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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Judith and the Close Shave

Would you trust a barber named Judith?

Emmanuel Garibay, “Judith”, 2009, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 in, http://www.circuitmag.net/2009/07/20/“recent-works”-by-emmanuel-garibay/

Emmanuel Garibay has cleverly put Judith in the role of the barber to an unsuspecting Holofernes – the fauchion replaced with a straight-edged razor.  Silly Holofernes – who allows his vanity to let down his guard?

It is likely that this depiction of Judith and Holofernes is a commentary on “social realism” of the Filipino society – the milieu of the artist, Emmanuel Garibay.  Ahighly sensitive and a keen observer of society, Garibay believes that art can be an effective medium for awakening consciousness. (1)   Majoring in sociology allowed him to understand how personal lives are affected by one’s place in society and that events and experiences are part of social institutions and cultural meanings –  influencing the subject matter in his art.  Garibay says that, “it is the richness of the poor that I am drawn to and which I am part of that I want to impart in my art.”  (2)

And thus he shows us Judith, a Malayo-Polynesian Filipino, with a knife to the neck of a Spanish or American Filipino.  Not unlike the class struggles of aboriginal peoples to Western European conquest since Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  And while I may not want to view myself in league with Holofernes, I am sure there was a mother back in Assyria who thought his imperialism was simply a way of being patriotic.   And that a conquered woman would be honored to provide him with a celebratory close shave.

(1) “Recent Works” by Emmanuel Garibay, circuitmag, July 20, 2009

(2) Christiane L. de la Paz, The Quintessential Artist-Storyteller:
Emmnuel Garibay. The Arts Of The Philippines, August 16, 2012.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Cacciatore

 

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Judith gives a long chase

I have been chasing this painting all over the place and I am still not satisfied …

Theodore Chassériau, “Judith” aka “Desdemona Retiring to her Bed”, 1849, oil on canvas, 42.1 x 32.5 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, FR

Among the many things I learned:

  • Do NOT download an image without documenting where you found it.  That little trick would have saved me hours in backtracking.
  • Even when you backtrack to the original image, you may find there is no information. (Palm plant on forehead)
  • If the location to which you backtrack is Russian, be prepared for alternate spelling of the artist’s name.  Also be prepared for Cyrillic script, aka Russian alphabet characters.
  • Once you have a name and have located the artist, be aware that the ONE painting for which you are searching is the one NOT associated with his name.

However, based on the images I did find for this artist, it seems to be a safe assumption that this portrayal of Judith is part of his oeuvre.  And i might even go so far as to guess this Judith is hiding somewhere in Russia.

The artist i am speculating about is Theodore Chasseriau, a French romantic painter of the second quarter of the 19th century.   He was born in the Dominican Republic of a French adventurer father and the daughter of a Creole landowner.  Returning to Paris, he was first schooled by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and then Eugène Delacroix – such that his work has been described as a reconciliation the Classicism of Ingres with the Romanticism of Delacroix.   His  body of work focuses on historical and religious paintings, allegorical murals, and Orientalist images inspired by his travels to Algeria.   Sadly, he died at age 37 from poor health.

Why spend so much time chasing down a painting I am not even sure can be identified?  Because I like it.

I love the contemplative moment – assuming that Judith’s maid is preparing her to meet Holofernes.  Judith has an intense expression of detachment and apprehension – suggesting her mind is somewhere else.  The Maid is all business, and perhaps whispering encouragement in Judith’s ear.  As long as they stand here, Judith can delay.  As long as they fuss over fastening and drape and jewelry and hair, Judith can put off her meeting and put off her task.

I like this image because rather than Judith in triumph and glory for an impossible accomplishment, the artist has shown Judith in doubt.  And that feels very real.

EDIT:  Through some additional sleuthing on the artist, I have now identified the painting as NOT Judith but Desdemona.  The first two websites i encountered were dubious in their identification, but on the third attempt I landed on Joconde (the database for all the art in France) which led me to The Louvre (where the painting resides) so I guess I will have to accept their attribution. Those two being authorities and all.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Story

 

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Now for something completely different (LXXII)

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Judy Reyes … well, just let her tell you about “Scrubs” and her character, Carla.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in something completely different

 

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Judith: the MTV Generation

(explaining this could take a while. get comfy. )

First, Dorian X is a pen name for an artist from Milan – who is addicted to the limitless pleasure of unconventional and irreverent images.   His objective is “to reveal the decadence of the contemporary society making complex, vibrant and extremely colorful paintings which make him to be like a modern Jeronimus Bosch.” (1)   His art also reflects a passion for classical subjects, both mythical and Apocalyptic.

(stay with me here.)

One of Dorian X’s favorite subjects is Kali Yuga (“age of Kali”, or “age of vice”) – the last of the world’s four yugas described in Hindu scriptures.  This age is associated with the demon Kali, which represents “strife, discord, quarrel, or contention.”  There is a lot more scary, decadent stuff I could recite but just believe me when I say:  this Kali Yuga is nasty stuff.

(still there?)

Starting with the first of two paintings, Dorian portrays Judith as a Bleeding Heart Liberal Saint, enslaved to the Dove of Peace.   She probably has an Obama-Biden bumper sticker on her SmartCar.   Clever girl: this time she wore red shoes.

Apparently, Judith shared some wine and cucumbers with Holofernes while he showed her around his bachelor pad – especially proud of the Clamshell chair with the Rolling Stones motif.   He may have had a notion about handcuffing Judith for a three- or foursome, but she called in the Maid (who is actually a Lion) and scared the other participants under the furniture.  In fact, I am guessing the two uniformed guards in the window were dropping by for a peek at the provocative proceedings – but decided to quietly retreat before Judith notices their presence.  With the help of the Maid, Judith now has Holofernes where she wants him – holding the hilt of the sword over his genitals to convey the irony that she is using a phallic symbol to spill his blood versus the other way around.

Much like an episode of Jersey Shore.

Dorian X, “Judith Slaying Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm, http://www.dorianx.com/photos/?album=LatestWork&img=JudithSlayingHolofernes-30×30

(you will probably need a pillow while i explain the next one. maybe a eyeshade.)

Once again, Judith is a Saint accompanied by the Dove of Peace.  However, the rest of the scene has changed – multiplied, in fact.  Gone are the people hiding around the room, and in their places are:

  • A manservant carrying a tray with a blue curved phallus. Does this belong to Krishna? A prosthetic for Holofernes? Or is it a bong – which could also belong to Krishna. But it seems to be a little late for Holofernes to get high.
  • A smiling mermaid with two symbols: a burning heart in her left hand and a cocktail in her right hand. A giant pink cocktail that looks like a vulva (not a volvo) and has a tiki umbrella with a cherry on top. Obviously the burning heart is a sign of indigestion but the cocktail is more complicated.  It could be a symbol of a Polynesian luau – or just an indication that Holofernes was thirsty and the mermaid is playing “nanny nanny boo boo” to be aggravating.  Or as The Church Lady would say:  could it be s-e-x?
  • An unidentified body in the Clamshell chair, which is now looking more like Audrey Jr. from Little Shop of Horrors. “Feed me, Seymour!”
  • A serpentine cleric who is gleefully planning to emasculate Holofernes – but who is unaware he is to be dinner for a stork.  I will assume some animosity towards the clergy at this point.
  • A hallway filled with nuns who apparently are having their chastity belts removed – unless they are having the belts put on instead.  I don’t know what they plan to do without the belts anyway, except make less noise on the toilet seat.
  • And last but not least, the Maid has changed from a Lion to a figure in a Blue Burka.  Unless it is still the Lion disguised by the Blue Burka.  Either way, it’s a lovely shade of blue – maybe Mother Mary, maybe Krishna again, or maybe an Afghan chadri.  And she is one tall wench!

Or this could be the next episode of Snooki & JWoww.

Dorian X, “Judith Kills Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 60 x 60 cm, http://www.dorianx.com/photos/?album=LatestWork&img=JudithKillsHoloferner.60×60

(1) Sexy Art Gallery: Dorian X

POST SCRIPT: Just wanted to note how quickly pop-culture references become obsolete.  What does New Jersey have to do with anything and who is Snooki?

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Gory

 

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Judith is “Chained”

Luc ten Klooster, “Judith and Holofernes, from ‘Chained,'” 2005, photograph, http://www.focusgallery.nl/gallery2/v/Luc_ten_Klooster_3/037_Judith_Holofernes.jpg.html

Looks like Klooster may be channeling a grandmother for this sepia-tinted photograph.  Which makes me feel sorry for the grandfather.

Actually this is one in a large series of photographs (45 in all) that depict women from ancient history and myth.  The series is based on the quote from Lady Jane Wilde: “We have now traced the history of women from Paradise to the nineteenth century and have heard nothing through the long roll of the ages but the clank of their fetters.” (1)

As Klooster explains:

I was always fascinated by old paintings , scenes and portraits with a historical or mythological background. The famous figures from the past inspired many painters but it is not so often that we see them in photographical works. Is the subject too “old fashioned”? Photographers, too, can still learn a lot of the paintings of the old masters! (You just have to look at those old paintings, why are they often so powerful?) The ancient Greek and Roman art inspired me to make “photostatues”, “photopaintings” and “photofrescoes” of my models. Of course I am aware of the fact that sometimes my mythological figures have a certain erotic radiation. I think there is nothing wrong about that. There would be no human life without eroticism. But eroticism never will be the first purpose of my pictures.(2)

Could eroticism be the second purpose?

(1)  Luc ten Klooster Photography, commercial > Art > Art Nude > “Chained”

(2)  FocusGallery: Luc ten Klooster about “Chained”

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Whorey

 

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Judith in Shades of Grey

Monrealese (Giovanni Pietro Novelli), “Judith and Holofernes ” Oil on canvas 240 x 163 cm, Reale, Naples, Italy

Bummer.

I tried to find this artwork in something other than a bad black-and-white photo. but this is all I gots.  Until I can hitch-hike my way to Naples to see for myself.

Too bad.  There appears to be an interesting story.  The Maid seems to be the calmest figure in the composition – like she witnesses a decapitation every day (“What’s taking so long? Let’s get this over before dessert arrives.”).  Judith seems to be distracted by those annoying cherubs (“Yes, you little floating bloated babies.  I know what I’m doing!”), and Holofernes … well, he seems to be in a frenzy over losing his head (“If she didn’t like the entree, why didn’t she just say so?”).

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Gory

 

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Judith is So Romantic

Theodore von Holst, “Judith and Holofernes,” 19th century, Pencil on paper, 22 x 17.5 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s 7/4/ 2002 (Lot 123)

Theodore von Holst favored melodramatic scenes from famous European literature, such as Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Mary Shelley – being the first to illustrate her novel Frankenstein in 1831.   However, he avoided trends of his own times such that “his choice of subjects were out of step with the age and public taste. His penchant for the demonic, supernatural, and erotic led to a degree of neglect that was otherwise undeserved.” (1)

Translation:  the dude liked to paint illustrations from hoity-toity melodramatic books that were too scary and sexualized for the tastes of his contemporaries, so his work was largely ignored.

But sex and violence sells today.   For current patrons with a taste for the macabre, the Tate Britain featured Holst’s work in the Gothick Nightmares exhibition in 2006 (2).

Holst has depicted Judith here as if she is taking a moment away from  a party and politely asked Holofernes to kneel so she may whack off his head.   How chivalrous of him to comply and how charming of her maid to assist with pleasure.  Although I am curious about the onlookers and their distance from the event:  horrified by a surprising execution … or simply happy to see him go?

 

(1) Browne, Max: “Theodor Richard Edward von Holst“. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

(2) Holst’s work as featured in the Gothick Nightmares exhibition, Tate Britain, 2006.

 

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Story

 

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