Tuesday, August 12, 2003


it was one thing to watch Robert Hughes' thinking out loud about Goya last night:
Contemplating Goya's famously explicit nude Naked Maja, for example, Hughes makes proper tribute to its aesthetic qualities before quickly cutting to the chase. What the painting really provokes is "unmitigated lust" and the desire to "hop in there like a bee hopping into a peony and have a wonderful afternoon".
A particulary delicious metaphor.
"Well, I'm afraid it's a steal from a 17th-century Japanese haiku by Basho. Something like: 'Into a peony creeps a bee. Ecstasy.' "

Visceral or not - there was something bordering on the sleaze here. Maybe art is essentially sleazy, who knows. However boynton had to leave the room and do the dishes when it got onto bullfighting, and those who might oppose it being labelled "self-appointed humanitarians" Hughes obviously endorses this ecstasy or death in the afternoon, but here is a self-appointed humanitarian link that gives a counter view.

Comments: bull

AND he endorsed "fox hunting" in the same breath as bullfighting! Like:
"I'm a man who stands by his 'bloodsports' - as well as having a soft underbelly..."
Posted by Nora at August 12, 2003 05:33 PM

Wonder what his take is on bear and/or bull baiting? Lucky no 'crazy genius' mythologized these and other sports I guess.
Posted by boynton at August 12, 2003 07:03 PM

What did you make of the war images?

Do you think that Goya is an exception to the Susan Sontag's charge in her Regarding the Pain of Others (see junk for code) that:

tormented mutilated bodies arouse a prurient interest;

images that display the violation of an attractive body are, to a certain degree, pornographic.

I would be interested in a response as I'm struggling with this on my ongoing commentary on Sontag's book at junk for code. I've got a bit stuck.
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at August 12, 2003 07:09 PM

I'm of the opinion that anything can at any time be considered pornographic by anyone, depending upon their particular turn of mind. Whether Goya's [i]Desastres[/i] constitute something pornographic is, therefore, probably in the eye of the beholder.

boynton, I'm with you on the sleaze factor. I was watching that documentary too and was rather stunned by the scene with the nude maja. I mean, if Hughes has some fantasy about fucking the girl, that's up to him. I'm just not sure I want to hear about it in an arts documentary like that. I tend to agree also with whoever said on Critical Mass afterwards that the film was more about Hughes than Goya. All critical work is about the critic as much as the thing being critiqued, of course, but this definitely had more of Hughes in it than old Francisco.
Posted by James Russell at August 12, 2003 07:48 PM

Obviously those italics tags are completely wrong. Must remember: square brackets only on UBB-powered message boards, not people's comments boxes...
Posted by James Russell at August 12, 2003 07:52 PM

Gary - Goya's war images still shock. It is the human scale and drama in the tableau that makes the horror seem raw, the choreography of the close up. Hughes was able to reveal the inherent despair of the images too. He said something like - "I can't look without wanting to weep."
Sometimes to be party to such raw pain does create that ambivalnece of voyeurism.
I saw your post today, Gary, and recoiled slightly myself at the complicity of the gaze - rubber-necking hell. But the discussion of the general brutality of war is compelling.
btw "This Public Address" has recently been posting on some related themes.

James - it was almost satire - wasn't it? - but it didn't work on that level either. It was a bit like - you know, the death of "civilisation" (in the Kenneth Clarke sense of the word") to see Hughes suddenly channel Pete and Dud.
Ogling is never good TV.
And sorry about the lack of html. Still haven't enabled it. Was worried about being hacked!
(Now I'd welcome such interest.)
Posted by boynton at August 12, 2003 09:51 PM

No comments: