Friday, June 16, 2017

Uses for Red Garments

Antonio Vivarini
Madonna and Child
ca. 1435-45
tempera on panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Sandro Botticelli
Madonna and Child with St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist
(Bardi Altarpiece)

ca. 1484-85
oil on panel
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Albrecht Dürer
Adoration of the Trinity
(Landauer Altarpiece)
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Madonna in the Meadow
ca. 1505-06
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Virgin and Child
ca. 1510-15
oil on panel
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby. 
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

                    *                    *                    *

The walls, also seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.   

 from Tulips by Sylvia Plath (1960)

Altobello Melone
Christ carrying the Cross
ca. 1515
oil on panel
National Gallery, London

Giuliano Bugiardini
Madonna and Child
ca. 1530
oil on panel
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Paris Bordone
Christ as Light of the World
before 1571
oil on canvas
National Gallery, London

Maerten de Vos
Incredulity of Thomas
oil on canvas
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp

Battistello Caracciolo
Christ on the Mount of Olives
ca. 1615-17
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

First, night opened out.
Bodies took root from rotting salt
and seawater into evidence of red life.
Relentless waves pumped tidal air
into a single heartbeat.

In the pulp of shadow and space,
water sucked our people from sleep.
That's how it all began. At least
that's all we can remember to tell.
It began with water and heartbeat.

In minutes we tunneled through 
corn woman's navel into tinges
of moist red men and women.
Yawning, we collected our chins,
knees, breasts, and sure-footed determination.

A few thousand years before
Moses parted the Red Sea, and the
God with three heads was born in the Middle East,
the Choctaw people danced
our homeland infra red.

 from Evidence of Red by Leanne Howe (2005)

Jusepe de Ribera
Ecce Homo
ca. 1620
oil on canvas
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

Gerrit van Honthorst
Adoration of the Shepherds
oil on canvas
Pomerania State Museum, Germany

Abraham Bloemaert
Adoration of the Magi
oil on canvas
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Bernardo Strozzi
The Tribute Money
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Mateo Cerezo
Ecce Homo
ca. 1660-66
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

S:  Exactly it is red that I like and there is a link between geology and character

I:  What is this link

S:  I have often wondered

I:  Identity memory eternity your constant themes

S:  And how can regret be red and might it be

I:  Which brings us to Helen

S:  There is no Helen

I:  I believe our time is up

S:  Thank you for this and for everything

I:  It is I who thank you

S:  So glad you didn't ask about the little red dog

I:  Next time

S:  That's three

– concluding lines of Anne Carson's 'novel in verse' Autobiography of Red (New York: Knopf, 1998)