Tag Archives: art

In Praise of the Arts and Huge Manatees, or, Where’s My Job?

You can't be mad at me for leaving the blog for months, not if I bring you A UNICORN!!!

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

– Carl Sagan

Well, HELLO AGAIN, you fabulous unicorns of delight! I have been away from the bloggernet for a while. You might have assumed that I was gone for good, but in actual fact I was just busy slaying the Balrog in the depths of Moria. By ‘Balrog’, I mean ‘thesis’, and by ‘Moria’ I mean ‘the library’. Although both processes may result in an elderly man shouting ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’

Having recently staggered out of the university library after a long imprisonment*, pale and shaking, my thoughts turn once again to the Great Big Real Job In The Sky, to which all good PhD students hope to ascend if they are very good and commit no heinous sins, such as Chicago-style referencing, or citing Wikipedia as a source. Given that I’m in the final year of my socially and culturally invaluable doctorate (snort!), my thoughts have been turning to the GBRJ for some time now. And I conclude, after extensive empirical research, that there is no GBRJ and that all arts and humanities students are doomed – doomed! – to work either in call centres or, if we’re really really lucky, to become hipster baristas at the local artisanal-organic-cooperative coffee place. I’d like to offer a suggested revision to the well-known ‘Kids! Don’t do drugs!’ slogan: KIDS, DON’T DO HISTORY. OR LITERATURE, OR ART, OR PHILOSOPHY. If my predictions for the future are correct (based mostly upon Futurama and old episodes of The Jetsons), we’re all being replaced by robots and the Internet anyway. When machines inevitably rise up against humanity, you’ll find me making a valiant and glorious last stand in a library, fighting off hordes of malevolent Kindles while defiantly yelling out quotations from Pope and Balzac and Waugh. While Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice plays in the background. Continue reading


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Girls! Girls! Girls!

Female Nude - Amedeo Modigliani (1916)

I like naked ladies. There, I said it. I should qualify that, in the context of this post at least, I’m talking about naked ladies of the painted variety. Oil on canvas makes everything more socially acceptable, no? Take the lovely on the left – Amedeo Modigliani’s Female Nude (1916) – who currently resides on my bedroom wall in print form (and in the Courtauld in her original state). It’s a beautiful painting; one of my favourites, in fact. I love the peaceful look on the woman’s face, and her relaxed posture. The fact that she’s nude is secondary to that air of relaxation, and yet at the same time it’s integral to the painting’s intimacy and naturalness.

It occurred to me recently, while dragging someone round a gallery, that most of the paintings that I pointed out as ‘favourites’ focused upon the female nude as their primary subject. That’s quite a disconcerting conclusion for a female (and feminist) art historian to reach, given the connotations of patriarchal dominance and sexual objectification inherent in the idea of the naked woman painted by the male artist.

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On Miró and Meaning: A Review

Blue II - Joan Miró (1961) © Successió Miró

I recently saw the new Miró retrospective at the Tate Modern in London (for free, thanks to a friend who works there – thank you S!). Despite the exhibition focusing on an artist whose work – 20th century Surrealism – couldn’t be further from my own research on 18th century engravings, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that Miró’s oeuvre essentially raises the same questions that I am trying to work through in my thesis. Namely, from where or what the ‘meaning’ in an image is derived, and how does the process of interpreting that meaning work for the individual viewer?

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Hot Dead Dudes

I seem to be somewhat addicted to list-making recently. Keeping with the theme of light-hearted posts, I present to you a list of my top historical crushes, or Hot Dead Dudes. Arbitrary and ever-so-slightly shallow, a list of HDD is a must for any heteronormative female history nerd. And remember, ladies – dead dudes can’t dump you!

#1 Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794)

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Do oranges feel pain?

Technically, I started this blog with the intention of writing insightful mini-essays on art, culture and the odd bit of omphaloskepsis* to keep my loyal minions educated and entertained. That said, I don’t really feel like writing anything personal or profound at the moment, primarily because I don’t like to write things out until I’ve really processed them in my mind. There’s a lot of extraneous crap going on at the moment in Owl of Derision’s nest (owls have nests, right?), and I’d rather not inflict it upon you until I’ve dealt with all the emotional angst and can filter my thoughts through my normal medium of deadpan verbosity. So today, a treat for you all. Instead of an essay with Big Words, I present to you a List Of Things I Enjoy For Whatever Reason (LOTIEFWR). Like the ragged and malnourished inhabitants of a Victorian workhouse after being allowed a dollop of  jam on their gruel to celebrate the Royal Jubilee, you will undoubtedly regard this as a rare and exquisite experience, to be remembered every night as you lie, fitfully dreaming, on your plank-and-straw mattress in the draughty garret.

Hmm. I digress. Without further ado (apart from pausing to say ‘Without further ado’), my LOTIEFWR:

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