Medium: HB Pencil
Monday, April 30, 2012
(Click to enlarge)
Party in Paris -- Max Beckmann, 1931 (reworked in 1947)
"When Renaissance or Impressionist artists portrayed a group of people, they generally gave them a vectorial coherence: faces were directed toward the spectator standing before the canvas, toward a common focus - as in Rembrandt's Night Watch - or toward a sports event or other spectacle. Beckmann, however, shows a fragmented society, a gathering of uncommitted individuals. This gives the group an air of slight decadence. Each character is not only unique, but convinced of his own uniqueness. These people experience no genuine communication; each is wrapped up in his or her own significance. Beckmann's sharp, critical eye has registered that at a party of this sort exactly as many heads are turned away from each other as there are faces pretending to notice others. And not a single face is turned toward the poor singer in the background!
The citizens Beckmann presents are obviously important, intelligent, polished, wealthy, and interesting in their own way. Counteracting the satirical intent is the flawless elegance of their dinner jackets and haute couture. The male custom of dressing in black dinner jacket, stiff white shirt, and black tie had become quasi-universal in those years. Films of the period show it to be practically the uniform of "good society" after dusk. Yet it is surprising how rarely the tuxedo found its way into major works of art. Despite the fact that its simple black-and-white contrast lent itself easily to treatment in the woodcut medium, and that woodcuts, in turn, frequently dealt with social criticism at the time, Beckmann may be the only painter who depicted the tuxedo in a straightforward manner. In this way the black-and-white male attire served him in Self-Portrait in Tuxedo of 1927 and in The Loge of 1928. Later on evening clothes acquired sinister connotations: the singing angels in Death (1938) and the Minotaur in Blindman's Buff (1945) make these garments appear very macabre. The dinner jackets in Party seem to evoke just a trace of awe." --Stephan Lackner
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Henryk Gorecki "...offered Szeroka woda, Op. 39, in 1979. This last-named work, which translates as "Broad Waters," is actually a set of five pieces, and is a departure for the composer in that it consists of arrangements of existing folk melodies. Górecki had long been interested in the traditional folk and religious music of his native Poland, but he did not begin integrating these materials into his own music until Old Polish Music, Op. 24, from 1969.
Szeroka woda takes its melodies and texts from a pair of illustrated story books for children. All the texts have some connection, more or less direct, to water -- particularly the first, second, and fifth songs, which evoke the Narew and Vistula rivers. The settings are simple and unaffected. The harmonies flow naturally without being traditional. Górecki creates textures that match the texts and are gratifying to sing. In short, these are wonderful little pieces, and they launched a whole series of choral settings that Górecki composed over the next several years, many of which have yet to be published." --James Harley
Henryk Gorecki, Pope John Paul II and St. Faustina form a sort of trio of Divine Mercy. The connection between the two latter is obvious enough, since Pope John Paul himself considered the main mission of his pontificate that of the Divine Mercy. The connection with Gorecki - other than that he was also Polish and was commissioned by Pope John Paul to compose the Beatus Vir Opus 38. - has to do with the span of his musical development: his transition from complex dissonance to the kind of simplified harmony and rhythmn later on is like the sinner being incorporated into God's infinite mercy.
The dissonance was not simply dropped and another form of music taken up; not like the harmony and tranquility of Raphael where tensions are absent and you begin to sniff the artist at his own game. Rather it is of tensions brought into resolve, as it is with icons; as it is with with those drowned in Christ's inexhaustible Divine Mercy.
People want their own devices to go on as though they were the symphony, rather than their devices being ended in Christ's mercy. People today do not see sin; they see progress. This is why the opened floodgate of Divine Mercy is reserved for our days.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Dawn Eden has a new book out, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. Amazon has some preview pages.
Jennifer Fulwiler interviews Dawn at National Catholic Register about her new book.
I pre-ordered a copy and await it in the mail. The book is the first of its kind and has been written in the hermeneutic of continuity.
Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V. has written the foreward to the book which can be read here.
"The momentous moral questions of our age, which beset young people in particular, find their proper place only within the context of belief in God, the trinitarian God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and only within the context of faith in the incarnate Son. Within this framework it will also become obvious that redemption is more than the fight for political utopias and more than psychotherapy. For we cannot shoulder the responsibility that the ethical challenges of our life impose on us if this responsibility is not supported by the redeeming love of God which comes towards us in the cross."
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, A New Song for the Lord
Friday, April 13, 2012
Some months back I collected more from around the two monkey puzzles in Redwood. Their present state above. They're easy: you push the pointy end into soil, and keep watered and wait. I never tire of sprouting them. The others that I've sprouted continue to grow well outside. Monkey puzzles are the common name for the tree Araucaria araucana, native to Chile and Argentina.
Found more the other day:
They're found in the leaf litter. People walk over them in the park.