Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mrs. B at AD


I am gathering my thoughts (and everyone's laundry) but wanted to say, "hello," and let you know that I have a piece up on Architectural Digest this week.  The usual: life, death and should we hang it on the living room wall.  You can find the story here.  Paris to follow.

Image, Terry Evans, Field Museum, Swan, 1891.

17 comments:

The Peak of Chic said...

I read it yesterday on the AD website. Certainly a thought provoking article. I think the photograph is very arresting and striking too. I'd display it in my home in a heartbeat! Then again, I don't have children ;)

Kerry said...

Just finished reading the article and you have said, very eloquently, what I have been trying to explain to family. It is so very difficult, sometimes, to articulate "the reasons" for art and your article can provoke thought and help ask questions about what art you "like" and why. Lovely.

Lee said...

The swan picture is stunning to look at and will linger in my memory. I feel extreme sadness thinking about its death and want to reach out and comfort it and cradle it.

There are pieces of art that I appreciate for the skillfulness of the artist. Others I like because they are interesting, pleasing to look at, or make me smile. But I consider my home to be my family's place of refuge and want our art to make us smile or to bring back pleasant memories. There is a place for this picture and others that evoke similar emotions, but it's not my home. Thanks for the thought provoking article and for sharing it with your readers.

Hill Country House Girl said...

As always, you express yourself so clearly and beautifully. I recently chose one painting over another , both by a favorite artist . One of the pieces was a really good painting of a very disturbing and sad story. The other, equally as good, brings joy to me every single day. I thought long and hard about which to buy. I completely agree with you about art that makes us think, makes us uncomfortable and stretches us to learn about ourselves and grow. I love the swan- it is exquisite- but not sure what I would do if my children were really, really uncomfortable. Will you please let us know your decision?

January said...

Thank you for sharing the piece. This is one of the topics that a photographer friend and I frequently come back to- particularly how living with a piece gradually "domesticates" it, changes its initial meaning or purpose, etc. We are all aware of how a piece of art changes/influences its surroundings, but it's the other way around that I find much more interesting. And yes, my two very different children of 14 and 5 would both find the piece disturbing.

Anonymous said...

In an increasingly secularized world I wonder how much the picture of the swan replaces representations of the crucifixion. Death is universally avoided and religion offers various ways of dealing with that.

I do not celebrate any death in my house and do not feel comfortable celebrating it anyone else's. It smacks too much of feeding the christians to the lions, snuff movies and other entertainments of the death variety.

The beauty in the swan scares me. That could have been me.
Ann

Mrs. Blandings said...

I am so glad you liked the article and appreciate the piece. While I understand the melancholy that it provokes, it doesn't feel sad to me exactly.

I did not attend the funerals of my paternal grandparents or my mother's father; my parents thought it would be too upsetting. Consequently, the first funeral I attended was for an 18-year-old boy when I was a junior in high school. Later, this practice of shielding us from death seemed so curious to me. We allude to death with children all the time: wear a helmet, look both ways, a dozen things every day, as we should. But the fact of it makes us squirm.

Recently, I attended a visitation of a young father with my youngest son, who is 8. The deceased was one of my son's friend's father and the visitation was open casket. As we rounded the corner my throat closed, but the conversation that followed was very matter-of-fact.

This is the second time I've visited this piece - the first was here on the blog - and my attraction to it is so significant that I do think we will end up owning it. This photograph speaks to me in such a powerful and personal way. I think my children will grow to understand it.

Anonymous said...

I remember when you posted earlier on this masterpiece. It hit me then, as it does again now, as a pictorial microcosm of Life, once foetally curled as in the womb, now respectfully tucked and shrouded as for the grave, you know if the curve of the neck were missing I'm not sure the image would be as powerful. The neck seems to be tucked into its own divinely-prescribed place, the feet so carefully crossed, tucked and tied by the respectful hands of the custodian, the miraculous flexibility of the bird in life mirrored even in death, it's just exquisite, the beautiful oval shape, the hundreds of shades of white-to-gray-to-tan to the opposite extreme of the blacks. It doesn't remind me of death, instead it reminds me of the cyclical miracle of Life. Bravo to your son for specifying exactly how he feels about this image that made such a strong impression on him. And bravo to you for encouraging him to be free with his thoughts. Fantastic article in AD, Mrs. B, and welcome home.

Diane Stewart said...

At the risk of not seeming hip, I think it's bad Feng Shui to have images of pain, death, or destruction in our homes. I'm not afraid of the subject of death, at one time I was a hospice social worker. But, I think certain things belong in art galleries as food for thought and expression, and other things should be in our homes for enjoyment, inspiration and beauty. I want to encourage good vibes, not make a statement.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Though I am not a fan of the taxidermy design phase-this is a completely different beast--- Is a family portrait past not also dead people-things? Not looking at death anywhere means denying it-aren't we always talking about celebration of a life at death-isn't it the Christian idea to go home when one dies-of course that is for the Christians to debate. The absolute fear of death is our resulting obsessive and continued worship of youth, smooth skin-& being able to jauntily side step the weak and sick & dying on the street. My great grandparents on both sides lost 3, and 4 children-all of them dying at home. We are only fooling ourselves about many things-but-not dying no matter how much we whitewash the walls? Art-of course-& hear it is painfully beautiful-exquisite-sometimes hard to look at-but it is Love-yes I've lost more very close friends and family than I should have at 50-I saw several leave at that moment-whatever it was-tragic,violent-peaceful-release- it was Love-& it was Life-“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” da Vinci
buy it and buy it now. pgt

Cote de Texas said...

beautifully written, as usual.

not sure this would be in my comfort level - in fact i know it wouldn't. still, never have thought about art this way before.

reminds me of those images from the viet nam era.


congrats on the article!!!

pve design said...

As a child, my Mother would take us to Cave Hill Cemetery with the bag of stale bread to feed the ducks. There were elegant swans amidst the ugly ducks and they would flock around us quacking for any morsel. On many occasion, several would actually try to come in our car to go home with us which would have been great fun. I rather love this work, the fragility of life, the beauty, the pale tones and the shadow of life.
The black beak and the feet add to the graphic quality.
Wonderful article and I do hope that this photo will be in your comfortable home.
pve

tc said...

What a thought provoking article and comments. I find the photo both beautiful and a bit hard to look at, although I tend more toward the beautiful side because of the shroud-like cotton wrap and the graceful composition of the bird. Remember the 17th century Dutch and Flemish still life paintings with dead game? Go to any museum and you'll see several, always in the European Art or Old Masters sections and I don't ever recall them being labelled provocative or edgy. But they have had a chance to age. Would we consider them disturbing to hang in our homes? I don't know. But I wonder why we think of those differently than Terry Evans' photographs. I would suspect that both depict certain contemporary perspectives about our relationship to the animal kingdom. In both I see an assumption about our right to kill animals (one for food, the other for knowledge), and at the same time a deep appreciation of the beauty of the animal and the respect it deserves.

How lucky your boys are to have such a great conversation with you about this.

Thanks for this interesting article.

David said...

Its taken me a day to organize my thoughts. Death is certainly part of the subject, but what I keep coming back to is the idea of care. There's an unbroken quality to the positioning, the eyes are closed, there is no visible injury. Then most significantly the muslin. It's snug across the body, but appears a bit looser at the head, and it doesn't cover the face or beak. It feels very respectful to me, and because of that, very beautiful. I think you should get it.

jayneonweedstreet said...

When art makes something in the chest swell and force tears from eyes, you know it is having an impact. When a painting or photograph makes you ponder the right and wrong and the yes and the no, its impact is undeniable. Having said how important it is, I could not live with this particular piece .
Paris! We await more!

beachbungalow8 said...

beautifully written article, POD.

Kevin Graves said...

Patricia, I have noted with delight, your contributions to A.D. I knew you had a voice, and that you would find a wider audience. By the way, I am fascinated by the photograph of the bird, (as well as repelled) but fascination wins the day. Looking very much forward to your future contributions. Congratulations!