340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dialogue, what?

One of this blog's limitations was made apparent to me by the following e-mail, reprinted here without the author's express permission (but I'm pretty sure consent is implied; if not, mea culpa):

I wanted to respond to something you wrote on your blog - but it necessitates images - and the comments window would not allow me to upload them.... so via email...

Just a small example to add to your excellent analysis. This type of image (as seen on the cover) goes back a long way in art history as well. I am most reminded of Manet's
Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe painted in the late 1800's. At the time his works were very controversial, because they depicted nude women in contemporary settings (rather then historical, religious, or mythical realms). Also because the women depicted in a number of his works were known sex workers, and because those women were depicted as actively returning the gaze of the viewer.

A hundred years later, this image - like so many others - has been reified, and transformed into conservative cannon - and reproduced on magazine covers. If
Vanity Fare is interested in challenging the status quo in this genre they should look to contemporary artists like Renée Cox - who are able to embrace some of the original transformative intent of these type of images - while taking it much farther by challenging the still prevalent desires/norms that works like Manet's perpetuate.

anyways - I have to get back to work....
I was just really struck by your post....

I was blown away by these images and I couldn't agree with the author more: any subversive or disruptive potential of the VF images (a legacy imparted by Manet et. al.) is entirely voided by Tom Ford's obnoxious machismo and the magazine's persistent racism.

It's times like this that I really appreciate the potential of a blog: friends spread out across multiple countires, continents and even hemispheres are able to continue some of the same discussions we started over pints at the corner pub, or ribs and bruschetta on a backyard terrace.

Thanks for the insight, JW.


  • At 7:10 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…



  • At 11:40 a.m., Blogger Candis said…

    Oddly enough, the Manet painting has come up three times in the last two weeks in three separate courses - one was to talk about the phallus and the female nude, one to talk predominantly about the gaze, and another to critique a student's revisioning of it (she painted a copy with them all naked, but without genitalia or faces in an attempt to play with gender as well)...The link between that (and an array of other images that accompanied the various talks) and the Vanity Fair cover - or any magazine cover in mainstream media - was never made...

    Fascinating stuff.


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