Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Aarts Bone Brâncuși Cadell Horst Philpot Sickert Steer Strang

Johannes Josephus Aarts
Standing warrior and kneeling woman
before 1934
blockprint on Japanese paper
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Johannes Josephus Aarts
Oedipus and the Sphinx
before 1934
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Muirhead Bone
Gertrude and Stephen, No. 1
British Museum

Muirhead Bone
Joseph Conrad listening to music
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Constantin Brâncuși
The First Step
ca. 1912
oil on cardboard
Art Institute of Chicago

Francis Cadell
before 1937
National Galleries of Scotland

Francis Cadell
before 1937
National Galleries of Scotland

Francis Cadell
before 1937
National Galleries of Scotland

Francis Cadell
before 1937
National Galleries of Scotland

Richard Roland Holst
Self-portrait as wood-engraver
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Glyn Philpot
Portrait of Siegfried Sassoon
oil on canvas
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Walter Sickert
The Trapeze
oil on canvas
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Philip Wilson Steer
The Blue Dress
ca. 1900
oil on canvas
National Galleries of Scotland

William Strang
oil on canvas
 Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Our Spring Trip

Dear Mrs. Masters, Hi from the Fifth-Grade Class
of Park School!  We're still here in New York City
                                                  at the Taft Hotel,
you could have guessed that from the picture printed
on this stationery – I inked in x's
          to show you our rooms,
which are actually on the same floor as
the Terminal Tower Observation Deck
                                                  in Cleveland, Ohio,
which we visited on our Fourth-Grade Spring Trip,
but nowhere near so high as some skyscrapers
          in New York City:
we've been up to the top of the Empire State
and the Chrysler Buildings, which are really tall!
                                                  But there's another
reason for writing besides wanting to say
Hi – we're having a problem Miss Husband thought
          you might help us with,
once we get back to school . . . yesterday we went
to the Dinosaur Hall of the Natural
                                                  History Museum
for our Class Project – as you know, the Fifth Grade
is constructing this life-size Diplodocus
          out of chicken wire
and some stuff Miss Husband calls papier-mâché,
but no diagram we have shows how the tail
                                                  balances the head
to keep our big guy upright – we need to see
how the backbone of a real Diplodocus
          manages to bear
so much weight: did you know that some Dinosaurs
(like the Brontosaurus) are so huge they have
                                                  a whole other brain
at the base of their spine, just to move the tail?
Another thing: each time Arthur Englander
          came anywhere near
our Diplodocus, it would collapse because
of not balancing right. This went on until
                                                  David Stashower
got so mad at Arthur that he flew at him
and gave his left shoulder a really good bite
          so he would keep away . . .
That was when you called the All-School Assembly
to explain about the biting: biting's no good . . .
                                                  Even so, Arthur
decided not to come on this year's Spring Trip.
Well, we took the Subway train to the Museum
          from the Taft Hotel,
in fact that was our very first excursion,
but the noise, once we were on the platform
                                                  was so loud one girl,
Nancy Akers, cried (she always was chicken)
when someone told her that terrible roaring
          the Express made
was Tyrannosaurus Rex himself, and she
believed it! – then we went to the Great Hall where
                                                  we were surrounded
by Dinosaurs, all the kinds we had studied:
some were not much bigger than a chicken, but
          some were humongous!
One was just a skeleton wired together,
so it was easy to see how we could make
                                                  our Diplodocus
balance  by putting a swivel in its neck.
All the other Dinosaurs were stuffed, I guess,
          with motors and lights
inside: when they moved, their heads balanced their tails!
There was even a Pterodactyl flying
                                                  back and forth above
our heads, probably on some kind of track.
But even though Miss Husband tried explaining
          (for the hundredth time)
how the Dinosaurs had all been extinct for
millions of years, not one person in the class
                                                  believed what she said:
the idea of a million years is so stupid,
anyway – a typical grown-up reason . . .
          You know the Klein twins,
the biggest brains in the whole Fifth Grade (a lot
bigger, probably, that both brains combined in
                                                  that Brontosaurus) –
well, they had a question for Miss Husband: what
if the Dinosaurs' being extinct so long
          was just a smoke screen
for their being Somewhere Else, a long ways away?
And Lucy Wensley made an awful pun on
                                                  stinky and extinct . . .       
Actually, Mrs. Masters, we've already
figured it out, about death: the Dinosaurs
          may be extinct, but
they're not dead! It's a different thing, you dig?
When Duncan Chu's Lhasa jumped out the window,
                                                  or when Miss Husband's
parents were killed together in a car crash,
we understood that – that was being dead; gone:
          no body around.
Isn't that what dying has to mean – not being
here? The Dinosaurs are with us all the time,
                                                  anything but dead –
we keep having them! Later, at the "Diner-
Saurus," the Museum restaurant, there was
          chicken-breast for lunch
stamped out in the shape of a Triceratops!
Strange how everything has to taste like chicken:
                                                  whether it's rabbit
or rattlesnake, it's always "just like chicken" . . .
Anyway, Dinosaurs are alive as long
          as we think they are,
not like Duncan's dog. And that's just the problem.
By next week, though, we'll be back in Sandusky,
                                                  and while we're putting
the swivel into our Diplodocus's neck,
you could explain to us about Time – about
          those millions of years,
and Dinosaur-chicken in the Diner, and
chicken-size Dinosaurs in the Great Hall, and
                                                  where they really are.

– Richard Howard, from Trappings (New York: Turtle Point Press, 1999)