We're going to spend the majority of our time talking about this fabulous individual. But first things first, I gotta get this nerdiness out before I explode:
Northern European Renaissance art is SO COOL! Of course I remain in awe of the monumental feats of the Italian Renaissance; the grandiose scale of their accomplishments is unparalleled. And technically speaking, the Italians were much more advanced as far as the mathematics they uncovered for accurate perspective and anatomy. Which is why the contrast of what was going on Up North is so appealing to me. Each artist was a lot more out on their own, feeling their way towards a style they liked, no real over-arcing purpose or message present in their works. It's just all so . . . idiosyncratic. Yes, that's exactly the word I'm looking for. The artist's whims or predilections had so much more room to exhibit themselves in the Burgundian north. See here a detail from Geertgen tot Sint Jans's Nativity:
Just look at the angel in the bottom right corner! Isn't he just the most joyous, overwhelmingly rapturous little guy you ever did see? Especially in comparison to the angels around him, who are so static, so flat, so unmoved by the Christ child's birth. The norm of Northern figures leans much more toward those more complacent figures, but I adore that tot Sint Jans snuck this little dude in there. I was completely distracted during the lecture on this piece, absorbed with the idea of what went through his mind when painting these disparate figures. And then there's my slightly stranger reaction to this detail of Geertgen's The Burning of St John the Baptist's Bones (how could you not love that title!)
Note the guy in brown on the far right, his gaze going off into space. I'm weirdly into to this guy. Ya, I know, sort of a creepy overshare. But this guy and Michelangelo in Raphael's School of Athens? I find them attractive. I can't help it. Maybe in this image it's his nose, I've always had a strange thing for the larger-nosed men--Michael Vartan, James McAvoy, Adrian Brody, Jason Schwartzman, all dreamy. I understand that as an art-historian-in-training I should keep more distance and objectivity with my subject, but my first reaction to this piece was not to examine any of the details that would get me an A on a paper. Instead, I zone in on that guy and say "Dang. Oddly attractive." I'm not going to seek professional help yet, I figure I can keep it under control if it stays at this level.
But nevermind my weird crushes on oil-on-wood characters, back to what makes Renaissance art cool. Item numero three: grisaille, or the art of painting a scene so that it looks like stone. This is Throne of Grace from the outside panel of the Flemalle Altarpiece by Robert Campin. And it is so, so incredibly awe-inspiring. Sculpture is possibly my very favorite medium of art, but by its very nature there is significantly less of it, and what does survive the centuries rarely is in primo condition. Which is why images like this sorta help fill the void. Sluter basically left behind only one enormous well and an intricate tomb, so it's nice to see his contemporaries emulate his style in their paintings. And just when you were about to pass out from the dry scholarly torture-talk, let's refocus again on my favorite gal-pal-in-waiting:
Katy Perry. Is. The. Bomb-diggity. I, Mary Shurtz, professed rocker-grrrl extraordinaire, have a girl-crush on pop goddess Katy Perry. I know this is inherently problematic. And to start out, I have to say that I owe my devotion to KP completely to my roommate, Cassie. Cassie and Katy have a lot in common, at least in my head. They have an eager, unapologetic love for life, color, and choosing to giggle at all that is ridiculous in life instead of rolling their eyes condescendingly.
Katy is a bit more of an exhibitionist than Cassie is, but that appeals to my own favorite things. And despite the fact that Katy's hits deal with layered subject matter such as regional archetypes, adolescent fantasies and superficial displays of various sexual orientations, she delivers each song with such exuberance and inherent humor that I find I don't mind when I spend a whole day humming about my futuristic lover's cosmic kiss. Ya. Right there, this is why I adore her. I know some of you now are feeling like I would deserve to have my band posters and rocker-queen status stripped from me right this second, but I must protest with two points: One, what is more rock-n-roll than making the excesses of life a point of celebration and satire all at once? And two, I have no moral issue with biting and kicking to keep my Ramones poster where it belongs. Street rules only.
Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go commune with Katy about how "It's Not Like the Movies."