Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Protecting nature—and art

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.—Herman Hesse
At left is a vintage Russian poster encouraging us to reflect on the utterly precious and sublimely beautiful aspects of nature. I love the way graphic artists can distill a message down to its essence while producing something simple yet aesthetic. If you're an art poster aficionado, you'll want to take a gander at our series of books by Poster Auctions International. I also had to share with you this poster that Mary Chapin Carpenter put on her Facebook page. A beautiful image for a beautiful person.

Not so beautiful is the disturbing news that some crackpot defaced a Rothko painting with gobbleygook in ink at London's Tate Modern the other day. The museum has security in every room, but I guess he acted too fast. I hope they can get it out. BTW, did you that the Tate is the world’s most-visited art gallery? I would have thought the Louvre or the Met. Anyway, this painting was previously in the news because some people claim that Rothko's notes on the back indicate he wanted it hung horizontally instead of vertically (the current alignment is pictured at right in a Guardian photo). I tend to agree that it should be flipped.
I wager that many of you would concur that the loss of PBS would leave a sad void in our lives. Here's a snapshot from the new season of Downtown Abbey. We can discern from the photo that nuptials are in store for Dame Edith, but because I have been resolutely avoiding reading the recaps in the British papers, I can't give you any more teasers! (We will have the DVD just as soon as it's available though, at a smashing price.)
Jessica Brown Findley as Lady Sybil, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, at Lady Edith's wedding in Downton Abbey, Season 3. (Photo: Joss Barratt/Carnival Films)

Here's an idea for assuaging Downton craving: immerse yourself in the medieval mysteries of the BBC/PBS series Cadfael, with the superb Sir Derek Jacobi in the title role of the sleuthing monk with a keen knowledge of herbs. He was also beyond marvelous in I, Claudius, don't you think?

19 comments:

  1. Whenever I hear about Mary Chapin Carpenter it think about Steve who worked at the co-op at UMD. He wasn't a student but he was always hanging around campus. Anyway he used to tell people that MCC stole his songs. Pretty sure he was lying but still pretty weird.

    Also DOWNTON ABBEY can't wait! Thank you for not posting spoilers,but I have heard that season 3 is already better than season 2!

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  2. Some amazing topics today! I can't fathom how someone would deface anything in a museum. I agree though, it should be flipped!! I hope they're able to restore it...

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  3. I must admit that there's something vaguely romantic about a good old heist, but this is just sad!

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    1. Romantic? I can see it now "rebellious trickster seeks same."

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    2. As in the Thomas Crowne Affair!

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  4. I am also super stoked about Downton.
    I do hope there is some America in it though. Just a little.

    The Rothko incident is not cool. I don't understand the thinking behind the defacement of art. It was funny when someone stenciled rabbits all over the McDaniel campus a year ago. Worn down college steps are just asking for a stencil. A one of a kind work of art is decidedly not.

    As far as vertical or horizontal goes, I don't have a preference, but if Rothko did it would be kind of important to get the placing right, right?

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    1. There's something vaguely troubling about a work of art that might be hung this way or that, without seriously affecting its appearance.
      "This side up" stickers are for the outsides of parcels, not for the art contained within.
      The eyes, it is said, have a preference for horizontal lines, finding them restful. Unfortunately, the painting itself must rely on a directional sign to determine its orientation. By itself, it gives no clue.
      Therefore, it is art without meaning.

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    2. That's an awfully big logical jump. It's not clear which way it should hang, therefore it has no meaning? When you look at a photograph of a reflection in water, do you hang it so the reflected images are upside down, the way we would see them in real life, or so the reflected images are right side up? You could do it either way, but that doesn't mean the photograph has no meaning. Do you think all abstract art is meaningless? A lot of it can be rotated.

      Perhaps you don't find meaning in images that do not represent "real" objects, but instead impressions or emotions and other abstract things. Many, many others do find meaning in such works of art.

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    3. Please help out an idiot by telling me the meaning of this work of art horizontally and vertically. I am honestly wondering.

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    4. I don't know about the meaning per se, but as an abstract work of art the colors and the compositions of Rothko paintings have both an aesthetic and emotional effect on me—If you see one in person you may see what I mean. The horizontal placement just seems more expansive to me,as in many other Rothko works. They're very meditative.

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    5. Your answer is unpretentious and revealing. The mind finds horizontal lines restful because most contours in nature and the normal field of vision are wider than they are long. Vertical lines are more unsettling and suggest to the mind power and instability.
      Abstract art has effects, but those who apply meaning are recognizing some representation, perhaps unconsciously.

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    6. That's subconsciously. Unconscious was my state of mind when I typed that.

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    7. Hambone, I agree; I think if the artist wants it hung a certain way then that's the way it should be hung, regardless of what "looks best" or regardless of the fact that it's abstract and some people may not care which way it's facing. Honestly, abstract art isn't really my thing and I don't get it a lot of the time, but I still think they should respect the artist and his wishes.

      And people should obviously not deface it either. Hooligans...

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  5. I have never watched Downtown Abbey. I feel like I may be missin out. I might have to get the DVDs myself.

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  6. I agree with you, Hambone. Sometimes street art can have a good purpose, even though technically illegal, but defacing art just to smudge what I'm assuming is essentially "I was here" is just...pointless.

    If the notes on the back show the Rothko should be vertical, is the only resistance to changing it that it has been horizontal for so long?

    Maybe I'll do some investigating while I'm waiting for season 3 of Downton!

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  7. I'm ashamed to say I have only watched about one or two episodes of Downton Abbey, I think I am gonna grab season 1 and 2 and catch up before season 3 is released.

    ps. Love the Herman Hesse quote about trees!!!

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  8. I actually like the way it's hanging. The Tate is such a gorgeous museum and very large and sprawling. If anyone goes to London I recommend also checking out the Saatchi Gallery. I liked it even more than the Tate - probably the best modern art museum I've ever seen. http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/

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  9. Going through the Blog Archive enabled me to reach the comments page, but there is still overlapping text around Derek Jacobi's face I cannot read. What is going wrong?

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