Thursday, 4 September 2014

Immoral Women, Ho!

I was excited to discover recently that the Dutch Rijksmuseum has a massive digitized collection, which has several convenient pre-sorted collections by artist, style, story, etc.  I was even more entertained to see that one of the subject sub-categories they offer under the “Daily Life” heading is “Immoral Women.”  

Ah ha, I thought to myself.  SARFT gold mine SCORE.  I immediately clicked it open, and was treated to the image of this brazen hussy.
Mary Magdalene, Jan van Scorel, c. 1530
This is the very first picture in the lineup.  I mean, I guess she is fingering that ointment jar somewhat alluringly, but otherwise I have seen more immoral lampshades.  According to the website’s description, Mary Magdalene’s luxurious clothing is “a reference to her reputed past as a prostitute.”  Let me tell you, I Googled Dutch Prostitutes, and none of them were dressed like that.

The next two paintings were on the same subject, so here is a representative sample:
Bathsheba at her Toilet, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, 1594

Ok.  This one has female nudity.  Taking a bath - scandalous!  However, I would like to dwell for a moment of on the story of Bathsheba.  This beautiful married lady Bathsheba takes a bath.  (With a name like that, I guess she couldn't help herself.)  King David sees her from afar and goes, “I’d hit that.”  So he sends “messengers” to escort her to his room, and “he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness.”  She conceives a child, so David sends her husband to the front line of a particularly intense battle to be killed.  She mourns her dead husband, but David marries her as soon as a socially acceptable time period has passed.

So for art categorization purposes, taking a bath while female will ultimately make you dirty, never mind the man who forcibly drags a married woman to sleep with him and offs her husband for his own purposes.

Being irritated by this, I checked, but the museum does not have a “Jerkwad Men of the Bible” collection.  Or rather they do, but it is under another name.  Amusing note: “Monkeys” is listed as a related subcategory under Old Testament.

Sorry.  Mini-rant over.  Moving on with the immoral femininity:
Man and Woman at a Spinning Wheel, Pieter Pietersz. (I), c. 1560 - c. 1570

Because nothing says “loose woman” like sitting covered head to toe, with sleeves and a collar that would make a defensive lineman feel more secure.  Also, I am not sure why she has tentacles protruding from her bonnet; I guess that’s kind of risqué, if you’re into that sort of thing.  The guy seems pretty intent on breaching the perimeter, but again, she’s just doing her thing and ignoring him. I guess in the 16th century holding sheep wool was super sexxay, so she’s totally an immoral fiend.
Woman at her Toilet, Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1655 - 1660

I guess I forgot to mention this post was NSFW because OMG LOOK AT ANKLE!!   Totally hawt sock removal right there.  Nice glimpse of side-thigh, too, to get your juices going.
The Martyrdom of Saint Lucy, Master of the Figdor Deposition, c. 1505 - c. 1510

Ok, Rijksmuseum.  Now you are taking the piss. 

This painting is worthy of a post on its own, but for present Immoral Woman-themed purposes, my limited understanding of the story of Saint Lucy is as follows: she dedicated her virginity to God, convinced her mother to give away her dowry to the poor, and was burned at the stake when she refused to make a pagan sacrifice and efforts to put her in a brothel failed.  Except that she wouldn’t burn, either, so she was stabbed to death, as depicted here. 
Pure is the new immoral.

The museum certainly seems to have a sense of humor – I particularly enjoy that in addition to being able to download high-res copies of the works, they also encourage you to put them on other objects such as smartphone covers, or your car.  You can also gather images to make your own collections and share them on the site.  I think I know what the title of my first collection should be...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Point/Counterpoint: Economic Systems Edition

Happy Labor Day weekend!  I thought that for the occasion I would feature some early union/anti-union posters, but had a hard time finding quite what I was looking for.  In the process of searching, though, I found the following.  Let us observe a snapshot of the socialism/capitalism debate a century ago.

First up: an industrial unionist poster from 1911.

The Pyramid of the Capitalist System!  Look at those hard workers at the bottom there.  Do you know how difficult it is to frolick so delicately with a hammer? 

Of course, some people are just idle layabouts. 

So what if you’re 8 years old?  That’s no excuse for passing out after a measly 10 hour day at the mill!  Look, your laziness is making that other little girl support society with a shovel.

Somewhat ironically, the “Eating” class doesn’t have any food on the table.  Plenty of booze, though.  The shooting people look more equipped for stabbing would-be social climbers than shooting anything – I’m not sure about the effectiveness of a cannon at the necessary angle.

Interestingly, there is an equal number of religious charlatans and rulers (darned trinitarianism!), so in this case the lower tier has more luxurious space.  Cooler capes and robes, too.  

Ok.  Good effort, socialist unionist propaganda.  But you have made a critical error.  This poster expects the viewer to take in, like, five whole categories of societal representation.  And it has over two dozen words.  You have greatly overestimated the attention span of the population.

1909 Conservative Party poster, show us how it is done.

Socialism is a DEMON MONKEY FROM HELL that will STRANGLE THE WOMEN.  The end.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

DC Art: Commemorating Military Instruction (And Bird Molestation)

One day, I was walking by Lafayette Square near the White House.  There were a number of statues scattered around.  Statues are fairly ubiquitous in the area, usually featuring slightly pompous, noble-looking men, sometimes with naked ladies and/or eagles.  So I didn’t pay them much mind as I strolled, until I glanced up and realized these particular statues offered so much more.

Like this one.  “Commemoration,” it says.  It raises a number of questions.  Commemoration of what?  The time that dude with the flowing locks and bulging pecs engaged in bondage play with the young, nubile pool boy under the trees?  Is that a man?  Or is it a woman with a steroid problem? 

Here we have a badass lady, who is clothed for once.  She is accompanied by an eagle who is clearly trying to cop a feel.  However, this is one bird who knows how to handle her birds, as she says, “Touch my ass ONE MORE TIME and I will liberate your head from your neck.”

Finally, this was the one that first caught my eye.  Unfortunately it also had the worst lighting, but you get the idea.

Now, I have never been in the military, but I confess that I had a slightly different mental image of what Military Instruction entails.  This seems to be a man saying, “All right, boy.  Take all your clothes off and get over here, so I can show you how to handle your sword.” 

I imagine the sculptor had submitted this design as a sarcastic joke, and then someone in the commissioning committee was like, “YES!  This is exactly how to encapsulate the raw intimacy of teaching military skill, and the rush of learning to thrust your weapon into another man!”  And thus art was made.