Friday, May 11, 2007

Painting inspired ramblings, part one


It struck me today how long it's been since I've written a blog entry on a piece of art. I've been so caught up with my job, my diet, the seemingly time lapsed growth of my daughter in the last few months, and all the bothersome details of life that I haven't given much time to art. I haven't given much time to anything off my daily beaten track. I never wanted to be the person who lived on the well travelled path. Well, at least a good sized chunk of me didn't. There's a part of me that would love to slide easily through an approved mold. I like the aspect of me though that wants what is different, rare and special in my life. She's more enjoyable than the don't step too far from the fold me.

So this evening, I intentionally went art surfing to see what moved me. I wanted even art, which has become a rarity in my life, to step outside of my usual ranges. I headed first to Dali. I found much that moved me, but not in a way that I liked. Yes, he's gripping, compelling and disturbing. I want to see differently, but not so differently that I can't process my reaction with words. Dali brings out disquiet in me, and that didn't mesh well with the soft rain outside my window. The other Surrealists didn't quite grab me either, so I decided to go the opposite direction, Realism.

That fell flat for me too. Most Realist paintings are too stiff and formal for me. Then I found the picture that wouldn't let me go, but Courbet was so graphic, so present and immediate that I hesitated over its propriety. I decided against posting The Origin of the World, but I had to provide a link. I'm still questioning my decision, but I stand with it. The painting above is The Source also by Gustave Courbet. The theme is similar but it is far more modest. It also makes you think twice about the beauty of the pear shaped woman.

The Origin of the World is provocative and beautiful to me because it both honors womanhood and presents it in its most earthy context, the one most likely to be scorned, debased and objectified. Courbet painted long before the invention of surgical alteration of the body for aesthetics. The woman's breasts naturally settle outward as she lies prone. They are not immobile cones. Those thighs have never seen a Thigh Master. She does not have Buns of Steel. (Why would anyone want something that's so wonderful when squeezed to be as hard, cold and unforgiving as steel?) I imagine that the model would have thought a Brazilian wax the handiwork of the Marquis de Sade. At first, I was disturbed that the model's face was covered. Hiding the face is an easy way to hide individuality, to reduce a woman to parts, to make her less than human. And let's face it, parts are a significant point of this painting. Then I realized this wasn't about one woman. This was about womanhood, and no single woman can represent all that means, but there are certain things we all share.

A woman's loins are the source of life, but this painting is about more than the ability to breed. A woman is also traditionally seen in our still male dominated world as the source of all temptation and desire. That's when it struck me, the woman in Courbet's painting is actually Eve.

The painting is The Source or Bather at the Source by Gustav Courbet, painted 1868.

art

2 Comments:

Blogger Charlene said...

The word 'voluptuous' has all but disappeared from the American vocabulary, hasn't it?

Check this out sometime when you're art surfing. Different, but interesting.

http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/

May 12, 2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger emmapeelDallas said...

Wow, I had never seen that painting before, and it's BEAUTIFUL. I'd love to see it in a gallery, rather than just on the web. I really enjoyed reading this, and looking at the art.

Judi

May 12, 2007 11:59 PM  

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