The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am an art historian, currently studying satire in Netherlandish art, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it ekphratic poetry, responding to works of art. This is to be a site for words and images, interacting on one another, as vehicles of human expression.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

She Was Left Wondering, 2010


She Was Left Wondering, 2010, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

How Fantasy Is Projected

Left: Hiram Powers, Ginevra (tragic character from English poet, Samuel Rogers' 1822 poem, "Italy"), sculpted by Powers, 1865-8. Marble. The Art Institute, Chicago. Photo: John Walford, 2010.

Right: H. C. Westermann, Angry Young Machine, 1959. The Art Institute, Chicago. Photo: John Walford, 2010.

Comment: As I was looking for fresh material for classroom teaching, in viewing these two sculptures on the same day, I was struck by the aesthetic, emotional, and conceptual distance between them.

They were made almost exactly one hundred years apart. The one, to my eye, tenderly, unequivocally feminine; the other somewhat androgynous, bulbous, yet also brashly masculine; the one, serious, subdued and subtle; the other, brazen, humorous, and forthright. Yet both exude something characteristic of their respective era's sensibilities about gender: the former idealized, soft, and sentimentalized; the latter impersonal, yet human, aggressive, mechanized, and blunt.

Yet I doubt people have changed that much in one hundred years. What has changed is how we project our fantasies.

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I am a British-born, art historian, teaching in the USA; I studied law, in England,1964-68; worked part-time in the art world, 1968-69; then studied art history at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1969-76; completed my Ph.D. diss. at the University of Cambridge, 1981; moved to the States in 1981, and have since written, or co-authored, other books. I am currently studying satire in Netherlandish art. My wife, Maria, was born in Milan, Italy, where she worked as an interpreter, in business; she spent seven years in Switzerland, at the University of Lausanne, 1963-70. She came to Amsterdam in 1971, and we soon married. She is a wife, mother, literary critic, of Italian (and French) literature, and completed her Ph. D. diss. in 2002, at the University of Chicago, on Cesare Pavese and His Critics. We have three married children, and eight grandchildren, all of whom we excessively adore! I welcome dialog about art, photography, human behavior, beliefs, and motivation from all comers, regardless of race, color, gender, orientation, values, or beliefs. This is to be a site for words and images, as vehicles of human expression, around topics of mutual interest.

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