Saturday, January 14, 2006

"You Paint" Revisited

One of my readers has prompted me to further revisit the matter of the woman who paints with her breasts and my observations about the “news” item’s proximity to a reference to the Rembrandt movie.
Our discussion of the matter brings to my attention the fact that in this blog I often function more like a journalist (and not an investigative one, but rather the humorous and opinionated feuilletonist) than like a careful scholar. While I don’t think this is necessarily a terrible thing, I wouldn’t like to mislead my readers.
Thus, other readers might like to know that:
1) I wasn’t implying that Rembrandt was an unworthy subject for a film. (Whether the film is any good, I have no idea.) Furthermore, while I am opposed to grossly inaccurate movies about historical figures (such as the infamous film about Artemisia Gentileschi), I am not necessarily opposed to films that stress the personal lives of historical persons. If the person had a personal life that makes for good cinema, and the historical facts are not skewed and misinterpreted, such films can be worthwhile. It seems to me that the films about artists Frida Kahlo, Camille Claudel, and Carrington fit into that category, at least from what I know of the artists. There are those who will complain that this trivializes the work in favor of the biography, but I think that more often this causes viewers to become interested in finding out about the work.
2) For those who didn’t look, the piece on the Australian woman featured a photo of her face and cleavage (presumably a topless photo, but it was hard to tell for sure--see right) and said nothing about what sort of paintings result. To the best of my knowledge, she is not a serious artist using a gimmick to become better known (or with some sort of underlying theoretical basis to her work), but someone who just thought it would be great fun to paint with her breasts instead of her fingers. Now, the problem here is that it is really impossible to tell from the piece whether I am doing her a grave injustice by speculating that she is more of a joker than an artist. Performance artists are always trying things that sound idiotic until you read the rationale (and sometimes still do even then).
3) While I think that much of what I see of Czech journalism can only be called tabloid-focused and will take any opportunity to insert naked women into the news, I admit that if I were a tabloid editor and heard of someone who painted with an unconventional body part, I would certainly want to run an item on it. Indeed, as you can tell, I am a closet tabloid editor. I am incapable of resisting cheesy, contentless stories of this type, and while I call for gender equity and an end to sexism, I am also a great fan of completely ridiculous pseudo-news and call for more items like (old favorites from the Weekly World News) “Psychic’s Head Explodes” and “Meat-Eating Kangaroos”. (I have little patience with celebrity gossip, however. Elvis Presley’s face has appeared on too many tortillas for my taste.)

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Anonymous Jesse said...

Indeed, hear hear for tabloids. There must be a reason that they don't go out of business...

Re celebrity gossip, do you consider news of the Virgin's numerous appearances in this category? It could be interesting, for example, if she all of a sudden appeared (randomly and wholly unexpectedly, of course) in one of this woman's paintings. Now wouldn't that be subversive.

January 14, 2006 1:09 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I was sort of pondering whether the Virgin fit into the celebrity category when I mentioned Elvis Presley.

I haven't come to any firm conclusions on that, but have you ever noticed how popular lawn statuary of the Virgin is in parts of rural Minnesota? (Evidently not in strongly Lutheran regions.) Or maybe I was hallucinating/having a vision, since I saw them while sick and riding on a Greyhound bus.

January 14, 2006 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Yes, the classic is the bathtub Mary. What this site calls "one of the quirkiest" examples of "adaptive reuse" (of old bathtubs and statues of the Virgin). Actually, I wouldn't put it past old Lutherans. Yard ornaments can be strange and wondrous things.

January 14, 2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I don't recall any bathtubs, although they could well be in the back yards of the same houses.

As for whether Lutherans put up statues of the Virgin Mary, well, I wouldn't put it past members of my extended family to do so as a joke (in the back yard, not the front), but my impression was that the bus was going through heavily Catholic territory. It was somewhere between Moorhead and Minneapolis. I've seen similar stuff in front yards in Brooklyn.

And I have a Catholic relative (2nd cousin? 3rd cousin?) who sells religious paraphernalia. Perhaps he sold all this lawn stuff. I overheard him mentioning his line of work at the food line at a reunion. Then again, maybe he only sells prayer books or something.

January 14, 2006 10:46 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I should add, now that I've read about bathtub Marys, I'm sure I must have seen these, but probably in Brooklyn.

On lawn and other gnomes (which I have not seen recently here), we need to go to the postcard museum. I think I also need to take Megan there. She needs to learn how Czech babies arrive, and things like that.

January 14, 2006 10:52 PM  
Blogger P'tit-Loup said...

How do Czech babies arrive? Now you piqued my curiosity! I have not seen bathtub Virgins, but will check the weblink provided by Jesse.

January 14, 2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I can't reveal yet how they (used to) arrive! Wait till I revisit the postcard museum.

January 15, 2006 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

Well, you can cross check the Marys you saw with the photo posted toward the bottom of this page. There are also a few other entertaining sights.

January 15, 2006 4:49 PM  

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