Thursday, December 1, 2011

Everybody loves Art History (Part 1)

Most probably just don't know it.

That's why I've dedicated this particular entry to how a knowledge of Pop Culture can make Art History more fun (Not that it isn't already a party!). The next entry, the Part II to this entry, will give a few instances where Art images have been hidden right under our noses in Pop Culture.

But for now...take a step inside my mind and let me share with you a few parallels I drew.

- Lamby don't care
El Greco's Modena triptych (If it is, in fact, his...So many problems with attribution in art history, you know) is a really gorgeous amateur undertaking for the young Greek painter. I think his treatment of all of the panels in such vivid red and golds, as well as browns and neutrals, in an exceptionally interesting way of interpreting the Christ story. Usually, we see many more blues and luminous whites and greens to balance the red. But not here.

Adoration of the Shepherds, wing of the Modena Triptych. El Greco. 1568. Historical Museum of Crete.

As in typical Adoration of the Shepherds images, animals are included in the scene. It was weird enough that the cow is a strange, fiery red orange. Pan to the weird upside-down sheep in the crook of the middle shepherd's arm.

Yes, that is, my friends, reportedly a sheep.

...Or is it?

Albino honey badger photo lovingly borrowed from this excellent wild life photographer.
Looks like an upside-down albino honey badger to me.

- Mt. Sinai = Mordor?!

Mount Sinai. El Greco. 1570. 41 x 47 cm. The Historical Museum of Crete.

Thank you, El Greco, for giving us our first glimpse of Mordor.

Makes me a little uncomfortable.

- I feel like somebody's watchin' me
When one of my classmates presented this beautiful painting by Lorenzo Lotto, St. Nicholas in Glory with St. John the Baptist and St. Lucy, I did the common Art History nerd visual perusal, admiring the bold colors, lofty theme, and reverent figures. But then my eyes stopped. And stared. And focused, eyes narrowed. Right there.

St. Nicholas in glory with St. John the Baptist and St. Lucy. Lorenzo Lotto. 1529. Chiesa dei Carmini, Vcnice.

Let me zoom for you.

It took me a minute to figure out why this curious arrangement bothered me...but when I finally realized it, it took all of my will power to keep from bursting out laughing in the middle of the presentation. I'm disruptive enough in that class with all of my frivolity and general silliness. But before I tell you why I was amused, let me tell you WHAT this little grouping actually is. It's St. Lucy's eyes (Whut? Does she not HAVE eyes in this painting?). Well, yes, astute reader. But, part of St. Lucy's deal was that when her would-be husband (had she not refused him for God) admired her eyes, she tore them out and gave them to him. Another version has guards forking out her eyes after her refused, would-be husband denounces her as Christian (he was pagan). Either way friends, ouch.

And I realize that that may have colored the hilarity I have in store for you a little darkly...My bad...So here, let me save you from the grossed-out depression that story could encourage - The reason that I laughed:

St. Lucy's eyes may actually be the origin of the Geico Money.


Isn't Art fun?

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