Saturday, April 18, 2015

variegated DC

Given how much I've published about Hiram Powers' Greek Slave, it's shocking, I know, that I haven't seen her in the flesh - I mean, in the marble - before today.  But there she was, in the NGA, among the display of acquisitions from the Corcoran.  I now see, even more than before, why she was quite so shocking to the Victorians.  There's something about the waxy quality of the marble that makes it very, very like palpable flesh: it's as though one would leave little indentations if one pressed one's fingers in.  It was almost disturbing - I don't expect to be disturbed by the lifelike qualities of sculptured form in that way.  I kept imagining her circling and circling on her automated plinth, which must have added even more to the illusion.

Here's some more marble, lying around in front of some forsythia, in front of a poster for the Piero di Cosimo exhibition (very worth going to).  He was a strange guy (so far as one can tell from Vasari), who painted strange pictures, with rather too many violent satyrs to make one entirely comfortable. And his bodies are always slightly out of proportion - one would think, too, that he had an odd sense of perspective, until coming upon his painting of a palace under construction, at which point it's quite obvious that he has an impeccable understanding of Vitruvian perspective, right down to the horse and rider, in dead center, galloping straight towards the viewer.

Oh, and if someone knows why all these balloons, in suffragette colors, are tied to a lamppost, do tell ...

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