Monday, June 30, 2008

looking in the mirror

Art history aside (since I know too little to go down that road, I say with shame), artist biographies aside, are there pieces of art you identify with?

There must be.

When I first saw this portrait of Jacqueline Roque, one of Picasso's wives, I identified with her sharp edges, because I always felt my own needed softening.

'Jacqueline with Crossed Hands'
Pablo Picasso
Oil on canvas
23.6" x 31.5"
Musée Picasso, Paris, France.

On the other hand, Jeanne, soft and pliant in the yellow sweater is more the direction I would like to move.

Or maybe somewhere between.

'Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater' ('Le Sweater jaune')
Amedeo Modigliani
Oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 25 1/2 inches
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

New York City


mystic rose said...

I think you are absolutely fine just the way you are :), but yes, i guess we all could improve, get closer to an ideal balance.

Anet said...

I'm with you Ruth, somewhere in between these two ladies is a good place.
I like the free wavy flow of the yellow sweater lady but I would like some of the groovey details of Picasso's wife!

Drowsey Monkey said...

I've never thought of you with hard edges. Hmmm... that's interesting that you'd describe yourself that way.

I'm not a picaso fan, I much prefer the 2nd painting. Quite like it.

Rauf said...

It's story Tyyme Ruth,

i am typing with one hand(one finger) as i have a slightly swollen, twisted wrist, which i did myself while squeezing (wrenching ?) my Lee Dungrees after washing. i don't have a washing machine, i believe only gramdmother's way would clean my Dungrees.

Anyway, the story.
One girl came to take pictures, i think i have told Mystic Rose about it.
the face looked familiar. Yes Yes i have taken pictures before. You know i am not the brightest of people around. i did not remember her having taken pictures and i forgot her name. She told me her name again which i promptly and religiously forgot again.
She came the next day to take pictures. You know it takes a while for the fog to clear out of my mind. i noticed that she has a pretty smile, she was beautiful. i remembered that i was not able to make her smile earlier.
i asked her have you done anything to your teeth ?

You have a good memory she said.

Yes it gets foggy i said

She wanted to talk about my memory and i wanted to talk about her teeth.

She kept drifting and i was stubborn and kept bringing back the subject of her teeth. This was going on while i was clicking her pictures. Last thing i wanted to do was ruin her mood. i am selfish and i wanted good pictures.

Your teeth, have you done anything ?
Yes finally she relented, yes i got them fixed a few months ago
Ten thousand rupees
that was a lot of money at that time, it still is for me.
I continued taking her pictures with different lighting.
Suddenly i realised that her face itself looked different.
All fog cleared. So late, and it took a couple of hours.
Now i was hesitant, but picked up the courage to ask her

Have you done anything to your face ? your nose perhaps ?

Oh you have noticed ! Doest it show ?

Now she realised that there is no point in avoiding the subject. And i keep coming back
She admitted straight, yes, i got my nose fixed, i think she said she went abroad for that surgery, i don't remember and it cost her 80,000 rupees.
my jaw dropped.
EIGHTTTTY thousand ??
You could buy a house with that money those days.

But you were already very beautiful
i said.
No blushing.
Girls are very serious about this subject.

Do you see a different person when you look in the mirror ?
i think she didn't answer, i think she cried, i am not sure. i remember her looking away.

Ruth, you don't have to move in any direction. You are gorgeous.
Both the paintings are famous, but i thought the second one is Gustav klimt.

Rauf said...

Ruth, i like people doing their best to look better. i don't like men over doing it. i took pictures of my friend's wedding in the morning and i couldn't recognise him at the evening reception. He went to a beauty parlour (!!!) and got himself painted. His head now looked like a clean mud pot. The bride also is a friend of mine. i was shocked. Has she changed her mind ? why is she getting married to a different person the same evening ? When i went closer it was the same old friend.

Sandy said...

Yup...somewhere inbetween for me!

Enjoyed this.

Anonymous said...

We need some edges even after the life has softened them a lot :)
Very personal view of looking at these paintings - a new way to see an art.
My favorite painting of Picasso is The Violin, which I saw in Holland in the small gallery faraway fom Amsterdam. It was very softly colored and "normal".
Have a happy July, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Mystic, thank you, that's very kind. If you had known me 20, 30 years ago, if you could peer into my brain, you'd know I couldn't stop thinking about making myself better. This blog is an example of slowing that down, living in the moment, accepting what is.

O - O - O

Anet, I'm fascinated by how artists see their subject, and how we can interpret them.

O - O - O

Drowsey sweetie, even though you are my adoptee, you don't know me well, not the way Don, Lesley and Peter do. I spare you my sharp edges. But my family is probably too kind and will pretend I don't have any. Oh, but I'm getting ready to sharpen my edges for a good patriotic post at huffing later in the week. Stay tuned. Those edges might be good for something.

Ruth said...

Oh rauf, I'm sorry about your poor wrist! I washed a pair of jeans in Greece by hand and was surprised when they dried in 4 hours!

Your story is funny, and also very sad! Not because of your memory, but because she thought she had to improve her face when she was already beautiful.

Oh yes, men are getting quite comfortable with makeup and attending to their looks.

Thank you, rauf, but I think you know I am not talking about how I look. I have a bad habit of being snippy and having to be right. My job is a good place to practice listening.

Ruth said...

Auntie Sandy, you too?

O - O - O

Leena, you make a good point! A good combination, whatever works. I did not take art personally until this portrait of Jacqueline came along (saw it in Paris), and I felt I was looking at myself!

"The Violin" is a beautiful cubist painting, I love it.

VioletSky said...

I have always wondered if the subjects see themselves in these paintings? Does one sticky detail the artist painted stand out over the rest of the work?

I would think one must be comfortable with their own skin to allow someone else to interpret what they see in you.

laura said...

I've attempted self-portraiture a couple of times. Aside from the technical difficulty--looking at myself and my painting at the same time--I'm always astounded by the results: Is that me? I've always thought I'd like to pursue both, the self-portraiture and the question, further.

Bob Johnson said...

Don't really identify with any picture or painting, but my all time fave is Picasso,
"The Persistence of Memory"

Loring Wirbel said...

Pieter Brueghel the Elder or Jackson Pollock, depending on my mood

Ruth said...

Sanna, I have been thinking about just that this last week! I've been talking with a painter, and that subject came up. I imagine there have been some unhappy subjects over the years.

O - O - O

Laura, I wonder if there are classes, like you took recently for plein air, on portraiture?

O - O - O

Bob, that's a great one - Dali I think?

O - O - O

Loring, vast spectrum there, a bit surprised about the Brueghel, though I don't know why. Not so surprised about Pollock. Both brilliant.

Sharon said...

This is something I think about quite a bit........the struggle between my spontaneous self and my chosen self....that if you practice the Buddhist discipline of the eight fold path (ie right thoughts, etc) are you being true to yourself or is it ego and pretension to "strive" or "to be" more........and what is more important truth and honesty, or the idealism of who we wish we were. Is it just ego to want to be more wonderful, or more spiritual, or more earthy, than we really are? I don't have any answers. The only thing I know is that what I really want is to be loved and understood as is (sharp edges and all....). I mean it is easy to love people when they are their best selves but what about when they aren't????

What painting am I???
Alice Neel's
Mother and Child (Nancy and Olivia) A deer in the headlights!!! :)

Ruth said...

Sharon! Have you been listening to conversations in my head?? Goodnes gracious.

I looked up that painting. It's wonderful!! Love the olive green dress, and the eyes eyes eyes.

lolly said...

I no longer worry about how I look, and it shows! No, I'm not being flippant, just philosophical. But, then, I've never been concerned about what people think about me -- how I look, what I wear, too much makeup, not enough, shouldn't you be wearing stockings/high heels/boots, too much perfume, and so on! Phew! Life's too short for that, thank you! But, I understand where your coming from...take it easy. :O)

Ruth said...

Thanks, Lolly. Yeah, I'm not really talking about how I look either. More about the personal interaction stuff.

Ginnie said...

Now you've got me thinking, Ruth. What art work would I choose to represent me??? Hmmmm. That would be a fantastic homework assignment!

Gwen Buchanan said...

I agree with Violetsky ... I always Love to see how others interpret a given subject.. .. Always opens the eyes to see what they notice first or what seems the strongest detail to their minds... what represents the subject explicitly...

I don't think I can identify with any particular painting.... I guess I identify with the joy of being alive...

SwedeHart said...

That was cute! I wouldn't want to be quite that soft- too many croissants and cheese.

Ruth said...

Yes, that Boots, or what do you connect with. Does your mind go to a certain piece. What one piece in a museum in ALL YOUR WORLD TRAVELS stands out, makes your heart speed up?

O - O - O

Gwen, I picture studio art classes with the subject in the middle and students around the circle. Oh to see each work, and pull out the essence for themselves!

If you ever come up with a particular painting or sculpture that you relate to somehow, let me know.

O - O - O

Swedehart, hehe, good point. But I'm not really talking about how I look. It's about the inside.

jack said...


I believe both these woman committed suicide
after the deaths of the respective artists Picasso and Modigliani
Jeanne hebuterne story is tragic she was a gifted young artist
who was devoted to Modigliani?
she was eight months pregnant when she threw herself out of a
upper floor window – the child died with her

Modigliani created things of great beauty
and at times he resent the beauty of those close to him
his short life ended in sickness fuel by drug dependence and alcohol
yet there is no evidence of this in the paintings
because substances are mostly used by artists to get their mind
out of the way and perceived a different reality – and there is a price to pay – Pollack another


Bob Johnson said...


alek said...

seeing as you have presented this notion, i'm giving it some thought. my first impression is o Picasso any day and this:
i would offer as the alternative, not that i have anything against Modigliani, i am merely musing on the core of things [though please forget the film in this context - as good as it was]

alek said...

o why is this comment box so limited or myself so retarded that i cannot post a link

try that

Ruth said...

Jack, that makes me sad. All of it.

But still, it is what it is. You can't have the beauty without the pain in these cases apparently.

Ruth said...

Bob, I do that all the time with various works.

Ruth said...

Alek, I got to it, thank you, sorry for the hassle. Now that is very interesting. And are you offering girl pearl pour moi, au tu?