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San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mabel's Turkey

Mabel and her mother and father put great thought and care into setting their table for Thanksgiving dinner.  They brought out the most special china, passed down from Mabel's great-grandmother. After nap the nearby grandparents arrived. Everyone was conscious of specially missing Mabel's faraway grandmother.

When we sat down at the table Mabel brought along the foil-wrapped chocolate turkey Grandma had just given her. It supervised Mabel's efforts to try a bite of everything.

André-Antoine Bernard

Jacques-Louis David
Portrait of André-Antoine Bernard

A small collection of European drawings from the large collections at the Getty Museum. The 1795 drawing above was made in prison. Both Jacques-Louis David and André-Antoine Bernard had committed all their energies to the French Revolution. During 1793 and 1794 they both sat on the Committee of Public Safety. This small group of Revolutionary politicians, led by Robespierre, sent thousands of French citizens to death on the guillotine. Many of these same middle-class revolutionaries also signed a special warrant authorizing the execution of the King and Queen.   

Christ Preaching in the Temple
c. 1625

Study of a Seated Young Man
c. 1619

Agostino Carracci
Kneeling Figure
c. 1582-85

Agostino Carracci
Cupid Overpowering Pan
c. 1590

Agostino Carracci
Triton Blowing a Conch
c. 1600

Nicolas Poussin
Forest Path
c. 1635-40

Laurent La Hyre
Liberation of St. Peter
c. 1647

Anthony van Dyck
c. 1620

Giorgio Vasari
Nude Stdy 
c. 1555-65

Pieter Jansz Saenredam
Choir and North Ambulatory at the Church of Saint Bavo, Haarlem

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Isabella of Portugal

Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden
Portrait of Isabella of Portugal
c. 1450

Gentile da Fabriano
Coronation of the Virgin
c. 1420

Bernardino Fungai
Madonna and Child with Two Hermit Saints

Alessandro Allori
The Abduction of Proserpine

Fra Bartolommeo
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with St. John the Baptist
c. 1509

Lorenzo Lotto
Madonna and Child with Two Donors
c. 1525-30

Anthony van Dyck
The Apostle Simon
c. 1618

Peter Paul Rubens
The Virgin as the Woman of the Apocalypse
c. 1623

Gerrit Battem
Figures on a Frozen Canal

Three artifacts at the Getty Museum from each of three faraway centuries. There will be a prize for anybody who can discover any linking principle here (beyond personal caprice).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bird Catchers

François Boucher
Bird Catchers

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
The Fountain of Love
c. 1785

Joseph Wright of Derby
Penelope Unraveling her Web

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Houses near Orléans
c 1830

William John Godward
Mischief & Repose

Camille Pissarro
Houses at Bougival

Alfred Stieglitz
The Hand of Man

Vincenzo Gemito

Adolf de Meyer
Glass & Shadows

Three artifacts at the Getty Museum from each of three recent centuries (and chosen with the special freedom accorded to any random know-nothing member of the general public).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Embedded Practice

"The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 reopened what many people in this country had long assumed was a settled ethical question: Is torture ever morally permissible? Within days, some people in the United States began to suggest that, in these new circumstances, the new answer was, Yes. This book argues that 9/11 did not, as some have said, "change everything." Institutionalized state torture remains as wrong today as it was on the day before those terrible attacks. Furthermore, U.S. practices during the "war on terror" find their roots in a history that began long before 9/11, a history that includes both support for torture regimes abroad and the use of torture in the jails and prisons of this country. The author argues that the most common ethical approaches to torture - utilitarianism and deontology - do not provide sufficient theoretical purchase on the problem. Both methods treat torture as a series of isolated actions that arise in moments of extremity, rather than as an ongoing, historically and socially embedded practice." 

"But didn’t that sorry phase of our national life end when Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney departed? Wasn’t it over once Barack Obama entered the Oval Office and issued an executive order closing the CIA black sites that the Bush administration had set up across the planet, forbidding what had euphemistically come to be called “enhanced interrogation techniques?” As it happens, no."

"The president’s executive order directed the CIA to close its detention centers “as expeditiously as possible” and not to open any new ones. No such orders were given, however, to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a clandestine force composed of elite fighters from several branches of the U.S. armed forces. JSOC had run its own secret detention centers in Iraq. At Camp Nama, interrogations took place in the ominously named “Black Room.” According to the New York Times, the camp’s chilling motto was “no blood, no foul.” JSOC is presently deployed on several continents, including Africa, where gathering “intelligence” forms an important part of its duties."

Quotations from promotional text by Oxford University Press and from review article at Foreign Policy in Focus

Rebecca Gordon teaches in the Philosophy department of the University of San Francisco and for the university's Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beyond Baroque

Christ Child
carved and painted wood
c. 1700

St. Joseph Carrying the Christ Child

The Getty Museum collections of Italian art  moving farther into the 18th century. Surfaces are newly prominent  patterning prevails over storytelling.

Sebastiano Ricci
Triumph of the Marine Venus
c. 1713

Marco Ricci
gouache on leather
c. 1715

Francesco Solimena
Death of Messalina
c. 1708

Sebastiano Ricci
Perseus with the Head of Medusa
c. 1705-10

Giovanni Foggini
c 1720

Antonio Canova
Apollo Crowning Himself

Antonio Canova
Herm of a Vestal Virgin

Antonio Canova (1757-1822) used his Neoclassical  vocabulary to combat the prevailing mania for busy surfaces. Posterity has delivered mixed reviews, some finding his work cold and static, others finding balance and repose.

Apollo was carved when Canova was 24 years old. It was created in Rome, but traveled at an early date to France. The Getty acquired Apollo Crowning Himself  in the early 1990s.

Vestal Virgin was completed when Canova was 63 years old. It was created in Naples and remained there until 1937, subsequently traveling to Switzerland. The Getty acquired Herm of a Vestal Virgin in 1985.