La grande famille

18 September 2008
La grande famille (1963)

La grande famille (1963)

Magritte enjoys the game of juxtaposing and manipulating motifs.

An image could exercise such powers of seduction that the painter felt compelled to reproduce it many times. Rather than falling into repetitive indifference, he excels in revisiting work in this way.

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Batty

17 September 2008
The bat

The bat

One winged creature that still inspires fear in humans is the bat. The Australian aborigines have a story about a race of human-like creatures with bat wings who captured a family of brothers. The brothers escaped and the strange dances they had seen the bat men perform are still used in rituals today. In Eastern Europe, bats are strongly associated with vampires, spirits of the undead who rise at night to do harm to the living.


The Creature

17 September 2008
Dorothea Tanning, Birthday, 1942

Dorothea Tanning, Birthday, 1942

Dorothea Tanning on her 30th birthday painted her self-portrait “Birthday” in 1942.

Her fascination of the endless openings of doors depicts a surrealist’s image of the labyrinth, the ‘rooms’ of the unconscious mind. The winged creature in front of her is a nocturnal animal called a Lemur from Madagascar, usually associated with the spirits of the dead and the night. The theatrical purple jacket and the human-shaped roots skirt express the conflict and contrast of nature and culture.


Siren

17 September 2008
Siren, The J. Paul Getty Museum, ca 350 - 340 BC (Late Classical)

Siren, The J. Paul Getty Museum, ca 350 - 340 BC (Late Classical)

THE SEIRENES (or Sirens) were three sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death with a bewitching song. They were formerly handmaidens of the goddess Persephone. When the girl was secretly abducted by Haides, Demeter gave them the bodies of birds, and sent to assist in the search. They eventually gave up and settled on the flowery island of Anthemoessa.

The Seirenes were later encountered by the Argonauts who passed by unharmed with the help of Orpheus, the poet drowing out their music with his song. Odysseus also sailed by, bound tightly to the mast, his men blocking their ears with wax. The Seirenes were so distressed to see a man hear their song and yet escape, that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned.

The Seirenes were depicted as birds with either the heads, or the entire upper bodies, of women. In mosaic art they were depicted with just bird legs.