Friday, January 16, 2009

Still Life

I had not ever heard of Adriaen Coorte, a Dutch painter of the late 17th century, until reading this Harper's article (sub) by Barry Moser. The article starts with J-S Chardin, whose exhibition at the Met back in the 90s moved me. I found some of his work, especially those peaches, haiku-like; Moser notes that Basho was dying around the time the above was painted by Coorte. Somewhere else, John Berger describes the still life: “an oyster speaks to a loaf of bread, an apple to a piece of cloth, a carnation to a clock.”

I like some of Coorte’s painting -- seen only in reproduction, alas -- quite a bit. Above is “Still Life with Three Medlars and a Butterfly.” I like this one very much. Could we ask for anything more than a still life? Several pieces of fruit and a butterfly, what a tonic in a metropolis so falsely glittering with diamonds, piled high with money and its discontents (Freud linked money to shit), so grasping… so gasping, gasping for air.

Note the composition; there’s a lot of darkness up there. The table line is equivalent to the horizon in Dutch landscapes, which always had a huge sky. Here’s it night. But that's light coming in through the window. Miles Davis, (“Sir Miles Davis” on his tomb up in Woodlawn) I think it was, who issued this jazz koan: “It’s always night, or else we wouldn’t need light.”

The shots of welk hearts below were inspired by a couple of Coorte’s seashell pictures. “Art is not purity; it is purification. Art is not liberty; it is liberation” says Clarice Lispector, quoted by Moser.


amarilla said...

Such beautiful whelk hearts, I think I have to go lie down now. Did you use a pink light bulb?

Mancklin said...

I love this post. Great blog

M.Thew said...

A: It's a red light bulb, which I guess is fairly pink, and it's part of my Asian Bordello-themed bedroom.

M: Thank you kindly.

LeahGauthier said...

a lovely read, "still life with oysters and lemon" by mark doty, if you haven't read it already.