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Friday, October 27, 2006

Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

As you can see in the samples from Pollock and de Kooning the distinction between representationalism and abstract expressionism is an artificial one. The first Pollock painting titled Blue Poles is about midway between She Wolf (second painting) and the Autumn Rhythm.

Willem de Kooning spent three years 1950-52 working on Woman I which, like She Wolf, is semi-representational after winning the first place purchase award for the more abstract Excavation in 1950 at Art Institute of Chicago. De Kooning's dealer Sidney Janis was somewhat put out with him for wasting all this time on the female figure which he considered an outdated theme but de Kooning wasn't one to be driven by artistic fads or what the critics were saying about abstract art as the wave of the future.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Willem de Kooning 1904-1997

Willem de Kooning 1904-1997. Two of his most famous works. Excavation and Woman I.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Clytemnestra's Prayer to Apollo

Clytemnestra's Prayer to Apollo - Sophocles Electra 634-659

Lift up the sacrifice of every fruit, slave-girl, to the lord [Apollo] that I may offer a prayer to be relieved from the fears which hold me now.

Phoebus who-protects, please hear my words
which are hidden, for I am not among friends
and it isn't safe to bring it all to light
with this girl [Electra] standing near me
who with much noise and a wagging tongue
would spread empty gossip throughout the city.

For this vision which I saw in the night
a confusing nightmare, Lord of Light,
if it predicts good things, then let it be,
but if it is evil, turn it back on my enemies.

And if some are tempted by my great wealth
to plot together in deceit to throw me out,
do not let them to succeed,
but may I always live, as I do now, an untroubled life
holding the throne of the house of Atreus,
spending happy days, together with my friends
and those children who do not approach me
with evil intent to inflict cruel suffering.

Apollo, Lord of Light, graciously hear these [requests]
give to us everything just as we asked,
and all the others, asked in silence,
I assume, since you are a god, you will see them
for the sons of Zeus see all things.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Bomb

The USA and England killed millions of civilians in the last two years of WWII intentionally. Everybody talks about The Bomb as if it fundamentally changed the way the allies were doing war. It didn't change much in 1945. The firebombing of Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo had accomplished in a few hours what The Bomb did in a much shorter period of time. The justification for the use of The Bomb was preached like fundamentalist dogma when I was growing up. The revisionist historians now claim that Japan was ready to make peace but only if the honor of the Emperor was preserved in the process. It was FDR's "unconditional surrender" policy and the preoccupation with unseating the Emperor that made the process drag on. The Manhattan Project was aimed at ending the war with the brutal display of awesome force. Once The Bomb was ready to use the voices which opposed using it -- there were plenty of people in high places who opposed it -- these voices were silenced and the official story of why it was used became sacred dogma that only a traitor would challenge.

For a good read on this topic get your hands on

House of war : the Pentagon and the disastrous rise of American power
Carroll, James, Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006.