Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Arch Angel! Arch Angel!

...this is All Mighty...do you read me...over?"

(quote from Apocalypse Now)

Alexandra, of Out of Lascaux blog in a recent entry on "Art and Pornography, linked back to a much earlier post on Artemisia Gentileschi here, here, and here, and Michelangelo Caravaggio - the great innovator and tastemaker of the Baroque here, here, here, and finally here For those who don't know the story, Artemisia was first raped by her tutor (Tassi), unsuccessfully sought recourse in the courts, then wound up in some sort of "consensual" relationship with him.

Feminist Theory critics have had a field day with her, because her art is filled with, variously, images of female degradation, (Danae, Susannah), female revenge (Judith, Jael and Sisera) and female suicide (Cleopara, Lucrece)…mostly in paintings which - judging from acknowledged self-portraits - would appear to be at least partially self portraits.

It helps that Gentileschi was a damn fine painter!

Alexandra argues: damn the feminists! Gentileshi was a Baroque artist more influenced by the temper of her time, and its over-arching master Caravaggio.

Never mind that Caravaggio was a homosexual with a penchant for violence…much like the verse-dramatist Christopher Marlowe a generation before.

This is a very modern position. And maybe modern art gives us less of the person than two thousand years of illusionistic realism. One can only vaguely infer Jackson Pollack's alcoholism and violence from the blotches and swirls. Still less, Rothko's alcoholism and misanthropy from gusty orange and pink squares. Maybe one reason Andy Warhol was such a relentless self-promoter was that a cartoon soup-can is such a poor missive…every artist wants to be known!

Meanwhile, any excuse is a good reason to look at Caravaggio and Gentileschi. A parting thought - the Baroque was BETTER than the Renaissance?



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