Monday, November 28, 2011

Ghost at will ...

Edo period, around AD 1844

From a tenth-century legend

Princess Takiyasha was the daughter of the provincial warlord Taira no Masakado who tried to set up an 'Eastern Court' in Shimōsa Province in competition with the emperor in Kyoto. However, his rebellion was put down in AD 939 and Masakado was killed. After his death, Princess Takiyasha continued living in the ruined palace of Sōma.

This print shows the episode from the legend when the emperor's official, ōya no Mitsukuni, comes to search for surviving conspirators. The princess is reciting a spell written on a handscroll. She summons up a giant skeleton which comes rearing out of a terrifying black void, crashing its way through the tattered palace blinds with its bony fingers to menace Mitsukuni and his companion.

Kuniyoshi, the artist, probably referred to an illustration in his collection of western prints to produce this grinning skeleton in all its accuracy of detail.

The legend was also the theme of a Kabuki play. At the time that this print was made the Tempō Reforms had made it illegal to depict Kabuki actors and theatre scenes in woodblock prints, so Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) may have produced this 'historical' version of the story in order to get round the law. Kuniyoshi often used the triptych format (three prints forming a single composition) to dramatic effect, spreading large forms across all three sheets.

L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bear This Rarefied Weight

... each grave of a skeleton dancing, connected by a profusion of ivy leaves which appear in the middle of four small skulls with diamond eyes measuring approximately 17 inches. Two of them, at the ends of the collar, give the illusion of a Pierrot collar with his sheet. Gold, diamonds, rock crystal intaglio. Codognato Private Collection. On exhibition in Paris at the Musee Maillol, “C’est la vie! Vanites – De Pompei a Damien Hirst” from February 3 to June 28, 2010. Also shown on page 131 in the book by the same name. Circa 1940.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The shapeless rooms ...

The shapeless rooms
of your bird-heart are papered
with reams of Courageous Ache
-<3 d

Installation by Chloë Wojewoda.

Honey Hush

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Well, thank you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Imma be gone way past November....

John Atkinson Grimshaw, November


LA Public Library’s 1928 bookmobile for the sick.

Imma be gone way past November,
even stay up there, up there, floatin', Floatin', hopin'
I will find peace somewhere.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Joy is a net...