Plastic Buckets at the Museum (and other fragments)

Entering a museum on a rainy day, one feels confident to find shelter from both pouring rain and crushing banality. There’ s even nothing like rain pelting down on a majestic glass roof to heighten one’s spiritual concentration while contemplating, say, a formidable Rubens panel.
Unless... unless in front of aforementioned panel stand two plastic buckets. drip ..... drop...... drip...drop. One anxiously searches the glass expanse far above, feeling slightly vertiginous – as if one were a perilously falling drop.

Vertigo too, gazing into the depths of grief and compassion in that Van Der Weyden pieta.
This still yet ardent scene of grief, set against a startling sunset.
Maria desperately clutching her dead son – St John, with red-rimmed eyes, supporting both Maria and Jesus’ dead body - at some distance, the Magdalene rapt with quiet grief.
Not intended as a blasphemous remark, but this painting gives me a vertiginous sense of god-forsakenness ... , redeemed only by the sheer intensity of human compassion.

Intensity – is that what distinguishes Zadkine’s expressionist cubism from its more formalist cubist peers?
An anthropomorphic statue symbolizing a bombed out city ... Reality shot to pieces, shattered – and yet there’s an inexplicable solidity to this cubist re-assembly of fragments. As if geometry and verticality combine to offer a tangible structure to hold on to.
“Perhaps given the material’s aspiration for permanence, the best subject for a monument is indeed destruction” (1)

The next day, no apocalyptic rains to drive me into a museum. And the light (“but this light, oh Jesus Christ! this light!”(2)) dispelled all melancholy thoughts I may have had.
No more futile craving for permanence, no more vertigo, even not while blinking at the brilliant fleetingness of the October light.
It’s enough, more than enough, this slanting light, and the long shadows of a cyclist wheezing by.

(1) Joseph Brodsky – Homage to Marcus Aurelius
in all its haphazardness, even an as fragmented life of the mind as mine can spawn its deeply satisfying correspondences: on the very same day that I happened to chance upon the Zadkine statue at the museum, I was reading a completely unrelated Brodsky-essay in which this brilliant insight about sculpture, referring to precisely Zadkine (!), turned up.
(2) William Bronk – Where It Ends (finder’s credits for Bronk poems and heartfelt thanks go to A! )


Roxana said...

because you mention Bronk, and because it seems fitting in the context of your post (thinking about god-forsakenness and human nature) i am offering these lines, that i love very much

With eyes on something we can't see, we try
for an order true to it, an order we know
isn't true and can't last, as we know that neither can we.

Swann Ffflaneur said...

thank you Roxana, for these 3 lines summing up our vain striving & longing & our transience & our awareness of it all.

Anonymous said...

Die Van der Weyden Pietà - je hebt een link toegevoegd naar een goede digitale afbeelding, en toch geeft die niets mee van de impact die het werkje heeft wanneer je er zelf voor staat. Een van de aangrijpendste schilderijen van Van der Weyden voor mij.

Swann Ffflaneur said...

ja, zo is dat, Leen. deze foto is inderdaad maar een 'afbeelding' (en doet zelfs bijna kitscherig aan) terwijl het schilderij een aangrijpende aanwezigheid is. (ik heb trouwens nooit die redenering begrepen volgens dewelke de fotografie verantwoordelijk is voor het 'einde van de schilderkunst' - een schilderij is toch van een andere orde dan een foto)