Cabinet of Curiosities (c. 1690s) by Domenico Remps.
• “…the human voice is an astonishing landscape”. Jeremy Allen on Desert Equations: Azax Attra (1986) by Sussan Deyhim & Richard Horowitz, an album which is being reissued by Crammed Discs with bonus tracks and an inexplicably rearranged track list. Good as it is, their follow-up release from 1996, Majoun, is even better, and might be better known if it hadn’t been so thoroughly abandoned by Sony Classical.
• “On view through May 29, By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 showcases masterpieces done by 17 Italian women to make the case for a broader view of women’s participation in the Italian Renaissance.” Nora McGreevy reports.
• “We had a far more profound effect on society than we really understood, and some of us paid for that”: Jane Lapiner and David Simpson of the San Francisco Diggers talking to Jay Babcock in another installment of Jay’s verbal history of the hippie anarchists.
• “Close your eyes and you could almost imagine it’s the muffled screams of a ghost trapped in a bottle.” Daryl Worthington on 25 years of The Ballasted Orchestra by Stars Of The Lid.
• More Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Mike Stax talks with Michael Moorcock about music, science fiction, politics, and their intersections in the 1960s.
• “Cormac McCarthy to publish two new novels.” Oboy oboy.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Larry Gottheim Day.
• Metal Machine Music For Airports
• Marginalia Search
• Music For Meditation I (1973) by Eberhard Schoener | Music For Evenings (1980) by Young Marble Giants | Music for Twin Peaks Episode #30 (Part I) (1996) by Stars Of The Lid
Judith with the Head of Holofernes (1520–1540) by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
It doesn’t take much effort to refute the jeremiads of those who complain that popular culture is exclusively violent, all that’s usually required is to direct attention to Titus Andronicus or The Revenger’s Tragedy. Compared to the stage, the art world seems at first to be more circumspect, especially in the 19th century when the battles scenes of history painters sprawled across acres of canvas, all of them devoid of the physical trauma of warfare.
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1455–60) by Giovanni di Paolo.
There are exceptions, however, and the nearer you move to Shakespeare’s time the more examples you’ll find. Paintings produced in an age when violent street executions were still a common sight would have seemed less surprising to their intended audience than they do to our eyes. Several of the paintings here provide a useful contrast with the many sanitised depictions of John the Baptist’s severed head in the Salomé archive.
Medusa (c. 1590) by Caravaggio.
Of all the paintings of Medusa’s head the one by Caravaggio is the sole example with a gout of spurting blood. It’s also unusual for being painted on a convex panel intended to resemble the reflecting shield of the Gorgon’s killer, Perseus. Given the violent life of the artist the gore isn’t so surprising although the jet of red in his painting of Judith beheading Holofernes still seems shocking if you’ve never seen it before.
Judith Beheading Holofernes (1598–99) by Caravaggio.
The Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes may be the poor cousin to the more popular story of Salomé but depictions of the crucial event make an impression by being consistently gruesome. I suspect the reason is less to do with the story itself than with the success of Caravaggio’s paintings among cultured Europeans. The copying or imitation of celebrated works became a thriving industry in the days of the Grand Tour with the result that 17th- and 18th-century art is overburdened with variations on earlier paintings.
Continue reading “Decapitations”