joy magnetism: Symbol me this

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Symbol me this

Magnet #113 - Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait

I've dubbed the front of my refrigerator my own little magnet art gallery - paintings and other classic pieces of the grand masters. There are quite a few, and we'll get through them all in time.

But, look, I wasn't an art history major, so I'm going to keep these entries as short and sweet as I can, mainly because:
  1. There's a part of me that thinks that the grand masters really shouldn't have their paintings on magnets. Like if Van Gogh knew I had any of his work on a magnet, that he'd likely cut his other ear off.
  2. Honestly? While I love art, and think it's beautiful to look at and marvel at the skill it took to paint it and whatnot - I can't stand when people stand in front of the painting and try to dissect every. little. thing. that the artist was thinking. Sometimes, a bowl of fruit really is just a bowl of fruit!
Having said that, van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, which I saw at the National Gallery in London has some weird aspects to it. Like for years, they thought that it was the portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini guy and his wife Giovanna Cenami in their Flemish bedchamber. But then, they found out that the couple was actually married 13 years after the date on the painting...and hello, like six years after van Eyck died. Do what?

Now they think it's actually the guy's cousin, and either his first or second wife. Really. The painting was done in 1434. It's ummm, 2008. Does it really matter who the guy was? I'm just askin'. Honestly, I just thought it was a pretty damn good painting, no matter who the subjects were.

Oh, but then there's like all sorts of stuff about the symbolism: like how the dog's the symbol for how they wanted kids (maybe it was just a pet), or like how she's looking down and nearer the bed and farther into the room and he's nearer the window and looking directly at us that it's a symbol for gender roles (maybe she likes standing on the right and he likes the breeze from the window), and how she's wearing green symbolizes hope (maybe she loved the color green), how the one lit candle in the chandelier is the Holy Ghost (maybe the lighting was better with one candle).

But, you can read all that here, in the surprisingly robust wiki for it. Actually, I'm not kidding - read the wiki, it got some pretty intriguing some of the symbolism they've come up with for this painting...and how there's controversial views about whether or not it's a memorial painting or a wedding painting, and why they're wearing winter clothes when it's spring. Oh! And they actually show the detail of the writing on the wall, and the two people reflected in the mirror.

As for me, I'm thinking if I wanted a short blogpost today, I should have chosen that bowl of fruit over there on the fridge.
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1 comment:

G said...

I'm a little worried for the bowl of fruit.