Which Fork?

This a tondo, a round painting, it’s a rip of Michelangelo’s ‘Doni Madonna’ I was reading about a pathography of it (Liebert via Spitz), it’s an interesting composition, round and all, so why not?

I’ve taken the religion out of it, the trio in the foreground is no longer the Christian holy family, they are the attentive wait-staff of a high end restaurant. I keep the one female, two male set-up and keep the female in the dominate, most active, role. But there remains the bread/wine thing. The art is still somehow sacred, sacramental.

Oh, the ambiguities! My picture is a scene from a Michelin 3-star conflated with a scene from a primate research lab. It asks, “Is art haute cuisine or high science?”

In the original there’s a low wall separating the sacred family from the profane party behind them. In mine the separation is more ambiguous; the wall (don’t touch) becomes a window (look, but still, don’t touch), with a hole (touch, but only when and where we say it’s OK).

I took liberties with the background figures, too. In the original, they are interpreted many ways: as the 5 levels of a human, from left to right, soul to body; as folks undressing to be baptized; or even as a bunch of Michelangelo’s gay pals. I’ve changed the second and third figure on the right duo to male/female couple retreating to nature not advancing to a debatably ‘spiritual’ baptism. The third figure on that side (the most right, therefore the most bodily?) I bracket out, sublimate, with a second wall.

In my tondo, there is a single figure, on the ‘most spiritual’ left, as opposed to Michelangelo’s two That creature, now, female, is surely magical, a fantasy, as she shares a gaze with us not her implied, but not shown, ‘date’ who would be the most spiritual of the five background figures.

Finally in the original, the mid-ground figure on the right, who’s neither with the family nor the party is John the Baptist, a necessary catalyst to the drama of it all and  perhaps even it is also Michelangelo’s psychological self-portrait. In mine he’s an ape-ish figure in a borrowed sport coat. Is he nature and culture conflated? Is he still the artist’s self portrait and a necessary catalyst to the drama of it all?”

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