Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A very large painting indeed

Amusingly, the above image is very, very small.

Many years ago the soon-to-be Mrs and I embarked upon a whirlwind tour of Europe and North America (which ended with me proposing in a restaurant in San Francisco – which is entirely by-the-by).

Large parts of the trip consisted of dragging the poor woman to points of interest from obscure aspects of European revolutionary history.

“Ooh look, Inez. It was at this very café in 1792 that the French revolutionary leader Marat suffered from a dose of food poisoning caused by a dodgy snail. Quick, quick, take a photo.”

It also involved us stuffing ourselves with as much culture as we could bare.

Which brings us to the Louvre and The Raft of the Medusa, painted over 1818-19 by Theodore Géricault. It shows the survivors of the wreck of the French frigate Medusa at the point of rescue, having survived being adrift for 13 days and enduring such horrors as starvation, cannibalism and the 18th century equivalent of Gretal Killen.

The thing you should understand about The Raft of the Medusa is that it’s big; very, very fucking big, the size of a large wall with most of the figures painted life size.

This isn’t a nice, polite painting – this is a painting that says “look at me you cunts or I’ll fall off the wall and crush you”.

Same thing with Picasso’s Guernica.

I do like art with balls.

20 comments:

Perseus said...

An excellent choice Ramon, and I'm envious you've seen it in real life. This is one of my favourites, as is Waterhouse's 'Ulysses and the Sirens' (at NGV) and Poynter's 'Cave of the Sea Nymphs', all depicting chaos at sea, which is my fetish when it comes to wall art, perhaps because I'm such a bad swimmer.

There's also a book called 'Wreck of the Medusa' by some bloke called McKee which details the true story which was an okay read.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

It was also used by the Pogues as a cover for "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash".

Perseus said...

Yes, it sure was. That's in my Top 10 albums ever. I want 'Pair of Brown Eyes' played at my funeral. Wait... but then I won't hear it. Hmm. Maybe I'll just play it at other people's funerals.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

You can play it at mine, if you like.

squib said...

That's weird, I thought there was a horse in that picture (until I googled a picture larger than 5k for a closer look, you like us to do all the hard work, don't you)

I'm very jealous. I haven't been to the Louvre. My European 'tour' came to a standstill in a bathroom in East London

Fad MD said...

That's what I loved about the Louvre... just how big and impressive so many paintings were, and yet all the numpties were crowded round the Mona Lisa and ignoring these far more impressive works.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I'm a complete n00b Squib, when it comes to this computer stuff.

Was there much art in the bathroom in East London?

Puss In Boots said...

It was a very fascinating painting, Ramon. Was it opposite the Mona Lisa when you were there? That room was just awful to try to get into. I had to elbow my way through the crowd to get a glimpse of the two paintings. But at least you had to stand back to see Medusa, so that made it somewhat more bearable.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

No Puss, it was in a separate room.

A very big separate room, along with Liberty Leading the People.

Which also rocked.

squib said...

I think it was better with a horse in it

No art, no. But from my cramped windowless abode I did hear the baroque music of Henry Purcell from a nearby bedsit. Hark! Could I hear angels singing? Or was that the waterpipes next to my head?

Melba said...

I've been to the Louvre three times I think, and have viewed approx. 5% of the works probably.

We came across some beauties - huge, ginormous, staggeringly wonderful - as we stumbled out of there a couple of years ago, with three children hugely underwhelmed by the Mona.

I love all the Venus paintings, and the violent ones too.

Pepsi said...

Saw the pic and went ooh The Pogues, but its not about Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, shame - I love them.

I was particularly taken with the crown jewels when I visited the Louvre, that and the ruins in the basement.

I would like that Diamond ring.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

After a while though, you start thinking

"Oh Christ, another priceless masterpiece.

I wonder what we can afford for dinner".

Boogeyman said...

... as much culture as we could bare.

Did you get arrested for baring your culture?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

In Germany, Boogey, nudity is almost compulsory.

Yes, that is as grim as it sounds.

Fad MD said...

In Germany, Boogey, nudity is almost compulsory.

Yes, that is as grim as it sounds.


Ah yes, the Englischergarten (sp?) during summer is a bit of a shock to the eyeballs. Not sure why when germans get naked they still have to wear their socks and sandals.

eat my shorts said...

So their toes don't get cold and dirty.

Fad MD said...

Ah, now it all makes sense...

Kettle said...

Ramon I've never thought what paintings might say if they could speak but a painting that calls me a cunt and threatens to fall off the wall is a painting with a power of speech to respect.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Indeed Kettle.

Indeed.