Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Failing the Poor

This blog is, at least for now, principally about the art of Norman Rockwell.  (And, by the way, postings have been sparse recently because I've been incredibly busy and simply unable to make time for blogging.  I hope to be able to find a bit more spare time soon!)  This post, however, is not principally about Norman Rockwell (though we'll get there eventually).  Reader beware.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Symphony in White

This picture hangs in the National Gallery in DC.

It is one of those pictures I've seen reproduced a thousand times.  Whistler, of course.  I've never been a fan of Whistler.  I wouldn't have expected to find this picture especially interesting.  But when I saw it for the first time, it took my breath away.  I mean that pretty much literally.  I saw it through the doorway, hanging in the next gallery over, and I had an involuntary intake of breath.  If I were less cool, it would have been something almost like a gasp.  As it is, I'd say it was an involuntary intake of breath.  I got my breath back quickly enough, but I was surprised to have lost it.  None of the other pictures I looked at that day prompted such a physical reaction.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rockwell Parody Poster for "Muhammad Art Exhibit"

As I've discussed before, Rockwell's work is often parodied.  The most recent parody (that I've heard about) was the publicity poster for the recent "Muhammad Art Exhibit" in Texas.  You can see the poster here.  It's pretty standard: take a beloved Rockwell image and try to update it.  I'm not much in the business of trying to guess what Rockwell would make of contemporary happenings.  (Would he have voted for Obama or Romney?  Would he......? etc)  But I am pretty confident that he wouldn't have approved of this event.  He was a very kindhearted man, and he didn't much go in for mockery.

I myself am of two minds about it.  Of course, artists have the right to create virtually anything they like, including images banned by religious authority--Muslim or otherwise.  Moreover, in a world where making such pictures can draw down the wrath of Islamic murderers on you, it does take a certain amount of bravado to go ahead and do it.  It's not like mocking Christ--that's easy.  Mocking Muhammad might put you at risk.