2:00 P.M. After a bite in the commissary, we catch the trolley to the museum’s annex, where “The Gross Clinic” is the star attraction. There’s a dismayingly large crowd on hand to see Eakins’s bloody study from 1875, which until a few years ago was off-the-beaten trail at the Jefferson Memorial Hospital (where Gross, a celebrated military surgeon during the Civil War, held his classes). There’s a lot of documentation on the walls about the painting’s history and how its subject matter—the surgery to remove a diseased bit of femoral bone, which pre-Gross would have entailed amputation of the leg—revolted audiences in 1876, when it was excluded from the city’s Centennial Exhibition. I hoped there’d be a picture of how it was in fact installed at the time, hanging at the end of an art-meets-life prefab model army hospital tent, neatly and almost hilariously in situ, but no such luck.

The canvas now has far more commodious digs—almost its own mini-chapel, where it’s flanked by Eakins’s other surgical masterpiece, “The Agnew Clinic.” And after the restoration effort, it’s that much clearer just how strange a picture it is. Before, you saw Gross holding his scarlet-flecked scalpel upright like a paintbrush, you made out the scene of the operation, with its attending surgeons wielding their blood-tipped knives like pencils. But so much else was clouded and clotted in a bizarrely blah electrically colored background glare—the tonal registers were just weird, almost fecklessly unresolved. Now you can really pick up the dark clarity of the whole background, including the image of the figure just behind Gross, who’s taking notes and whose grip on his pencil ramifies that of the doctors going after the rotting bone. The sharply foreshortened patient’s fuzzy blue socks jut out at you all that more dramatically and make a clean rhyme against the ether-soaked pillow over his head. And the guy lingering in the hallway—Gross’s son—behind the theater, swallowed in a red haze, is a lot more fiendishly integrated into the scene. I first saw the canvas when it was in the Met’s Eakins retrospective in 2001, and this was like seeing a totally different picture.

When we had dinner a couple of nights earlier with an art historian who has a book coming out on the “pleasure dairies” of the ancién regime (the best known being Marie-Antoinette’s white marble Hameau at Versailles), she complained about the recent exhibition tendency to make a fetish of the tech-wiz conservationist. Philadelphia’s played up its efforts to clean Eakins—a misnomer, since what they did in essence was to add a level of varnish that the old medical hospital canvas doctors stripped away to try and make the gloomy tones brighter, mucking up the balance in the process. They’ve clarified it strangely enough by making it more oblique. In a lot of the press notices, the conservators make a fascinating observation that their restoration process can easily be undone by future generations if viewing tastes should change—what they’ve got now is a painting that is more attuned to the way nineteenth-century viewers looked at canvases, though most nineteenth-century folks couldn’t stand to look at them. Could you do the same thing with literary translation—build in some sort of tacit statement that the new translations of Proust or Tolstoy or Kafka that you’re reading are only provisional, or for that matter, opt to retranslate them backward, into their earlier and less contemporary idioms? I’ve just read a passage in Tom McCarthy’s new novel C where Egyptologists are discussing a dig and talk about the fact that what they drag up aren’t pure artifacts but the record of earlier plunderers, Romans, Arab, even pharoaic. Where the latter-day architects make their historical mistake is in thinking that their own moment is somehow the definitive one. Instead, it’s just another chapter in a long book. I think McCarthy would approve of “The Gross Clinic’s” restoration relativism.

Paris Review – A Week in Culture: Eric Banks, Writer, Eric Banks

Loving this series the Paris Review is doing, and I love that someone talks about one of my favorite artists in the series, to boot.

(via jasonwdean)

(via jasonwdean)

“You’re meant to like Art Deco because it’s delicious, not because it will do you good.”
— robert hughes
Aw dude, is that some Grant Wood on the walls up there?
I love that bro!
His landscapes rock so hard.  What a wacky Midwestern precisionist.

Aw dude, is that some Grant Wood on the walls up there?

I love that bro!

His landscapes rock so hard.  What a wacky Midwestern precisionist.

(via hollystair)

Doing a paper on this crazy-ass mural and the politics of silencing minorities/oppressed folk in America.

Good times.

blacklinezine:

I’ve only looked at Americans so far, and this is obviously not comprehensive, but here are the prominent and terribly gifted women of architecture and design that often get overlooked in favor of the male giants.

  • Maya Lin - Designer of the Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C. — yes, that’s…

The Black Line shows some architecture love.  Or rather, I co-opt the Black Line to talk about architecture and the wildly and wrongfully neglected women in the field.

fuckyeaarthistory:

The Singing Butler
Jack Vettriano
1992
Private Collection

This painting, which went for almost £750,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2004, has only been shown publicly once in an exhibition entitled “From Van Gogh to Vettriano - Hidden Gems from Private Collections” at the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Has anyone here seen this in person? I found a bunch of different images for this post, some with blue tones some with red, etc. Can someone comment on the color?

toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.
toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.

toomuchart:

Harold Edgerton (1903-1990), Milk Drop Falling into a Reservoir of Milk (sequence of 9), 1935.

(via danlblack)

brain-food:

The Gladiatrix: 2,000-year-old statue shows topless female gladiator standing triumphant over defeated foe.The statue is only the second known depiction of a woman gladiator, study says. It was previously considered a cleaning tool, the statue’s blade may be a weapon.

Female-gladiator fights appear to have been rare spectacles in the Roman Empire. But new analysis of a statue in a German museum adds to the evidence that trained women did fight to the death in ancient amphitheaters, a new study says.

The bronze statuette is only the second known representation of a female gladiator, according to study author Alfonso Manas, of Spain’s University of Granada.

(Related: “Huge Gladiator School Found Buried in Austria.”)

The roughly 2,000-year-old artwork, which resides at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbein in Hamburg, shows a bare-chested woman in a loincloth brandishing a scythe-like object in her left hand.

Manas believes the woman is holding a sica, a short, curved sword associated with a type of gladiator known as a thraex, or Thracian. Thraexes typically fought in plumed helmets, with small shields and metal leg guards called greaves. Their unarmored backs were particularly vulnerable—and were likely ripe targets forsica.

Experts had previously interpreted the curved implement as a strigil, which Romans used for scraping the body clean.

The woman’s pose, though, doesn’t support that explanation, Manas said.

Victory Pose?

If she were washing herself, “raising the cleaning tool in her hand while she’s looking at the ground doesn’t make sense,” Manas said.

Furthermore, “she is wearing a cloth around her genital area,” he added. “If she is cleaning herself, she would be completely naked.”

The figure’s lowered head and raised arm—”a typical victory gesture of gladiators” in Roman art—instead suggest a gladiator standing over her defeated rival, according to Manas.

This gesture may also account for the figure’s lack of a helmet or shield.

At the ends of contests, “they put down their helmet so that all the spectators could see the face of the winning gladiator,” Manas said. “They also threw their shield to the ground.”

(See “Gladiators Played by the Rules, Skulls Suggest.”)

“An Erotic Impact”

As for being topless, that was also the gladiatorial norm. “One of the rules of a gladiatorial fight was that women or men fought with bare chests,” Manas explained.

Given the largely male audience for the competitions, however, perhaps there’s another reason why lady gladiators fought bare-chested.

Reporting his findings in a recent issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport, Manas wrote: “No doubt the particular appearance of female gladiators would also cause an erotic impact on viewers.”

The only other known visual record of female gladiators is a first- or second-century A.D. relief from a Roman site in Bodrum, Turkey (now in the British Museum).

The scarcity of such finds suggests that the ancient world staged relatively few all-female contests, although Roman writers do refer to them.

There are eyewitness accounts of female gladiators in Rome itself, and, according to the first-century historian Suetonius, Emperor Domitian made women fight by torchlight at night. In A.D. 200 another emperor, Septimius Severus, banned female contests.

Manas added that the origin of the Hamburg museum statuette isn’t known, however, “it’s in the style of the Italian peninsula in the first century A.D.”