Thursday, September 16, 2010
Looking Away From Selene And Endymion
I don’t have much to say today.
In fact today will be just a trivial personal note.
I’m not really a big fan of Greek and Roman mythology—to me it’s all very irrational and grotesquely violent—but I started out the week with a post about Selene and Endymion. That doesn’t really make me happy and I wanted to at least mention that I was unhappy with my post. Well, not unhappy with the post itself, but I just wish I had found a way to speak to the beauty of the Venus-Moon-Jupiter situation without dwelling on ancient myths that are—to me—dehumanizing and unpleasant.
Also it bugged me that I included a Poussin painting with that post.
I’ve mentioned Poussin at least once before, in my post, The Landscapes With Figures Of Berthe Morisot #1. I just mentioned him in passing, along with his friend Claude Lorrain. Now, although Lorrain and Poussin were friends, they created images that were subtly different and during their own lifetimes they appealed to subtly different “demographics.” I’m not going to ramble on now about my interpretation of their different audiences, but, typically, Poussin is generally judged to have been popular with the “new rich” of the era, the commercially successful people who may or may not have had the best education. Lorrain is generally judged to have been popular with the aristocracy, and, in that era, that meant the people who had a real education and were raised around art of all kind.
And it’s still kind of like that today. Poussin typically appeals to people who like to look at all the subtle references contained within the paintings and speculate about hidden meanings that may or may not be contained within the images. Lorrain typically appeals to people who simply look for beautiful images, images that are put together as extraordinary experiences in and of themselves without, so to speak, working so hard to “prove” themselves.
And Lorrain, unlike Poussin, often did little sketches that weren’t exercises to get ready for some painting, they were just little sketches that stood on their own as amazing visual statements. Like this one:
I just want to be clear where my, umm, self-identification is centered.
I’m about as far from an “aristocrat” as you can find. I have no real education. I’m kind of ugly. And I have no social skills. But I don’t like Greek and Roman myths. I interpret history, generally, as a kind of battle between Rome and Jerusalem and I stand squarely, shoulder-to-shoulder, with Jerusalem. And I never much liked Poussin. His images, to me, have always seemed like bad early attempts at graphic novels nobody really would find interesting. I’ve always loved Lorrain’s images, both his “regular” paintings—which ‘capture light’ at least as beautifully as the much later Impressionists—as well as his amazing ink sketches.
I’m glad I took a moment to sort out this stuff a little bit. It’s been bugging me. I seriously do not like Greek and Roman mythology.
I’m just saying.