These fragments I have shored against my ruins.
The Fisher King in T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land, V’, 1923. Almost the last line.
The king, for his sins, is wounded. This has made his kingdom a desolation and Parsifal has not yet completed his long journey to heal him and his country.
I have lots of fantastical fragments shored against our ruins. Ruins, that is, of the machinery of our democracies. Limping if not outright kaput.
Artistic, historical, fake historical, literary, mythological, ritual, meteorological, floral, sartorial, poetical, entirely fanciful, bread and circuses also.
Always helpful, in early August, 2016 the Philadelphia Art Museum installed a room of fantastical Surrealist images.
Among which this choice object, so perversely comforting at this time of powerful interests beyond popular accountability filling up our world with noisy threats, false promises and vulgarities.
The Evil Eye, 1947, mixed media. Enrico Donati, 1909-2008, American born Italy. Philadelphia Museum of Art
These fragments and many others, visual and literary, keep me going and shore me against the ruins.
One Number 31, 1950, oil and enamel paint on canvas; Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956, American. MOMA, New York
Work completed in 2013 in Calabria by Angela Valeria, born 1940, American. In the artist’s collection.
Madison Avenue window, 2015, New York
Oriented Right, 2015, oakwood, copper sheet, copper nails and darkening patina. Nari Ward, born 1963, Jamaica. Collection of Allison and Larry Berg.
This piece combines copper – which some people believe has healing properties – with a pattern punched through the copper. This pattern is derived from Congolese cosmological symbols whose originals are drilled into the floor of the First Baptist African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. The holes are breathing holes for escaping slaves. The whole speaks to enslavement and redemption and healing.
Bee, New York, 1995; chromogenic print made 2001; Irving Penn, 1917-200 , American. Promised gift to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.
Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950, oil on canvas. Barnett Newman, 1905-1970, American. MOMA, New York
Trained Horse Act, date unknown, watercolor on heavy wove paper; Robert Riggs, 1896-1970, American. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region.
The Thunder Shower, c. 1917, tempera on wood. H. Lymen Sayen, 1875-1918, American. A student of Henri Matisse.
In the shade of a mature raspberry bush growing in Seattle, 2009
In Arcadia, c. 1926, bronze on marble base; Bessie Potter Vonoh, 1872-1955, American. Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Il Saltimbanco, 1887, oil on canvas. Antonio Mancini, 1852-1930, Italian. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Maxwell Over, oil on canvas, 1992-93, oil on canvas; Ronald Bateman, born 1947, American born Wales. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region
Night Bloom IV, oil on x-ray on aluminum, 1997; Michael Gallagher, unknown birthdate. On exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2015, 2016 courtesy of Schmidt Dean Gallery, Philadelphia.
Guildenstern (Rhombus II), and details, dye destruction print; Gerhardt Richter, born 1932, German. Philadelphia Art Museum
Magnolia Grandiflora, fragrant, every April in the park at Winterthur, Delaware.
Carnival Evening, 1886, oil on canvas; Henri Rousseau, 1844-1910, French. Philadelphia Art Museum
Lilac Chair with Eggs, 1965, eggshells and wooden chair with paint. Marcel Broodthaers, 1924-1976, Belgian. Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A piece in the lineage of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades.
Mystery, 2009. Peter Paone, born 1936, American. On display at the Woodmere Museum for the Art of the Philadelphia Region in 2013.
Among the Sierra Nevada, oil on canvas, and details, 1868. Alfred Bierstadt, 1830-1902, born Solingen, Germany, died New York City. The Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
Nobody passed this painting without stopping. Children stopped. Everyone studied it, looked at its label. Then some people photographed it. Everyone was astonished.
This painting is a composite of views.
Sea Change, oil on canvas, 1975; Norman Lewis, 1909-1979 , American. Private collection.
Tasso’s Oak, 1957-1960, oil on canvas. Peter Blume, 1906-1992, American. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
Beautiful Night, 2004, nine-colour lithograph on music paper; Louise Bourgeois, 1911-2010, American born France. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia
Night Life, 1998, tempera on panel.. Frolic Weymouth, 1936-2016, American. Private collection.
Mansion of Birds and Faeries, 1973, ink and crayon on paper; Chelo Amezcua (Consuelo Gonzales), 1903-1975. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Mist: lithograph, 1981; Rain: lithograph and screenprint, 1976; Sun: lithograph and screenprint, 1976. David Hockney, born 1937, British. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Seen in a vintage shed in Hudson, NY, 2014.
People in the Sun, oil on canvas, 1960; Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American. Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
The Giants, 1939, duco (an industrial lacquer) on masonite; Alfred Siqueiros, 1896-1974, Mexican. Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Voices, watercolour and graphite on paper, 1984; Tom Judd, born 1952, American. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region
The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897, oil on canvas; Henri Rousseau, 1844-1910, French. MOMA, New York
Applause for a Caught Fish, 1970, lithograph. Peter Paone, born 1934, American. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region
Portrait of Mnonja, 2010, rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel on wood panel; Mickalene Thomas, born 1971, American. Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
The Substance of Natural Things is One, oil on wood, 1990. Thomas Chimes, 1921-2009, American. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware
Bunny Multiplication, 2001, inkjet with rayon flock. Judith Schaechter, born 1961, American. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region.
Vienna Ballet, 1990, oil on canvas. Georg Baselitz, born 1938. Philadelphia Art Museum
The dancer has not fallen. The artist’s figures are often upside down.
Masked children, 1964, oil on canvas; Seymour Rosofsky, 1924-1981. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
Untitled, 1992, beeswax and human hair; Robert Gober, born 1954, American. Promised gift of Keith L. and Katharine Sachs to the Philadelphia Art Museum. 2016
Wall mural at The Tabard Inn, 1739 N Street, Washington, DC, 2016. Unknown artist.
In the Crystal Depths, detail, 1906, oil on canvas. Illustration by N.C. Wyeth, 1882-1945, American. Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
Completely fantastical view of the life of an American Indian.
Summer, oil on canvas, 1909; Max Weber, 1881-1961, born Russia, died New York state. Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Young America, 1950 , egg tempera on gessoed board; Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009, American. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia.
A completely fantastical view of North America as empty when Europeans arrived.
Madonna, 1958, oil on canvas. Salvador Dali, 1904-1989, Spanish. Metropolitan Museum, New York.
From a distance Raphael’s Sistine Madonna is situated in a gargantuan ear. From close many gray and pink dots reflecting Dali’s interest in nuclear physics.
Niagara Notebook, 2013, oil on linen. Jane Adams, born 1961, American. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region.
This is one of a series painted by the artist. These three characters – the one on the right and the left are identical with different coloured hair – represent characters in American popular culture. The two have survived something dangerous which the waterfall represents. The figure in the middle is a witness and publicist.
One of a portfolio of lithographs called ‘Dreams Portfolio’; Peter Paone, born 1934, American. Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region
Millie, 2005, three-plate lithograph on paper; Amy Cutler, born 1947. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia
Dream Painting (Playing Cards and Lotus Blossoms), 1935, oil on wood panel; Valentine Hugo, 1887-1968, French. Philadelphia Art Museum.
Magnolia Oyama. Every year in April in the park at Winterthur, Delaware.
Windows onto the park at Winterthur, Delaware, reflected in bargello and other embroidery stitches hung on a wall. Winterthur, Delaware, 2015
The Battle of Carnival Lent, 2011, stained glass, cut, sandblasted, engraved, painted, stained and fired, cold paint and assembled with copperfoil. Judith Schaechter, born 1961. American. On display in Philadelphia in 2015.
Bird Buying a House, 1973, oil on canvas; Peter Paone, born 1934, American.
A painting dating from the time the artist bought a house in his wooded neighborhood in Philadelphia. The Woodmere Museum of the Art of the Philadelphia Region.
La Poesie, (Le Chant) (Poetry, The Song), 1938, oil on canvas; Pierre Matisse, 1900-1989, French. On loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011 from a private collection. Designed as an overmantel painting for an apartment belonging to Nelson Rockefeller.