Ontogeny Recapitulating

This drawing is the third part of a series. Go back a couple of posts, skipping the sculptor’s studio one and you’ll see the connections. The crouching man is here again. The technologies are too. There are smart phones in all the three pix. As are other emblems of consumerism; the roasting credit card, the leaking Montblanc 149 and a lamp that could only be purchased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art shop.


The theory that the Paleolithic cave paintings are anonymous juvenilia, just ‘really’ old school graffiti, makes sense. Yes, they are wishful iconography, but they are that of a self-centered adolescent not that of an adult member of a society. Social icons, those prayed to for a good hunt, food for all, etc,  would require a social hierarchy. And with that would come this; a select few people at the top are free to exercise their Luxuria (greed and lust shown) while the majority of folks are only able to wish to do so. The former infect the latter with their guilt and then create a profitable church/fetish/product as its cure.


On to middle age, The Middle Ages. Here, as well as now, we are marching back to a feudal economy. Petty fiefdoms, a.k.a. corporations, that can require our participation in their crusades for wealth and glory run the world. Meaningless freedom, but no democracy –if there ever was such a thing– remains. Art hides from view, from ridicule, from theft. A new ‘high’ way has been built and the old glue has failed. The above mentioned wishful iconography has regressed to transitional objectivity.


Speaking of regression, let’s go back to a cave, but a human-made one this time, a hotel room. The smart phone, that was the fire, is now doubled as hot couplers; the debit card is thereby consumed. The artist is still there but he’s not the youth of Part I, scratching a hopeful icon; nor is he the Sisyphean wage slave of Part II.  He’s now an invert Pygmalion, he’s become furniture, irrelevant old technology.

Then there is the “Art.” The artist’s opposite number is a lamp statuette which is a good copy of an 3rd cent. A.D. terra cotta Isis-Aphrodite. Check her out on the Met’s site. The over-the-bed decoration is a cheap litho copy of Titian’s 1538 ‘Venus of Urbino.’ And the lo-res image on one of the lovers’ “face” is of Picasso’s 1937 portrait of of his lover, Dora Maar.  Why these illuminations? Well, they are all IMHO created from life. In each, two real people stood/sat/lounged face to face as the art object was being created.

The Isis-Aphrodite is a Part I-like wishful icon. We can’t know who was the model/muse for it, but she was obviously a real person. The Venus, too, is from life, she was perhaps the patron’s wife. If so, she was Part II-like, no longer a passive model for an image of an ideal. She, by becoming a model/mate, has created a lucrative career for herself. Ms. Maar was, for sure, a real person. She played both of the above roles, a “private muse” and renaissance-style wife. But she was, unlike the Isis or Venus models, an artist in her own right.

But why in this hotel room as meta-studio in spite of the technological distractions (the copulating smart phones) and aesthetic obfuscations (art reproduced lo-res as print, lamp, and screen saver) does the hardened artist attempt a self-revival from his Galatean shell?  Why, in spite of his ‘shelved’ status, does the artist yank the chain and give it another go?