Sentient in San Francisco – 26 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 26 January 1824 – Theodore Gericault, a French painter and lithographer.

Below – “The Raft of the Medusa”; “Portrait of Laure Bro”; “The Capture of a Wild Horse”; “Heroic Landscape with Fishermen”; “Insane Woman”; “The Kiss.”

Musings in Winter: Candace Bushnell

“Thank goodness for the first snow. It was a reminder–no matter how old you became and how much you’d seen–things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.”

This Date in Art History: Born 26 January 1861 – Louis Anquetin, a French painter.

Below – “Reading Woman”; “Woman at the Champs-Elysees by Night”; “Woman with Umbrella”; “Inside Bruant’s Mirliton”; “Moulin Rouge”; “Reaper.”

A Poem for Today

“Weather Man”
by Patricia Traxler

When it snows, he stands
at the back door or wanders
around the house to each
window in turn and
watches the weather
like a lover. O farm boy,
I waited years
for you to look at me
that way. Now we’re old
enough to stop waiting
for random looks or touches
or words, so I find myself
watching you watching
the weather, and we wait
together to discover
whatever the sky might bring.

This Date in Art History: Born 26 January 1962 – Guo Jain, a Chinese-Australian painter, sculptor, and photographer: Part I of II.

In the words of one writer, “Arriving in Australia in 1992, GUO JIAN’s art practice has been fuelled by his position as a reflective, sharply satirical Chinese expatriate who grew up during the Cultural Revolution and under a deeply communist regime.”

Below – Untitled (avec Marilyn); “Picturesque Scenery”; Untitled #1;”The Door Gods #1”; “Trigger Happy IX”; “Trigger Happy II.”

Remembering an Important Thinker on the Date of His Death: Died 26 January 1990 – Lewis Mumford, an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic.

Some quotes from the work of Lewis Mumford:

“Adding highway lanes to deal with traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.”
“A day spent without the sight or sound of beauty, the contemplation of mystery, or the search of truth or perfection is a poverty-stricken day; and a succession of such days is fatal to human life.”
“Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.”
“Restore human legs as a means of travel. Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.”
“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”
“A man of courage never needs weapons, but he may need bail.
“Modern Man is the victim of the very instruments he values most. Every gain in power, every mastery of natural forces, every scientific addition to knowledge, has proved potentially dangerous, because it has not been accompanied by equal gains in self-understanding and self-discipline.”
“Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.”
“We have created an industrial order geared to automatism, where feeble-mindedness, native or acquired, is necessary for docile productivity in the factory; and where a pervasive neurosis is the final gift of the meaningless life that issues forth at the other end.”
“The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion.”
“By fashion and built-in obsolescence the economies of machine production, instead of producing leisure and durable wealth, are duly cancelled out by the mandatory consumption on an even larger scale.”
“The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city.”
“Above all we need, particularly as children, the reassuring presence of a visible community, an intimate group that enfolds us with understanding and love, and that becomes an object of our spontaneous loyalty, as a criterion and point of reference for the rest of the human race.”
“When art seems to be empty of meaning, as no doubt some of the abstract painting of our own day actually does seem, what the painting says, indeed what the artist is shrieking at the top of his voice, is that life has become empty of all rational content and coherence, and that, in times like these, is far from a meaningless statement.”
“Before modern man can gain control over the forces that now threaten his very existence, he must resume possession of himself. This sets the chief mission for the city of the future: that of creating a visible regional and civic structure, designed to make man at home with his deeper self and his larger world, attached to images of human nature and love.”

This Date in Art History: Born 26 January 1962 – Guo Jain, a Chinese-Australian painter, sculptor, and photographer: Part II of II.

In the words of one writer, “Guo Jian takes the Socialist Realism he grew up with in China, subverts and transforms it, often humorously, into Socio-Realism in an almost celebratory act of protest and liberation.”

Below – “3 femmes”; “The Performer”; “Bubbles of yum/Girls of romance”; “Contre Revolution”; Untitled #9; Untitled #2.

A Poem for Today

“Thanksgiving for Two”
by Marge Saiser

The adults we call our children will not be arriving
with their children in tow for Thanksgiving.
We must make our feast ourselves,

slice our half-ham, indulge, fill our plates,
potatoes and green beans
carried to our table near the window.

We are the feast, plenty of years,
arguments. I’m thinking the whole bundle of it
rolls out like a white tablecloth. We wanted

to be good company for one another.
Little did we know that first picnic
how this would go. Your hair was thick,

mine long and easy; we climbed a bluff
to look over a storybook plain. We chose
our spot as high as we could, to see

the river and the checkerboard fields.
What we didn’t see was this day, in
our pajamas if we want to,

wrinkled hands strong, wine
in juice glasses, toasting
whatever’s next,

the decades of side-by-side,
our great good luck.

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