Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Time for Bosch

I love how you all waited for me to come back! ;)

This is what I wrote yesterday:

I am not a happy girl right now. I got turned down for something I think I'd enjoy, which
you can read about here. It will open in a new window.

[Edit: This morning I called for a CV analysis. A few minor changes to make, but if I really want help I'd have to pay them to write it professionally for me. ]


I've been promising Steli I'd do a post on Hieronymus Bosch, the Flemish Gothic surrealist. It started because I said something about Herr Bosch being the Dali of the middle ages, somewhere on his blog.

Then I think it was a sign that last night I stayed up till 3am watching the documentary on Bosch that I had missed twice in as many weeks.

So here it is. And bye bye Google.

Bosch's given name was Jeroen van Aken, meaning the family originated in Aachen. The van Akens were all successful painters with a thriving workshop in 's-Hertogenbosch (in southern Holland today). He was born in about 1450 and died in 1516, and is thought to be the weirdest artist in the history of European art.
When he became a successful and respected painter, he took the name of Bosch, to identify where he lived.

He married the daughter of a rich burgher (I think?) but whoever she was, moved him from the sphere of craftsmen into the realm of high society. He lived in a great townhouse in the best square in 's Hertogenbosch.

Bosch did what had never been done before by moving marginalia into the centre of the picture. In reference to illuminated manuscripts, marginalia are the grotesque images and scenes in the margins of - in this instance - prayer books. Almost as if church goers were allowed to be distracted in the middle of devotions. Another source were the grotesque figures carved into the choir and painted on the columns - and there are a lot of these at the cathedral in 's Hertogenbosch.

(I can't find a decent pic of any.)
He painted what no human eye had seen before; he turned reality on its head. In his obsession with demons, machines, giant insects and unnatural human-monster hybrids, he materialised the fears and superstitions of medieval society. Bizarre.
He celebrated human weakness, frailty, sinfulness, wickedness. He stressed punishment and damnation. Not for him any nobility or redemption.

Some say his obsession with hell originated in the devastating fire which destroyed part of his hometown, and which he witnessed as an impressionable boy.

One of his most avid collectors was Philip II of Spain, who kept Bosch's works closest to him, of all his collection. They are still to be found in the Quirinal, and also a rich collection is housed in the Prado in Madrid.

Bosch was a contemporary of Leonardo, and one could not find two men at more polar opposites of artistic ideology.
(Ooh did you like my phrase?)

Yet, as surreal as his work seems, it has a sort of weird reality and never really broke the rules of nature as Dali's visions did.

Two of his most famous works are today in the Quirinal and the Prado:

A giant detailed full-screen treat:
The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych
consisting of three panels: Garden of Eden (l), The World Before the Flood (c), Hell (r).

It was a challenge choosing which odd detail to show you, but here is one from the Hell panel:

The Tree Man is a sort of Adam. He looks directly across the central panel and his gaze connects with Eve's in the Garden of Eden.

The odd tabletop Seven Deadly Sins. The inscription in the "pupil of the eye" reads: Cave cave deus vedit (Beware beware God sees)

(I can't read the other inscriptions!)


Steliano Ponticos said...

It is hard to beleive the first one (the detail) is from the renaissance, its really so different from its period, not only in theme -as you said its not that different it just draws on superstition from its time- but also technique...I mean look at how the ear is painted or even the face and compare that to renaissance drawings!

this was very very special and interesting and this bosch guy is crazy. thanks ++++

Steliano Ponticos said...

and I could not find a phrase at more polar opposites. its really nic

Steliano Ponticos said...

e (forgot the e)

Olivia said...

I'm glad you were my first commentr.




Oh yes, you mention technique. I didn't write about his brushstrokes.

Most painters of the Middle Ages finished their paintings with a smooth surface to dissociate the creation from the hand of man. (Not sure how to phrase it.)

Bosch, ever different, left his surfaces ahead of his time, eh?

StarCorner said...

Hello - I like your other new blog!!

Jia Li said...

I love that little saying libbs...polar opp.

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Steliano Ponticos said...

exactly, eh? (I love to say eh, eh?) I was not sure how to put it but his brushstrocke is clearly very different from his contemporarys, and it does remind some Dali paintings,,

btw..I couldn't tell which were exactly which among the 7 sins?

Rebecca said...

When we studied Bosch in high school we talked a lot about his alchemy, and about how every single thing in his painting is a scientific formula. With the egg as the representation of the world, or something.
He was trying to find the elixir of life!

Then we all spent a couple days deciphering The Garden of Earthly Delights over lunch.

Steliano Ponticos said...

rebecca what are some other symbols, besides the egg? :) grazie

Olivia said...

Steli - Eh? I was practising in case I have to move to Canada.

I have a problem identifying the sins too. The pictures and the lettering are too small!!!

Rebecca - even the docu I watched last night (yes, another!) didn't mention his alchemy. Everyone keeps talking about what an enigma he is, and they even decided to *prove* that he existed by looking up the record of his death on the books of the exclusive Brotherhood of the Swan (of which he was a member).

I would love to spend a bit of time studying that painting too.

Rox said...

Hey Olivia, I read your other blog and I so feel for you believe me. I know exactly what it's like. It sucks! I also know what its like about the dating thing. It sucks being single if not by choice. And not having a job kinda also means less opportunity to meet new ppl doesn’t it. So it all ties together. Am so sorry :o(.
Loved your Bosch post though and must take out my art books and look him up. Bummer I missed the docu, didn't even see it. Was at Ikea till 10 and after 12 we had to watch the final ep of the 5th season of the Sopranos. Do you know if the docu is going to be repeated again?
Btw what did you do to obtain an NI number? I tried and they are being very difficult about it since I have no employment contract to show. I thought I could maybe be self-employed and try and do something on my own but uh I guess not. I would be very grateful for any suggestions. Hope you feel better soon!

Olivia said...

Rox - I am better thank you :)

You really need an NI number in order to work here. I had no problem getting one, since I'm a returning citizen with a UK passport anyway, but as you are not, perhaps they want to know you can support yourself...and that's not fair for so many reasons I won't go into, but most importantly because you are an EU citizen, aren't you?

What a dilemma. Sorry I can't give you the magical suggestion that will make it all happen :(

(Oh, I know: get married!)

P.S. The documentary was already a repeat, on at about 2am.

Rox said...

Glad you feel better. Yeah I have my French passport. Thankfully I refused to give it up back then when I also became Swiss. Although now working here being Swiss isnt a problem anymore either. But that is recent. Last job I had in this country I was made redundant in a company restructure a WEEK before the probation period was over. Last to come, first to go. GRRR. So they only supplied me with a temporary NI number then. Bummer! When I called the NI number ppl they said to apply for an NI number I need to show a work contract. But I know many places won’t even give you a contract without an NI number. It's a vicious circle. Sigh.

Leilouta said...

Wow! I was not familiar with Bosch's work. I learned a lot about Arts since I start reading your blog :)

Steliano Ponticos said...

eh? canada. Look, the one at the bottom is ira, like anger or something?!! and right at the top is la gourmandise..

Steliano Ponticos said...

Ok, I understood what all the sins were but now i can't see the picture..

Rebecca said...

The problem is I don't remember at all. This was 8 years ago!

I'll be in Lugano in a couple weeks and if I go by my parents' house I can take a look, I think I know where my old art history books are. The naked man and woman are some pure element, and the red triangular thing is a furnace, that's all I remember.

I know, I was surprised to always hear so little about the scientific side of his work since. I'll ask some old high school chums, they may remember more.

Steliano Ponticos said...

thanks a lot rebecca, that's cool.

Olivia said...

Rox - I nearly said the very same thing about unemployability without a number and it being a vicious cycle!
I hope you find a solution soon.

Leilouta - I am glad to be of service, Madame :)

Rebecca - oooooooh, we look forward to that. And be sure and put it on your blog so I can link to you.
Some of us call that collaborative blogging.
(Don't we Steli and Jia Li?)

Steli - OK OK...It is still daylight so this will be easier - I have squinted and frowned and screwed up my eyes - ahem - and armed with a list I've identified the sins, clockwise from the top:

1. gula (gluttony)
2. acedia (sloth)
3. luxuria (extravagance, later lust)
4. superbia (hubris/pride)
5. ira (wrath)
6. invidia (envy)
7. avaritia (avarice/greed)

Anonymous said...

I would have never guessed the period from which this painting is from. unbelievable!!!

Very well written explanatory. thanks for sharing.


Steliano Ponticos said...

so that the girl with a strange thing on her head that looks like a lamp is superbia. i would have called that clumsynia or something.

Yes collaborative blogging +)

Anonymous said...

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