Painting in Concert

Paint Blogging: PROCESS, PRACTICE, PRODUCT; with some art history

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Painting in Concert

Painting in Concert
Live Paint Blogging

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Artists Are Losers ...... NSFW

A graphic rant against the Catholic League's war on art and artists, which pits the president of the Catholic League and mayor of NY against the sculptor Cavallaro, the CODE PINK girls, Sinead O'Connor, John & Yoko and other free spirits.

In Michelangelo's time another fiery Dominican held sway: Girolamo Savonarola insisted on strict cleanliness and purity, was excommunicated, and preached against vanities bred in a world of hypocrisy, domination and greed. In 1497, Savonarola organised a giant bonfire of all those things that proclaimed vanity - masks, gowns, gluttonous consumption, art that portrayed nudity - in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Even Botticelli threw what might have been some of his greatest works onto the 'Bonfire of the Vanities' as it came to be known. Michelangelo did not join this purging extravagance. But the fad was short-lived and Savonarola and two fellow monks were put on another bonfire in the same square the following year.

Michelangelo Memo Makes $576,000

The violent rantings of a lunatic bully over a chocolate Jesus:

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League: But you know what bothers me? It's not even the artist. I mean, we have a lot of these loser artists down in SoHo and around the country. What bothers me is that this guy Knowles, who is an artist in residence, the owner, the president and CEO of an establishmentarian site, the Roger Smith Hotel, 47th and Lexington, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, that is what bothers me, because now we have the establishment kicking in.

And to put this out during Holy Week, on street level, when kids can walk in off the street, these people are morally bankrupt. And my goal is to make them financially bankrupt.

Detail: Battle Between Carnival and Lent: Pieter Brueghel; 1559

Battle Between Carnival and Lent (for Bill Donohue); dgr; Easter 2007

Panel One:

Transsexual in Mardi Gras parade, CODE PINK dancing girl, photographer Renee Cox, CODE PINK woman in Muslim headscarf, playful Pope Paul II

Sinead O'Connor makes the scene, smoking a very politically uncorrect "fag" (cigarette).. You Go, Girl!! Mardi Gras transsexual shaping up.

Panel Two

Grumpy clown, sculptor Cosimo Cavallaro with "My Sweet Lord" nailed to the barrel he's riding, two nuns looking at it with amusement/repugnance at Jesus' junk, Prince at the Superbowl

Panel Two: Prince has got some company

newcomers to the Carnival: the poet Alan Ginsberg with his lover Peter Orlovsky from a photograph by Elsa Dorfman that was published in the Village Voice last year..

next to make the scene: John and Yoko from Two Virgins

John & Yoko; Two Virgins; 1968; from Canadian cover as the US judged it obscene.. so they did a back view.

Panel Three

Papparazi, figure with I Love New York sign, gaunt and weak Rudy Giuliani in wheeled chair

Four Cardinal Virtues make the scene

Four Cardinal Virtues from Victorian era print... also used as symbols by the Masons.... oh wierdness

Panel Four

Catholic League President Bill Donohue with Jack in the Box head holding sign "Artists Are Losers," the Michelangelo sculpture Risen Christ later defaced by the Church by affixing a gold loincloth, the Monkey Pope painted by Titian in the 1500's in another wheeled chair, a banner overhead that reads "Catholic League for Rudy 2008"

Ominous doings on the Lenten side:

Bush praying with Cardinal Egan of New York. Bill Donohue has lost his Jack in the Box head, and is more nearly his rabid self.

Cardinal Egan and Holy Child

The banner now reads "Catholic League for Decency" as it's pretty clear they haven't come out, and can't come out, supporting Giuliani.

Just to prove I can paint:
Detail of the cardinal's left hand resting on the child's head.

My Easter Mural shapes up:

This is a painting in progress. Tune in for more changes as I post them here.

2009... panel four has changed again... bill donohue's head is now a warring ape

Painting is another way to rant (editorialize.) I'm really pissed off that Donohue would say "Artists are losers. They're morally bankrupt. I intend to bankrupt them financially."

Really, really pissed off, Bill.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Battle Between Carnival & Lent (for Bill Donohue)

I thought I got it out of my system when I wrote "Following the Naked Christ" in a tone I thought was most objective. But the ire in me rose and I thought of Brueghel's "The Battle Between Carnival and Lent" So I figured I'd paint a picture of this modern battle, pitting the modern day Savonarola that is Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League versus the sculptor Cosimo Callavaro.

On Brueghel's Battle Between Carnival & Lent:

It is one of the central emblems of the early modern period, most famously illustrated in Peter Brueghel's eponymously named painting of 1559 in which pale, censorious Lent, virtually done in by its austerity, battles corpulent Carnival revelers in the streets of an imaginary Flemish city. In Brueghel's sixteenth-century interpretation, we have no doubt who he believes is winning the contest. Like his contemporaries Erasmus and Rabelais, Brueghel clearly understood the power of the ludic over its graver alternatives. And yet it is the coexistence of these two themes that he celebrates and immortalizes. Carnival has no meaning without Lent; locked in an eternal contest, they enact the battle between passion and reason, appetite and intellect, pleasure and piety, excess and scarcity that encompasses so many of the questions that guided and shaped the lives of early modern Europeans.

Paula Findlen

My painting would follow this format:

It turns out that Cosimo Cavallaro and Renee Cox are very civilized people. Both artists have been targeted by the Catholic League. And it turns out that the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, is a rabid madman.

How could I say everything I want to say in a painting? What technique could I use?

Because my painting would be about the war of the conservative nutjob rightwing extremists against art, artists, culture... which is the Culture of Value, the Culture of Life, the Culture of Diversity. The Culture that Celebrates Life.

So I took Brueghel as my starting point... now this was getting easier, as Cosimo Cavallaro is a beautiful person,

as is Renee Cox.

© Renee Cox

So I put them on the Carnival side, the celebration of life. On the other side, the Lent side, I had Donohue, who looks like a pudgy nothing,

but then I had Rudy Giuliani, the gaunt opponent of the arts in New York City... the mayor who has targeted both Cox and Cavallaro...

unfortunately he's looking something like the vampyr in Nosferatu.

On the Carnival Side, there's the Dixie Chicks:

And, I suppose Madonna,

but I much prefer Sinead O'Connor:

The Lent side is mighty lean, so I'll go for that horrible monkey pope? cardinal? painted by Goya? Velazquez??

can't find it.

Aha!! It's Titian!!

The Monkey Pope

But I'd like to include this of the Life Loving Pope on the Carnival side, of course:

On the Carnival side, I must include these women from CODE PINK:

And because he is/was a beautiful person who I never forget, I'll put Harvey Milk, who was my Supervisor in SF, on the Carnival side:

Phew, tall order.

Now, I know WHAT I want to do, the thing is HOW can I do it?? In the manner of Brueghel (doable) or in the manner of Romare Beardon (doable)???


Step One:

Cosimo riding a barrel, on his "spear" three roasted chickens... perfect for the food artist.

Step Two:

The gaunt mayor Rudy Giuliani, a figure with a I Love New York Flag, rosary beads on the chair's platform. This figure is too weak to joust.... dunno if I should include Rudy G for 2008, or how he's earned the Catholic Vote...

Step Three:

CODE PINK girls Renee Cox and the goofball Pope

Step Four:

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, and the Monkey Pope, also on a wheeled chair... these Catholic leaders are looking very weak and frail.

(Pope Paul III 1468-1549)
"He also incurred virtual war with his own subjects and vassals by the imposition of burdensome taxes"

Step Five:
In order to keep the panels scanner size (8x10) I've done them separately.
Now it's time to tape up.
I use blue painter's tape, to put all four panels together... the joint is loose enough so I can continue to fold and scan.
The challenge is to get all these figures to share the same space.
Brueghel used a perspective from above to get his panoramic scene.
My viewpoint is only slightly from above, and in other places is dead on.... will have to work this out.

Step Four A:
Bill Donahue:
Donahue's head is so round I've given him the golf ball head of the advertisement for jack in the box
I pasted in the Michelangelo Risen Christ ruined by the church with a vulgar brilliant gold codpiece arrangement.

now we're having fun.

Step Two A
Mayor of New York and Presidential Hopeful Rudy Giuliani

Step Three A

CODE PINK girls, Renee Cox YO MAMA!! and the goofball Pope

Step One A

The sculptor Cosimo Cavallaro with a copy of his "My Sweet Lord" on the front of the barrel he's riding. Two nuns look on in amusement/fascination/condemnation/horror. "I can see our dear lord's junk!!!"

This is a painting in progress.

Stay tuned, as I continue to post the stages of this piece as I am working on it. I plan to have it finished by the weekend. Another way to editorialize is to paint.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Following the Naked Christ

Today would have been the day that the LAB gallery, a subdivision of the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York, displayed the work of Cosimo Cavallaro, “My Sweet Lord” a six foot anatomically correct sculpture made out of chocolate.

Although the Catholic League (with 300,000 members) rallied their case through emails to 500 religious groups of all denominations and effectively shut the show down, there is a tradition of the Naked Christ in art that goes back hundreds of years.... at least to St. Francis of Assisi. in 1200.

St. Francis: “Follow the naked Christ”
The tradition of following the naked Christ goes back to St. Francis who stripped himself naked in the town square to announce his intention to follow the naked Christ:

St. Francis is quoted as saying: Nudus nudum sequi Christum, “Naked to follow the naked Christ.”

St. Francis saw Christ as naked, as did these artists:

Giovanni di Paolo 1200’s

Ravenna Mosaic

There's nothing in art history to compare to Cosimo Cavallaro's Christ until Michaelangelo's wooden Naked Christ of 1494:
The Catholic Church and Nakedness

Many historical church leaders have disassociated nudity with sexual immodesty. St. Thomas Aquinus, for example, defined an immodest act as one done with a lustful intention. Therefore, someone who disrobes for the sole purpose of bathing or recreating cannot be accused of immodesty.

Pope John Paul II writes: "Sexual modesty cannot then in any simple way be identified with the use of clothing, nor shamelessness with the absence of clothing and total or partial nakedness. . . . Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment. . . . There are certain objective situations in which even total nudity of the body is not immodest." ref

The Naked Christ in Modern Art
These artists had to battle for the authenticity of their work:

Naked Christ: sheep bones, scrap metal, scrap wood

The sculptor Michele Coxon who lives in Wales, says she drew inspiration for her Naked Christ from sheep skeletons, abandoned machinery, and river flotsam. “I wanted the image of a man who has suffered and whose earthly body is decaying.” Naked Christ

This sculptor had to battle the church over this naked Christ in the stages of the Cross:

Llew Summers; Naked Christ; Stages of the Cross

A beautiful Naked Christ by the sculptor Bill Hopen:

The strongest expression of the Naked Christ in modern art is that of the sculptor Subirachs, on the Passion Facade of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The sculptor was completing the work of the architect Antoni Gaudi who designed the building 123 years ago.

Josep Maria Subirachs, the sculptor chosen in 1986 to execute Gaudí's plans and initially known to be an atheist (he is the author of statements such as "God is one of Man's greatest creations..."), now confesses to nothing more virulent than a respectful agnosticism.

Known for his easy-to-identify hard-edged and geometrical interpretations of the human form, Subirachs has stated that he was "born nine months after the death of Gaudí." When multitudinous demonstrations of artists, architects, and religious leaders called for his resignation in 1990, Subirachs replied, "My work has nothing to do with Gaudí."

The casus belli at that moment was the anatomically complete rendering of a naked Christ on the cross, which Subirachs defended as part of the stark realism of the scene he intended to portray. Contracted on the two conditions that he be allowed complete artistic freedom and living space at the work site, Subirachs eventually prevailed, and his work is now virtually undebated. "I intended a contrast with Gaudí's more baroque style," explains the sculptor, "with a harder vision and a brutalization of the stone itself."
Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia]
Website of Josep María Subirachs, Sculptor

The Naked Christ

For more than 800 years there has been an art tradition of portraying the Naked Christ. Some of these are depictions of the baptism, where nakedness was the practice. But the strongest expressions of Christ's nakedness and humanity have been that of the crucifixion... these are, in my opinon: Michaelangelo, Subirachs and Cavallaro.

The Christ figure is naked because he has gone through days of torture and humiliation before being nailed to a cross. What astounds me, after all these hundreds of years, is that the Church and the public do not protest at depictions of torture, including the tortured Christ, but react with horror at the Naked Christ.

Detainee at the Roger Smith
"Detainee", a mixed-media, action oriented and interdisciplinary collaboration will be presented at The Lab, from Monday, January 29 through Friday, February 2, 2007, during the hours of 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. Detainee links the image of the United States of America with its recent decision to implement the Military Commissions Act of 2006, focusing within this performance work on the absolute power that the State has determined is within its moral and political prerogative to hold over any individual. David Duckworth, as a bound and blindfolded detainee, becomes the paintbrush with which interrogators paint the American flag on the floor of the gallery

Just two months ago this performance art was shown at the same LAB Gallery at the Roger Smith Hotel that cancelled the exhibition of Cavallaro's naked Christ, "My Sweet Lord." Perhaps the public did not raise the hue and cry because the detainee depicted was not naked, or maybe Americans have become used to images like this.


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