Dedicated Particularly to Erik

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I had Erik especially in mind during the week I was in Washington. Events conspired to keep bringing him forward. First, I found a lovely set of typology from Jonathan Edwards, and a few new poems by Edward Taylor--I immediately thought of Erik's fondness for our Puritan forebeings.

Then I went to the West wing of the National Gallery of Art. There they had just opened a sculpture wing featuring some of Degas' sculptures and some studies for larger pieces by Rodin. I love Rodin's method of seizing solidity from the numinous--figures emerge from and sink back into the medium with eerie and wonderful effects. I thought of Erik.

I trotted over to the east wing where there was a fairly large gallery of "Modern Art," including some burgundy, brown, black and white canvases by Rothko. I remember Erik speaking highly of him and really tried to get something out of it, and perhaps succeeded. In addition, even if not there were a few pieces by Constatin Brancusi (whom I love), and Alexander Calder (both mobiles and stabiles--wonderful intricate, moving pieces.) Then there was a series of paintings by a person who I have first heard of from Erik, although I had seen these before. Barnett something, or something akin to that name. It was a series of 14 stations of the Cross so bereft of anything moving, interesting, worthwhile, or exciting that the last time I recall being so repulsed by a work of "religion and devotional art" I was walking through the new chapel of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, trying to puzzle out what those little squiggles on the floor meant. Anyway, I didn't get a lot out of looking at these largely white canvases--Modrians without the sense of design.

Finally I saw a magnificent painting/sculpture/installation called Zim Zum--the artist was German, and of course I thought of Erik for the mere coincidence of the thing and wondered for a moment what Erik would have made of it.

I crammed all this in between subway stops as I was on my way uptown to see one of St. Blogs' own.

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Dear Steven,

While you were at the National Gallery of Art, did you have a chance to see this?


Dear Neil,

No, and I greatly regret that I did not get to the upper galleries now that I see this. Oh well.




In either The Shock of the New or his book on American Art, Robert Hughes takes on those "stations of the cross" beautifully. I envy you being able to see so many great works. I realized this week how long it has been since I have been to the great D.C. museums (and I do not foresee a trip anytime soon, either).

I am curious, have you read Etienne Gilson's Painting and Reality? I am about 2/3 of the way through, and he has some interesting ideas. I am curious to see how he is going to wrap up his argument. Have you read him?



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 1, 2003 1:58 PM.

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