Monday, March 7, 2016

words, art, and smut

When I was very young I remember going to the Milwaukee Art Museum with my family. I have three distinct memories from this trip.
1.) Eating an ice cream bar that was in the shape of Mickey Mouse and wondering why they didn't make it a Picasso ice cream bar. It was an art museum after all.
2.) Seeing the painting St. Francis of Assisi in His Tomb by: Francisco de Zurbarán Which is still in my top ten favorite paintings.
3.) Seeing a giant vagina painting. It was not that subtle Georgia-O'Keeffe-is-it-a-vagina? kind of painting either. This was a -- in your face, look at it, these are all my lady parts -- kind of painting.
My mother went into full panic mood. As if me seeing a paint vagina was going to scar me for life. If anything, it made me want to look at it more. I wanted to know why it was so upsetting. I was a girl. I had one of those. What was the problem? I mean it wasn't like it was a H.R. Giger painting. Have you ever seen his painting Penis Landscape? That might have been something to keep my young and impressionable eyes from.

Proceeds to post this (NSFW 18+) the Dead Kennedy's poster for Frankenchrist that highlights Giger's Penis Landscape.

Without going into the long history about the connections between art and sex, (Which includes; The Catholic Church going all whack-a-mole on statue penises. Degas's fascination with ballerinas and their ankles. And a lot of weird Warhol films.) I will say that I take perverse satisfaction when art and sex overlap.

I have mentioned before (in previous blog posts) that I read a lot of garbage. Also, I have a soft spot for REALLY terrible smutty novels. (Yes, I read 50 Shades of Grey. No, I didn't like it. You can read my thoughts about that here.) So, when a smutty novel series comes out. I read it.

Why am I bringing this up? 

I started reading the Calendar Girl series. (Which is....meh.) In the book February there is a really excellent interaction between a French artist and the main character. She asks him about a tattoo he has. It is a quote by the French writer Jacques Prévert. (I have no idea if this is a legitimate quote or not.) This is how he responds,
"It’s mostly of a poem about people viewing Witold’s paintings. Roughly it translates to:

The mystery of everyday people
Painted with love in the furtive silence
And the obsessive noise of the street.
You follow their progress,
But you have only the back view of them, and like them,
You will give a back view to other visitors
Who will take your place in front of the paintings.

It reminds me that many will look at my art, the images I capture or paint, and sometimes, part of the experience will be when another person captures that person viewing my art. It changes what they see. So now, the art is viewed in a way that the person standing in front of it, becomes part of it.” February By: Audrey Carlan
The quote (and the whole concept of interaction between creator/viewer) is fascinating in it's own way and I find myself thinking about it a lot.

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