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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Advanced Art Appreciation


                                              [Image courtesy of Free Software Foundation]
 


Our previous post dealt with sculpture, specifically a somewhat holographic dissection of an explorer's life, from a snapshot sent to me by my kid. It created some political discussion which is not the primary purpose of this class.

Here, we are trying, simply and peacefully as possible, to satisfy the general education requirements of our eventual degrees toward which we can devote 60 semester units and no more. However,  politics make me jumpy and I had bad dreams stemming from genetic memory and seagoing Portuguese ancestry. I shouted maritime orders in my sleep --"Hoist the anchor! Anchor the hoist! Flush the poop deck! Channel your inner jib! Deploy the spanker!"  At which last order, instead of the crew unrolling the rearmost drive-(or "spanker"-) sail, a huge guy climbed on deck growling, "Here now, who's been naughty?"

After waking in mid-dive with my head stuck between bed and wall, I decided to proceed with a discussion of another sculpture. I chose this metalwork by Donatello Santino, deposited in our care by Daughter some years ago.
 

Santino produced this sculpture in the 1800s as a self-portrait, which he accomplished by holding a mirror in one hand and a hacksaw in the other. There is some dispute regarding the number of eyes in the statue's head. Those artists in the School of Realism contend the artist possessed a faulty mirror or his hand shook, causing him to carve four eyes peeking out of the visor. The Impressionist School opines Santino was unable to fully express the power and variety of light with only two eyes. Santino was himself a member of the Neoclassical School.

In the School of Neoclassicism, Santino was something of a bully stealing the other artists' milk-money and inflicting what he called funestus cuneus (deadly wedgies) on them. He was finally expelled for tardiness and moaning in P.E. But, as a sufferer (as I am) of presbyopia --an ocular lens rigidity caused by being raised in dimly-lit Presbyterian churches-- the one indignity he refrained from inflicting upon his classmates who wore glasses was the epithet, "four-eyes". It is this triumph of artistic restraint Santino was trying to convey.

This completes the second section of my course syllabus entitled, Advanced Art Appreciation or, as we here at the community college call it, Triple-A --hmm, which might shed some more light on an immobile sheet-metal-clad object with its hood up.

27 comments:

  1. He used a hacksaw while making his self-portrait?
    So I guess he could see better than everyone else!

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    1. Sometimes an artist's vision demands nothing less.

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  2. I can definitely see myself safely ensconced within the realms of the Santino sculpture. The outfit is taylor-made to accomodate the misanthropy and increasing hermitization of my nature. Shutting the helmet would keep out all of this Texas dust. The only disadvantage would be if I were caught in a lightning storm.

    A hacksaw would definitely be required to extract me, if I ever decided to abandon the sheet-metal-clad cocoon.

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    1. Ok Jon, but you're going to need the mirror too --just to see around you. It's got 4 eyeholes but I checked and the head on that thing won't turn at all.

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    2. I actually love the sculpture (even the four eyes). It would be a great addition in my home.

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    3. Excuse me Sir, but are you certain those are not teeth-guards? Maybe his third eye or Crown Chakra looks out of the top of his helm, so that he can watch out for the crunching blow from above. That's what they taught us in the Totally Weird and Bizarre School of Art.

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    4. Tom, I believe I attended Totally Weird and Bizarre School of Art. Is that a worldwide franchise?

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  3. Maybe the neck guard was stuck, so Santino put in 4 eye holes to allow for the suited up warrior could turn his head to the next set of eye holes?

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  4. You HAVE this in your HOUSE? The only comparable thing we have in our house is something our son left with us after his summer of wildfire fighting: a life size plywood Smokey the Bear.

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    1. Smokey's awesome! As parents, we are curators of our childrens' trails of novelties. A privilege and an honor.

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  5. Dear Geo.,
    what a remarkable lesson! The sculpture reminded me of a gimmick son once had in a children-magazine: a pair of glasses for young ongoing detectives, which had tiny mirrors on each side - so they could see without turning the head. Maybe the knight wanted to be able (having a very flat pug-nose) to look right or left without turning his head - maybe training for the first medieval detective (long before Cadfael).

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    1. I'm inclined to agree. But it would be a distracting way to view the world. Maybe the visor came first and the body-armor was added to minimize injury when users blundered into things.

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  6. Your daughter sure left some spiffy things in your care, dude. Our kids left misshapen pottery bowls and ashtrays they made in elementary school.

    Another fun post. Your mind works in wondrous and mysterious ways. Thanks for giving us a tour. Happy weekend!

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    1. Ah, they're all treasures, Susan, you know --even the misshapen clay things, and things that defy compositional analysis. Happy weekend to you too!

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  7. A recent reading of Treasure Island clued me into the enormous void in my own maritime vocabulary. I'm glad to know where the helicopter goes.

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    1. I'm still not sure, but think maybe the helicopter was a humanitarian project to help crewmembers escape the spanker.

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  8. 'At which last order, instead of the crew unrolling the rearmost drive-(or "spanker"-) sail, a huge guy climbed on deck growling, "Here now, who's been naughty?"'

    actually made me cringe and laugh against my will.

    (I think Santino's hand shook.)

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    1. Thanks Suze. That Santino's portrait is full-proof armor suggests he too knew the dangers of deploying the wrong sort of spanker.

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  9. I really needed a lesson in triple A. My triple A is of very poor standard, a heap of rusty old iron, in fact, not to mention a lot of hot air in the spinnaker.

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    1. Friko, our '71 VW bus has been saved many times by 3-A Auto Club. Perhaps if we added a mast and spinnaker...

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  10. Hi Geo.! How fun it was to find your comment on my last blog post and to learn that you had decided to follow my blog! Thank you! And I will follow yours in return. I settled on this one ~ You have three, and I can barely manage one! I'm impressed. Why this one? I fell for the schooner! Being a Bluenoser with the name Fundy Blue what else would I fall for? Your sense of humor! I'm looking forward to future posts of yours!

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    1. Thank You, Fundy Blue, and welcome!

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  11. Long ago when I started college, I took, almost by accident, a class in art history. At the time I was quite the philistine, so I expected to not get much out of it, but of course, I was pleasantly surprised. It really is nice surprises like that which make life worthwhile.

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    1. It was a surprise for me too, Laoch. I remember walking out onto the quad after such classes --which were essentially slide shows-- and seeing buildings, trees, sky and people in a new way! Hopefully that will continue to stick.

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  12. "Presbyopia." I love it. It begs for a Calvinist joke, but I can' think of one just now ...

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    1. Can Calvinists have jokes? Oh wait Calvin was French; of course he joked!

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