Art model poses are all about “gesture”. It’s at the heart of what we do. And artists, when working from life, attempt first and foremost to capture the model’s gesture. You have no drawing if you don’t have the gesture, and then hopefully the authentic emotion and expression that accompanies it.
After spending an inordinate amount of time on Google Image search, I finally came across a work of figurative art whose gesture best reflects my mental and emotional state right now. I was a bit taken aback to discover that the theme and subject matter were totally unrelated to my personal situation. Yes, I saw myself in the pose, and the gesture. I connected with it quite powerfully, in fact. But the subject was not some forlorn and sexually-frustrated woman pining over a man, but none other than Mary Magdalene! Yikes.
Ever since my embarrassing “strike out” with the crush, my sleep pattern has been, let’s say, fitful? Restless? Discontented? Ill at ease? Yeah, all those adjectives work. When you harbor an attraction for someone and that attraction goes unfulfilled, you get pretty fidgety. All you can focus on is that nagging, unpleasant feeling of deprivation, the pent up energy that has nowhere to go, the longing to be touched and no one there to touch you, the aching that can drive you completely insane, and the sad realization that all the things you want to do with this person are taking place only in your imagination. It makes you sigh and cry. It makes you toss sheets around and compulsively re-arrange pillows. It makes you get up and water houseplants at 3:00 in the morning. It makes you open the refrigerator door and start nibbling on carrot sticks.
Now I am definitely no Biblical scholar. So I learned from some quick research that this painting by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre portrays Mary Magdalene in the years after Christ’s crucifixion, when she lived like a hermit in a cave in Saint-Baume, France. Isolated. Doing penance for past sins. Contrast these circumstances with mine, and you have a really sick bundle of disparities. Mary was contrite over bad behavior. I’m trying to partake in some. Mary purposely placed herself in seclusion. I’m trying to break out of mine. Mary was in the south of France. I am in Queens, NY. Yeah, this is too funny. And yet, the gesture of this painting suits us both!
But can someone back me up here? Is this pose, or is it not, a little erotic? Or am I just so horny that I can’t tell the difference anymore and interpreting sex in everything? Well, either way, it reminds me of myself in bed last night. I really wish I was doing an art modeling job this very moment because I’d do this pose and boy would I nail it! Kind of like the “Method” school of art modeling. Marlon Brando ain’t got nothing on me.
Here is Lefebvre’s Mary Magdalene in the Grotto, from 1876:
Lefebvre, by the way, is one of those Art Renewal Center darlings, like our old pal Bouguereau. French academic painter. Tons of female nudes and subjects. Sounds like a guy who might find his way onto Museworthy again very soon.