Thursday, 29 May 2014

Mythology of the EPA Building: Gods, Nudity, and Animal Furniture

The Environmental Protection Agency: that bastion of protecting the land, water, and air, insofar as it is not more profitable to do otherwise.  It turns out their building is pretty dramatic, too.  It’s not so much green as it is “hulking stone.”  Now you, too, can experience its wonder and majesty through the power of my crummy photography.

A series of faces lines the border of the building.  Some of them seem to be related to crops, like this corn-lord….
With a face that says, if you try to turn me into high fructose corn syrup one more time, I will ram my cob up some orifices you will find unpleasant

Or his girlfriend, the Dame of Wheat.
Part Harvest Goddess, part Princess Leia, all vacant eyes that will steal your soul

Some of them are more concerned with animals.  Here a man with epic facial hair wears a stylish lion hoodie.
Lions: No. 1 Animal Concern in the U.S.

Or this man, who is adorned with…I want to say an angry Bulbasaur.
Did you know that due to their popularity in bloodsports, the Pokemon is a highly endangered species?

There are more detailed vignettes adorning the top of the building, that almost invariably involve naked people using large animals as lounge chairs.

You can lounge naked on a bull.

Or on a horse. Perhaps you would enjoy having an eagle stroke your rod while doing so.

My personal favorite is this lady lounging on a hippocampus, a.k.a. mer-horse.

Note the creature’s shocked and indignant expression as she gently caresses his tail.
I say, madam!  Some decency, please.

The dolphins are getting the heck out of dodge before things get out of hand.

The central image combines these elements and more: naked bull lounging, naked horse lounging, an eagle eying up a torch for nuzzling potential, a half-dressed lady ready to start some forest fires, and a naked male that is either a dwarf or an extremely well-developed young boy.  

Perhaps the latter highlights the benefits of overconsumption of hormones in food and water?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Return of the Review: Weirdos in the Wings Edition

Welcome to part two of the two-part series “Madonna and Baby Jesus” as found at the National Gallery of Art in DC.  This time, it’s all about the entourage of onlookers.  After all, when your hobby is standing around staring at a mother and baby all day, you’re probably a little eccentric.  Once again, all of these images are available in high res at the gallery website.
Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome and Saint Bernardo of Siena – Benvenuto di Giovanni, c. 1480/1485

My first thought on seeing this was that it had an adorable little girl with Mary.  However, my second observation on the full size version in person was Holy moly, look at St. Jerome’s luscious eyelashes!
Maybe he’s born with it….

I realize that I have trained myself to look for weird things, but seriously, they are way more defined than anyone else, including Mary.  Did St. Jerome have a secret in his closet?  Was his inclusion in the painting sponsored by Maybelline? 

My third thought was that Jesus seems to have fallen in with the pipe plants from Super Mario Brothers at a very young age.
Pomegranates: Downfall of Italians since 1480

Moving on to other quirky saints…
Madonna and Child with Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Sigismund – Neroccio de’ Landi, c. 1490/1495

Besides the fact that St. Sigismund looks like he belongs in the most flamboyant of the Hogwarts houses, the main reason this is here is because I love St. Anthony’s adorable pig. 

There are various theories why St. Anthony was often depicted with pigs.  Some legends have it that he was a swineherd before he became a saint.  Maybe it’s a holy pig.  Or an angel pig!  It’s just keeping its wings hidden because if it were to fly, it would make a lot of uncreative swearers unhappy. 

Some angels and saints just have better things to do than gawking at babies.
Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels – Bernardo Daddi, 1330s

Big entourage here.  A lot of really ostentatious halos blocking the view for people in the back.  Down front, a couple of angels desperately try to entertain their infant god…
Quick! How do you play the Teletubbies theme again?

…but he is far more interested in a bird someone is offering him, as he has a demonstrated interest in mauling small fowl with his bare baby fist.
I’m crushing your head!

But at least some of the crowd are making their own entertainment.
He he. Hehehe.

This lady is way more interested in tooting her own horn than in paying attention to babies.  And from the snicker her friend is giving her, I assume she is just using it to make fart noises.

Finally, I leave you with this.
Madonna and Child with Angels – Sandro Botticelli (attributed), 1465/1470

Two observations:

  • Jesus has no neck.
  •  Those angels would rather be doing anything else.

Holy crap…not ANOTHER diaper…

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Return of the Review: Now With More Creepy Babies

Dear readers, as you may or may not have noticed, I disappeared for a little while.  

Ok, so maybe it was almost a year. 

But my excuse is that in that time I finished writing a book, got married, traveled for a month, moved to another continent, and started a new job.  Please forgive my tardiness, and rest assured that I am BACK, with a renewed vigor for mocking inconsequential details in artwork made by people far more talented and popular (and usually dead) than me.  

Having read some feedback suggesting that dark backgrounds make some potential readers uncomfortable, I have also changed the look of the site a bit.  I thought that perhaps a nice light blue theme would soothe visitors before showing them depictions of mythical swan seduction and naked people being devoured by demon birds.  

My last entry focused on paintings from the National Gallery of Art in DC.  As it happens, I have now visited the gallery in person, and it turns out they have way more than just awkward American portraits.  They have awkward paintings of everything.  Thus, I am relaunching this blog with a two-part series of paintings of Madonna and Baby Jesus found at the NGA: the first will focus on images in which the holy duo is in some way a little….odd, and the second will look at some of the weird groupies that seemed to hang around with Madonna and Baby Jesus when they were posing for a painting (which was apparently all they did between baby ages 0-10).  You can find all of these images in their online repository.

We’ll start with Mafia Madonna.

Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome and Saint John the Baptist - Cima da Conegliano, c. 1459-1517 or 1518

I quite like the technical execution of this work.  But my first thought on seeing Momma’s face was, “If I mess with her baby, I will wake up to find a horse head in my bed.”  Even Baby Jesus looks like he’s about to deal with St. Jerome’s stuttering excuses with a cool, calculated measurement for new concrete shoes.
It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

Next up: Seizure Baby Jesus.
The Virgin Adoring the Child - Sandro Botticell, c. 1480-1490

Allegedly Mary is adoring her baby here, but frankly I think she’s posed to defend herself from a child who is showing signs of contorting and clawing for brains in early-onset zombie-itis.
He does come back from the dead eventually…

This leads us straight into Possibly-A-Cadaver Baby Jesus.

Madonna and Child Enthroned With Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Domenico di Bartolo, c. 1430

Seriously.  That baby is not a healthy color. If it weren’t for his smooth features, I would have taken him for a shriveled centenarian.
Or maybe it’s greyscale?

Also, I think that Saint Peter should get that lazy eye seen to. 

Poor Saint Paul’s male pattern baldness has left him susceptible to forehead tarantulas, as well.

Sometimes, instead of being tiny and shriveled, Baby Jesus is a ginormous monster.

The Adoration of the Child – Filippino Lippi, c. 1475-1480

I do not understand how Mary survived the labor.  Although given her hands, and the fact that she seems to be kneeling, maybe he gets his big-boned-ness from his mother.  And the angel has a shrunken skull.

And now, for Animal Sacrifice Jesus.

Madonna Enthroned with Saints – Puccio di Simone and Allegretto Nuzi, c. 1354

At least the baby is not obviously deformed in this painting.  However, upon closer inspection he appears to be choking a bird while wearing a tribal necklace.  
Who’s a cute little animal mauler?  YOU are!  Yes you are!

These symbols appears in a number of works: the bird is a finch, to represent his future sacrifice, and the necklace is coral, to protect against evil.  I guess he must have lost that necklace when, you know, he was later betrayed and murdered.  Maybe it was because of his animal strangling hobby.

Sometimes, Baby Jesus is depicted as like someone I would not want to leave my own children alone with.
Madonna and Child – Domenico Veneziano, c. 1445/1450

He looks like he’s either going to have his way with all the women, or make you a terrible deal on a used car, all before he’s been potty trained.

Now, I leave you with this statue.
Madonna and Child with Two Angels - Verona, 14th Century

Mary and Clearly-Not-A-Baby Jesus will DEVOUR YOUR SOUL.

Sleep well!