Sorry I wasn't around to yammer about today's events, or to publish the comments some of you were kind enough to leave. But I took this occasion to make my way to DC, where the National Gallery is hosting an amazing -- AMAZING -- Pre-Raphaelite exhibit.
In truth, amazing
is too small a word. I thought I knew these images well. I've read books about the PRB and seen a number of documentaries. But take it from me, folks: If you haven't seen these images "in the paint," you haven't seen them. More than most great paintings, these pieces simply do not exist in reproduction.
I am so
off the Italian stuff for now. Even the divine Ginevra looked pokey after these Brits showed what they could do.
The star of the show, beyond all doubt, is William Holman Hunt. Although his draftsmanship could sometimes be a tad "off" -- one of these Sundays, I may devote a very impudent post to pointing out the flaws in The Awakening Conscience
-- he may be the best painter
in the history of the medium. Hunt's The Shadow of Death
-- a huge, life-sized work -- contains an infinitude of detail and deftly-painted passages and technical challenges handled with miraculous ease. Seeing that work in reproduction is like watching Lawrence of Arabia
on an iPhone. If you have any interest in art, this painting alone justifies the cost of travel to DC.
Before I saw this show, I might have told you that my favorite PRB-ers
were Rosetti and Burne-Jones. But they're a bit disappointing in the
is the grand exception -- I think it's Rosetti's best work, and one of the all time finest PRB productions. Believe it or not, Andrew Lloyd Webber owns this picture; he keeps it above his piano. For a while, I was furious at Webber: How dare
he possess a masterwork that rightfully belongs to me
? However, since he was kind enough to loan out Prosepine
for this show, I have decided to forgive him.
This one exhibit justifies my otherwise ill-considered move to the east coast. As a reminder of Baltimore's inherent despicableness, I nearly got into a scrape with an insane bruiser on the bus home. He tried to pick a fight, until he learned about the buck knife in my pocket. (Those one-handed openings take practice.) That
seemed to make an impression.
So. Anything going on in the news?
By the way:
If you want an example of what's wrong with art criticism today, go here
. Yet another talent-free pretentious mofo reduces painting to subject matter -- to literature. If you want to learn about real
art, my advice is to toss out everything said by anyone who has never actually held a brush and made a picture. And then toss out everything written by people who can talk only about subject matter. SUBJECT MATTER DOESN'T MATTER. ART IS NOT WHAT