Haven’t we always had a love affair with Georgia O’keefe, even as we admired her from afar and the elegant surreal life she led so well interplayed on the canvases with swirls and convocated innocence? The simplicity of her work, the caresses of paint strokes on canvas, conveyed what we all felt, what we all knew, what we all failed to congeal and fabricate. The marvelosity of O’Keefe’s work was her ability to convey the massiveness of the weight of one soul and how an overly gracious endowment of spatial perception in the vastness of places like Paulo Duro Canyon immortalized her in the Modernist Abstract Movement.
When I could scarce afford rent, I bought art. It was always a commodity investment in beauty, one a true Libran would never be lacking, or abide without its’ warmth. While I could not afford an O’Keefe, I could afford a Rominger, an art teacher friend’s work in oils, watercolor, silkscreening. O’keefe would have approved.
O’Keefe’s work began in earnest from 1917 through the late 20’s and as her popularity grew on the NYC art scene, she began to seek solace in lost and isolated landscapes “far from the madding crowd,.” The background of WWI hovered, festered and languished, the unforgiving political “infractions” surrounding the often quoted poetry of Gertrude Stein, the works of Ezra Pound and the https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2011/10/gertrude-stein-and-the-modernism-fascism-nexus. She earnestly sought relief and found her reclusivity in the uncompromising beauty of the natural world.
I mention all this not just in passing but due to long understood developmental resentments relevant to all art lovers, who really just want to paint without the derision of critics. Now, we revisit the 20’s and never before seen works of O-Keefe are about to go on the market. I though surely, you dear reader, would relish these private moments before her personal life is so cast to the winds, pandered about like wintry leaves cast adrift. Now, prying eyes can even see her marriage certificate and likely even more intimate details of her life courtesy of Sotheby’s and her most trusted friends and heirs.
Since first seeing this work, decades ago, I’ve never been able to look at the skeletons of animals the same way. She gave glory to the afterlife, a still-life presence in death and a marked entrance to the ethereal here after in a way few artists have ever done.
Out of sheer joy in the art of Picasso, (and as an owner of a signed work on paper, think “Corrida” ) you might say I’m an aficionado…but I was very disappointed in the sheer commercialism towards the end of his life, undoubtedly promoted by family. I enjoyed this comment from an artsy fartsy newsletter I follow by one of its’ contributors Tim Schneider.
I have never met Mr. Schneider but was relieved in a sense to know the gravitational repulsion away from these ceramic plates were not just a cosmic reaction to what looked to me to be perfectly capable flying ceramic smiling disk frisbees, but was truly a rejection of crass commercialism. The photos below are my own. I so objected to these ceramic plates I failed to take a photo or any photos of them. So alas, I can not present them here. The photos below are my own. la
Pablo Picasso’s Ceramic Plates
at the Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Reader, I laughed so hard that all the photos I tried to take at the time were too blurry to use. To me, the only real value in these pieces is as cautionary tales. They are vivid reminders that even the most colossal talents can churn out ridiculous dreck, and it’s on all of us to look past the creator’s reputation and call it like it is.
Offsetting a number of genuinely compelling works on view at the Museu Picasso this January was a gallery centered on a large vitrine full of the artist’s ceramic plates, each one featuring some variation on… an enormous smiley face. Sun smileys! Painted smileys! Embossed smileys! All displayed solemnly under glass inside an ornate Gothic interior alongside a dedicated security guard as if they were the pinnacle of artistic achievement.
Photos by & property of the Author, L. A. Chancey, all copyrights acknowledged.
Above the Gothic styled room in which the ceramic plates were lying behind protective glass cabinetry. The lack of continuing this paltry public display is sufficient to offset shock at seeing such crassness.
Vienna is immersed in a world of art, art history and living art. The city itself is a living, breathing memorial to life and art, well lived and well expressed. Being in Vienna is like being in a living painting, reflective of all the beauty, expressive light, aura of civility as humankind only dreamt of in its’ infancy. One can only hope to walk the streets of Vienna once in a lifetime and to live in Vienna is only a premise upon which to base all expectations.
Vienna is so rich in art, culture, history of the European race and psyche, no one can challenge it’s supremacy amongst European capitals the world over or few capitals anywhere in the world of any genetic heritage. How can such a Capital improve in the future? By looking into its’ past, as renovations in its’ many culturally significant buildings are under constant maintenance and preservation, on occasion something magnificent arises out of the layers of time.
A recently discovered work by Durër was found on a wall in the gift shop of St. Stephen’s Cathedral believed to be the handiwork of the great Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer.
The underdrawing in this painting of St. Margaret at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, is likely the work of Albrecht Dürer. Photo © Dombauhütte zu St Stephan and can be seen here:
Language is modified through use or the lack thereof. How many of these terms have you ever heard? Did your grandparents speak these terms? Most are now archaic,* but you could start a language revolution by reintroducing them into common speech with your friends. As turbulent as life has become, I’ll just bet there’s at least one term you could apply to someone in your life, who recently has performed utter treachery? Mais oui c’est clair.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/archaicArchaic definition is – having the characteristics of the language of the past and surviving chiefly in specialized uses.
1. Abaddon: This term dates to circa 1810-80 and means “a thief who informs on his fellow rogues.” It comes from the Hebrew abaddon, a destroyer.
2. Bark: Similar to “to squeak” and “to squeal,” bark, as defined by the 1889 glossary Police!, meant “to inform (to the police).” It was obsolete by 1930.
3. Beefer: In the 1899 glossary Tramping with Tramps, Josiah Flynt writes that a beefer is “One who squeals on, or gives away, a tramp or criminal.” By the 1930s, the word—American in origin—had moved from tramps to become slang for police and journalists, according to Partridge.
4. Bleat: Lambs aren’t the only ones who do this. When informants bleat, they give information to the police. Partridge cites November 8, 1836’s The Individual: “Ven I’m corned, I can gammon a gentry cove, Come the fawney-rig, the figging-lay, and never vish to bleat.” The term was obsolete in Britain by 1890, but as of 1920 was a current slang term in the U.S.
5. Blobber: According to Henry Leverage’s “Dictionary of the Underworld” from Flynn’s magazine, this is an American term for an informer from early 1925.
6. Blue: A verb meaning “to blew it; to inform (to the police),” according to the H. Brandon’s 1839 book Poverty, Mendicity and Crime, and J.C. Hotten’s The Slang Dictionary from 1859. It was common slang by 1890, as noted in Farmer & Henley’s Slang and its Analogues.
7. Cabbage Hat: A mostly Pacific Coast term for an informer, circa 1910; a rhyming on rat, according to D.W. Mauer and Sidney J. Baker’s “‘Australian’ Rhyming Argot in the American Underworld,” which appeared in American Speech in October 1944.
8. Chrysler: A punny reference (of American origin) to Chrysler cars meaning “a squealer; a traitor; a coward,” “Dictionary of the Underworld.”
9. Cocked Hat: Another Pacific Coast rhyme on rat, circa 1910, that means “informer to the police.”
10. Come Copper: A 1905 term for someone who gave information to the police.
11. Come it / Come it as strong as a horse: Come it (or, verbally, coming it) dates back to 1812, and means to be an informer. “Come it strong” meant to do a thing vigorously, and according to Egan’s Grouse in 1823, “They say of a thief, who has turned evidence against his accomplices, that he is coming all he knows, or that he comes it as strong as a horse.“
12. Conk: As a noun, conk dates back to the early 1800s and means “a thief who impeaches his accomplices; a spy; informer, or tell tale.” As a verb, it means to inform to the police, and was often verbally called “conking it.” Conk was obsolete by 1900.
13. Dropper Man: An Australian term, circa 1910, for a habitual informer to the police. “A man that drops information; also, he causes men to ‘drop’ or ‘fall’ (be arrested),” notes Sidney J. Baker in 1945’s The Australian Language.
14. Finger Louse: This American term, dating back to the 1930s, is an elaboration of finger, meaning to take the fingerprints of a person.
15. Fizgig / Fizzgig: This slang term for an informer, circa 1910, may have derived from fizgig, Australian for “fishing spear.” “Often shorted to fiz(z),” Partridge writes. “By contemptuous euphemism; not unrelated to thingamyjig.”
16. Grass: This word—short for grasshopper (circa 1920), rhyming on copper—dates back to the 1930s. “Come grass” is also used to describe someone who informs to the police.
17. Knock-Down: Giving information to police, circa 1910.
18. Lemon: A 1934 American term meaning “one who turns State’s evidence” because he has “turn[ed] sour on his confederates.”
19. Narking Dues: Partridge says this British phrase is “used when someone has been, or is, laying information with the police.” It appeared in 1896’s A Child of the Jago:
Presently, he said: “I bin put away this time . . .” — “Wot?” answered Bill, “narkin’ dues is it?” — Josh nodded. — “‘Oo done it then? ‘Oo narked?”
The term was obsolete by 1940, but the word “nark” lives on.
20. Nose / To Nose / Turn Nose: Nose is a 1789 word for a snitch; to nose or turn nose, both circa 1809, meant to give evidence or inform.
21. On the Erie: A 1933 term, American in origin, for someone who makes a living by informing to the police, i.e., “That mug has always been on the Erie.” (This term can also mean “shut up! Someone is listening.”)
22. Pigeon: An American verb, dating back to 1859, meaning to inform to the police.
23. Puff: A British term for a King’s informer, dating back to 1735; obsolete by 1890.
24. Quatch: An American term, circa 1925, meaning “to betray secrets.” Similar to quack, a verb meaning “to inform to the police,” and quag, “unsafe, not reliable; not to be trusted.”
25. Scream: A noun, circa 1915, for “the giving of information to police, especially by one criminal against another.” Partridge notes that by 1920, it began to mean the same as to squeal. From 1915’s The Melody of Death:
“I don’t want to hear any more about your conscience,” said the [police] officer wearily. “Do you scream or don’t you?”
By 1925, the term had hopped across the pond from England to the United States.
26. Snake in the Grass: An American term for an informer who conceals his informing, circa 1925.
27. Snickle: A confusion of snitch and snilch, this American term meaning “to inform to the police” dates back to 1859; it was obsolete by 1920.
28. Telegram: Australian term, circa 1899, for a spy or informer.
29. Turn Chirp: A British term from 1846 for turning the King’s evidence. Comes from G.W.M. Reynolds’ “The Thieves’ Alphabet,” in The Mysteries of London: “N was for a Nose that turned chirp on his pal.” Partridge wonders, “Does it exist elsewhere?”
30. Viper: An American term, circa 1925. “Contemptuous,” Partridge notes, “‘a snake in the grass.'”
31. Weak Sister: This term dates back to 1924, and doesn’t just mean an informer, but “an untrusted person, or a weakling, in a gang.”
While I visited Romania and Vienna in 2018 I found myself immersed in a perfect world of contrasts. Romania and its’ post communist recovery with its’ beautiful Art Nouveau & Art Deco architecture interspersed with Functionalism and the Second Empire Style. Here are photos of Bucharest including some from the Spring Palace, the golden nest egg of Communist Dictator Nicholae Ceausescu. I’ll be using this as a building block to define contrast within Romanian architectural styles and contrasting Romania & Austria.
Below, photos from the Palace of Parliament, the 2nd largest building in the world, in Romania. The Dictator destroyed villages to build a near vacant, yet beautiful furnished palatial monstrosity.
As a travel advisor and one who has traveled constantly, Switzerland, France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, Costa & Puerto Rica, Belize, so many others) reading signage, local newspapers, maps, etc. while traveling is always intriguing. As interesting is discovering the roots of our Americanized English language in countries where I am traveling. For instance, leaving Paris in 2012, traveling from my hotel to the Charles de Gaulle airport, I noticed a sign “Avance en Feu” which for the US would simply be a sign which says, “Yield.” The literal French translation is “Advance on Fire” or in other words, the traffic’s moving like speeding bullets so be cautious! My maternal grandmother used phrases like “in a few” which is a derivative of “avance en feu,” or basically wait, don’t go, “in a few” minutes proceed. Language arts become so alive when you travel!