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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Judith and the Party Pooper

“Every party has a pooper that’s why we invited you – Party Pooper. Party Pooper.”

Pardon me for a moment while I point a finger at a Party Pooper.  Because this blog is a party in celebration of art and artists, of Judith and women, of history and geography, of wit and humor and sometime tragedy.  It has never been about exploitation or manipulation or profits.  It has been about learning and searching and fun.  And it has been about me.

I have honored those who told the story of Judith – and have attempted to contact the living artists to share my appreciation.  I have not always been successful, and for that I apologize.  I hope you understand that I only want to give recognition to your work and share it with an audience so they can appreciate your work even more.

Upon us all a little rain must fall – or in this case poop – and I am not immune.  It is a shame that some work cannot be shared here even with the proper attribution – because it is “owned” and I might someday profit from it (and monkeys might fly out my Mitsubishi).  I can only shrug and say it is a legal matter and the party in question can keep the images that I guess they never meant to celebrate.

And after typing too many words on the matter, let us now turn to celebrate those who HAVE been kind enough to share and DO want recognition and celebration of their artistic expression of Judith.

Party On and let the posts resume!!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Mooring

 

Judith and John

I have two choices …

Judith (2012) judyta i holofernes

Klaudii Eckert, “judyta i holofernes,” 2012, http://www.kedziorwmalinach.blogspot.com

One: I can wait until the artist responds to my comment on her blog. Two: I can write about it and complete the details as the response arrives.

And by now you know I have selected the second alternative. Although I still want to know more.

This is Holofernes portrayed as John Lennon.  I have no reason to suspect that Judith is Yoko Ono.  And i am not sure how Lennon transgressed so that he deserved to be decapitated.  But maybe that’s the point:  he did not deserve to be separated from his head anymore than he deserved to be shot down in the street by a delusional fan.  Yet here he is, presiding over a still life with the iconic Warhol can of Cambpell’s soup and two watering cans – one red, one green.

I am lost on the symbolism.  But the color makes up for it.  Cheery and bright, in contrast to the dismal theme of Holofernes’ murder.  Spring-like in contrast to death.  And maybe that’s the point:  that Holofernes death wasn’t all about the guts and gore, but about a new beginning and starting fresh.

Unless the hidden cryptic story for all the Beatles fans is …

  • … after the elders came to her and said Hey JudeHelp!, Judith was on The Long and Winding Road to the camp and Holofernes’ tent.  
  • She heard him drunkenly promise  “Can’t Buy Me Love but Whatever Gets You Thru the NightDear Mistress of Bethulia – We Can Work It Out.
  • Despite his sloppy promises, she knew they would never Come Together.   
  • So she said Hello Goodbye before taking his head, then got a Ticket to Ride to Get Back to Bethulia.
  • Where she could declare to the elders It’s been a Hard Day’s Night before posting the head on the city wall as a warning to the Assyrian army to Let It Be .

 <sigh> That was exhausting and slightly painful.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Cacciatore

 

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Judith and the Falcon Falchion

Judith (1585) Jean Ramey

Jean Ramey , “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” 1585, oil on panel, 47 x 37.8 cm, auctioned by Christie’s, London, April 27, 2007 (Lot#1)

Jean Ramey (c. 1530-1612) was not well-known outside his town of Liège, and little of his artwork survives.  Instead, one of his pupils’ pupils went on to succeed beyond the small town – across Holland and Europe and all the world – as Peter Paul Rubens. There is little in this painting to suggest a connection – considering Rubens was known for his “robust women” and this Judith seems rather slight and juvenile.

The catalog description of this work states the panel moulding on the reverse of the painting indicates it was probably part of a cupboard door.  The inscription on the stone slab in the lower left reads “Not unto us Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give Glory” from Psalm 115.  By coincidence, this was also the motto of the Knights Templar – dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312.  If one wanted to go all DaVinci Code on this painting, one could.   But there is no conspiracy theory mentioned in Wikipedia so it is highly unlikely – since Wikipedia holds to keys to the Universe.

The other point of interest in this painting is the sword Judith holds (har har).   It is described as “a Falchion type, the ornate hilt conforming to the vogue for Roman Revivalism.”   By definition, a falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, combining the weight and power of an axe with the versatility of a sword.  That would seem to be the perfect weapon to select for decapitation.  However, the reference to the falchion is not too be confused with the actual fauchion that the Apocrypha states Judith used.  Since we all know the fauchion is a scimitar (or a backsword or sabre) with a curved light-weight blade, originating in the Middle East.  I mean, who would confuse those two blades? Except maybe the Webster Dictionary, which says “Fauchion (noun): see Falchion.”

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Whorey

 

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Judith never lets them see her sweat

Of all the depictions of Judith that I have unearthed, this has to be the most grotesque. And disturbing. Once you get past the angels, that is.

Judith (1810) Jose Maria Vasques

Jose Maria Vázquez, “Judith beheading Holofernes ,” 1810, oil on copper, 55 x 41.5 cm, auctioned by Christie’s, New York, January 28, 2009 (Lot# 225)

The scene:   storm clouds gathering in the background as the maid anxiously watches the Assyrian soldiers milling around the camp.  Four winging cherubs hover above the action – holding back the heavy green curtains of the tent.  Holofernes lies naked on the bad (except for a strategically placed sheet) with his arms thrown back in agony as Judith calmly stands looking down at him … WITH THE FAUCHION HALFWAY THROUGH HIS NECK!!!

She doesn’t seem the least bit repulsed, as did Caravaggio’s Judith.

She doesn’t seem to be struggling, as did Gentileschi’s Judith.

Rather, the only emotion she appears to convey is “concentration” – as if to be thinking “Hmm, if I had hit him with the blade a little to the left, maybe this wouldn’t be so hard.  The cut isn’t going to be as smooth as I had hoped, but I can make up for that after we get the head back to Bethulia.”  No concern about mussing her dress or her sandals.  No exertion or repugnance.  You might suspect that she does this everyday.

At least i hope she changes her dress.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Gory

 

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Judith gets a room

To be clear:  this is NOT about the Biblical Judith.

This IS about a middle aged woman named “Judith” who was willing to pose for nude portraits. Twice.

judith (1999) Jocelyn Lee

Jocelyn Lee, “Untitled (Judith #1),” 1999, chromogenic print, 47 x 38 cm, sold by Rose Gallery, Santa Monica, California, US

Judith (2002) Jocelyn Lee

Jocelyn Lee, “Untitled (Judith #2),” 2002, chromogenic print, 47 x 38 cm, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusettes, US

Which leads me to say … “Nice boots. New hair-do?  Yes, those hot flashes are a bitch.”

But the true story from the artist, Jocelyn Lee:

I photograph portraits because I am curious about people, and our tenacious attempts to find meaning and direction in the world. I am particularly interested in how we reveal our vulnerability, which is not something our culture reinforces or encourages.

My portraits are about the things people consider when they are alone or in between moments of inactivity and reflection: aging, illness, sex, the body, states of transition, our desire for connection, and the search for personal identity.

I am interested in finding the physical and psychological beauty in things that are frequently overlooked: the quality of a middle-aged woman’s naked body, alone in a motel room; the way lingerie is filled with hope and expectation for physical intimacy; or the quality of light on a person’s skin as they sit on their bed before a day of activity. (1)

Now I see.  The door – first, closed and chained then half open with expectation.  The light coming from the right – first low like the morning and then higher like the afternoon. The nakedness and direct gaze in a cheap hotel room, contrasted with the downcast look and forced erotica of black lingerie in an austere 18th century setting.  Authenticity and artifice. Anticipation and disappointment.  Hope and despair.

The juxtaposition of being Judith.

(1) Jocelyn Lee: Statement on Portraits (1996–Present)”

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Whorey

 

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Judith gets misty … and murky

Yesterday was exhausting. Lots of contributors over numerous types of art over numerous years. I need something easy today.

So today I choose a simple little Judith from Francesco Botti (1640-1710).

Judith () Francesco Botti

Francesco Botti, “Judith and Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 56.5 x 70.8 cm, auctioned by Christie’s, London, December 9, 2005 (Lot# 220)

Francesco Botti liked to paint women – St. Mary Magdalene, St. Cecilia, St. Dorothy, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Abigail, Sofonisba, Diana, Minerva, Venus, Justice, and Witches.  But there are few documents about Botti  – trained at the school of Simone Pignoni (1611–1698), for whom his work  is often attributed.  His work is also confused with Pignoni’s mentor Francesco Furini (1603–1646) and Cecco Bravo (1601–1661) for their “misty sfumato technique” and “murky sensuality” that was characteristic of the Florentines.

In fact, this misty murky quality gives Judith the appearance of being under water – as if she is a mermaid floating away with Holofernes’ head.  Not a bad thing since his head looks like it is heavy … and probably somewhat soiled.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Cacciatore

 

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