hudson and her husband John collected Native American artifacts, which helped provide props for Grace’s paintings. What I feel is most appealing about Hudson’s paintings is the fact that the subjects are people first and Native Americans second. The Seed Conjurer refuses to transform the man into some magical shaman but rather shows him as simply a human being practicing his religious beliefs. Hudson’s paintings push back at the dehumanizing forces that helped make the alienation and forced migration of the Native Americans palatable to the general public.

Because of her deep affection for the Pomo people, many of Hudson’s paintings, especially the later works, slip from the edge of empathetic into the swamp of sentimentality. The Watermelon (above, from the 1920s) shows a young Pomo child “sharing” a ripe watermelon with his much too adorable dog. During her travels to Hawaii and the American Midwest, Hudson tried her hand at painting other indigenous groups, but she never found the same personal identification with them that she had built with the Pomo. Hudson painted almost seven hundred paintings related to the Pomo people over four decades, so you can forgive her for falling into the trap of popularity and eventually repeating herself and diluting the power of her earliest works. Because of such kitsch-like evocation of children and animals, Hudson’s reputation has taken a bit of a beating over the years. Hudson offers a wholly different view on the approach of Western art to Native Americans that makes the scenes of cowboys and Indians seem incomplete and downright childish.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Forever Young

Cezanne has never looked younger!” beamed PMA curator Michael Taylor at today’s press preview for the blockbuster exhibition Cezanne and Beyond. The culmination of 13 years of work since the 1996 Cezanne exhibition at the PMA, Cezanne and Beyond stunningly portrays the power of Cezanne’s influence on a wide range of artists across the entire twentieth century into the twenty-first hailing from all over the globe. PMA curators Joseph J. Rishel, Kathy Sachs, and Michael Taylor have done better than resurrect the old Cezanne—they’ve made Cezanne our contemporary.

By juxtaposing works by Cezanne with those influenced by him (above), the side by side comparisons really show the nature of influence between great artists, which the curators called more of a “resonance” than a direct following leading to derivative works. For example, after seeing the watercolors of Charles Demuth inspired by Cezanne’s watercolors, you appreciate the art of Demuth on its own merits, but you really understand the power of Cezanne’s watercolors, which I’ve always thought have been grossly underestimated. As Joe Rishel remarked, the fifty works by Cezanne in the exhibition provide a wonderful retrospective by themselves.

The PMA’s powerful Cezanne collection makes them the perfect (and for this exhibition, only) venue for this show. The PMA places its Large Bathers beside the National Gallery of London’s version (above), providing an opportunity for comparison not seen since the 1996 retrospective. (If only The Barnes Foundation could have allowed their version to join its siblings…) Dipping into their own collection again and again, the PMA gathers together Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and others to pay homage to Cezanne. Cezanne and Beyond is a Cezanne showcase, of course, but it’s also a tribute to the quality and breadth of the PMA’s collection.

The highlight of the press preview for me was the opportunity to hear Joe Rishel (above) speak. His warm and witty voice pervades the entire show, just as the spirit of the late Anne d’Harnoncourt, to whom the exhibition is dedicated, hovers over it. Rishel stressed the humor of many of the pieces, just part of the show’s intent to show that Cezanne and all of these artists are as alive today as they ever were thanks to their continuing influence on the artists of today—not only still-living canonical artists such as Johns, Kelly, and Jeff Wall, but also newer artists such as Sherrie Levine and Francis Alÿs. Survey-style museums such as the PMA always face the danger of stagnating in the public’s perception, always being about the distant past. Cezanne and Beyond brings Cezanne to life brilliantly and stakes a claim for the museum and art itself as a vital and important piece of the here and now.

Random Musings:

—As much as the preview of Cezanne and Beyond was a celebration, it was hard not to think about the funeral of slain Philadelphia police officer John Pawlowski taking place at the same time at the other end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Philadelphia has seen too many of their police killed recently. The PMA lowered their flag to half mast (above) in Officer Pawlowski’s memory.
—Before entering the exhibition area, I saw a man in the restroom who could have passed for Cezanne’s twin. He turned out to be another member of the press, but if he’d handed me an apple and mumbled something in French, I would have believed that old Paul had returned from the beyond.
—The Cezanne and Beyond gift shop is offering large lenticular versions of several paintings, including one version of The Card Players and a still life. Cezanne played enough games with depth and perspective that the paintings themselves are disorienting, but looking at these lenticular versions almost gave me vertigo.
—The gift shop also already had t-shirts for the Arshile Gorky exhibition coming this October. PMA PR Director Norman Keyes introduced Michael Taylor’s Gorky contributions to Cezanne and Beyond as an amuse bouche for the Gorky retrospective. (I freely admit that I had no idea what an amuse bouche was before I started watching Top Chef.)

—I looked long and hard at Picasso's The Dream, but couldn't see any evidence of where its owner, casino mogul Steve Wynn, accidentally poked a hole through it. Kudos to the restorers! Here's hoping you got a better tip than just free breakfast at the Bellagio.

[Many thanks to the PMA for allowing me to attend the Cezanne and Beyond press preview. I will be reviewing the catalogue once I’ve conquered the 600-page behemoth. You can see more pictures from the Cezanne and Beyond preview at my Facebook page.]

Heights and Depths

I’d love to know what percentage of art-related calendars consist of the art of Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kinkade, and Ansel Adams. The number has to be staggering. Born February 20, 1902, Ansel Adams has become over the years the comfortable-as-an-easy-chair photographer of choice for many Americans the same way that Rockwell has become synonymous with Americana and Kinkade with kitsch. Images such as Adams’ Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (above, from 1941) simply take your breath away with their composition and beauty. Black and white photography never seems archaic in Adams’ hands. The tonalities just leap out at you. Adams also had the ability to frame an image in such a way that it seemed unfamiliar yet recognizable—just changed enough to make you look at it with fresh eyes. Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico could almost serve as a pendant to the “Earthrise” photo taken by astronaut William Anders of the Apollo 8 mission that landed on the moon.

Unlike Alfred Stieglitz, Adams never resorted to distorting tricks to make his photographs more painterly, which was the ideal of much early photography. Instead, Adams pushed the technical limitations of photography to the brink ,experimenting with sharpened focus, increased contrast, different rates of exposure, different types of paper, and other darkroom magic to achieve realer-than-real images such as Winter Sunrise, the Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California (above, from 1944). Adams helped further photography as a medium when he founded with Edward Weston the Group f/64, which eventually became the photography department of the MoMA. Thanks to Adams’ efforts, photography grew from a poor cousin to painting and the other accepted fine arts to a medium on equal standing. Adams’ work also preserved much of the natural beauty of the American west, particularly that of Yosemite National Park. Sadly, much of the actual land has been altered by climate changes, but at least we have Adams’ photographs to remind us of what once was and what we have lost.

Other photographers, particularly Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, are associated with the social injustices of the first half of the twentieth century in American, but Adams also belongs in that circle. When the U.S. government detained Japanese-Americans in camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Adams felt compelled to fight back with his camera. Adams visited the Manzanar War Relocation Center and took a series of photographs to demonstrate that these Japanese-Americans were “real” Americans, too. Adams faced heavy opposition (even Theodore Geisel, the future Dr. Seuss, drew cartoons questioning the loyalty of the Japanese-Americans), but he hoped that photographs such as Manzanar Baseball (above, from 1943) would change minds in a “See, they play baseball, too!” kind of way. Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans, the book that came out of this project, remains an almost-forgotten chapter of Adams career and certainly one that will never make it to the calendars. As with Norman Rockwell, we have grown too familiar with Ansel Adams and think we know him, but Adams has depths that we too often lose in his mountains.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Playing Cowboy

When Peter Hurd burst upon the scene in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, looking to study under N.C. Wyeth, he must have been quite a sight. Born February 22, 1904 in Roswell, New Mexico, Hurd looked and acted like the cowboys N.C. was painting as illustrations to books and magazines. N.C.’s daughter Henriette took notice of Hurd and eventually married him. Hurd came to the Wyeth household looking to learn painting, but he also had something to teach—the technique of painting in egg tempera. A technique long out of favor since the Renaissance, tempera allowed Hurd to achieve amazingly powerful colors and a flatness oil paint resisted. Hurd’s The Rainy Season (above, from 1940)n shows just how beautifully tempera could be used for natural settings. N.C.’s youngest son, Andrew, took notice of Hurd’s unique technique and learned tempera from him, eventually creating masterpieces such as Christina's World in that medium. A fine painter in his own right, Hurd should also be remembered for the important role he played in the development of Andrew Wyeth’s art. Andrew painted in the painstaking technique of tempera to the very end of his life, perhaps thinking of the painting cowboy who came one day and changed his family’s life forever.

It’s amazing to think that Hurd truly was a cowboy in the sense of being able to do all the work of a ranch hand, yet could still paint in the most technically demanding fashion. After Peter and Henriette moved back to New Mexico, Peter agreed to play the role of Billy the Kid in the first local pageant now known as “The Last Escape of Billy the Kid,” which commemorates the outlaw’s daring escape from a local jail in 1881. Hurd’s The Last Escape of Billy the Kid (above, from 1940) provides his imaginative take on what that jailbreak must have looked like. The dynamic composition of the work shows the influence of N.C. Wyeth, who must have imparted some of his illustrator’s sensibility on his son-in-law. The streak of lightning cutting down through the left side of the picture balances out the shootist and his horse on the opposite side. You can almost feel The Kid’s anxiety as he strains to look backwards to see if anyone is pursuing him. The landscape behind Billy seems to swirl with the same sense of turmoil in Billy’s dark soul.

Of course, Hurd was much more than a cowboy, or a cowboy impersonator. Hurd painted several covers for TIME Magazine, including portraits of Lyndon Johnson and Duke Ellington, among others. In 1967, Hurd travelled to Washington, DC, to paint what was to be the official Presidential portrait of LBJ. Unfortunately, the impatient and embattled LBJ could sit only once for Hurd, who had to resort to working from photographs. Upon seeing the finished portrait (above), Johnson called it “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Washington punsters soon quipped that “artists should be seen around the White House, but not Hurd.” (The National Portrait Gallery now displays the rejected portrait.) Despite that high-profile fiasco, Hurd made a successful living as an illustrator and fine arts painter, never cracking into the upper echelon of famous artists as the movement towards abstract art took over after the 1950s. Like Andrew Wyeth, Hurd fell victim to changing tastes but never gave up his first love for the land on which he was raised.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Basic Instinct

How must have Constantin Brancusi felt surrounded by artists and thinkers such as Marcel Duchamp, , Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Rousseau, and others all crying out for art to return to basics—namely the primal forces and simplicity they saw in African culture and other cultures they saw as untainted by Western civilization. Born February 19, 1876 in Romania, Brancusi lived the primal connection that these artists tried to assume through the hijacking of other cultures. Growing up in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, Brancusi never forgot the native crafts and music of his homeland. Surrounded by Parisian Afro-philes, however, Brancusi couldn’t help but marry some of that cultural dialect with his own art in such works as The Sleeping Muse (above, from 1910). Looking at that work now, I can’t help but think of Man Ray’s 1926 photograph titled Black and White. Ray has his model hold an African mask to generate a comparison and contrast between the two “faces,” but Brancusi allows his face to stand alone. A nomad of sorts, Brancusi found himself at home with all cultures—first distilling them to their essentials and then binding them to his own.

After World War I, the Romanian government approached Brancusi to sculpt a tribute to those Romanians who had died fighting the Germans. The Endless Column (version 1 appears above, from 1918) finally rose in 1938, just as the next world war loomed on the horizon. Amazingly, The Endless Column lived up to its name and survived both the second World War and years of Communist rule continually threatening to take it down and erase its populist message. Unlike the Egyptian obelisks that celebrated the names of the powerful, Brancusi’s Endless Column celebrates the nameless dead who might otherwise be forgotten. Brancusi built the column out of a series of rhombus-shaped modules, giving the illusion of movement, as if some force were being pumped from the earth into the sky. Perhaps Brancusi, a spiritual man, imagined the life force of the slain Romanians rising from the grave through his column and ascending to the afterlife, maybe even to oversee and protect future generations of Romanians.

The PMA boasts one of the largest and finest collections of Brancusi’s sculpture in the world, including a copy of Brancusi’s famous Bird in Space (above, from 1923). Anne d'Harnoncourt, the PMA’s late director, loved Brancusi and took a personal interest in the development of the collection. Many press photos of Anne show her sitting in that gallery with Brancusi’s works peeking over her shoulder. The common misperception of Brancusi’s work usually comes from someone looking at a work such as Bird in Space and asking “Where’s the bird?” or thinking, “I could do that.” Brancusi’s art is more about spirit and thought than about subject matter and execution. Yes, the bird isn’t there. Yes, you could do that. But no, the bird is there in its simplest sense of a flight, more real than if you could see feathers and wings. And, no, you couldn’t do that, or at least not until Brancusi showed you the way how.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie Mania

The awesome people of Abbeville Press, who have sponsored two book giveaways right here at Art Blog By Bob, are hosting a book giveaway of their own. One lucky winner will receive a copy of 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards, by Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne. Go here for the full contest details. They like you! They really like you!

Eye Spy

Barbara Crane (b. 1928). Eaters, 1981. Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center. © Barbara Crane, 1981.

At just around five feet in height, Barbara Crane has a height advantage over most other photographers. Crane makes herself inconspicuous and captures people at their most vulnerable, unguarded, and real moments, such as in Eaters (above, from 1981). The Amon Carter Museum’s current exhibition Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision displays this period of Crane’s long, protean career as well as many others. The catalogue, which features an introduction by Kenneth C. Burkhart and essays by John Rohrbach and Abigail Foerstner, brings Crane into clear focus not only as a visionary photographer but also as a groundbreaking woman photographer breaking into the boys club of modern photography while raising three children, who actually posed for her as her thesis subjects for 35 cents an hour. “It took me years—really years, way into adulthood to say I was an artist,” Crane confesses. In 1970, Crane began a two-year project of photographing people passing through a doorway, which became the series known as People of the North Portal. “Brought together, the images deliver a vivid sense of place and activity,” Rohrbach writes in his essay, “Seeing Life Differently,” “the repetitious dance of life walking out of a public doorway and into the street, given a nostalgic twist through hairstyle and clothing.” Crane’s still photography captures the movement and vitality of life with all its change and randomness. Crane herself has never stopped moving artistically over five decades of creating.

Barbara Crane (b. 1928). Human Forms, 1964–65. Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center. © Barbara Crane, 1964–65.

Crane’s Human Forms series (above, from 1964-1965) shows the influence of Edward Weston’s nudes but also just how different Crane’s approach to photography evolved from the work of Weston and others. Weston skirted the edges of abstraction with his nudes, but they always remained recognizably human. Crane, contrastingly, pushes the recognizable to the point of abstraction to make us see it anew. “Crane’s goal,” Rohrbach believes, “has been to critique our subservience to photographic realism and to suggest that we have fallen into a bad habit of giving undue preference to that part of photography’s magical language.” Writing specifically of Crane’s nude studies, Rohrbach writes that “[e]ach body almost dissolves, becoming a sinuous river flowing across a snowy landscape.” The gentle lyricism and natural sense of flow of Crane’s nudes departs drastically from Weston’s almost sculptural, static nudes. Such works beautifully capture the philosophical difference between Crane’s “challenging vision” and the vision of her contemporaries. Crane achieves what Rohrbach calls an “unnerving disconnect” that breaks old associations and forces us to reconnect with what we see before us.

Barbara Crane (b. 1928). Neon Cowboy, 1969. Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center. © Barbara Crane, 1969.

Crane jumps from subject to subject throughout her career, always seeking something new to cast askew and make new. In a series of collaged photographs involving neon lights, Crane “juxtapos[es] neon lights over faces like ceremonial urban masks,” writes Foerstner in her essay, “On the Path to the Perfect Photograph.” In Neon Cowboy (above, from 1969), Crane superimposes a grid of neon cowboy signs over a series of male nudes. Rohrbach connects Crane’s use of series to the influence of John Cage’s music celebrating the artistic potential of chance. Although the neon sign does not move, the male model beneath does, sometimes wearing the neon like a mask and sometimes pulling away, revealing the hollow “mask-ness” of the sign. Rohrbach also makes a fascinating connection between Crane and the philosopher- semiotician Roland Barthes. Contrasting Crane with Lee Friedlander, who sees photography as seeing rather than making, Rohrbach calls Crane “a linguist at heart, in love with photographs as signs rather than signifiers.” Such philosophical depth adds a whole new dimension to what seem to be Crane’s simple pictures of people, buildings, neon signs, etc. “Crane taps the everyday world for the tumultuous undercurrents of unifying themes: chance, accident, chaos, contradiction and mystery playing out before our eyes,” Foerstner concurs.

Barbara Crane (b. 1928). Coloma to Covert: Fleshy Fungi, 1990. Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center. © Barbara Crane, 1990.

After years of photographing the urban landscape and its inhabitants, Crane went “back to nature” in the 1990s with her Coloma to Covert series. Crane brings her “unnerving disconnect” to such subjects as mushrooms in Fleshy Fungi (above, from 1990), rendering them more alien than earthly. Stretching her images into panoramic scrolls, diptychs, and triptychs, Crane not only mimics the Chinese scroll in style but in substance. “The images recall the pared-down vocabulary of haiku poetry,” Rohrbach writes. “Crane’s world may be alien, but it is remarkably inviting.” In other photographs consisting mainly of out-of-focus leaves, Crane makes “[t]he eye, desperate to find a foothold, fall ever deeper into the chasm of crystal-sharp trees beyond,” writes Foerstner. Whereas someone such as Ansel Adams, a friend of Crane’s, used mountains to speak of infinity, Crane uses the minutiae of nature to open up a universe. Flipping through the 265 beautifully reproduced plates of the catalogue, you get a true sense both of the versatility of Barbara Crane as she shifts from subject to subject and of her unchanging faith in what Burkhart calls in his introduction, “the serendipity of happenstance.”

Barbara Crane (b. 1928). Schisms, 2001. Courtesy of the Chicago Cultural Center. © Barbara Crane, 2001.

The Amon Carter Museum’s exhibition and catalogue may help win a place for Barbara Crane and her art in the hearts of the mainstream public. Crane’s art is both uniquely accessible while remaining uncompromisingly modern in its theoretical underpinnings. Crane continues to expand her repertoire by embracing the latest innovations in digital photography and computerized manipulations. Perhaps more than ever, the reality Crane photographs will find itself remolded in her spiritual likeness. Crane’s story is more than just a feminist success story, but it is certainly that as well. Faced with the reality of a male-dominated, realist-centered medium, Barbara Crane changed the rules of the game and continues to ask us to play along.

[Many thanks to the Amon Carter Museum for providing me with a review copy of Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision, with an introduction by Kenneth C. Burkhart and essays by John Rohrbach and Abigail Foerstner, and for the images above from the exhibition.]

Monday, February 16, 2009


In 1982, Pope John Paul II beatified Guido di Pietro, thus making the “angelic” in his better known nickname, Fra Angelico, official. Fra Angelico died February 18, 1455 with his legend already forming around him. Born around 1395, the height of Fra Angelico’s artistic afterlife came in the star treatment he received in Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists, in which Vasari proclaims Fra Angelico as possessing "a rare and perfect talent." Works such as Noli me Tangere (above, from 1440-1441), one of the many frescoes adorning the walls of the monastic cells of San Marco in Florence, show just how untouchable Fra Angelico was not only in terms of talent but also in terms of religious fervor. The newly resurrected Jesus turns to Mary Magdalene as she reaches to touch him to see if he’s real and tells her “Do not touch me.” Whereas Michelangelo and other artists of the Renaissance created works primarily for a wide audience, Fra Angelico created these frescoes for an audience of one, usually a solitary monk meditating on the mysteries of Christian miracles. The beautiful natural detail of the trees and greenery as well as the fidelity of the early morning sunshine flooding the scene would focus the mind of the worshipper, perhaps bathed in the same morning light rushing through his window.

If I could go back to Florence someday, I would make up for my greatest mistake during my trip there—not going to see the frescoes of San Marco. Like Rome, Florence offers so many artistic treasures that you could spend a lifetime there studying works such as Fra Angelico’s Transfiguration (above, from 1440-1441), another San Marco fresco. I admit that Fra Angelico’s works sank to the bottom of my “must see” list because they lack the bombast of so many other Renaissance works, which grab you with the intensity of their vision and their thrilling, celebratory humanism. Fra Angelico speaks in much softer tones. His Transfiguration gathers together all the usual suspects of the scene, but he resists crowding in too much of a heavenly host. Similarly, he fights back the urge to paint Jesus’ transfigured glory in Technicolor brilliance. Instead, he actually scales the scene back to a degree that the individual can perceive and apprehend more fully. The Transfiguration is all about overwhelming power, but Fra Angelico underwhelms in the name of understanding, lowering the volume to a level in which an individual could exist before the work for extended mediation.

According to tradition, the portrait of Saint Dominic in Saint Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion (above, from 1440-1441) is a self-portrait by Fra Angelico. This Crucifixion scene appears in a hallway of San Marco, near a staircase. The hallway provided more room for this vertical composition, which explains why it’s in a more public place than one of the meditational cells, but I wonder if Fra Angelico felt comfortable in putting his face “out there” in such a visible way. On the other hand, Fran Angelico had a reputation of being a deeply religious man, even among other monks. Vasari tells stories of Fra Angelico weeping as he painted scenes of Christ’s passion and death. Maybe this is the way Fra Angelico wanted later generations to see him—as a simple monk devoted to spreading the word of God. It took five centuries for Fra Angelico to amass enough verified miracles to reach beatification, but if the Catholic Church had looked closely upon his miraculous works of art, they would have sainted him almost immediately.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Eyes Wide Shut

With the definite exception of Sodoma, Guercino may be the owner of the worst nickname in Western art history. Born February 8, 1591, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri earned the nickname “Guercino” or “squinty” in Italian because of his crossed eyes. Despite that infirmity, Guercino taught himself how to draw and paint and eventually came under the influence of Lodovico Carracci and his cousin, Annibale Carracci. The Getty Museum’s current exhibition Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna, 1575-1725 and the companion catalogue (my review here) show how Guercino fit in with the Bolognese Baroque School with works such as Angels Weeping over the Dead Christ (above, from 1618) that portray the deep human, psychological drama of such subject matter. Guercino painted Angels Weeping over the Dead Christ on copper, which helped make the deathly pallor of the fallen Savior gleam with a special, pearly light. The angels mourning over Jesus’ body strike the perfect balance of supernatural and natural, allowing mortal viewers to empathize and join them in their grief.

The Bolognese Baroque School always managed to keep some distance stylistically from the often overwhelming influence of their near contemporary, Caravaggio. Caravaggio revealed the incredible potential of chiaroscuro like no artist who had come before. Guercino and the Bolognese painters appreciated Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro but had less affection for the gritty realism of his works that would often use prostitutes to model the Virgin Mary. Guercino’s Samson Captured by the Philistines (above, from 1619) beautifully captures the power of Caravaggio-esque lights and darks to generate high drama, but the realism here never falls into the gutter. Stefano Pierguidi, in his essay, “The Naturalistic Strand in Bolognese Baroque Painting” in the Captured Emotions catalogue, sees the relationship between Guercino and Caravaggio as “a dialogue carried out at a chronological and geographical distance.” It’s entirely possible that Guercino knew Caravaggio only by reputation or by his influence on other artists when he painted Samson Captured by the Philistines, which makes Guercino’s ability to recreate the master’s special effects even more remarkable.

Whereas Caravaggio was reckless, perhaps mad character, Guercino was a stable, reliable artist. In 1621, Pope Gregory XV invited Guercino to Rome, where the artist began to amass a small fortune in commissions. A lightning-fast draftsman, Guercino completed he completed 106 large altarpieces in addition to more than 140 paintings in his lifetime. The official seal of approval from Gregory XV, however, tamed what few wild impulses Guercino inflused into his art. In the last stages of his career, Guercino turned to a controlled, classical style as seen in works such as Saint Romuald (above, from 1640). The saint’s stunningly white robe recalls the whiter-than-white whites of Bartolomeo Schedoni, a precursor to the Baroque style from the generation previous to Guercino’s. As much as I love the color and technique of Guercino’s Saint Romuald, I can’t help but miss the emotional connection earlier works such as Angels Weeping over the Dead Christ still make. Saint Romuald strikes a hokey pose of devotion that only the gleaming gown saves from complete triteness. The angel behind the saint belongs to an earlier time, before artists tried to humanize such beings. Perhaps it was only in his earlier days that Guercino saw the potential for his art clearly, before success and prestige narrowed his vision to that point that we have to squint to see his talent in the late works.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Serious Business

Few critics wielded as much power for so long as John Ruskin, shown above in the highly flattering 1853-1854 portrait by John Everett Millais amidst the natural world Ruskin loved and studied so deeply. Born February 8, 1819, set the standards for artistic taste for both the Victorian and Edwardian ages, championing J.M.W. Turner in the 1840s and getting into a famous legal scrap with James McNeill Whistler in the late 1870s. An autodidact Renaissance man who dabbled in poetry and art himself in addition to criticism on the arts and social conditions, Ruskin today seems just another odd figure in the pantheon of odd figures that come down to us from the repressive Victorian times. As Millais painted the scenery behind Ruskin in this portrait, Millais fell in love with Ruskin’s young wife, Effie Gray. eventually marrying her after helping her annul her marriage to Ruskin on the grounds of “incurable impotency.” Ruskin disputed the charge of impotency, but he certainly couldn’t dispute the charge of incurable seriousness. As hard as I try, I just can’t imagine Ruskin ever laughing, even as a child. Ruskin’s dryness is that of the late Wordsworth, Ruskin’s early poetic hero, who became staid and sclerotic when the radical flow of ideas ceased. Unfortunately, Ruskin was never a radical, even in his youth.

Ruskin took up the cause of Turner when critics began to question Turner’s importance. Ruskin even sent a fan letter to Turner asking the artist’s permission to defend his name, but Turner gently tried to dissuade Ruskin, to no avail. Ruskin’s greatest work of criticism, Modern Painters, amounts to a long defense of Turner as the greatest artist ever. It’s a long trudge to get through, but I remember coming away from Modern Painters with a whole new appreciation of the natural world. Ruskin looked longer and harder at natural phenomenon than perhaps even Turner himself, as drawings by Ruskin such as his Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlas (above, from 1853) attest. Sadly, the revolutionary naturalism of Turner was as revolutionary as Ruskin was willing to go. The late, visionary works of Turner dismayed and saddened Ruskin to the point that Ruskin barely acknowledges them at all. The modern idea of Turner as the precursor of Impressionism and all modern art would give Ruskin a fainting spell were he alive today. After Turner’s death, Ruskin took on the task of classifying Turner’s work, thus setting the tone for all Turner studies for decades. Coming across erotic works by Turner, Ruskin fought the urge to destroy them and preserve his vision of Turner as a morally upright man and artist. Although sorely tempted, Ruskin didn’t burn the erotic Turners, although he told others that he did, but he did bury them so deeply in the archives that they weren’t found for almost 150 years.

When you add up the ledger of Ruskin’s good deeds versus his bad deeds, I still think the positives come out ahead. Ruskin’s fidelity to Turner’s genius and his fostering of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood helped promote those artists to a wider audience that they might never have found, even today. Like Giorgio Vasari before him and Bernard Berenson after him, Ruskin waded into the vast sea of centuries of Italian art and salvaged many names lost to memory. Ruskin haunted the untraveled paths of Italy and ventured into near-forgotten churches to rediscover and copy for his own use works such as Carpaccio’s Saint George and the Dragon (Ruskin’s copy above, from 1870-1872). Unfortunately, Ruskin couldn’t resist making forceful statements that cost some artists and schools dearly, such as the Bolognese Baroque School of Ludovico Carracci, Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni, and others. Ruskin condemned the emotionalism of the Bolognese Baroque as false and untrue and, therefore, unworthy of study, effectively burying those artists for nearly a century under the weight of his powerful opinion. I find it highly ironic that such an unemotional man could sum up the nerve to question the emotions of others, but Ruskin never considered the consequences of his critical actions. It is this strange mix of affinity for nature yet lack of human empathy that makes Ruskin such a unique figure in art history, one more at home with rocks and frescoes than with the flesh and blood people who make and enjoy art.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Animal Magnetism

When I left the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Neue Galerie at the end of 2007, I came away with two calendars to grace my office walls for 2008: one by Klimt, of course, and another by Franz Marc. Born February 8, 1880, Marc’s work remains little known by the mainstream public, and I’ve always failed to understand why. Few paintings make me smile the way that Marc’s The Yellow Cow (above, from 1911) does. Pardon the pun, but it’s “udderly” ridiculous in the way the sallow sow leaps across the scene with a beatific grin upon her face. For all his close study of wildlife, Marc is not about photographic realism but spiritual realism. With bold, unreal color, Marc brings to life the inner life of God’s creatures, including this cow, who seems to transcend the bonds of gravity with pure joy. Marc belongs to the Expressionist movement in color and time period, but he has little of their existentialist angst. When the German Expressionists “discovered” Vincent van Gogh and adopted him as one of their own, many of them copied van Gogh’s depiction of his personal demons. Marc, on the other hand, took away from van Gogh the lesson of the felicity of unadulterated color, extending the technicolor fantasies of van Gogh into an almost abstract sphere and focusing on fauna rather than flora.

There’s a great sense of dignity in works such as Marc’s The Little Blue Horses (above, from 1911). Marc painted a whole series of blue horses, a major one of which was sadly destroyed in bombing during World War II. It’s truly amazing how Marc could depict different animals with distinctly different attributes and moods. Marc’s The Tiger is all dark, beautiful menace, while The Cat and The Hound show the gentleness and familiar type of beauty of a household pet. In 1911, Marc formed the Der Blaue Reiter group with Wassily Kandinsky and August Macke. I think the collaboration worked because Marc provided the patient, calm balance to the intensely driven Kandinsky, who wanted to revolutionize art with his words and images. Marc also wrote down his ideas on art, but I’ve always found his images to be much more articulate in their depiction of “dumb” animals.

Marc died in 1916, only 36 years old, during the Battle of Verdun of World War I. Just weeks before, Marc and several other prominent artists received word that they would be removed from the front lines, but Marc died before he could be moved to safety—yet another casualty of the senseless of combat. Before he entered the service, Marc’s art had taken an almost Cubist turn in works such as The Fox (above, from 1913). The sly, red fox seems to almost hide within the shard-like pattern of Cubist planes Marc constructs around him. The fox manages to poke a recognizable nose out from the jumble, almost taunting us to track him down in the Cubist jumble. Despite his record of service in World War I, Marc found himself on the Nazi’s list of “Degenerate Art” in 1937. Perhaps the Nazis found the eyes of Marc’s menagerie accusatory, challenging them to ask who was really acting like an “animal.” Throughout 2008, I had many people look at my Marc calendar and wonder who did such works. Perhaps in the near future people won’t have to ask that question.