Wednesday, July 16, 2014

La dame

Take a look at this for a moment.

This is a painting by Leonora Carrington, called La Dame Ovale ("the oval lady")

Carrington came from a somewhat upper crust English background, which she threw away when she ran away with Max Ernst. She's considered one of the surrealists. Over her long artistic career - started in the 1930s and continued until her dedath in the 2ooos - she went back and forth on that.

This painting could certainly be called surreal, being filled with inversions of the natural order. The chained dog has five human breasts. (An odd number, even!) Birds and bats nest underground. Many of the trees have bizarre shapes: fox heads, chess pieces.

What I noticed after looking at it for a few minutes was that nothing could quite be taken at face value. Most of the trees are, when you take the nature of painting into account, natural. So are most of the clouds. But you're forced to keep examining them because of their proximity to the other things. Meaning that art can show you not just new things, but train you in new ways to look.


susan said...

It is a fascinating painting but, like all surreal art, also discomfiting. Even though we think we know the world we see around us the fact is that our interpretation of what we see is entirely subjective. I think the surrealists remind us of that.

Ben said...

In psych classes I learned that sensation and perception are two different things. Sensation is simply all the data. Perception is basically what we do with the information, but even most of that is on an unconscious level. We interpret based on what we know. Which means that if an artist goes just a little to the left of what we know, the effect can be huge.