Monday, March 30, 2009

Art appreciation, at my house.

I continue to read my newest art history book, "30,000 years of art", aquired at the Morse Museum while I was in Florida. It weighs 15 pounds/6.8 kg, and is three inches/7.5 cm thick. I'm up to about 1,000 BCE. It's slow going, and pretty dense. (Ha.)

There is one work of art, with commentary, per page, which makes it ideal for reading while caring for the Goob. I can manage an article or two before she turns up, demanding crackers or something. Plus she likes to look at the pictures with me and talk about them, so I'm squeezing in a few history lessons as we go. Never know if it'll stick, but we both enjoy it.

So, yesterday, I'd gotten to 1200 BCE and the "Acrobatic Dancer". She's pretty famous in both art history and Egyptology, and I'd seen her before.

The book is so huge that I read it at the dining room table (where it has taken up semi-permanent residence). I sat there, reading about how her origin is unknown (she showed up on the antiquities market decades ago, possibly as long as a century, back when things were regularly looted and sold and the authorities didn't do much). She's thought to have come from the workers' village near the Valley of the Kings, where the painters, sculptors, and other artists and craftsmen who built the royal tombs lived.

The husbeast, not being big on art history and having gleaned most of his Egyptology from a couple quick visits with the Navy, and living with me, had never seen her before. He wandered by the table where I was reading, stopped, and said, "Oh, nice."

I assume it was appreciation for both the artistic skill - which is impressive - and the subject matter.

So I read to him from the book, on the theories as to how and why the lady got painted. Theories are: it was drawn by a master to explain a theory to an apprentice, a working sketch in preparation of tomb decoration, a copy of work from a tomb for later refrence. "Sheer pleasure of creation" is added, at the end, almost as an afterthought.

The husbeast summed it up best with a snort. "Maybe he just liked painting naked chicks. Looks like he was good at it."

I added that considering the unholy amount of formal rules governing 'real' Egyptian painting at the time, perhaps an artist wanted to make something however he liked. And he liked naked chicks.

The husbeast and I agreed, and he went off to the garage to work on the engine he's rebuilding, and I went on to read about a Syrian box lid of carved ivory.

I'm telling you, the museums NEED US.


Emily said...

Every time I read your blog, I learn something new. Boy, I feel undereducated around you! (My word is "torte'.)

Barbara said...

I have always liked how archaeologists and historians ascribe such noble motives to the creation or use of the things they find. Personally I'm more inclined to figure out the most logical use and go with that. Artists paint naked chicks today so artists painted naked chicks in ancient Egypt. People don't really change. Besides, what's wrong with making pretty things? Not everything has to be significant. Tsk, academics.

(spam word-"trabl" what I do on planes after tee many martoonis.)

walterknitty said...

I feel like Emily. Every time I read your blog I learn something new. Thank you for sharing. I've never seen her before. She's beautiful. With so much art from Ancient Egypt lost or destroyed, we're fortunate she survived so we have the joy of admiring her. Who knows, maybe that was the artist's only purpose in painting her, so others could admire her pose and beauty.

Alwen said...

You seldom see naked chicks with breasts the size of mine, but I have to tell you that if I were still able to do a backbend without ferocious vertigo, gravity pulls them so the bulge is on the other side!

I've always wondered exactly what that thing is she is wearing and how exactly it stays on.

Meanwhile, the verification word mocking me today is "Dammit, orc!", spelled damitork.

Mandy said...

I've never seen her, but I did make a gold ring for myself about 18 years ago in a casting class that looks almost exactly like her (without the little skirt thingie).

Naked chicks have always been popular in art.

Roxie said...

Alwen is right. The boobs should droop the other way. You are right. Museums NEED you two!

Alwen said...

Plainly aesthetics trump gravity when it comes to naked chicks.

(Why yes, I am twelve.)

Louiz said...

I'd love to read museum guides written by you:) And a quick test on the back of the sofa here at work - the bulge should indeed by the other side... but it wouldn't look as good if it was (and a good thing we had no clients in the office at the time)

GrillTech said...

I can just see the conversation between the artist and his model (wife?).

Artist - Let me paint a naked picture of you.

Her - No way.

Artist - I'll destroy aftwards no one will ever see it.

Her - Well as long as no one sees it and you promise to destroy it aftwards.

It was just the egyptian version of todays digital cameras..


Donna Lee said...

I'm always in awe of anyone who can bend backwards like that and still get up and walk again!

Amy Lane said...

Yup... same reason a cat licks itself. BECAUSE IT CAN! (Awesome picture, though--hadn't seen that!)