Saturday, 11 August 2012

Warning – May Contain Nudity

 by Ashley Lister  

No. I said 'the knight is getting longer.'
 This painting, The Knight Errant by John Millais, has been cited as a typical example of Pre-Raphaelite artwork. It appears to show a goodly knight rescuing a relieved damsel who has been tied to a tree.

Or maybe it shows a wicked knight binding a damsel to a tree with the intent of making her more distressed?

Or maybe it shows a pair of 1870s LARP (Live Action Role-Play) enthusiasts reliving a scene from a bawdy Arthurian legend and preparing to bang like an outhouse door in a thunderstorm?

If that painting failed to work for you, look at this one: Déjeuner sur l’Herbe from Édouard Manet. Manet was a leading figure of the impressionists and this scene is one of his better known pieces. But what are we looking at?

Strippergram? An unwitting indictment on the naked nature and exposed sexuality of a woman’s status in 1863? Or is it simply an excuse to show side-boob and a dapper hat?

Go on! Pull my finger!

And then there’s this ‘Where’s Wally’ contribution from the sixteenth century Dutch legend Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. If art is supposed to ask questions, the first letters that spring to my mind are WTF?

Wally had discovered the secret to true anonymity involved being naked on some surreal level of hell.
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing with creative writing lessons is setting ekphrastic sessions. We invariably start such exercises by examining a piece of art, (such as Millais’s Knight Errant) and then suggest motives and backstory to see if the logic works. Or we could tell the story of Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’Herbe from the perspective of any of the characters in the scene, adding a new dimension to the visual. Or we could even try to narrate a logic for Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights so that it either makes some sense, or provides an expected sense of disquiet to match the pre-surrealism content.

But I’m aware we don’t have time for such exercises here. 

So, instead, I look forward to reading the best caption for this Caravaggio: Judith Beheading Holofernes. As always, I look forward to reading anything that is aimed at a warped sense of humour.

Judith realised she was going to fail the hairdressing practical again.



Standard said...

Now Judith thought about it, nan's explanation of what Holofernes meant by 'head' might have been wide of the mark

Ashley R Lister said...

Standard - remind me never to walk round an art gallery with you. You'll get us both kicked out!

Classy line :-)

Lindsay said...

Nan, are you sure this is the guy from the GoCompare advert?

Ashley R Lister said...

Nice twist :-) I can imagine viewers would be lining up in droves if they thought they could really slit his throat.

vicky ellis said...

Holofernes: "You're doing it wrong, it should be more of a hacking motion."
Judith: "And this is why you're losing the head."
Ethel: "You want me to stick this over his head? He's getting on my wick."
Judith: "Please, and fetch me a stool - we're going to be here for a while."

Great article Ash. I want to live in the Bosch triptych :)

Ashley R Lister said...

That woman looks like an Ethel too!

Are we arty-farty on here or what? We're discussing Bosch and Caravaggio like proper folks with degrees and qualifications!

How did your filming go yesterday? You were reading David's story, weren't you?