Today, 100 years ago, Egon Schiele died at the age of 28, three days after his wife Edith. Both were struck by the Spanish flu in the autumn of 1918. Edith was six months pregnant with their first child. In 1915 Schiele made this fragile portrait of his wife.
Egon Schiele, Portrait of Edith, 1915
Arno Landewers 20/21 century art & architecture post· Egon Schiele, Portrait of Edith, 1915, collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.
Imagine. Dying at 28 years old. Watching your beloved wife and unborn child die before you. It was the great epidemic of Spanish Flu, in 1918. What losses were suffered, what pain was endured. To people surrounded by it, it was the end of days. So many times it has felt like the end of days, yet art and music go on.
Sometimes a struggle is captured in a single painting. Or photograph, or sketch… And this is one I’ve immediately identified with. It’s a representation of where I’ve been these past few days as I’ve struggled to stay awake, or get out of bed. Or stay focused. Or write a few words, or wonder why I can’t have a magic pill that would allow me to overcome whatever it is I need to overcome. This is what I look like today, purely as an abstraction as I’m not that thin. You can see the depth of despair that you know will always linger within even though there is a bit of hope or signs of life that have surfaced—not entirely, mind you—yet skimming the face, eyes, lips. Maybe the eyebrows perched into a worrisome frame. It’s not clear to me what the worry is contemplating or considering. Maybe nothing at present—perhaps a comment on the state of being. And then again sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a comment and a reflection.
I looked up Roman having not heard of him before seeing this painting. That effort has rendered the painting yet more of an enigma, as Zakrzewski is a man and his primary focus was painting this singular woman. Not a “Her portrait…” as indicated on the post. Not much more information is given as entries are in Polish and one of the signatures of the particular struggle I seem closed within is laziness. Translations are often a mouse click too far. (Not a bridge at all.)
And so here we are left once again, with the waaaayyyyy things are.
Of cats and literacy
At last I looked up ineffable and found it to be not at all what I had made-up for meaning. When I was much younger I was also much lazier. I also read books ahead of my abilities. Or some of them at least. Meaning became context coupled with then-current knowledge, not learning. (Although there were many areas of learning, of course.) There also was no omnipresence of computers. I used the library and dreamed of one day owning the OED. Within that labyrinth of childhood I thought ineffable meant inevitable, unavoidable, inescapable. It doesn’t. It means something much better in that it is: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. Not only better but much more usable, yes?
I spent the morning looking at cat rescue places with cat photos. I found I only favored those cats which looked like Squeek. Perhaps I am not ready. Besides, did I not say I would not get another cat? I believe I did. Did anyone hear me? Besides 2, did I not say cats scratch furniture? Zeus, not Squeek. Did I not say that some cats pee outside of litter boxes? Squeek, not Zeus. What about a pet rat? I ask myself. They are not long lived, I say. Let’s not line up the heartbreaks.
So I shall take myself off to the cafe where I look like this woman only with a book and a moleskine on the table.
Integrated highlights from an article in Quartzy By Annaliese Griffin
The original Greek myth of Medusa offers plenty to be angry about. The monstrous being with snakes for hair starts out as a human woman, who Poseidon rapes in Athena’s temple. The goddess then punishes Medusa by turning her into a Gorgon and exiling her. Perseus is later sent on an errand to bring Medusa’s head to King Polydectes. Equipped with a mirrored shield, winged sandals, and a special sack for her head, Perseus creeps up on Medusa while she lies sleeping, cuts off her head, and then uses it as a weapon for turning enemies into stone.
Poseidon rapes, and the victim, Medusa, is punished by another woman. The Scene, the Myth, the Archetype, was set a long time ago and is the foundation via Greek and Western Culture—for the lives we play out today. Not just the woman as victim, but the slayer as man supported by other women.
A sculptor, Luciano Garbati, decided it was time for a change.
“Medusa” by Luciano Garbati
Garbati came to question the characterization of Medusa as a monster, pointing out that she was “raped and cursed and killed.” As an artist, he became fascinated with one question: “What would it look like, her victory, not his? How should that sculpture look?”
Before the attention on social media, Garbati’s Medusa had been lingering in relative obscurity. Though he sculpted her in clay, then cast her in resin with fiberglass reinforcement a decade ago, the work has only been in one show, and remains in his studio in Buenos Aires, available for sale in the original resin for $35,000, or in bronze for approximately $25,000 more, depending on the foundry. Standing at more than two meters tall, she’s larger than life, even more outsized than her social media presence.
“This difference between a masculine victory and a feminine one, that was central to my work. The representations of Perseus, he’s always showing the fact that he won, showing the head…if you look at my Medusas…she is determined, she had to do what she did because she was defending herself. It’s quite a tragic moment.”
Garbati posted photos of the sculpture to his Facebook page earlier this year. He immediately noticed friends, then friends of friends, and then people he didn’t know at all, using the image to illustrate their reactions to the news, or as a profile photo. An Italian writer named Sara Giovinazzi published a blog post that used his sculpture to reflect on the idea of mythological inversions spread the image even further.
When Medusa started popping up all over social media, on Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram, Garbati joined Twitter to gently remind fans that he was the artist behind the work, and that the sculpture was not, as some had reported, in Florence, Italy, but in his studio in Argentina. Garbati says he has appreciated finding a new audience for an older work, but what was really gratifying and striking to him were the messages about Medusa and his version of the story.
If I had $35,000, I would have a statue of Medusa in my living room.
Posted on Modern Art 20th Century
This is from Pablo’s “Blue Period.” It’s called Woman In A Flowered Hat.
Just think, this was painted in 1901. I wonder, had it been purchased then, at what profit today.
An extreme fear of running out of reading material—————————————————————————————————
But it’s not the fear of running out of just any books, it’s the fear of running out of the Right books. There are Right books, you see. The books written by a favorite author, The books you know you will read, just waiting for the right time and savoring the time before the reading, books that require days filled with rain and storm, books you’ve wanted to read for years. Those sorts of books. Yes?