"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Face of Nature

The Force of Nature ~ Photo by Ben McCartney
1301 Avenue of the Americas ~ New York City
by Italian sculptor, Lorenzo Quinn (b 1966)

Now, having read Quinn's description of his work, I have mixed feelings about this sculpture. Yes, Mother Nature looks forceful but not furious, powerful but not necessarily hurtful. The way Nature's dress is blown so fiercely, even to the point of covering her face, suggests to me that there is yet another strong force, outside of both Earth and Nature, that both are struggling against.

Nor did I get the sense that Nature was harming Earth -- but maybe even trying to help in some way, trying to reign Earth in with that shiny sash, which does not look like a weapon. Nature appears to be using the strength of her arms to pull Earth closer, not to fling her away as with a slingshot. I understand now that the sculpture is intended to convey a twirling motion, as Nature hurls Earth round and round in a vicious circle. Yet, to me, Nature looks braced, as if she is exerting all her energy in an effort to hold herself steady and draw Earth in.

Slightly different versions of Quinn's Force of Nature have been displayed in various countries: England,Ireland, Monaco, and Singapore, and the United States. Oddly, even in the unclothed version of the sculpture, Quinn still covers Nature's face with the scarf, executioner - style. Without the full - length wind - blown garments, it is less clear to me why Nature's face would be covered, other than to make her more mysterious and less human, though her body is clearly that of a female human.

My first impression, before reading any background information or even the title of the piece, was not of Nature but of a mere mortal, headless, who had somehow lost her head and was struggling to regain it, only to find that what she thought was her head was instead / indeed the Earth.

In contrast to the hidden head of Quinn's "Force of Nature" is Rodin's bust of Nature, with serene face and braided wheat for hair, that I saw earlier this week at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. Despite her apparent serenity, Nature / Miss Fairfax is a force to be reckoned with:

Signed on the Back

Now, compare Nature (above) to Spirit (below), as portrayed in this face of Prayer, rendered by Rodin's sculpting companion, Camille Claudel (click here to view / read more about the fateful and tortuted connections between Rodin and Claudel):

La Prière / The Prayer aka Le Psaume / The Psalm
Bronze Sculpture, 1889 (or 1896?)
by Camille Claudel 1864-1943

One more favorite from the Legion of Honor,
featuring sunflowers . . .

And a closing poem from Mary Oliver . . .


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

by Mary Oliver
Contemporary American Poet (b. 1935)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1984

. . . loving the world . . .

Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, May 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT ~ Another Museum Post ~ Guggenheim
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST ~ "Until We Seek Until We Find Ammonia Avenue"
my running list of recent reading

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