Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Stuff: "Art" is just the last three letters of "Holy moley! That dude's head is falling apart!"

Okay, okay. I'd feel a lit bit like Count Floyd trying to convince you that today's entry was scary.

'Cause, let's be honest, we're going to be talking about the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That's right, boys and girls. The macabre Met. Very scary, kids.

Seriously though, they've currently got a couple of boss exhibits up for those with a soft spot for the spooky, so I thought I'd drop the dime and let y'all in on them. Besides, the price is right. All day, everyday, pay what you want.

First, head to the drawings and prints display on the second floor, just left of the main staircase.

In 1875, the French poet Mallarme managed to snag Édouard Manet as the illustrator for his translation of Poe's "The Raven," from which the above appears. If you're in NYC, you can currently see the original illustrations on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For those who can't make the trip, you can find the images posted up at the Poe Stories site.

While you're getting all culturified, also check out the Met's Raqib Shaw exhibit.

From the Met's catalog copy:

Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta in 1974 but spent much of his youth in Kashmir, where he was indelibly influenced by the distinctive medley of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian cultures. In 2001 he enrolled at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, where he now resides. In 2006 the Tate invited Shaw to create works in response to the exhibition "Holbein in England," and until this summer Hans Holbein the Younger (ca. 1497–1543) has ruled Shaw's imaginative world in which creatures both natural and fantastic romp amid architectural settings based on Holbein's designs for jewelry, stained glass, and book illustrations. Shaw also reinterpreted some of Holbein's portraits of English sitters, retaining their late medieval costumes but replacing their bodies with monsters.

Shaw's technique, a unique mixed media approach he adapted from silk-making methods (his family's money comes from silk import/exports), isn't easy to show in 2D pictures. He uses a mixture of inks, paints, and collage techniques, often with reflective, glassy materials, that gives his stuff a edge of creepy insane innocence – part art therapy exorcism, part teen-girl arts and crafts project. Not that there's anything amateur about it. It's odd mix of awkwardness and deliberate repulsiveness is pretty finely tuned. The child-like colors, shiny materials, and free flowing lines pull you in before you can focus on the often grim and gory subject matter.

Included in the Shaw exhibit are some of Holbein's "Dance of Death" engravings:

Holbein's fame throughout Europe was further spread by his set of forty-one miniature wood engravings, The Dance of Death (ca. 1526, published 1538). In these macabre vignettes, Holbein shows that no human being, no matter how exalted, can escape the grip of death. Holbein mocked the vanity of mortals, but the ever-present plague lent urgency to his message. The violence of Holbein's vision retains its ability to shock—a reminder that sensationalist imagery is not unique to our times.

You can find the whole cycle online at, oddly enough, Gode Cookery, your one stop shop for all your Dark Age ye olde cooking info and plague art needs.

There, wasn't that scary kids? ooooOOOOOooooo. Next week: 3D House of Stewardess


Tenebrous Kate said...

Hooray for creepy art! I will definitely make it a point to check these out. Excellent recommendation, Count CRWM!

Unrelated: My word verification is "orksub," which might be the nerdiest verification I've gotten yet. Also, it's kinda thought-provoking.

spacejack said...

Manet illustrated a translation of The Raven? I should probably be embarrassed I didn't know that.

I should really visit New York again sometime, at least to see some galleries. IllustrationArt occasionally mentions an illustration gallery in NY that I'd like to see - we don't really have anything like that here as far as I know.

In the meantime, I should probably check out our newly renovated AGO...

whoissecretdubai said...


A humble request...

Do you, by any chance, happen to know who Secret Dubai (the blogger: is?

CRwM said...


Have you checked on Bill? Long hair, blue car, lives with his mom. You know? Picks up shifts at the 5th Ave deli when he feels like working. I bet he knows who your talking about. He knows everybody.

Sasquatchan said...

whois seems to be asking that a lot.. And not getting a good response..

I'm curious why he thinks a horror related blog would have anything to do with a female Abu Duabi blogger..

OCKerouac said...

Once again, New York proves it's better than everywhere else. You truely live in a grand and wonderful place.

All I have is 80 degree days in December... I'd gladly accept the cold in exchange for some culture...

sexy said...
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