Another favorite from Jean-Léon Gérôme. Pollice Verso is Latin for a gesture used during gladiatorial matches, given by the spectators when they wanted to indicate the victor should finish off his fallen opponent. The reverse signal would direct the gladiator to spare the victim instead. This painting shows the Emperor giving the gesture and the crowd follows his cue. The coliseum is reproduced from accurate drawings Gérôme studied from, and the armor based on findings at Pompeii, a popular archaeological find at the time, although it is not correctly assembled in this representation. Note the shafts of light that descend from the arena’s ceiling.
Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Title: Pollice Verso
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Another amazing painting, this is a Spanish historical painting depicting the execution of the liberal field marshal José María Torrijos (1791-1831) by absolutist troops. “…commissioned in 1886 directly by the liberal government of Praxedes Mateo Sagasta (1825-1903) during the regency of Queen María Cristina of Austria (1806-1878), as an example of the defense of freedom for future generations.”
The scene draws you in first by it’s seaside setting, but quickly alerts one to the danger by its grey atmosphere. The presence of blindfolds rules out the impression of shipwreck or disaster at sea. The padre administering last rights, the soldiers in the background, and the bound hands among the crowd deliver the message before the title finally imforms one of the grave scenario, despite its uplifting message and the martyrdom of freedom. These sensations and the overall color palette make this one of my favorite paintings.
More Info: Museo Nacional Del Prado
Artist: Gisbert Pérez, Antonio
Title: The Execution by Firing Squad of Torrijos and his Companions on the Beach at Málaga
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: Museo Del Prado, Madrid
One of my favorite Picasso works, The Accordianist is an early cubist work that was in a recent exhibition featuring Picasso’s ‘black & white’ work. To me it recalls the Piaf song and a surge of atmosphere representitive of it’s time and place.
Title: The Accordianist
Artist: Pablo Picasso
Painting Collection: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Back in November I was looking for another figure to incorporate into the series of Heroes I’ve been printing. Already in the same series ive reproduced images of Denis Hopper, Alfred Hitchcock, and Jeffrey Lee Pierce. I eventually decided on Pier Paolo Pasolini for the next visage. It would have coincided with his death, November 2, 1975. The prints were unsuccessful themselves since I haven’t been able to achieve the same results with DIY materials since arriving to the USA.
One of the images I discovered in my Pasolini research was astounding. Not because of its graphic nature, but I could not tell if it was a painting or a photograph. After some further research I discovered it was Pasolini himself, post mortem. My initial impression was that it was an artistic sketch in color, in the same look and feel as Egon Schiele, one of my favorite Austrian painters. It may also have to do with that most of my image viewing is done on a display no larger than a playing card. But the posture of the figure, the color palette, and even the vantage point all bring Schiele to mind. To illustrate, some examples.
As I mentioned this image came to my collection back in November. It reappears today for two reasons. I have been reading Pasolini’s Roman Poems. In ‘Frammento alla morte’, he writes: “e la vita era reale solo se bella” [Life is real, so long as it is beautiful]. Without art, be it grotesque or more traditional imagery, existence would be unrelentingly dreary. Ironic that the aesthetic of the poets death could provoke such a reaction.
Regarding aesthetics brings me to the second point that made the photo relevant. I’ve been running a tumblr depicting some of the images from my picture library. I halted posting a few weeks ago to reserve posts to constrain to a particular color palette, as part of an assignment in color theory and design. Greys, maroon, steel, blue-gray, ochres, dark reds… All of which appear here.
The final image that came up in my looking on Egon Schiele I wasn’t able to confirm as his although the style was similar, and a very attractive painting it is. I’ll make a note when I can locate the source.
A few months ago I created a new Tumblr account just to post my favorite pictures from the other tumblrs I began discovering (all hail the *fuckyeah* tag!) when I got my first internet capable phone. I’m posting as much of my graphic/image library thats been accruing since 1999 up to it.
I have two other tumblrs, one for my own portfolio works, and the other dedicated to deathrock and deathrock.com.