Μάγισσα είσαι;

Για την ημέρα της γυναίκας – από την Χριστίνα Παπαβασιλείου

dimart

—της Χριστίνας Παπαβασιλείου—

Άντρες και γυναίκες εξασκούσαν την μαύρη μαγεία ανά τους αιώνες, αλλά η μαγγανεία (κλάδος της μαύρης μαγείας που σκοπό είχε την προσέλκυση κατώτερων όντων του αόρατου κόσμου) ήταν αποκλειστικά γένους θηλυκού.

4860.480Δικό μας κορίτσι στις πρώτες αναφορές, η Κίρκη, γνωστή από την Οδύσσεια όπου μεταμόρφωσε τους συντρόφους του Οδυσσέα σε γουρούνια (όινκ όινκ) — που σιγά δηλαδή, δεν πάθανε και τίποτα, όλη μέρα φαΐ και spa στις λάσπες, άλλοι πληρώνουν αδρά στην εποχή μας για τις ίδιες απολαύσεις.

MhdeiaΑνιψιά της και πολύ καλή μαθήτρια, όπως απεδείχθη, αν και πιο σκοτεινή, η Μήδεια, η οποία μπορεί κατά βάθος να ήταν καλό κορίτσι, αλλά οι καταστάσεις κι ο έρωτας την απομούρλαναν και την οδήγησαν σε πράξεις μιαρές. Αν ο Ιάσων δεν ήταν μπερμπάντης, μπορεί τίποτα να μην είχε συμβεί και τα παιδάκια να έμεναν αρτιμελή και, όπως έλεγε κι η Ίλια στο «Ποτέ την Κυριακή», όλοι μαζί έπειτα να…

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March of the painters (and the poets!)

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March is the first month of spring and the month of my birthday!

Here are some famous paintings about March (from left to right):

 

1.Edvard Munch, Fields in March (1916), 2.Yiannis Tsarouchis, Martis (1972) 3. Nils Kreuger, Evening in March (1900), 4. Leandro Bassano, March (c.1595-1600), 5. Hans Thoma, March (c.1900), 6.Edward Burne – Jones, March Marigold (1870) 7.Philip Richard Morris, March Winds (no date)  8.The March Calendar from the French Gothic manuscript illumination The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry (1412-1416), 9. Nicolai Astrup, A morning of March (1920), 10.Theodor Kittelsen, March (1890), 11.Robert Henri,  the March Wind (1902), 12. Edward John Poynter, Ides of March (1883) 

 

 

 

and a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Dear March – Come in!

How glad I am!
I hoped for you before.
Put down your hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are!

Dear March, how are you?
and the rest?
Did you leave Nature well? 
Oh March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell.

I got your letter, and the bird’s 
The Maples never knew 
that you were coming -I declare,
How Red their Faces grew! 
But, March, forgive me – 
And all those hills 
you left for me to hue; 
There was no purple suitable, 
You took it all with you.

Who knocks? That April!
Lock the Door!
I will not be pursued!
He stayed away a year, to call 
When I am occupied. 
But trifles look so trivial 
As soon as you have come,

That blame is just as dear as Praise 
And Praise as mere as Blame

Have a nice month!

More paintings about March: http://antikleidi.com/2016/03/01/march

The lady in the mirror and the mirror paintings in art history

«She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
The Lady of Shalott

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott (1842)

 

Whether it is from Lord Tennyson’s famed ballad, or from John William Waterhouse’s iconic painting that still adorns Tate Britain’s hall, everyone has heard the tale of ‘the Lady of Shalott’. The story itself originates in Mort Artu or “the death of King Arthur,” which forms part of the 13th-century Prose Lancelot. It tells the tragic death of a beautiful maiden, Elaine d’Astolat, who falls desperately in love with Lancelot, whose heart belongs only to Queen Guinevere.

The ancient tale was granted new life by the poet Lord Tennyson, who enriched it by giving Elaine a spindle, a magic mirror, and a mysterious curse that is never explained.

Passing from Tennyson to the Pre-Raphaelites, the story is reincarnated in various forms, painted or sketched by several members of the Brother- and Sisterhood. The theme was hugely popular; Waterhouse alone executed three paintings, drawing from different stanzas of the ballad: The Lady of Shalott (1888), The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot (1894), and “I’m Half-Sick of Shadows,” Said the Lady of Shalott (1915).

The lady is framed in a mirror – so what we see is not her but her reflection, no more real than the painted sun and moon looking upon her from the ceiling, all to symbolize the falseness of her world, where, unloved, she lives a life of solitude.

The mirror as an element in art history has first appeared in Jan Van Eyk’s oil painting «The Arnolfini Portrait» (1434). This work of art is considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art: for the first time, a simple corner of the real world had suddenly been fixed on to a panel as if by magic…

Later, in 1656, in Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas a mirror is depicted again and its reflexion.

It seems that the painters of the Preraphaelites group have been largerly influenced by Van Euyk’s painting having painted mirrors in many of their artworks: The awakening conscience, (William Holman Hunt,1853), Take your son sir!, (Fold Madox Brown, 1851), Lucrezia Borgia, (Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1860/1), La Belle Iseult, (William Morris, 1858), Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor, (Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1861), A youth relating tales to ladies, (Simeon Solomon,1870), Il dolce far niente, (William Holman Hunt, 1866),  the portrait of Margaret Burne-Jones (Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1880), to mention but a few…

The exhibition Reflexions: Van Euyk and the Preraphaelites which is currently on show at the National Gallery in London, demonstrates the secret bonds between theNetherlandish painter and the Preraphaelites and how the latter have been influenced by Van Euyk to integrate the mirror in their paintings.

At the images above, four different versions of the theme by John William Waterhouse (image n.1), Minje Su (n.2),  Elisabeth Eleanor Siddal (n.3) and William Holman Hunt (n.4). See (and listen) also Loreena McKennitt’ s Lady of Shalott inspired by the poetry and iconography of the famous lady  here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxFF03IbIlY

Where: at the exhibition Van Euyk and the Preraphaelites, National Gallery, London

When: 16/11/2018

What: The Lady of Shalott (paintings, poetry, song)

(More info: http://oxfordstudent.com/2017/01/25/lady-shalott-post-pre-raphaelite-endeavour/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The dreadful power of a dance

 

Dancing has been a favorite theme for painters and sculptors  during the 20th century featuring in various famous artworks, such as, for example, the Dance of Henry Matisse, the Dancers of Edward Degas etc

Although, dancing has had a hidden dark side during medieval times: the Dancing Mania.

The Dancing Mania was a strange social phenomenon that escapes clear explanation to this day. It was recorded throughout the history of the Middle Ages, with earliest accounts dating from the 7th century.

The symptoms varied, but there was one constant―those “infected” would move in groups, performing something similar to dancing as their bodies twitched with spasms, leaving an observer with a sense of dread. People who engaged in this activity didn’t seem to be aware of themselves. As if in some sort of trance, sometimes the dancing mania would possess a person for days, weeks, and in some cases months. This was no joking matter, as the people afflicted by this peculiar obsession would sometimes die of exhaustion or hunger.

The legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin ―a folk tale about a piper with supernatural powers who leads a group of children to their death, as an act of revenge against the townsmen who refused to pay him for his services of eradicating rats in times of plague- is probably relevant to this dancing Mania which spread in many European cities during medieval times (…)

One of the largest outbreaks of this mysterious dancing “sickness” happened in Aachen, Germany, in 1374. Several thousand frenzied people danced in fits that lasted for weeks.

Hecker’s description (see his black and white engraving below) of this strange gathering invokes rather hellish visions, resembling the miniatures of Hieronymus Bosch:

They formed circles hand in hand, and appears to have lost all control over their senses, continued dancing, regardless of the bystanders, for hours together, in wild delirium, until at length they fell to the ground in a state of exhaustion. They then complained of extreme oppression and groaned as if in the agonies of death, until they were swathed in cloths bound tightly around their waists, upon which they again recovered, and remained free from complaint until the next attack.

One of the most prominent theories claims that the main reason behind this mass mania was poisoning by Claviceps purpurea, a fungus known to infect rye and other cereals, a condition called ergotism. Symptoms of ergot poisoning include hallucinations, convulsions, delirium, psychosis, a painful burning sensation in the limbs and extremities, headache, and it can cause damage to the central nervous system.

Others propose that the symptoms were similar to encephalitis, epilepsy, and typhus, but none of these explanations could answer for all the symptoms exhibited in the reports.

In Italy, a similar social phenomena called the tarantella was attributed to spider bites. The poison produced by spiders or scorpions was considered to cause such madness, but this scenario is hardly possible in such mass cases.

Nowadays, in some areas in Greece (Serres) a relevant tradition called Anasthenaria (Αναστενάρια) still survives: at the end of May dancers jump over litten fires or walk on burning coals. Also in June on the eve of the feast of St John, in some rural areas, another version of the tradition still exists.

See also: A choreography of Marie Chouinard and the cover of the fifth album of Dead can Dance Aion released in 1990 are both inspired by the dance in the painting of Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights  (see above). Here’s the Song of the Sibyl from the album. 

Source: https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/11/12/a-dance-to-die-for-the-mysterious-phenomenon-of-medieval-europe-that-drove-people-to-dance-until-collapse/, https://theportalist.com/the-chilling-true-story-behind-the-pied-piper-of-hamelin, wikipedia

 

The Butt music from hell

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There is a figure on a painting of Hieronymus Bosch, the famous 15th-century triptych Earthly Delights, crushed by a giant lute.

On the backside of this figure, one can clearly see a four-line musical staff that seems to have been tattooed on his butt. For years it has been a total mystery how this music may seem like. Several musical historians have attempted a transcription into modern musical notation.

Early before last year, Amelia Hamrick, a student from Oklahoma, noticed the musical notes printed on the backside of the sinner in the painting.  This made her decide to transcribe the Gregorian staff into modern notation.

She played the tune on her piano and posted it on her blog. Here is the music composition based on her transcription.

Before Amalia knew it her recording had been shared and listened to worldwide (people found her 600-year-old «butt song from hell», as she called the song both hilarious and fascinating). Several media, including British newspapers The Guardian and the Daily Mail and the Dutch regional news station Omroep Brabant, reported on Amelia and her recording.

Amelia’s idea was then picked up by many other creative minds, each adding their own interpretation of the musical notes (there is even a heavy metal version).

However, Amelia was not the first who had a go at playing the musical notes in the painting. Back in 1978, the Spanish monk Gregorio Paniagua had already translated the notes shown on the sinner’s buttocks and the song has been played by his music ensemble Atrium Musicae.

PS Music geeks may have noticed that the staff on the man’s butt has only four lines. It seems likely that this is an older form of notation used for Gregorian Chants.

What: The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, Oil on oak panels, 220 cm × 389 cm (87 in × 153 in)/ the real painting is housed in Museo del Prado, Madrid since 1939

Where: At the exhibition «Hieronymus Bosh. Visions Alive», at the Alten Münze, (6.7.2016 – 18.6.2017), Berlin

When: 2.6.2017

 

A.Strinberg as a painter

 

August Strindberg was mainly known as a writer, but he was also a radical painter for his time. He viewed the landscape of his native Sweden as a reflection and metaphor for his own churning emotions and his diverse compositions of waves, rocks and skies done in different color palettes and moods can be interpreted as self-portraits.

He painted intensively for limited periods, often in the wake of some psychological crisis. He had a good knowledge of the craft of painting but did not model his style on any other artist. He worked with a limited number of subjects: sea-scapes, angry seas, threatening waves or deserted beaches with a solitary flower in the foreground. Today his paintings are much admired. About 130 of his paintings have been identified.

What: Paintings of A.Strinberg

Where: at the museum/house of A.Strinberg, in Stockholm

When: 9/5/2017

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«Just as women’s bodies are softer than men’s their understanding is sharper»

(Christine de Pisan)

Christine de Pisan, (born in 1364, in Venice) was a prolific and versatile French poet and author, the first female author, and poetess.

Her diverse writings include numerous poems of country love, a biography of Charles V of France and several works championing women.

She was the daughter of an Italian doctor (Tomasso de Pizzano) who served as personal astrologer to King Charles V of France. At the age of five she moved to Paris with her family and changed her name to Pisan. Athe age of 15, she married Etienne de Castel, who,  died from a plague some years later.

Christine de Pisan became the first woman in France to earn her living as a writer.

She is mostly remembered for her revolutionary works on women. In Epistre au dieu d’amour (1399), she explored the status of women within society and critiqued their depiction in literature. With La cité des dames (1405), which is considered to be one of the first feminist texts, de Pisan profiled leading female figures from history and advanced the idea of gender equality. She continued to espouse the rights of women in Le livre du trésor de la cité des dames (1405). Both of these feminist books were later translated into English.

During the last years of her life, de Pizan entered a convent in Poissy, France. She wrote a little while at the convent. In 1429, she penned a work to praise Joan of Arc which proved to be her final contribution to literature.

De Pisan died at the convent around 1430.

Where: in the book «Frauen die schreiben leben gefahrlich»and on the internet

What: (pictures) 1st: A picture from her poem «Clearing the Field of Letters»
2nd: Portrait of Christine de Pisan

When: 30.1.2017

Der Tod ist ein Master aus Deutschland (Todesfuge)

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In 1980 Anselm Kiefer (b.1945) began a series of works inspired by the poem «Todesfuge» (Death Fugue) by the german-speaking Jewish-Romanian poet Paul Celan (1920-1970), who had left Romania after his parents’ death at the hands of the Nazis.

The poem deals obliquely with the horror of the Holocaust. Its most famous line is perhaps «The Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland» (Death is a master from Germany). Above is one of the Margarete paintings – Margarite’s may refer to the heroine in Goethe’s Faust (Kiefer has used straw to stand in for her golden hair).

Margarites’ blonde hair is contrasted in the poem with the «ashen» hair of the Jewish Shulamite, favorite wife of King Solomon as suggested in another painting titled ‘Shulamite» (below), for which the artist uses ash as material.

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what: (for the second painting) Anselm Kiefer, Shulamite, 1983, oil, emulsion, woodcut, shellac, acrylic, and straw on canvas, 213 x 145 inches / 541 x 368.3 cm (Doris and Donald Fisher Collection). © Anselm Kiefer, courtesy of the artist.

when: on Friday 18/11/2016

where: at the Martin Gropius Bau (The British view: Germany Memories of a nation, Berlin, 8/10/2016 – 9/1/2017)

What is Odradek?

odradek

In the short story «The cares of a family man» which first appeared in Franz Kafka’s’ short stories collection A Country Doctor. Short stories, a family man tells of a strange form -Odradek- that haunts his house. Neither its name, nor its form, nor its behavior patterns provide much information about the meaning of its existence. To humans, Odradek remains a riddle.

In the photo of Jeff Wall (above), the American artist interprets the fictional content of Kafka’s’ story and its milieu and atmosphere – at an actual place (No 8, Taboritska Street= and at a specific time (18 July 1994). Various perspectives on time, place and action interlace in his shot in a way that is similar to film or theatre. Past and present are superimposed, and an open space of meaning is generated within the text. Kafka’s’ text conveys the influence of the subconscious, the hidden and the repressed on our imagination and understanding of reality.Walls’ cinematographic image corresponds to this, with a fluent exchange between the documentary and the fictional, between light and shadow, between what is in focus and what is blurred, between what can be seen and what only seems to be.

what: Odradek, Jeff Wall, photography, 1994

where: at the Center for Fine Arts, Brussels, part of the exhibition «The power of the Avant-Garde, Now and Then», (29/9/2016-22/1/2017)

when: Wednesday, 26/10/2016

 

 

The pillar portrait

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Of all three Brontës Sisters this is the only  group portrait painting that survives, known as the «Pillar Portrait», painted in c1833 by their teenage brother Branwell, depicting from left to right: Anne, Emily and Charlotte. It is known as the Pillar Portrait because of the pillar which is where Branwell has painted himself out of the picture, the outline of his figure is just visible.

The Brontës were a nineteenth-century literary family associated with the village of Thornton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The sisters, Charlotte (1816–1855), Emily (1818–1848), and Anne (1820–1849), are  known as poets and novelists. Like many contemporary female writers, they originally published their poems and novels under male pseudonyms: Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Their stories immediately attracted attention for their passion and originality. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was the first to know success, while Emily’s Wuthering  Heighs, Anne’s The Tenant of Wilsfell Hall and other works were later to be accepted as masterpieces of literature.

The painting was at Haworth Parsonage until the death of Patrick Bronte in 1861 when Charlotte’s widower, Arthur Bell Nicholls, took it with him to Ireland.

Mr Nicholls kept the portrait in a wardrobe, upstairs in his house. After the formation of the Bronte Society enquiries were made about the painting but he didn’t admit that it still existed. A poor photograph of it was discovered and a copy sent to him in 1897 but he wouldn’t acknowledge that his wife or Emily were portrayed.

The reason for this seems to have been that he didn’t want any image of Charlotte published, other than the idealised and flattered portrait by George Richmond. Arthur Bell Nicholls died in 1906 but the Pillar Portrait wasn’t discovered until 1914.

what:  painting by Branwell Brontës, 1833

where: on the internet (sources:wikipedia, http://www.brontesisters.co.uk/Bronte-Portraits.html)

when: 21/9/2016