Chasing Isabel – Gaston Lachaise and his Muse

So fellas, how far would you travel to be with the woman you love? The woman who inspires you? For French-born sculptor Gaston Lachaise the distance was 3,400 miles, though we can presume he would have traveled a lot farther than that for his muse, the person who set afire both his artistic imagination and erotic passions. For an attraction that powerful, a trip across the Atlantic is a mere walk down the block.

She was Isabel Dutaud Nagle, an American woman vacationing in Paris during the early 1900s. Gaston Lachaise was still a young 20 year old art student at the Académie Nationale des Beaux-Arts when he first caught sight of her walking along the Seine. He was instantaneously captivated. There was only one problem; Isabel was married. She was also ten years his senior.

Isabel Nagle photographed in Paris, 1904:

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The son of a skilled woodcarver and cabinetmaker, Gaston Lachaise received training in the decorative arts from the age of 13. Immersed in apprenticeships and a supportive family, Gaston Lachaise was on a solid path to a life of creating art. But then, with a promising career in sculpture ready to break out, Lachaise did the unthinkable. At a time when artists from all over the world came TO Paris, often without a dollar to their name, to study and create and live in the city that was the happening, stimulating hub of vitality for artists during the 1900s  - Gaston Lachaise did the opposite. He made plans to leave Paris and follow Isabel to her home in Boston. On the surface it seemed he was going in the wrong direction. For an up and coming artist in 1904, Paris was the place to be, the heart, the “scene”. But in a choice between hobnobbing with Picasso, Modigliani, and art dealers in Montparnasse, or packing up and relocating to America to be with the woman he loved, Lachaise chose the latter.

But the logistics of such a move were not without snags. In 1903, the year Lachaise turned 21, he was was drafted into the French Army. He served an uneventful 12 months during which he could not see his beloved Isabel. It was also during this time that Isabel had to return to Boston. Her husband was a wealthy businessman who refused to grant her a divorce until their son Edward was grown and enrolled in Harvard. Isabel accepted those conditions. In the meantime, Gaston Lachaise was discharged from the army and, instead of returning to formal study, secured a steady job in the studios of René Lalique where he cast jewelry, modeled vases and other art nouveau objects that were all the rage of the day. Before long he had earned enough money to pay for his passage across the Atlantic plus $60. His girl was waiting for him.

Isabel doing a nice nude twist on the rocks:

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On December 5, 1905, Gaston Lachaise set sail for America. He arrived in Boston one month later and was reunited with his muse. He would never return to France again. Lachaise found work in the atelier of sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson and enjoyed the time he and Isabel were able to spend together. They listened to music, discussed art and books, and attended concerts. When Kitson moved to New York City, to a studio on MacDougal Street, Lachaise followed him. Isabel came soon after. By 1912, Lachaise was assistant to Paul Manship and about to enter the period of formidable personal expression in his own work, driven of course by his enchanting and inspiring muse. Of Isabel he wrote, “through her the splendor of life was uncovered for me and the road of wonder began widening.”.

Gaston Lachaise’s figurative sculptures are known for their Junoesque stature and voluptuous dimensions. Certainly Isabel was no skinny waif, but she was not quite the imposing figure of Gaston’s work either. In reality she was only 5’2″ tall and weighed around 110 pounds. But like many artists are inclined to do, Lachaise exaggerated for artistic effect, amplifying the sensuousness, strength, and vigorous force of the human form. This is one of Lachaise’s most famous works of Isabel, “Elevation”, in bronze. A fascinating sculpture that presents a full-figured torso and thick thighs in an active gesture balancing effortlessly on the tiptoes of tiny delicate feet. It looks as if she could lift off and float away, light as a feather.

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It’s hard to miss the influences of Rodin and Maillol. They along with Lachaise exalted the human form to archetypes of potency, energy, and forces of nature. Committed to his vision of “Woman” as he felt it and experienced it through Isabel, Gaston Lachaise remained faithful to his passions and his artistic vocabulary.

This is Gaston Lachaise’s “Floating Figure” at the National Gallery of Australia, also inspired by Isabel. Completed in plaster in 1927, there are seven bronze casts in existence altogether. At first glance we see an almost caricature-like exaggeration. But Lachaise is presenting us with curvaceous lines and shapes, which are inherently womanly and feminine, a disproportionately small head, and a cross-legged seated pose with outstretched arms that communicates a peculiar mixture of control, tranquility, expansiveness. An odd, original, memorable work of modern figurative sculpture:

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1917 was a banner year for Gaston Lachaise. He became a United States citizen, finally married the now-divorced Isabel, and was preparing for his solo show of sculpture and drawing at Stephan Bourgeois Galleries in New York. The next seventeen years brought more exhibitions, commissions, great success and critical acclaim, and the purchase of a summer home in Maine. In retrospect, Lachaise’s infatuation-induced decision to leave Paris for America was a wise one, however impulsive it may have been. His union with Isabel was happily made official, and his career flourished in his adopted homeland. He called America “The New World” and added that “The American soil is fresh. It is fertile. Flowers and fruit of new species will come forth from it to lighten the world.” The old adage about following your heart is exemplified by the journey of Gaston Lachaise.

And then, in 1935, Lachaise’s life and career were cut short by the sudden onset of acute leukemia. He died just months after a triumphant retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art. Isabel Nagle, who left her previous husband to be with Gaston Lachaise, was now his widow. He had written 567 love letters to her and credited her as his “primary inspiration”. Isabel lived for another 25 years after Gaston’s death.

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An invaluable source of images and information for this post came from the Lachaise Foundation . Definitely check them out to learn more. Also of interest, an old art review from the New York Times

Doughboys on Fifth

I should probably regard it as a positive sign that the museums of New York City are inundated with people these days, locals and tourists alike. Flocking to see art is clearly a wonderful thing, except when it screws up your plans! Yesterday, I attempted to see the Dutch Masterpieces exhibit at the Frick. But when I arrived, the line went around the block and the wait was estimated at an hour. I stood on the line for a while, but when we hadn’t moved an inch in 15 minutes, I realized I wouldn’t have enough time to see the show and still make it to midtown in time to meet my niece and my mother as planned. So I bid farewell to the Frick and busted out of the line. But I shall return. I’m not done with you yet Frick! Vermeer ain’t leaving this city before I can take in his magnificence, that’s a promise :-)

New York City being New York City, passing through the doors of a museum and paying an admission fee is not required to view art or objects of interest. Such things are all around us. Museum plans scrapped, I strolled down Fifth Avenue on that sunny Saturday afternoon. Within three blocks I was met by the 107th Infantry Memorial at 67th Street. Erected in honor of New York’s Seventh Regiment which fought valiantly in France during World War I and saw heavy casualties, the bronze sculpture sits a top a huge 25 foot wide granite base.

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The designer and sculptor of the piece, Karl Illava, served in the 107th as a sergeant and was able to draw from his own firsthand experience with the horrors of war and the brotherhood of an infantry division. The inscription is prominent and very nicely done.

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This powerful war memorial rightly draws stops from passersby. With art museums to the north and high end department stores to the south, the 107th Infantry Memorial stands tall along Fifth Avenue, a formidable presence of courage and sacrifice.

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See you all in 2014!

Stand Up Guys

In academic art settings, models are often asked to do standing poses. Why? Because standing poses are considered “classical” and are well-suited to traditional study. While both male and female models are asked to do standing poses in such environments, the dreaded task of long pose standing seems to fall more heavily on male models. During art’s golden ages of the past, the academic male nude was the epitome of the idealized human form. Browse through galleries of  Renaissance art, Old Masters drawings, Greek and Roman sculpture, etc. and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Of course female models pose standing for academic work. I’ve done a ton of it. This one was memorable. But the standing male nude has been, and continues to be, the exemplar of formal life study. And my male counterparts answer the call with poise, resilience, and professionalism.

A wonderful back view of a strong, muscular model, Standing Male Nude by William Etty:

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I hesitate to say that standing poses are “easier” for men, as I’m sure my model friends – male and female alike – would argue that there is nothing “easy” about a long, all-day standing pose. The discomfort we feel in those situations involves fatigue more than pain, although pain can be an issue as well. I’ve read that women’s muscles are actually slower to fatigue than men’s – that while men have more raw strength, women have greater endurance. I’m a tad skeptical of that, but perhaps it’s true. What I do know from my years of experience is that male models handle standing poses extremely well. If they feel discomfort they tend to keep it to themselves and soldier on. Also, let’s face basic facts about male vs female physiques. Men are stronger. They have stronger muscles and more muscle mass. That’s just the way it is. Testosterone, folks. Now we can quibble about the body varieties which exist among individuals of both genders. But broadly and generally speaking, these innate characteristics apply.

In life modeling, strength matters, especially for standing. Strong quads and hamstrings sure are helpful. Toss in some active gestures on top of the standing and you have quite a posing challenge. Let’s take a look at a few more examples of the fellas doing their thing.

It takes a great deal of physical strength – in the legs, torso, and back – to pull off a standing pose like the one in this drawing by Prud’hon. It’s a good example of the kind of thing asked more often of male models than female models:

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A beautiful contrapposto pose that projects both strength and elegance, Male Torso by Ingres, year 1800. The pole is a common prop in in art studios and a favorite in academic settings. I consider it best utilized by male models. Personally I never use the pole unless I’m asked. I see it as a guy thing.

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The pole again, assisting this male model in creating a great action pose which enhances the musculature, twist, and movement of the figure. Standing Male Nude, 1898, by British artist Harold Knight:

(c) John Croft; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

All art models everywhere should bow down in respect to the guy posing in this work, Study of a Man by Theodore Gericault, 1812. What you see here is pure torture. Just looking at it is giving me muscle spasms!

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On this holiday weekend I hope my male model peers relax and sprawl out on chaise lounges, the beach, in jacuzzis and whatnot. You deserve it. The new art school semesters are upon us, and you know what that will bring. Get your standing legs ready boys ;-)

The Age of Bronze, Auguste Rodin:

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Stopping by Bethesda

Central Park is home to numerous charming and exquisite spots. One of its most well-known and most visited gems is Bethesda Terrace and the “Angel of the Waters” fountain. Saturday, after modeling at the National Academy, I decided to take a stroll over to Bethesda via the 72nd Street walkway. The earlier overcast sky from the morning had cleared to bright summer blue with white puffs of clouds. Bethesda, with its gently spilling water, winged angel, and majestic staircases, attracted tourists and New Yorkers alike. The layout and setting of Bethesda is incredibly inviting, as it was intended to be.

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The vision of Central Park designers Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux is represented magnificently at Bethesda Terrace, a spot they expected to serve as the heart of the park and was inspired more by the essence of nature than by architecture. This can be seen in the detailed carvings which flank the steps from the top level of the Terrace to the bottom.

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These enchanting birds and plants are the work of Jacob Wrey Mould. I love them. Here’s a closeup:

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The fountain was commissioned as part of the park’s original design plan, and the bronze angel sculpture is the work of Emma Stebbins, a well-connected native New Yorker. The piece was created to honor the successful Croton Aqueduct, a notable achievement in civil engineering, which went into operation in 1842 and was responsible for delivering a reliable supply of clean water to city residents. Although the old Croton Aqueduct is no longer in use, it set the standard for New York City’s famously excellent tap water. We’ve got good tasting water, folks :-)

Here she is, the Bethesda angel atop the fountain, soaring tall against the summer sky:

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In keeping with the theme of healthy, nourishing water, the name “Bethesda” was chosen after the Biblical reference to the healing pool in Jerusalem where the sick and infirm went to be cured. From the book of John: “and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water … for an angel went down … and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.” (NKJV)

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The ripples and splashes of the fountain’s water streams are indeed calming, and the restorative effects are felt however you wish to receive them, whether in spiritual or earthly manner. Although the site is secular and civic in nature, the Bethesda fountain holds a celestial aura that seems to communicate healing, hope, and rebirth. The final scene of Angels in America features the spot quite beautifully and effectively because of these qualities.

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I took all the photos in this post and if the quality of them seems irregular it’s because my camera battery died after I took only a few pictures! So I had to default into Blackberry cam. I wanted to capture Bethesda any way I could and share it with all of you. Here’s one more for the road:

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David Times Three

Artists assume a big responsibility when they choose a legendary figure as their subject. The movers and shakers of history, mythology, and the Bible are universally known, and with these figures comes the import of their momentous actions and the attached symbolism. It’s one thing to paint an anonymous female nude in the studio. It’s quite another to paint Venus or Mary Magdalene.

I thought it would be fun to compare the works of three sculptors and their versions of David, the young Israelite who bravely stepped up to challenge Goliath, the nine foot tall Philistine warrior, at the Valley of Elah. Without armor or training, David placed a stone in his slingshot and let it fly. He knocked down Goliath and then beheaded him. The story of David and Goliath is immortal, and the phrase “David versus Goliath” has become a metaphor – an apt, effective one at that – to describe any situation of an underdog taking on a stronger, more powerful opponent. The little guy versus the big guy. Think George Bailey standing up to Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Or the “Miracle on Ice” USA hockey team defeating the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympic games.

We’ll start with the obvious, Michelangelo’s David. The standard-bearer. The epitome of Renaissance sculpture. A work that could very well have led to the invention of the term “masterpiece”. This is a strong, beautiful, idealized David, thoroughly heroic, standing in an elegant contrapposto, resting his slingshot on his left shoulder. His physique is fit and his handsome face holds an intense gaze. It’s been over 20 years since I saw this David “in the flesh” so to speak.

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Next we have Donatello’s David, in bronze, and at first glance you wouldn’t even know that this is supposed to be the same David as Michelangelo’s. More like the hipster David. He is, well, kind of girly. Unlike Michelangelo’s work, Donatello’s David stands atop the severed head of Goliath. But still his portrayal of David himself seems callow and effete. It’s true that David was a very young man, but it’s hard to picture this pre-pubescent kid taking down a giant with a slingshot. I find the hat silly and distracting, and the hand on hip gesture looks like immature swagger.

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Donatello did create a marble David before the bronze, but that one also leaves me cold.

Lastly, we have Bernini’s David. Now folks, this is what I’m talkin’ about. Yeah baby! This is some kick-ass sculpture right here. Bernini had an exceptional gift for capturing dramatic action in his sculptures, pivotal narrative moments frozen in marble, replete with movement and torsion. His David is a prime example of this talent. Unlike Michelangelo and Donatello, Bernini chose to depict David not before or after his triumph, but at the climactic instant when he launches his slingshot and sends the projectile that will take down Goliath. Exciting, in-your-face stuff.

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Busty Lady

First they took measurements of my head with a sculptor’s caliper. Then they slapped slabs of water-based clay on their armatures. Then they began the process of creating portrait sculptures of yours truly. When Mario D’Urso asked me to pose for his private sculpture class in his Queens studio I jumped at the chance. I haven’t modeled for sculpture in quite a while, and Mario is a delightful, wonderful guy, so it was a no-brainer. Here’s Mario showing Lara some modeling techniques:

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My booking with Mario’s group is open-ended. We’ve agreed to continue with the portrait sculptures until they are finished, with no fixed timetable. So as far as planning sessions is concerned we’re winging it from week to week, scheduling the nights according to my modeling calendar, which is very considerate of them.

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Still a work-in-progress, this piece is coming along nicely. And I’m really enjoying watching the class work as I sit for them. They mold, carve, add clay, take clay away, and try to achieve a likeness in terms of features, proportions, and character.

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A sculpture “bust”, by the way, usually refers to a sculpture of the subject’s head, shoulders, and upper torso. What we’re doing in Mario’s class is more accurately a “portrait sculpture” of just the head. But I couldn’t resist using “busty lady” for the post title. I thought it was funny. Or wishful thinking. Or maybe it was just a cheap ploy to get more search engine traffic :lol:

Art About Town

Hey gang! I’d like to broadcast some new art exhibitions taking place in the New York City and Long Island areas. The first one is Bernini: Sculpting in Clay at the Metropolitan Museum. The NY Times review described it as “not a blockbuster of a show” but one that is surely a must-see for sculpture aficionados and those who are curious about the process Bernini employed to achieve his signature style of twisting, dramatic movement.

The Guggenheim has just unveiled Picasso Black and White an exploration of the “colorless” works of an artist whose creative periods are often identified by colors – Rose period, Blue Period, etc. Always challenging himself, Picasso tested his skills and imagination with a limited palette of monochromatic black and grey tones. Again from the NY Times review, I found this excerpt quite illuminating:

Inevitably “Picasso Black and White” is also a judgment on Picasso the colorist, repackaging a long-held criticism — that he was indifferent to or indiscriminate with color — as a virtue. “The fact that in one of my paintings there is a certain spot of red isn’t the essential part of the painting,” Picasso himself once said to Françoise Gilot. “You could take the red away, and there would always be the painting.”

And last but not least is an artist I model for regularly at his outstanding school, the Long Island Academy of Fine Art. Robert Armetta’s solo show can be seen at Farmingdale State College’s Memorial Gallery and will be on view through October 21st. Check out this video of Robert’s elegant work:

Web Treasures

Hey friends. I’d like to share a few goodies from around the web that I’ve stumbled upon in the past few days. We have an awesome mixed-bag here, so pick your pleasure! First, a thoroughly delightful article on “How to Be a Plein-Air Painter” by Flora Armetta. Flora is a wonderful writer and the wife of Robert Armetta, an artist and teacher whose classes I have been modeling for regularly at both the New York Academy of Art and Robert’s own school, the Long Island Academy of Fine Art in Glen Cove. Next is a sensational gallery of artwork by the 18th century English poet William Blake. Unconventional and iconoclastic, Blake’s paintings have a strange, enigmatic power. The new issue of Glasschord Magazine is out. This volume’s theme is “Dynamics”, with eclectic offerings in art, prose, poetry, interviews, and music. Organic gardening, photography, and emotionally honest writing come together on AmericanCountryGirl’s Blog. She is a formidable communicator through both her hard work and authentic voice. From Bob Dylan to The Who to Bo Diddley, I loved this slideshow compilation of iconic rock album covers and the New York City locations where they were taken. And, in the wake of the Aurora shooting rampage, Br. Gabriel Torretta presents a contemplative, eloquent examination of “evil” in a blog post for Dominicana. A must-read in my opinion.

And finally, a marvelous find courtesy of Andrew Cahner who retweeted it onto his Twitter page. Rare footage of the great Auguste Rodin, one of my all time favorite artistic figures and giant of modern sculpture. I will never forget my visit to the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia two years ago. How I loved that place. The video appears on Open Culture with accompanying text, and I have embedded the video below. Have fun gang! See you soon :-)

School Days

So I was just about to get off the computer when a tweet came up in my Twitter timeline. It was posted by the New York Academy of Art, a superb art school where I am honored to work as a model and have mentioned many times on this blog. They’ve shared a terrific video by Life + Times which takes you into the school on a behind the scenes tour led by President David Kratz. It’s really excellent. Thought I’d pass it along here on Museworthy.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I am on babysitting duty tonight with my niece Olivia. I don’t know exactly what she has planned for us but I’m fairly certain that mayhem will ensue :lol:

A Little Michelangelo, A Little Music

Helloo, hellooooo! Hope everyone had a good weekend. Here in NYC, the rains are a’comin. Right now it’s misty, gauzy, and soft, and I love how the birds don’t give a damn. They’re flying around outside my window, chirping, singing, have a grand old time. A loud, squawking blue jay is sitting on a branch acting like he’s all that, “Yeah, I’m colorful. What are ya gonna do about it, bitch?”

I thought I’d share two funny Michelangelo-related stories. 500 years after his death and he still inspires people, to an obsessive degree in some cases. A man in Abilene, Texas has caused a minor uproar by installing a replica of “David” on his front lawn, The neighbors are none too amused. Penises make people crazy ;-) Another guy, in the UK, has painted his home to recreate the Sistine Chapel.  For some reason he used the face of British comedian Russell Brand for the image of Jesus. Is it just me or is that a little disturbing? :lol:

Let’s have a little music for “Music Monday” and start the week off right. This is a great track that I reblogged recently on my Tumblr. It’s Nina Simone singing “In The Dark” from the 1967 album Nina Simone Sings the Blues. Incredible vocals, and sexy lyrics – “In the dark, it’s just you and I . . .”

Pictures Over Politics

With all the major events going on the world lately I have been tempted to address some of them here on the blog. I even started writing a couple of posts in which I discuss issues and express my opinion. But those posts remain as unpublished drafts. This isn’t a political blog and people don’t visit Museworthy for that stuff. I am very well aware of that. I also just assume that no one really cares what my political views are! I am absolutely certain no one is losing a wink of sleep thinking, “I wonder what Claudia’s position is on abortion?”. I just want everyone to understand that I care deeply about the world and I follow the news closely. So please know that I DO have opinions. Some fairly strong ones too. And they fall variously across the entire spectrum. I’m an “independent”, for lack of a better word.

However, I would like to get just one thing off my chest that has really, really started to irritate me the past few months. Folks, this liberal PC speech police thing has to stop. Seriously. It’s gotten completely out of hand. You can’t just carelessly hurl the words “bigot”, “hate”, and “ignorant” at people who merely disagree with you. That’s just nuts. If you’ve ever known a true BIGOT, as I have, you would know that to call someone that is an extremely serious assault on that person’s character if it’s not accurate. Liberals claim to stand up for “tolerance” but then engage in these fascist, name-calling tactics toward dissenting views. I’m sorry, but if you’re intellectually incapable of making the distinction between reasoned, thoughtful opinions that differ from yours, and “hate”, then you really need to work on your critical thinking skills instead of reflexively frothing at the mouth like a paranoid bully whenever you hear something that doesn’t fall in line with your rigid agenda. I am in no way denying the existence of real hate and bigotry in the world. I’m merely saying that we should recognize it where it truly exists, not where we simply perceive it to exist as dictated by our politics and visceral responses.

I just can’t handle this sanctimonious, self-righteous liberal attitude anymore, especially since I have considered myself a liberal on several issues. But these days, every time I talk to a liberal, listen to a liberal commentator on TV, or read a blog or column written by a liberal journalist, I feel like I’m being lectured, or scolded, or arrogantly told that I need to “get educated”. To that I say: kindly go fuck yourself. I’m plenty educated, thank you very much. Stop trying to “correct” me or intimidate me or accuse me of being “phobic” or “ignorant”. I am NOT ignorant. That is a really uncalled for personal insult. And the only “phobia” I have is of small, confined, enclosed spaces. That gives me the creeps :twisted:

Ok, I’m done. Rant over. Let’s move on to the usual Museworthy business of art and pretty pictures. Just a few of my Metropolitan Museum photos that I’ve been meaning to post. Here are two of the Greek and Roman Gallery fountain with shiny, shimmery coins. I wonder if any of those wishes came true?

A fountain of a different sort, this is The Nymph of Danpierre, by Louis-Claude Vasse. Marble, dated 1763:

Visitors to the Met, in their excitement to see the famous paintings and sculpture, tend to blow off the artifacts and pottery displays. Or just give them a cursory look. But this plate really caught my eye. The colors and the detail of the battle scene are very impressive:

Yes I did take this picture of this sculpture at this angle on purpose ;-) Nothing like a guy with a nice ass, even if he is made of stone:

And finally, one of my favorite spots in the Met to photograph, the staircase which leads down to main lobby:

Paradise Lost

I was doing a set of quick poses at Spring Studio a few weeks ago and Minerva Durham, the director of Spring, was sitting in with the group doing some sketching of her own, which she will do from time to time if she’s not busy with other tasks. I concluded my set of gestures with a standing pose. On the break Minerva bestowed generous high praise for my last pose and declared it her favorite of the group. This fascinated me. I had done other poses which I thought were more creative, and I was curious as to why Minerva was so impressed with the last one most of all. So I asked her why and she said that it reminded her of Rodin’s famous work of Eve’s expulsion from paradise. I recalled the Rodin piece Minerva referenced and I realized instantly that she had a great point. Yes! Minerva was right, as she usually is about all things art.

Here’s my pose, sketched by Minerva in charcoal:

And here’s Rodin’s Eve:

Definitely some similarities – the hunched back, the one stepping leg. Although now I wish I had brought my arms closer to my face instead of keeping them down on the lower torso. I’ll remember next time :-)

Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden is one of the great Biblical parables, the narrative which provides the moral foundation for the concept of “original sin” and the subsequent “fall of man”. Artists have depicted this pivotal story with appropriate drama. Its main players, Adam and Eve, are often given physical gestures and facial expressions that communicate profound shame and remorse.

This is The Expulsion of Adam and Eve From the Garden of Paradise, by the 19th century French painter Alexandre Cabanel. Adam and Eve are shown cowering in disgrace as God looms over them, angered at their disobedience:

This is what happens when you misbehave and succumb to temptation – you get kicked out of an earthly paradise AND are forced to cover up your private parts. That’s the real indignity in all this as far as I’m concerned; having to wear a fig leaf. Let this be a lesson to all of you :lol:

Here’s the brilliant Rodin again, this time his marble sculpture of both Adam and Eve cast out from paradise. To great effect, Rodin placed Adam’s hand to cover his face in a gesture of humiliation. What a magnificent sculpture:

It is purely out of obligation that I post this next image. It is, of course, Michelangelo’s depiction of Adam and Eve’s expulsion which appears in the Sistine Chapel. It bears the Michelangelo trademark of depicting the female Eve as a manly butch. But the dramatic impact is great, and that sword coming in at Adam’s neck is pretty freaking scary:

American artist Benjamin West succeeded in capturing the tragedy of the fall in this work The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise from 1791. Again we see the hand covering the face gesture, and the atmosphere of God’s wrath:

Since this post was inspired by Minerva’s sketch of my pose I’ve limited it to the expulsion aspect of Adam and Eve. I’ll do another post on the “pre-fall” existence of Adam and Eve and the events which led to that harrowing event – the initial innocence, then the “temptation” that led to Adam and Eve’s bad behavior. More great artwork will take us through that story, so prepare for nudity, snakes and tasty fruit ;-)

Fauré’s Pavane

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. I worked, as usual, and worked again today. An art model’s duties are ongoing. Tomorrow I have a much needed day off and I’ll be spending it doing my taxes. What a delight.

Anyway, I’m a little tired but it’s still Monday, which means I can still offer a post for “Music Monday”. Lately I’ve been really getting into the music of Gabriel Fauré. I’ve always been a huge fan of the French composers. Love them all equally I’d say. But hearing Fauré’s famous “Pavane in F-sharp minor” on classical radio the other day reminded me just how amazing he is. I think I prefer it to Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess”. A pavane is slow dance, which was popular in Europe during the Renaissance.

This video features Fauré’s Pavane with beautiful, haunting images of sculpture. I think they compliment the music very well. Enjoy, and I’ll see you soon :-)

Kiss My Sarcophagus

One of the great things about working at the National Academy is the proximity to the Metropolitan Museum. If you’re finished early enough, you can enjoy a lovely five block stroll down Fifth Avenue and take in the Met’s countless, inspiring treasures. Today I modeled only for the morning session. So at 12:00, to the Met I went!

My primary reason for going to the museum was to see the Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand photography exhibition (which was INCREDIBLE, by the way!), but I always find myself wandering into the Greek and Roman Galleries whenever I’m there. The atmosphere is rarified and bright, and unlike some of the dimly lit galleries upstairs, the Greek and Roman is an ideal place to take pictures.

A sarcophagus is basically a stone coffin. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all used sarcophagi to inter their dead. Since they were meant to remain above-ground sarcophagi were often ornately designed, with mythological figures and stories carved into the stone. So what you have are amazing relief sculptures that are as impressive and elaborate as anything you’ll see. Marble, limestone, alabaster, and metals were all used for sarcophagi. A sarcophagus could have either stood alone freestanding or been part of a larger tomb construction. When the Christian practice of burying the dead in the ground became widespread, sarcophagus use gradually disappeared. King Tut’s tomb held an enormous sarcophagus – nine feet long and nine feet high- which contained the famous solid gold coffin that held the mummified remains of the King. Actually I think it was a coffin inside another coffin inside another coffin, in the sarcophagus, in the tomb. I’m not sure :???:

There are three significant sarcophagi in the Greek and Roman Galleries. I photographed all of them at varying spots and angles. Click to enlarge for up close detail and dimension.

You find many players in these scene depictions: cherubs on chariots, bears, lions, horses, minotaurs, garlands of flowers, grapes, and pomegranates, the Greek hero Theseus and the princess Ariadne, Dionysus, Endymion, the whole gang.

Sealed inside an intricately sculpted sarcophagus is a grand way to spend eternity. A bit more stylish than a pine box! You gotta hand it to those Greeks and Romans – they went all out!

Making Guitars With Pablo

My mind has been a little distracted lately. I’m steeped in a state of jumbled contemplation over some personal and professional issues. Nothing to worry about, as I’ve done plenty of issue-wrangling in my life. I’m a pro! But it’s affecting my mental focus these days, and my blogging too. I can’t seem to get into my “groove”. So it was quite fortunate that a topic for “Music Monday” fell into my lap today, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art. Thank you MoMA!

Their new exhibit is called “Picasso Guitars, 1912-1914″, and the exhibition website is fascinating reading and very easy to navigate. You can view rare images of Picasso’s studio, up close details of his experimental guitar project work, and read informative text. It is an amazing glimpse into the creative process which began one day in 1912 when Picasso, with his artistic imagination in high gear, like a young child in kindergarten art class, cobbled together a guitar using only common materials of cardboard, string, paper, wire, and a little glue. In that rudimentary sculpture piece, Picasso saw something. He then created another guitar, this time with sheet metal. Then came drawings, collages, photographs, and eventually, paintings. Picasso was playing with the apparatus for Cubism but searching for a new direction. And it all started with a crudely assembled cardboard guitar he made in his Paris studio one day in 1912.

Here is one of Picasso’s guitar constructions, sheet metal and wire:

“Picasso Guitars” is on view through June 6th. Enjoy the MoMA exhibition site I linked to above, it’s really fascinating. Lots to see and explore. Also check out this article and gallery slideshow on The Daily Beast. I’m going to get my head straightened out. See you soon, friends :-)