Do we have a thorough-going definition of heart?  Do we have enough?  Are the children taught heart? How?  Heart does seem to have lost ground in our time.  Maybe I am imagining things.





My Heart Belongs to Marcel, 1963, mixed media. With detail.  A Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002, French) homage to her friend, Marcel Duchamp, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art



 Dark Angel, 1995-96, egg tempera and gesso.  George Tooker, 1920-2011.  Pennsylvania Academy of Art, Philadelphia



 Robert Laurent (1890 – 1970, French) carved this in alabaster (c. 1924) in a relief so low that from the side you cannot see that the alabaster has been touched at all. 

I find this kind of low relief moving as though the artist had wanted to be very careful of both material and subject.

Alabaster and wood frame.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art.




 The Concert, oil on canvas, and detail, 1890.  Helen Corson Covendon, 1846-1935, American.  Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia. A portrait of her daughter and the family dog.




Detail from The Arming of a Knight; painted on a chair by William Morris (1834-1896) and Dante Gabriel Rosetti (1828-1882); oil on leather, nails.

The context of the subject matter are the courts of love established by Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter, Marie whence a change in the basis for marriage in the West.


Frank Bramblett 1999 Tete a Tete, Woodmere, May 2015-1

 Tete-a-Tete1990; mixed media, pigments, marble dust, encaustic on panel.  Frank Bramblett, 1946-2015, American.

The artist has transferred to our view the scars on the body of an African-American whom he met in his Alabaman childhood and who told him about his near-lynching at the hands of white Americans.  Some of the scars bear finger prints.   



A mural, now disappeared behind new building, of the Philadelphia native, Noam Chomsky, (born 1928, American)  linguist and political activist.  Great and fierce heart.




A Mulatto from Spaniard and from a Black, about 1760, oil on canvas.  Jose de Alcibar, active 1751-1803, Mexica.  Denver Art Museum exhibited at Winterthur Museum in 2016.

This painting is not a portrait of real people.  It was one of a number of paintings (‘casta’) meant to describe the racial types living in colonial Mexico. The woman is the wife of the man who is lighting a cigarette held by their son.  She is stirring a pot of chocolate.

Real or not, this family portrait is astonishing for the very fact that these relationships existed on the American continent without issue – apparently – at that time.  And for the tenderness. 


Lij Alemayehu, 1861-1879, the son of Emperor Theodore II of Ethiopia.  He was lifted off the field of Magdala by British soldiers whose punitive excursion into Ethiopia ended with the emperor’s suicide.  Alemayehu died at 18  of illness in England and was buried in a vault outside of  St. George’s chapel, Windsor. 

Numerous representations by Ethiopians of all political stripes have so far failed to have the prince’s body repatriated to Ethiopia.  I imagine this is the Elgin Marbles effect (the precedent which might lead to more law suits for the return of the Marbles.  Among other things).

This photograph was posed and taken by the British Margaret Cameron in 1868.  It was exhibited at the Metropolitan, New York in 2015.


Su rl'affiche du salon, Roselyne Bachelot et Audrey Pulvar, photographiées par Olivier Ciappa.

France’s extraordinary culture whose emphasis on rationality and rigorous intellectual frameworks do not preclude wonderful presentations of the necessity of heart -until now anyway – in  the life of the nation.

In advance of a  successful parliamentary vote for the marriage of homosexuals and in the face of large demonstrations against, the French photographerOlivier Ciappa, in June 2013 mounted an exhibition of photographs suggestive of the ordinariness and ‘normality’ of same-sex love.  To appeal to the heart.

These are well-known people who are not gay.

On the left, the right-wing politician, Roselyne Bachelot who worked in Nicholas Sarkozy’s government.  On the right, the left-wing journalist Audrey Pulvar.  


Three Bathers, 1879-1882, oil on canvas.  Paul Cezanne, 1839-1906, French.  I do not know who now owns this canvas which I saw at a Cezanne exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum some years ago.

Pierre Matisse, 1869 – 1954, French, owned this canvas for 40 years and said this about it:

” In the 37 years I have owned this canvas, I have come to know it quite well, though not entirely, I hope.  It has sustained me morally in the critical moments of my venture as an artist.  I have drawn from it my faith and perseverance….It has grown increasingly greater ever since I have owned it.”

Heart statement.


Putney Winter Heart #8, 1971/72; oil on canvas with shoes, mittens, gloves, nail, rope and tin foil collage.  Jim Dine, born 1935, American, remembering Putney, Vermont.  Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware




 A woman chooses to ‘just connect’ in a series of three untitled photographs by Carrie Mae Weems, born  1953, American.  Gelatin silver prints made in 2011.  Philadelphia Museum of Art


Odunde 2013-27



A very young man readying himself to give thanks for the fruitfulness of the land.  He will throw the oranges into the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.  This is part of Odunde, a festival which has been taking place in Philadelphia since 1975 and incorporates elements of Yoruba religion  


Macy's NY Christmas 2012 4

Macy's NY Christmas 2012 3

A  Heart Man who greeted me at Macy’s, New York, at Christmas a few years ago.



 Cape Cod Morning, 1950, oil on canvas.  Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.

Edward Hopper struggled to achieve recognition for his art for years and reached his first breakthrough in 1923.

In 1930, he and his wife rented a cottage on Cape Cod.  In 1934, they bought a house.  They returned there every summer for the rest of their lives from their New York walk-up.



DSC00459_edited-1DSC00458_edited-1The Peaceable Kingdom, and detail.  This is one of 61 canvases on this theme begun in 1820, oil on canvas.   Edward Hicks, 1780-1849, American. 

Hicks painted this scene, based on a verse in Isaiah.  It represented his hope and that of other Quakers like William Penn, left background making treaties with Indian chiefs, of tolerance and peace. 




We  Have Been Believers, 1949, lithograph.  Charles White, 1918 – 1979.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art.  After the poem.

We Have Been Believers, Margaret Walker, American poet, 1915-1998

We have been believers believing in the black gods of an old
land, believing in the secrets of the seeress and the
magic of the charmers and the power of the devil’s evil

And in the white gods of a new land we have been believers
believing in the mercy of our masters and the beauty of
our brothers, believing in the conjure of the humble
and the faithful and the pure.

Neither the slaves’ whip nor the lynchers’ rope nor the
bayonet could kill our black belief. In our hunger we
beheld the welcome table and in our nakedness the
glory of a long white robe. We have been believers in
the new Jerusalem.

We have been believers feeding greedy grinning gods, like a
Moloch demanding our sons and our daughters, our

 strength and our wills and our spirits of pain. We have
been believers, silent and stolid and stubborn and

Where are our gods that they leave us asleep? Surely the
priests and the preachers and the powers will hear.
Surely now that our hands are empty and our hearts too
full to pray they will understand. Surely the sires of
the people will send us a sign.

We have been believers believing in our burdens and our
demigods too long. Now the needy no longer weep and
pray; the long-suffering arise, and our fists bleed
against the bars with a strange insistency.



Detail of one of 1000 red-and-white quilts collected from the 1950s onwards by Joan Rose.  They were exhibited at the New York Armory on Park Avenue in March 1911 by her husband as an 80th birthday gift.  Entry was free and the exhibition lasted six days.

Made after 1868 and before 1940.



 The community of West Shokan, Ulster County, New York accompanying ashes carried by the mother of a young man who died of cancer.  The last years of that young man and the life of his mother were enlivened by their community.  Autumn 2009


Demeter, Triptolemus, Persephone, Augustan copy of 5th century BC Greek marble.  Metropolitan, NY_edited-1

The great goddess, Demeter, reconciled after much anguish by an agreement with the gods on the removal of her daughter, Persephone, to the underworld for three months of winter, is giving the gift of wheat to Triptolemus to spread across the world.  Her daughter is blessing the young man.

 An Augustan copy from Rome of a Greek original from the 5th century BC from Delphi, Greece.





The world’s premier heart building:  the Taj Mahal, Agra, India, completed in 1654 by the Mughal Shah Jehan as a tomb for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  Photos taken in 2010.


 And, finally, this.  Marilyn:  Heart.  Not only heart, of course.  But definitely heart.


Heart, a poem by Sally Bliumis-Dunn, American

 She has painted her lips

hibiscus pink.
The upper lip dips
perfectly in the center

like a Valentine heart.
It makes sense to me—
that the lips, the open


Marilyn, 1967, screenprint.  Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, American.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC

ah of the mouth

is shaped more like a heart

than the actual human heart.

I remember the first time I saw it—

veined and shiny
as the ooze of a snail—
if this were what
we had been taught to draw

how differently we might have
learned to love.






Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.