Francisco Goya: etching from Los Caprichos, 1799 (Spain). While the women in the image are commonly seen as a prostitute and her pimp, as it's almost New Year's Eve I could make an argument for their being an allegorical rendering of the wizened old year and the buxom new one. A fitting end then for a year of images from the Redstone diary's black-and-white edition, and stay tuned in 2010 for weekly posts here from their "Russian Diary" that highlights Russian children's books published from 1920 - 1935. And I do wish a buxom new year for all and sundry.
Budd Williams: Snow Dancer, 1952 (USA). It's not by accident that I live somewhere it doesn't snow. These dark months take their toll on me as it is. I remember trudging through the slush and interminable cold during my winter in England and thinking, this is exactly why people drink. Though in retrospect I probably would have been a lot happier with just some proper long underwear.
Bridget Riley: Fragment 6/9, 1965 (UK). Riley is another artist I discovered thanks to the copious time I've spent exploring the Tate Collection over the past 10+ years, and she also recently wrote a fantastic essay for the London Review of Books about her process and how her work evolved from black and white into color. This is my favorite bit from the piece, though I highly recommend reading the whole thing:
For the last 50 years, it has been my belief that as a modern artist you should make a contribution to the art of your time, if only a small one. When I was young, the situation was very different. Abstract painting hung like a mirage in the desert. The door had been pushed open by a small number of visionary artists – mainly Mondrian, Kandinsky, Malevich, Rodchenko. Although travelling by different routes, each had arrived at what was virtually a common core. Having discarded the figure and nature, what remained? Colour as colour itself, those simple shapes and forms that geometry and writing provided, and the material facts.
Ceri Richards: White and Dark, 1936 (UK). I first ran into Richards's work back in the day while wandering around the Tate, which is no surprise as they hold a vast array of his art in their collection. He was about my age when he made this relief-construction, and I can see how he fit in with the other surrealist artists of the time.
Skeleton of a Butler, Pompeii c. 200 BC. Some day I'll finally make it to Italy, but this year I've chosen Spain for my big Thanksgiving-week trip, Barcelona specifically. They of course have a few Roman remnants there as well, and you can bet I'll be checking them out along with all the art, architecture, and food I can handle. I just have to make it through the rest of this work week (and get over this low-level illness that's plaguing me) and then I'm golden.
Aenne Biermannová: Piano Keys, 1929 (Czechoslovakia). I see this and think of the small upright piano that was in our living room when I was growing up and the print of Picasso's Three Musicians that hung above it. I did enjoy playing on that piano, even if I never really had much talent for it.
Memento mori stencil design, 18c. (France). Just a couple days ago for Día de los Muertos I lit candles for Cardiff and for Orson, the kitties I lost this year, which might seem a little dorky but I still miss them, especially the cranky Cardiff-monster. It's been a really rough year, but there have been so many beautiful moments too. And in three weeks I will be in Spain, and when I get back there will be Unsilent Night and holiday gatherings and taking stock of the past year and preparing for the new one. 'Tis my season of introspection.
From Japanese Haiku, Peter Pauper Press, 1955 (USA). Winter is coming, folks, and I am not happy about it. Poetry makes everything a bit more tolerable, however. Click the image to make it larger (and the haiku more legible).
Anonymous: Silhouette, mid-19c. (Germany). I'm trying to decide if I think this is a man or a woman. I'm currently leaning toward woman. I'd also like to have someone trace my silhouette right now and see how it compares to the one my parents had done of me when I was like 5 years old.