By Linda Bierds
Or lion. Too little marble left for certainty:
affixed to a bone-like armature, just a flank
and scored shoulder, and far down the missing,
crouching shape, a single, splay-toed paw.
The companion, or mate, is better formed
and offers a template to trace a bit, image to absence
to memory, until the lioness fills.
The exhibit is Fragments and Dislocations:
Sight and Sightlessness. Across the room
in Renaissance, the painter, retinas tattered
as a saint's hem, might have filled a lioness
differently: absence first, then memory,
and then the lines around his own vision, its crags
and wilderness. His century failed him,
a placard says. Just eye-lid balms
and powdered rhubarb. What retina remained
must have caught his subject's chosen states--penitence
and ecstasy--nearsightedly, which would explain
the perfect stones, less perfect trees. Or perhaps
his partial sightlessness was corneal, and thus
the painting's mood, front-lit through gauze.
In either case, what the painter knew--that his saint
and tiny crucifix would not adorn an altarpiece--
comes to us more slowly. Wood grains,
punch patterns, and the small keyhole
beneath a varnished leaf, suggest a sacristy cupboard,
not worship's place, but preservation's.
Chosen states, the placard said.
Vacancy and memory. Ecstasy and penitence.
And then, His partial vision of the whole
produced a partial masterpiece:
a saint--Jerome--and grizzled robe, flawless
in its dust. The rest is incomplete, but zero-mass
radiography, its lights and darks reversed,
reveals a shape beneath the scene:
Jerome as just two simple lines, white arc
across white axis--before they both were white-
washed over, and the saint began,
and umber brought the lion to him.
I am in the process of uploading my entire life to Google Drive so am going to be a bad blogger/LiveJournaler/Tumblr for a couple of days. We had a nice Saturday, particularly the part before the major thunderstorms arrived: Paul and I picked up my parents after lunch and went to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which is closing at the end of the month and it's unclear exactly how much of it will reopen next year. GWU is taking over the building and school, while the National Gallery of Art is taking over the collection, though some of it will be sold and it's not entirely clear how the rest will be exhibited (the Salon Doré, originally part of the hôtel de Clermont in the Faubourg Saint-Germain in Paris, is in the section slated to be private). So we wanted to see it while we could -- it's free all month.
The American painting salon.
Detail of penguins on the model sculpture for the St. Louis Zoo from American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley.
A Petah Coyne wax sculpture compared to Miss Havisham's decaying chandelier from Great Expectations.
Pillars of the upper level of the museum.
With my parents in a mirror in the Salon Doré.
A bit of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building reflected in the windows of the building adjacent to the Corcoran.
My parents just got a new TV and Blu-Ray player (we were the lucky inheritors of their old one) so we decided to watch a movie in between the end of the Maryland game and the start of the Michigan game (Maryland won, Michigan lost, whoo, though my father probably does not share the latter sentiment -- he is bummed Federer lost too, not to mention the Nationals score). My parents had not seen Frozen, so we ended up bringing that over after stopping at home to feed the cats -- the visuals look fantastic on their big TV. Then we ordered a pizza and ate it in the midst of a huge thunderstorm that briefly knocked the power out, though was much worse a few miles away where there were downed power lines and water closing roads. When we got home we watched the very enjoyable Doctor Who Robin Hood episode!