yesterday was pretty interesting. After about half an hour of aimless wandering, I pretty much decided that this was not gonna work - the MetMuseum had enough stuff for me to meander aimlessly for more than a week. I decided to stick to stuff that I'd at least have a semblance of familiarity with. Here's my (decidedly inexpert) take:
Hercules & Nessus, the Centaur:
The image here shows Hercules fighting the centaur Nessus who apparently tried to molest Deianira, Hercules' second wife. Hercules, of course, was the immensely strong son of Zeus (the king of gods) and a mortal (somewhat akin to our own Bheem, or is that stretching too far ?). Centaurs, according to Greek mythology, are Dementor-like (to the uninitiated, Dementors are evil creatures introduced in the Harry Potter books/movies) creatures, sorta like a cross between a man and a horse.
The story goes that while Hercules was attempting to cross a river with Deianira, Nessus offered his help. But then, in 'a weak moment', he attempted to molest Deianira. Upon seeing this, Hercules shot a poisoned arrow into Nessus. Dunno how the swordplay bit shown above came into the picture - a bit of misdirected zeal on the part of the artist, I suppose.
The dying Nessus craftily plotted Hercules' own death, though, by offering his blood to Deianira as a kind of faithfulness-potion; it turned out to be the poison that ultimately led to Hrcules' demise.
Pablo Picasso - the man and his works:
This chap was sure industrious, in addition to being a genuis; in his 93 years he created over 20,000 paintings, drawings, prints sculptures and costumes - meaning that he roughly averaged 215 paintings a year. Whew !!
The painting shown on the right is called 'Girl Reading At A Table', though it did seem to me as if she were writing rather than reading. This painting is based on the 17-year old Marie Therese, who was also the then 45-year old Picasso's mistress. To accentuate the girl's svelte and child-like appearance, the surrounding objects such as the table and the plant have been distorted. The swarthy shades used to paint the atmosphere in the room emphasizes the pinky-white skin of the girl, giving the painting an almost supernal glow.
Apparently, Picasso was quite the womanizer - the Wikkipedia entry for Picasso lists quite a few women (or teenagers, for that matter) he was involved with, many of who attained immortality by ending up his models. I remember reading somewhere that the death of his eight-year old sister affected Picasso terribly when he was a boy. Some of the despondency shows in his paintings.
For instance, there is an entire Picasso harlequin/clown series, one of which is shown here. The central themein all these paintings is that all the harlequins/clowns are forlorn, as if to indicate that the joviality is but a facade. The harlequin shown here appears pensive, symbolised by the two fingers laid to the cheek, despite the beautiful background. The museum suggested that the death of a friend might have been the reason for the sombre paiting, but then that would not have accounted for the entire series. There is a series of thought that suggests that Picasso personified himself in his harlequin series.
Picasso, along with Georges Braque, invented the concept of cubism. As the name suggests, the technique involves breaking down an object into several cubes/planes, and then reconstructing them in a manner that allowed the perceiver to view the object from several different angles, instead of just one. Apparently, the intention was to depict an object as the mind, not the eye, sees it. To be frank, the end-result is pretty difficult to understand most of the time. For instance, much of Picasso's still-life paintings are very abstract, with lots of alphabets, collage (indeed, I believe Picasso invented the collage, as we know it today) and papier colle being used - am not expert enough to understand the more subtle elements of these paintings.
More of Picasso and Van Gogh later. Time to go to bed !!