Canvas once touched by the fingers of both Giorgione and Titian

‘La Vecchia’ (c.1506) by Giorgione

We stand before a canvas once touched by the fingers of both Giorgione and Titian.

I know that restorers’ fingers may long since have erased all traces of the two masters’ palms,

still it’s difficult not to be moved.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay


Notes:

Most of him is lost to us of course.

Mike Lankford, opening lines in his biography titled “Becoming Leonardo: : An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci:

“Most of him is lost to us, of course. The timbre of the voice, the thoughts visible in his eyes, the physical gestures when happy or sad, the way he walked, his smell, his hands, the habitual grimace his friends knew all too well but no one bothered to record—all that is lost. When he was young there was no reason to write any of it down, and when he was old he became too hard to describe, too strange. What to do with Leonardo?”


Walter, Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci, in an interview in By the Book in The New York Times Book Review, Nov 2, 2017:

Q: Which book was most helpful to you in working on your biography of Leonardo da Vinci?

A: Leonardo’s own notebooks. More than 7,000 pages still, miraculously, survive. Paper turns out to be a superb information-storage technology, still readable after five hundred years, which our own tweets likely (and fortunately) won’t be. Leonardo crammed every page with drawings and looking-glass notes that seem random but provide intimations of his mental leaps. Scribbled alongside each other, with rhyme if not reason, are math calculations, sketches of his devilish young boyfriend, birds, flying machines, theater props, eddies of water, blood valves, grotesque heads, angels, sawed-apart skulls, tips for painters, and studies for paintings. I love his to-do lists, which have entries like “Describe the tongue of the woodpecker.”


Painting: Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

I Needed Color: Free from the future. Free from the past. Free from regret. Free from worry.

What do you do when life chooses you? You can choose not to do it. You can choose to try to do something safer. Your vocation chooses you. When I really started painting a lot, I had become so obsessed, there was nowhere to move. In my home, paintings were everywhere. There were becoming part of the furniture. I was eating on them. I found myself looking around at one point, a really bleak winter in New York. It was just so depressing and I think I needed color. […]

You can tell what I love by the color of the paintings. You can tell my inner life by the darkness in some of them. You can tell by what I want by the brightness in some of them. […]

I think what makes someone an artist is they make models of their inner life. They make something physically come into being that is inspired by their emotions or their needs…

I like the independence of it. Love the freedom of it. No one else tells you what you can and can’t do…and, there’s an immediacy to it. Art has to be service, like you are servicing your subconscious…

When I was a kid I spent half my time in the living room performing for people. I spent the other half of my time in my bedroom by myself writing poetry and sketching. I was not the type of kid that you could say as a punishment: “good to your room” – because my room was Heaven to me. My isolation was welcome…

I don’t know what painting teaches me. I know it just frees me. Free from the future. Free from the past. Free from regret. Free from worry…

~ Jim Carrey, excerpts from  I Needed Color

Note to Self: Who knew that the star of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), The Mask (1994) – had this talent.


You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.

Andrew Wyeth,

Later he told me he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden. Faraway windows, opaque and unreadable. Ruts in the spiky grass made by an invisible vehicle, leading nowhere. Dishwater sky.

People think the painting is a portrait, but it isn’t. Not really. He wasn’t even in the field; he conjured it from a room in the house, an entirely different angle. He removed rocks and trees and outbuildings. The scale of the barn is wrong. And I am not that frail young thing, but a middle-aged spinster. It’s not my body, really, and maybe not even my head.

He did get one thing right: Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I’ve spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me. (There are many ways to be crippled, I’ve learned over the years, many forms of paralysis.) My ancestors fled to Maine from Salem, but like anyone who tries to run away from the past, they brought it with them. Something inexorable seeds itself in the place of your origin. You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.

Who are you, Christina Olson? he asked me once.

Nobody had ever asked me that. I had to think about it for a while.

~ Christina Baker Kline, from Prologue of “A Piece of the World: A Novel


Art: Christina’s World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth, and one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century. The woman in the painting is Anna Christina Olson (3 May 1893 – 27 January 1968). She is likely to have suffered from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a genetic polyneuropathy. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in the house. Wyeth had a summer home in the area and was on friendly terms with Olson, using her and her younger brother as the subjects of paintings from 1940 to 1968. Although Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting, she was not the primary model—Wyeth’s wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting.[4] Olson was 55 at the time Wyeth created the work. (Source: Wiki)

MLK

martin-luther-king-mlk

…Almost 50 years after his death, we remember MLK as the transcendent figure who helped lift the South out of Jim Crow. We also remember him as almost preternaturally calm in the face of great pressure and danger. […] He was a young man, still in his 30s—foisted onto the national stage with actors many years or decades his senior, suspect in the eyes of both younger and older civil rights leaders—and the burdens of leadership took their toll on him. […]

Since the age of 26, King had lived a mercilessly public life. He spent as much time, if not more, in airports and hotel rooms as he did at home with his wife and children. He faced relentless pressure to raise money, mediate internecine disagreements within the movement, speak before local civil rights groups and act as the national spokesman and government liaison for the black freedom movement. It was not the life that he chose. Rather, it was the life that chose him.

On his birthday, Americans celebrate King’s accomplishments and commemorate his martyrdom. It bears remembering, too, that he struggled with the role he played. And that he willingly surrendered life’s comforts—small and large—to give himself wholly to a country that didn’t, in his brief time here, fully appreciate him.

~ Joshua Zeitz, excerpts from The MLK History Forgot


Cover Source: The New Yorker by Kadir Nelson, a Los Angeles-based artist who painted this week’s The New Yorker cover, a tribute to the civil-rights leader. “My image is a celebration of Dr. King and his vision. What happened to his dream of racial and economic equality, and what is the impact of non-violent resistance over half a century later? It’s a conversation between the past, the present, and the future.”

It’s been a long day

hair-pony-tails-bird

Once I witnessed a windstorm so severe two 100-year-old trees were uprooted on the spot. The next day, walking among the wreckage, I found the friable nests of birds, completely intact and unharmed on the ground. That the featherweight survive the massive, that this reversal of fortune takes place among us — that is what haunts me. I don’t know what it means.

~ Mary Ruefle, Remarks on Letters from Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures


Notes:

It’s been a long day

donatella-marraoni-enough-is-enough

There is joy to be found in the most minuscule of choices, in the pockets of slowness concealed inside each ordinary day: ten minutes in the morning in which to write down our dreams, five minutes in the late afternoon in which to stand by a window and watch the changing colors of the sunset, another pause before bed for a brief moment of prayer. Such things do not demand an inordinate commitment. From outside, our lives may look much as they have always done. We alone will recognize the small, rejuvenating pleasures, the invisible sustenance: the difference between skimming a text and taking the time to read it slowly and in depth; between emailing our friend, and making time to sit with her and talk; between rushing through our days, and honoring “the space between,” allowing space to muse and brood and wonder and exult, to bask in our accomplishments.

~ Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down.


Notes:

Evening Steam

steam-iceland

Katherine-Bradford-swimmers-to-manhattan


Notes:

Branded

art-woman-kriste-alisauskaite

I’ve been thinking about purely private obsession, the grip of the wholly inexplicable. The claiming desire, some fascination –sometimes kink, sometimes compulsion– that puts down roots in your young skull and stakes a permanent camp. Some ceaselessly hectoring curiosity that won’t leave you alone, and ultimately defines you and how you’ll spend (or waste) your time and what you’ll want from your life. […]

“But in the end you become a hostage to who you are, to what you want, what fascinates you, what breaks you down, what holds you under; the sense you feel compelled to build, the truth you try so helplessly to construct, the who you ultimately and helplessly are. […]

– Brad Zellar, Branded


Notes:

 

head up in the bright morning air

swan

But earlier this week on a wooded path,
I thought the swans afloat on the reservoir
were the true geniuses,
the ones who had figured out how to fly,
how to be both beautiful and brutal,
and how to mate for life.

Twenty-four geniuses in all,
for I numbered them as Yeats had done,
deployed upon the calm, crystalline surface—

forty-eight if we count their white reflections,
or an even fifty if you want to throw in me
and the dog running up ahead,

who were at least smart enough to be out
that morning—she sniffing the ground,
me with my head up in the bright morning air.

– Billy Collins, Genius from Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems


Notes:

 

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