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Judith in the Attic

Art Dealer Says Painting Found in French Attic Is a Caravaggio

 

One-hundred thirty-six million dollars.

Judith (1600-10) Caravagio

Michelangelo Merisi detto Caravaggio (1573-1610), “Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1600-10, oil on canvas,  144 x 175 cm, Eric Turquin Expertise, Paris, France

 

Oddly, this looks a lot like a painting of Judith discussed July 30, 2011 in “Judith and the Not-So-Big-One” – and I was unable to locate it in Milan where it is owned by a bank.

Judith (1607) Caravaggio

Caravaggio or Finson, “Judith With The Head Of Holofernes,” 1607, Oil on canvas, 140 x 160 cm, Collezione Banca Commerciale Italiana, Naples, Italy

 

And oddly, the source of this painting is up for debate.  Perhaps this is the copy and the one in the attic is the original?  Or this is the original and the one in the attic is the copy?

Either way, I doubt that I will be spending $136 million. Or even half that for a copy.

I am merely happy that Judith still makes headlines.

 

 

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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in Gory

 

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Judith: Swoot!

Susanne Reisenberger, “Judith beheads Holofernes,” from “Strong Women of the Old Testament,” photo, http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/23734003

Shoot!  Also known as Strong Women Of the Old Testament.   Sort of the feminine super-heroines of the Hebrew people.

However, “strong” is not always “good.”   Ruth, Sarah, Esther, Hulda, Rebecca, and Judith – on the good side.  Hagar and Rahab – maybe.   Jezebel and Delilah – not so much.  But Susanne Reisenberger chose to represent them in her photographic series on Strong Women of the Old Testament, perhaps because their strength is interesting.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Gory

 

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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 sketchy

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, “Judith beheads Holofernes,” 1652, Sketch on paper, 18.2×15 cm, National Museum of Capodimonte, Naples, Italy

I don’t usually include sketches but … it IS a Rembrandt.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Story

 

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Judith shares a cynical, dark sense of humor

Talk for long with Thomas Bennett about his art, and you’ll hear him repeatedly, unself-consciously, refer to what he does as “pushing images around.”    Look for some time at his work, however, and the movement of the medium becomes palpable …   Concerning the tendency to darkness, Bennett said “It’s hard to say that there’s anything conscious going on there. I suppose I have a kind of cynical, dark sense of humor.  (1)

I suspect Judith has a cynical, dark sense of humor, too.   I know I do.

Tom Bennett, “Holofernes is Expendable,” 2010, oil, etching inks, paint stick on monotype, 12 x 18 in, http://www.darteboard.com

Caravaggio, “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” c.1598, Oil on canvas,145 x 195 cm, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy

Bennett borrows Caravaggio’s composition but reverses it and transforms it.  Where Caravaggio shows Judith’s intensity, Bennett translates the same arrangement into movement.   Rather than standing statically to the side and holding her victim at arm’s length, Bennett’s Judith appears to be pulling back to gather the impetus to push her blade forward into Holofernes.  Her expression is less troubled and more determined.

Holofernes is expendable.  Of little significance when compared to the overall purpose, and therefore able to be abandoned.  Yup, in this demonstration of movement, it is clear he is going to be left behind – at least everything but his head.

(1) Janice Steinhagen, “Interview with Thomas Bennett,” Willimantic Chronicle, December 21, 2000.

(2) Flickr, Tom Bennett’s Photostream, Set: Monotypes (viewed February 16, 2012)

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Gory

 

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Judith: Jenna Jameson style

Holger Maass, “Judith and Holofernes,” 2003, digitally manipulated photograph,                               WIDMER+THEODORIDIS contemporary gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

I overlooked this depiction of Judith – three times, in fact – before I finally put it in my collection.   Why overlook it?   At first glance, it seemed too obviously and overtly sexual. as if Judith and the Maid were being cast as porno stars who would lapse into a lesbian love scene after they do away with Holofernes (who they probably subdued with a three-way in the first place).  Not the “art” I wanted to examine for Judith.

But a fourth pass led me to reconsider:  if this is the imagery that is current to the first decade of the millennium, then it needs to be included whether I think it is cheesy or not.  Perhaps it will be the legacy of this decade that legitimate art and pornography will merge into an art form for which we will be remembered.  Who am I to judge?  So here is the Judith of Holger Maass in all its overly oiled sensuality in contrast to the saintly subject.

First, on the right there is Judith – the spitting image of Nicole Kidman.  With rosebud pink nipples and a halo.  On the left is the Maid holding a pointy, glittery dagger (syringe?) in her left hand and the case in her right.  Also with a halo but honey brown nipples.  And her false eyelashes appear to be upside-down.  That is, unless I have the two women reversed and Nicole Kidman is the Maid.

Both women are encased in an ethereal glow and have an expression of distraction – staring into space – as if they are totally removed from the action.  While in the forefront lies a hunky Holofernes with surfer blue eyes and horrified expression.   Although i can never understand why he is not putting up more of a fight.  Dude, seriously – she is taking off your head.

And finally to my favorite element in this composition:  the pink purse.  Could be patent leather, could be plastic.  But it cements the entire tone:  artificial and campy.  As opposed to the blood stained bag of meat that was the receptacle for Holofernes’ Renaissance head, the contemporary Maid has provided a pink handbag for the get-away (a tote, to be more fashion-specific).   I am somewhat concerned that it is too small for the task but … this is an exercise in speculative fiction, so I’ll let it slide.

POST SCRIPT:  And how dare I forget the ducks on the wing in the background.  How very … quaint?

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Whorey

 

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Judith interrupted

This painting grows on you.   Like a virus.

Ysbrant van Wyngaarden, “Judith,” 1977, http://www.ysbrant.be/Judith.html

Among the many works of art I would like to see in person, this is high on the list.   I know there is something important going on atop this canvas, but it is too difficult to discern from a computer image.   Clearly it starts with Artemesia Gentileschi (1613 and 1620), but then where does it go?

As a spectator one also seeks to recapture the process of creation: to what extent does the painter make the painting, or how much does it force itself upon him? Ysbrant himself has said: “You can think up a painting but with the first stroke of the brush everything has already gone wrong. Your hand and your materials have a life entirely separate from that of your head and won’t just follow blithely along. Paint has a life of its own, which isn’t always under your control.”

What Ysbrant does seem to have under control is the virtuoso play with the suggestive allusion, with surface and depth, foreground and background, figuration and abstraction, coupled with an extraordinary mastery of colour that determines the transparency or opaqueness of the paint, the harmony or discord of the tones. It makes no sense to try and align his work with a particular artistic trend or even to categorise it at all. Ysbrant is the scion of the great European painting tradition, which he – and his oeuvre proves it – both knows well and admires. It also seems unnecessary to try and give it a rational explanation. The best thing to do is simply to give oneself over to the pleasure of the limitless physical and mental experience of seeing. (1)

Ysbrant has also included Judith within one of his most famous paintings, The Flying Dutchman (1978) in the the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.   As a visual expression of his inner world, Ysbrant places himself as the captain of the ship with a diverse collection of his favorite people and objects – fleeing the horrors of life, the evils that threaten him and his passengers.   Among a number of female characters from literature and the Bible is Judith (and that slutty Salome) “dressed in flamboyant baroque costumes, with lots of bows and sporting provocative stockings.” (2)

Ysbrant van Wyngaarden, “Flying Dutchman,” 1978, http://www.ysbrant.be/FlyingDutch.html

I will have to take his word for it.   Looks to me like that virus resulted in violent emesis.

(1) Florent Bex, “Ysbrant,” http://www.ysbrant.be
(2) Wiepke Loos, “What’s in a man’s mind: Travels with Ysbrant,” www.ysbrant.be

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Cacciatore

 

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