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“[Fame] creates a splitting of the self. Jackie obviously had it on a much larger scale than I do, but it was something I could see in her and empathize with—that there’s this idea of how other people see you, there’s who you really are, there’s who you want other people to think you are, there’s how you think you’re supposed to be. This film was an exploration of someone who is so well known, and yet so two-dimensional in the way we know her, iconographically. We don’t consider her humanity. Now we see that she really took her identity as her husband’s wife and was creating his legacy. She was already saying ‘I’m going to be the author of this story—not a journalist, not a historian.’ It’s so modern: It’s what everyone does now, showing the public what they want them to see.” - Natalie Portman for DuJour Magazine

riot_artandbooksNew in stock! Helmut Völter | The Movement of Clouds around Mount Fuji \ Photographed and Filmed by Masanao Abe | In the late 1920s, the Japanese physicist Masanao Abe built an observatory with a view of Mount Fuji. From it, over the course of fifteen years, he recorded the clouds that surrounded the mountain. He was interested in the scientific question of how the air currents around Fuji could be visualized by means of film and photography. Albeit unintentionally, Abe’s motifs fit into a long iconographic tradition: the mountain and the clouds. For decades his archive was left untouched in a Tokyo garden shed. Helmut Völter, who discovered Abe’s legacy while working on his book »Cloud Studies«, sifted through the images of the passionate cineaste who saw a combination of individual images, moving pictures and stereo recordings as the ideal form of scientific evidence. The mere contemplation of these dynamic cloud photographs centring on snow-covered Fuji seems to lift the viewer into the air. #mountfuji #clouds#photobook @spectorbooks

When they’d gone, Lady Sybil sat for a while staring at her hands.
(…) In many ways, she told herself, she was very lucky. She was very proud of Sam. He worked hard for a lot of people. He cared about people who weren’t important. He always had far more to cope with than was good for him. He was the most civilized man she’d ever met. Not a gentleman, thank goodness, but a gentle man.
She never really knew what it was he did. (…) He tended to drop his clothes into the laundry basket before he eventually came to bed, so she’d only hear later from the laundry girl about the bloodstains and the mud.
(…) There was a Sam Vimes she knew, who went out and came home again, and out there was another Sam Vimes who hardly belonged to her and lived in the same world as all those men with the dreadful names…
Sybil Ramkin had been brought up to be thrifty, thoughtful, genteel in an outdoor sort of way, and to think kindly of people.
She looked at the pictures again, in the silence of the house.
Then she blew her nose loudly and went off to do the packing and other sensible things.
—  From The Fifth Elephant.
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Today I visited the Little Metropolis a very small byzantine church in central athens. It was built in the 14th century using only spolia! Every stone used is either of antique or byzantine origins.
It is absolutely fascinating to look at every small detail and wonder about it’s where it came from.
This church has so much history combined in it’s architecture alone it is wonderful to have seen it for it is an absolute beauty!

The triglyphic frieze in pic two probably belonged to the Eleusinion on the northern slope of the Acropolis. The crosses torches with the pomegranates, the Kernos jar and the Bullshead are familiar motivs of the eleusinian mysteries. And a similar architectural element can be seen on the small Propylon in Eleusis.

The two people in pic 7 are from a roman funerary relief. The cross between their heads was added during the construction of the church in the 14th century. Most of the spolia were altered during construction to add iconographic motivs of christianity.

The frieze above the round bow above the door in pic 8/9 from a classic temple if I remember correctly.

The Jina Buddha Ratnasambhava

Jina – meaning victorious was a title more often used for spiritual masters of Tīrthaṅkaras from the Jaina tradition. But the title was also used for Dhyānī Buddhas in the Vajrayāna tradition.

This Ṭhañgkā, with mineral pigments on cloth is believed to be the work of Newāri artists from Nepāla, based on the iconographic characteristics.

Central Tibet, circa 1100-1125 CE

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I can’t imagine any form of creation, which doesn’t have a magical dimension. Or rather, I can, but it doesn’t interest me. Magic is a particular “active attitude to life”. However it is not just about mastering it, but transforming it because metamorphosis is the basis of every magical operation. And creation is just this type of activity. At least an imaginative creation is. Once art and magic coincided, they were the indivisible component of rituals, which the early human employed in order to receive the patronage of nature (of elemental forces, ancestral ghosts, demons). Only later did art begin to grow distant and embrace different functions: iconographic, aesthetic, representational etc., to often end up as a servant of totalitarian ideologies, in the impoverished role of a commodity of art markets. Surrealism tried to give back art its “magical dignity”. And it is precisely that, which interests me about Surrealism.

In my own creative process, just like the old alchemists, I continually distill the waters of my childhood experiences, of my obsessions, idiosyncrasies, anxieties, as to create “heavy water” of understanding, fundamental to the transmutation of life. Similarly like surrealism, which is the alternative to art, alchemy is the alternative science. There is an analogous relationship between surrealism and alchemy.

—  Jan Švankmajer, translated by Tereza Stehlikova

Giorgione, The Tempest, c.1508, oil on canvas, 82 x 73 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice. Source

Other than the raging storm referred to in the title, there is little else in the way of identifiable subject matter in Giorgione’s The Tempest. Iconographic studies have suggested certain religious, mythological and allegorical readings, but I rather like not knowing exactly what is going on in this unusual scene.

Mosaic Depicting Autumn, Third century AD

Mosaics adorned public spaces across the Roman Empire, but the majority are found in private villas. The extremely time-consuming and, therefore, expensive aspect of installing this art form meant that great attention was paid to creating attractive designs, appropriate both to the owner and to the setting. Along with mythological subjects and scenes from everyday life, the depiction of abstract elements important in Roman society was popular, for example, fertility, abundance, power, and security.

The choice of the Four Seasons alludes to good fortune, plentiful harvests, and prosperity, and to the cyclical nature of time, and was particularly relevant in this agricultural society that depended on the cultivation of wheat, barley, wine and olive oil. The personification of the Four Seasons - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter - belongs to a rich iconographical tradition, stemming from as early as the fourth century BC. By the Late Roman Period, they were most frequently imagined as isolated busts of young women, each distinguishable by different attributes, usually different elements of agricultural produce. The richly coloured, exuberant flora in this composition point to an association with Autumn.

Death of Francesca de Rimini and Paolo Malesta (1870). Alexandre Cabanel (French, 1823-1889). Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay.

From verse by Dante in Canto V of The Divine Comedy. The composition is scholarly, the painting smooth and the drawing precise; care has been taken over the iconographic details. The book that has dropped from Francesca’s hands is a reminder that the lovers were reading Lancelot, a story of courtly love, at the time of the murder, while the murderer hidden behind a thick hanging is still clutching his bloody sword.

The ‘Lady of Cao’ was a Moche ancestress or High Priestess. She had been placed under the floor of the temple of Cao Viejo (in El Brujo), in a rectangular chamber especially built for the reason. Scholars propose that this is not her first burial, and that her descendants must have placed her there to bolster the prestige of the site, or of their lineage. Whichever way it was, in life the Lady had a prominent role in the community as a ruler or religious officiant.

A great part of the body is covered in iconographically significant tattoos – chthonian themes all – the Spider, which weaves the Stair to the Underworld; the watery snake, and the crab, a fruit of the sea. Moche iconographical studies reveal the Lady Moon as the sole discernably female deity – she governs the Sea, and the liminal spaces of Death and Birth, and is as a sorceress and healer, but is also represented as a disturber of the regular, “natural” order. Like many other gods, she takes blood sacrifice in pyramidal temples.

One of the myths that can be reconstructed, in rather a rudimentary measure, is the 'Rebellion of the Objects’, where the Lady Moon proclaims herself Queen of Gods and men, and brings the weapons and weaving tools to life, that they attack their human masters. The bat, the crab, the shrimp, and a sort of supernatural feline appear to be her subjects, at least in this episode, and are represented sacrificing men for their lifesblood or their flesh. Other monsters she sends against the rival gods – on one occasion, the Radiant God is taken to the Underworld, from which he eventually ascends on a stair of spidersilk. He restores order to the world by vanquishing the goddess in his golden chariot, driven by birds or birdmen.

The Lady of Cao’s mummy bundle greatly exceeded the size of the person discovered within, exceptionally well preserved. Several layers of cloth and metal ornaments had been wrapped around the body. The face had been covered with a round gold plate, signifying 

The Lady of Cao is inferred to have died of childbirth complications between the ages of twenty and twenty five from the visible stretching of the skin of the abdomen and breasts.