Cezanne’s Ports

“In the foreground we see time and life
swept in a race
toward the left hand side of the picture
where shore meets shore.

But that meeting place
isn’t represented;
it doesn’t occur on the canvas.

For the other side of the bay
is Heaven and Eternity,
with a bleak white haze over its mountains.

And the immense water of L’Estaque is a go-between
for minute rowboats.”

Allen Ginsberg

 
 

L’Estaque View from The Trees, Paul Cézanne, 1879

 
 

L’Estaque with Red Roofs, Paul Cézanne, 1885

 
 

The Bay from L’Estaque, Paul Cezanne, 1886

 
 

L’Estaque is a small French fishing village just west of Marseille.Many artists of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods visited or resided there or in the surrounding area. Many of them painted village scenes, the road leading to the village, and the view of the Bay from the village. Paul Cézanne painted many views of the water from his room in L’Estaque, showing the changing seasons, the shifting light of day, and the changes in the village itself over time.

To Have Done With The Judgment Of God

Charles Bukowski claimed Artaud as a major influence on his work

 
 

kré   puc te
kré   everything must   puk te
pek   be arranged    li le
kré   to a hair  pek ti le
e    in a fulminating    kruk
pte   order.

 
 

I learned yesterday
(I must be behind the times, or perhaps it’s only a false
rumor, one of those pieces of spiteful gossip that are circulated between sink and latrine at the hour when meals that have been ingurgitated one more time are thrown in the slop buckets),
I learned yesterday
one of the most sensational of those official practices of American public schools
which no doubt account for the fact that this country believes itself to be in the vanguard of progress,
It seems that, among the examinations or tests required of a child entering public school for the first time, there is the so-called seminal fluid or sperm test,
which consists of asking this newly entering child for a small
amount of his sperm so it can be placed in a jar
and kept ready for any attempts at artificial insemination that might later take place.
For Americans are finding more and more that they lack muscle
and children,
that is, not workers
but soldiers,
and they want at all costs and by every possible means to make and manufacture soldiers
with a view to all the planetary wars which might later take place,
and which would be intended to demonstrate by the over-whelming virtues of force
the superiority of American products,
and the fruits of American sweat in all fields of activity and of the superiority of the possible dynamism of force.
Because one must produce,
one must by all possible means of activity replace nature
wherever it can be replaced,
one must find a major field of action for human inertia,
the worker must have something to keep him busy,
new fields of activity must be created,
in which we shall see at last the reign of all the fake manufactured products,
of all the vile synthetic substitutes
in which beatiful real nature has no part,
and must give way finally and shamefully before all the victorious substitute products
in which the sperm of all artificial insemination factories
will make a miracle
in order to produce armies and battleships.
No more fruit, no more trees, no more vegetables, no more plants pharmaceutical or otherwise and consequently no more food,
but synthetic products to satiety,
amid the fumes,
amid the special humors of the atmosphere, on the particular axes of atmospheres wrenched violently and synthetically from the resistances of a nature which has known nothing of war except fear.
And war is wonderful, isn’t it?
For it’s war, isn’t it, that the Americans have been preparing for and are preparing for this way step by step.
In order to defend this senseless manufacture from all competition that could not fail to arise on all sides,
one must have soldiers, armies, airplanes, battleships,
hence this sperm
which it seems the governments of America have had the effrontery to think of.
For we have more than one enemy lying in wait for us,
my son,
we, the born capitalists,
and among these enemies
Stalin’s Russia
which also doesn’t lack armed men.

All this is very well,
but I didn’t know the Americans were such a warlike people.
In order to fight one must get shot at
and although I have seen many Americans at war
they always had huge armies of tanks, airplanes, battleships
that served as their shield.
I have seen machines fighting a lot
but only infinitely far behind them have I seen the men who directed them.
Rather than people who feed their horses, cattle, and mules the last tons of real morphine they have left and replace it with substitutes made of smoke,
I prefer the people who eat off the bare earth the delirium from which they were born
I mean the Tarahumara eating Peyote off the ground
while they are born,
and who kill the sun to establish the kingdom of black night,
and who smash the cross so that the spaces of spaces can never again meet and cross.

And so you are going to hear the dance of TUTUGURI.

 
 

TUTUGURI

The Rite of the Black Sun

And below, as if at the foot of the bitter slope,
cruelly despairing at the heart,
gapes the circle of the six crosses,
very low
as if embedded in the mother earth,
wrenched from the foul embrace of the mother
who drools.

The earth of black coal
is the only damp place
in this cleft rock.

The Rite is that the new sun passes through seven points before blazing on the orifice of the earth.

And there are six men,
one for each sun,
and a seventh man
who is the sun
in the raw
dressed in black and in red flesh.

But, this seventh man
is a horse,
a horse with a man leading him.

But it is the horse
who is the sun
and not the man.

At the anguish of a drum and a long trumpet,
strange,
the six men
who were lying down,
rolling level with the ground,
leap up one by one like sunflowers,
not like suns
but turning earths,
water lilies,
and each leap
corresponds to the increasingly somber
and restrained
gong of the drum
until suddenly he comes galloping, at vertiginous speed,
the last sun,
the first man,
the black horse with a

naked man,
absolutely naked
and virgin
riding it.

After they leap up, they advance in winding circles
and the horse of bleeding meat rears
and prances without a stop
on the crest of his rock
until the six men
have surrounded
completely
the six crosses.

Now, the essence of the Rite is precisely

 
 

The Abolition of the Cross

When they have stopped turning
they uproot
the crosses of earth
and the naked man
on the horse
holds up
an enormous horseshoe
which he has dipped in a gash of his blood.

 
 

The Pursuit of Fecality

There where it smells of shit
it smells of being.
Man could just as well not have shat,
not have opened the anal pouch,
but he chose to shit
as he would have chosen to live
instead of consenting to live dead.

Because in order not to make caca,
he would have had to consent
not to be,
but he could not make up his mind to lose
being,
that is, to die alive.

There is in being
something particularly tempting for man
and this something is none other than
CACA.
(Roaring here.)

To exist one need only let oneself be,
but to live,
one must be someone,
to be someone,
one must have a BONE,
not be afraid to show the bone,
and to lose the meat in the process.

Man has always preferred meat
to the earth of bones.
Because there was only earth and wood of bone,
and he had to earn his meat,
there was only iron and fire
and no shit,
and man was afraid of losing shit
or rather he desired shit
and, for this, sacrificed blood.

In order to have shit,
that is, meat,
where there was only blood
and a junkyard of bones
and where there was no being to win
but where there was only life to lose

o reche modo
to edire
di za
tau dari
do padera coco

At this point, man withdrew and fled.

Then the animals ate him.

It was not a rape,
he lent himself to the obscene meal.

He relished it,
he learned himself
to act like an animal
and to eat rat
daintily.

And where does this foul debasement come from?

The fact that the world is not yet formed,
or that man has only a small idea of the world
and wants to hold on to it forever?

This comes from the fact that man,
one fine day,
stopped
the idea of the world.

Two paths were open to him:
that of the infinite without,
that of the infinitesimal within.

And he chose the infinitesimal within.
Where one need only squeeze
the spleen,
the tongue,
the anus
or the glans.

And god, god himself squeezed the movement.

Is God a being?
If he is one, he is shit.
If he is not one
he does not exist.

But he does not exist,
except as the void that approaches with all its forms
whose most perfect image
is the advance of an incalculable group of crab lice.

“You are mad Mr. Artaud, what about the mass?”

I deny baptism and the mass.
There is no human act,
on the internal erotic level,
more pernicious than the descent
of the so-called jesus-christ
onto the altars.

No one will believe me
and I can see the public shrugging its shoulders
but the so-called christ is none other than he
who in the presence of the crab louse god
consented to live without a body,
while an army of men
descended from a cross,
to which god thought he had long since nailed them,
has revolted,
and, armed with steel,
with blood,
with fire, and with bones,
advances, reviling the Invisible
to have done with GOD’S JUDGMENT.

 
 

The Question Arises

What makes it serious
is that we know
that after the order
of this world
there is another.

What is it like?

We do not know.

The number and order of possible suppositions in
this realm
is precisely
infinity!

And what is infinity?

That is precisely what we do not know!

It is a word
that we use
to indicate
the opening
of our consciousness
toward possibility
beyond measure,
tireless and beyond measure.

And precisely what is consciousness?

That is precisely what we do not know.

It is nothingness.

A nothingness
that we use
to indicate
when we do not know something
from what side
we do not know it
and so
we say
consciousness,
from the side of consciousness,
but there are a hundred thousand other sides.

Well?

It seems that consciousness
in us is
linked
to sexual desire
and to hunger;

but it could
just as well
not be linked
to them.

One says,
one can say,
there are those who say
that consciousness
is an appetite,
the appetite for living;

and immediately
alongside the appetite for living,
it is the appetite for food
that comes immediately to mind;

as if there were not people who eat
without any sort of appetite;
and who are hungry.

For this too
exists
to be hungry
without appetite;

well?

Well
the space of possibility
was given to me one day
like a loud fart
that I will make;
but neither of space,
nor possibility,
did I know precisely what it was,

and I did not feel the need to think about it,

they were words
invented to define things
that existed
or did not exist
in the face of
the pressing urgency
of a need:
the need to abolish the idea,
the idea and its myth,
and to enthrone in its place
the thundering manifestation
of this explosive necessity:
to dilate the body of my internal night,

the internal nothingness
of my self

which is night,
nothingness,
thoughtlessness,

but which is explosive affirmation
that there is
something
to make room for:

my body.

And truly
must it be reduced to this stinking gas,
my body?
To say that I have a body
because I have a stinking gas
that forms
inside me?

I do not know
but
I do know that

space,
time,
dimension,
becoming,
future,
destiny,
being,
non-being,
self,
non-self,
are nothing to me;

but there is a thing
which is something,
only one thing
which is something,
and which I feel
because it wants
TO GET OUT:
the presence
of my bodily
suffering,

the menacing,
never tiring
presence
of my
body;

however hard people press me with questions
and however vigorously I deny all questions,
there is a point
at which I find myself compelled
to say no,

 
 

NO
then
to negation;

and this point
comes when they press me,

when they pressure me
and when they handle me
until the exit
from me
of nourishment,
of my nourishment
and its milk,

and what remains?

That I am suffocated;

and I do not know if it is an action
but in pressing me with questions this way
until the absence
and nothingness
of the question
they pressed me
until the idea of body
and the idea of being a body
was suffocated
in me,

and it was then that I felt the obscene

and that I farted
from folly
and from excess
and from revolt
at my suffocation.

Because they were pressing me
to my body
and to the very body

and it was then
that I exploded everything
because my body
can never be touched.

 
 

Conclusion

- And what was the purpose of this broadcast, Mr. Artaud?

- Primarily to denounce certain social obscenities officially sanctioned and acknowledged:
1.this emission of infantile sperm donated by children for the artificial insemination of fetuses yet to be born and which will be born in a century or more.

2.To denounce, in this same American people who occupy the whole surface of the former Indian continent, a rebirth of that warlike imperialism of early America that caused the pre-Columbian Indian tribes to be degraded by the aforesaid people.

3.- You are saying some very bizarre things, Mr. Artaud.

4.- Yes, I am saying something bizarre, that contrary to everything we have been led to believe, the pre-Columbian Indians were a strangely civilized people and that in fact they knew a form of civilization based exclusively on the principle of cruelty.

5.- And do you know precisely what is meant by cruelty?

6.- Offhand, no, I don’t.

7.- Cruelty means eradicating by means of blood and until blood flows, god, the bestial accident of unconscious human animality, wherever one can find it.

8.- Man, when he is not restrained, is an erotic animal,
he has in him an inspired shudder,
a kind of pulsation
that produces animals without number which are the form that the ancient tribes of the earth universally attributed to god.
This created what is called a spirit.
Well, this spirit originating with the American Indians is reappearing all over the world today under scientific poses which merely accentuate its morbid infectuous power, the marked condition of vice, but a vice that pullulates with diseases,
because, laugh if you like,
what has been called microbes
is god,and do you know what the Americans and the Russians use to make their atoms?
They make them with the microbes of god.
– You are raving, Mr. Artaud.
You are mad.

- I am not raving.
I am not mad.
I tell you that they have reinvented microbes in order to impose a new idea of god.

They have found a new way to bring out god and to capture him in his microbic noxiousness.

This is to nail him though the heart,
in the place where men love him best,
under the guise of unhealthy sexuality,
in that sinister appearance of morbid cruelty that he adopts
whenever he is pleased to tetanize and madden humanity as he
is doing now.

He utilizes the spirit of purity and of a consciousness that has
remained candid like mine to asphyxiate it with all the false
appearances that he spreads universally through space and this
is why Artaud le Mômo can be taken for a person suffering
from hallucinations.

- What do you mean, Mr. Artaud?

- I mean that I have found the way to put an end to this ape once and for all
and that although nobody believes in god any more everybody believes more and more in man.

So it is man whom we must now make up our minds to emasculate.

- How’s that?

How’s that?
No matter how one takes you you are mad, ready for the straitjacket.
– By placing him again, for the last time, on the autopsy table to remake his anatomy.
I say, to remake his anatomy.
Man is sick because he is badly constructed.
We must make up our minds to strip him bare in order to scrape off that animalcule that itches him mortally,

god,
and with god
his organs.

For you can tie me up if you wish,
but there is nothing more useless than an organ.

When you will have made him a body without organs,
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
and restored him to his true freedom.

They you will teach him again to dance wrong side out
as in the frenzy of dance halls
and this wrong side out will be his real place.”

Antonin Artaud

 

Artaud’s last work was an audio piece called To Have Done With The Judgment Of God (Pour en Finir avec le Jugement de Dieu), and it proved to be equally unpopular, at least with some very important people. Commissioned by Ferdinand Pouey, head of the dramatic and literary broadcasts for French Radio in 1947, the work was written by Artaud after he spent the better part of WWII interned in an asylum where he endured the worst of his treatment. The piece is as raw and emotionally naked as you might expect –an anguished rant against society. A raving screed filled with scatological imagery, screams, nonsense words, anti-American invectives and anti-Catholic pronouncements.

Although the work remained true to his Theatre of Cruelty, utilizing an array of unsettling sounds, cries, screams and grunts, it was shelved by French Radio the day before it was scheduled to air, on February 2, 1948. Artaud died one month later.

Poet Allen Ginsberg claimed his introduction to Artaud, specifically To Have Done with the Judgement of God, by Carl Solomon had a tremendous influence on his most famous poem Howl.

Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society

Self portrait with Bandaged Ear, Vincent van Gogh, January 1889

 
 

“One can speak of the good mental health of Van Gogh who, in his whole adult life, cooked only one of his hands and did nothing else except once to cut off his left ear, in a world in which every day one eats vagina cooked in green sauce or penis of newborn child whipped and beaten to a pulp, just as it is when plucked from the sex of its mother.

And this is not an image, but a fact abundantly and daily repeated and cultivated throughout the world. And this, however delirious this statement may seem, is how modern life maintains its old atmosphere of debauchery, anarchy, disorder, delirium, derangement, chronic insanity, bourgeois inertia, psychic anomaly (for it is not man but the world which has become abnormal), deliberate dishonesty and notorious hypocrisy, stingy contempt for everything that shows breeding. insistence on an entire order based on the fulfillment of a primitive injustice, in short, of organized crime.

Things are going badly because sick consciousness has a vested interest right now in not recovering from its sickness. This is why a tainted society has invented psychiatry to defend itself against the investigations of certain superior intellects whose faculties of divination would be troublesome. …In comparison with the lucidity of Van Gogh, which is a dynamic force, psychiatry is no better than a den of apes who are themselves obsessed and persecuted and who possess nothing to mitigate the most appalling states of anguish and human suffocation but a ridiculous terminology, worthy product of their damaged brains.

…I believe Gauguin thought the artist should look for the symbol and the myth and expand everything in life into a myth, whereas Van Gogh thought that we must know how to infer the myth from the most everyday things in life. For reality is greatly superior to every story, mythology, deity and super-reality. It is enough to have the genius to know how to interpret reality, which is something no painter had done before Van Gogh.

…I will tell you that Van Gogh is a painter because he has re- assembled nature, because he has, as it were, perspired it and made it sweat, because he has spurted on to his canvases in heaps, monumental with colours, the centuries-old struggle of elements, the terrible rudimentary pressure of apostrophes, stripes, commas and strokes, of which we must admit that, after him, natural appearances are made.

And how many repressed elbow movements, ocular shocks recorded from life, observations made in front of the subject, luminous currents of the forces which work on reality, were necessary to overthrow the barrier before being finally compressed, raised on to the canvas and accepted ? There are no ghosts in Van Gogh’s painting, no visions, no hallucinations. It is the torrid truth of the sun at two o’clock in the afternoon. But the suffering of the pre-natal is there.

It is nature, pure and naked, seen just as it conceals itself when we know how to get near enough to it.

…Van Gogh will have surely been the most genuine painter of all the painters, the only one who has not exceeded painting in so far as painting is both the strict means of his work and the strict limit of his means. On the other hand, he is absolutely the only painter who has completely exceeded painting as the passive act of representing nature, in order to pour out from this exclusive representation of nature a whirlpool force, an element torn out of the heart’s centre. Nothing but painting-no more: no philosophy, mysticism, ritual, psycliurgy or liturgy, no business with literature nor with poetry: these bronzed golden sunflowers are painted.

Better than any psychiatrist in the world, this is how the great Van Gogh has described his illness: ‘I break through, I lose again, I examine, I grip hold of, I loosen, my dead life conceals nothing, and, besides, the néant* has never done any harm to anyone, and what forces me to return to it is this distressing sense of absence, which passes by and sometimes drowns me, but I see very clearly into it; and I even know what the néant is, and I could tell you what is in it.’ Van Gogh was right. One can live for the infinite, only take pleasure in the infinite; there is enough infinite on the earth and in the stars to satiate a thousand great geniuses. If Van Gogh was unable to gratify his desire to suffuse his whole life with it, it is because society expressly and consciously forbade him.

… I will no longer put up with hearing someone say to me, as has so often happened, ‘Monsieur Artaud, you are raving’, without committing a crime. Van Gogh heard this said to him. And this is why that knot of blood which killed him twisted itself around his throat.”

Antonin Artaud

Excerpt from Van Gogh, le suicidé de la société

 
 

A few days before the opening of a Vincent van Gogh exhibition in Paris in 1947, gallery owner Pierre Loeb suggested that Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) write about the painter. Challenging the thesis of alienation, Artaud was determined to show how van Gogh’s exceptional lucidity made lesser minds uncomfortable. Wishing to prevent him from uttering certain “intolerable truths”, those who were disturbed by his painting drove him to suicide.

Note:
* Néant: Nothingness

Beasts Bounding Through Time

 
 

“Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Céline going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by the Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward
us
impossibly”

Charles Bukowski

You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense

1986

Working Out

Brothel scene (sent and dedicated to Vincent van Gogh), Émile Bernard, 1888

 
 

“Van Gogh cut off his ear
gave it to a
prostitute
who flung it away in
extreme
disgust.

Van, whores don’t want
ears
they want
money.
I guess that’s why you were
such a great
painter: you
didn’t understand
much
else.”

Charles Bukowski

The Perfect Vermilion

“Oh yes! he loved yellow, did good Vincent, the painter from Holland, gleams of sunlight warming his soul, which detested fog. A craving for warmth.

When the two of us were together in Arles, both of us insane, and constantly at war over beautiful colors, I adored red; where could I find a perfect vermilion? He, taking his yellowest brush, wrote on the suddenly purple wall:

I am of sound mind,

I am the Holy Ghost.”

Paul Gauguin

January 1894

 
 

Red-Headed Woman and Sunflowers, Paul Gauguin, 1890

A Dedication by Ginsberg

Presentation copy of Howl to poet and scholar Richard Eberhart – inscribed “For Richard Eberhart in gratitude for his original vision of Nature both in his poetry and in his early sympathy for mine, Allen Ginsberg Dartmouth, October 17, 1960

 
 

Allen Ginsberg wrote drafts of the poem Howl in mid-1954 to 1955, purportedly at a coffeehouse known today as the Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California. Many factors went into the creation of the poem. A short time before the composition of Howl, Ginsberg’s therapist, Dr. Philip Hicks, encouraged him to quit his job and pursue poetry full-time. He experimented with a syntactic subversion of meaning called parataxis in the poem Dream Record: June 8, 1955 about the death of Joan Vollmer, a technique that would become central in Howl.

Ginsberg would experiment with this breath-length form in many later poems. The first draft contained what would later become Part I and Part III. It is noted for relating stories and experiences of Ginsberg’s friends and contemporaries, its tumbling, hallucinatory style, and the frank address of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, which subsequently provoked an obscenity trial. Although Ginsberg referred to many of his friends and acquaintances (including Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Lucien Carr, and Herbert Huncke), the primary emotional drive was his sympathy for Carl Solomon, to whom it was dedicated; he met Solomon in a mental institution and became friends with him.

Ginsberg admitted later this sympathy for Solomon was connected to bottled-up guilt and sympathy for his mother’s schizophrenia (she had been lobotomized), an issue he was not yet ready to address directly. In 2008, Peter Orlovsky told the co-directors of the film Howl (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2010) that a short moonlit walk—during which Orlovsky sang a rendition of the Hank Williams song Howlin’ At the Moon–may have been the encouragement for the title of Ginsberg’s poem. “I never asked him, and he never offered,” Orlovsky told them, “but there were things he would pick up on and use in his verse form some way or another. Poets do it all the time.” The Dedication by Ginsberg states he took the title from Kerouac.

Frist Poem

The First Lesson, Carl Larsson, 1903

 
 

“A rainbow comes pouring into my window, I am electrified.
Songs burst from my breast, all my crying stops, mistory fills
the air.
I look for my shues under my bed.
A fat colored woman becomes my mother.
I have no false teeth yet. Suddenly ten children sit on my lap.
I grow a beard in one day.
I drink a hole bottle of wine with my eyes shut.
I draw on paper and I feel I am two again. I want everybody to
talk to me.
I empty the garbage on the tabol.
I invite thousands of bottles into my room, June bugs I call them.
I use the typewritter as my pillow.
A spoon becomes a fork before my eyes.
Bums give all their money to me.
All I need is a mirror for the rest of my life.
My frist five years I lived in chicken coups with not enough
bacon.
My mother showed her witch face in the night and told stories of
blue beards.
My dreams lifted me right out of my bed.
I dreamt I jumped into the nozzle of a gun to fight it out with a
bullet.
I met Kafka and he jumped over a building to get away from me.
My body turned into sugar, poured into tea I found the meaning
of life
All I needed was ink to be a black boy.
I walk on the street looking for eyes that will caress my face.
I sang in the elevators believing I was going to heaven.
I got off at the 86th floor, walked down the corridor looking for
fresh butts.
My comes turns into a silver dollar on the bed.
I look out the window and see nobody, I go down to the street,
look up at my window and see nobody.
So I talk to the fire hydrant, asking “Do you have bigger tears
then I do?”
Nobody around, I piss anywhere.
My Gabriel horns, my Gabriel horns: unfold the cheerfulies,
my gay jubilation.”

Peter Orlovsky

Nov. 24th, 1957, Paris

 
 

A note on spellings:

«I’ve seen “Frist Poem” spelled “First Poem” a couple of times. One web page I’ve come across, which appears to have copied the contents of this page, “corrected” the title of this poem. I didn’t look to see if other “corrections” were made.
Peter couldn’t spell. Or, let’s look at it another way. This is how Peter spelled. I’m assuming that most publishers of his work attempted to keep his own spellings intact. I believe Peter’s spelling rendered his thoughts accurately.
Once, in Peter and Allen’s apartment I was leaving a message for Allen, who was away. Peter was writing down my message which happened to contain the words “two thieves”. Peter wrote down “two thives” and I said, “No, it’s spelled T – H – I – E . . . ” etc. Another visitor who happened to be present almost leapt for my throat saying, in effect, “How dare you correct Peter’s spelling?” This, in my opinion, is going too far.»

Brian Nation

This Species of Sunflower

Cette espèce d’hélianthe, Man Ray, 1934.

This photograph was used by Breton to illustrate his book Le Amour Fou (Mad Love)

 
 

TOURNESOL

“La voyageuse qui traverse les Halles à la tombée de l’été

Marchait sur la pointe des pieds

Le désespoir roulait au ciel ses grands arums si beaux

Et dans le sac à main il y avait mon rêve ce flacon de sels

Que seule a respiré la marraine de Dieu

Les torpeurs se déployaient comme la buée

Au Chien qui fume

Ou venaient d’entrer le pour et le contre

La jeune femme ne pouvait être vue d’eux que mal et de biais

Avais-je affaire à l’ambassadrice du salpêtre

Ou de la courbe blanche sur fond noir que nous appelons pensée

Les lampions prenaient feu lentement dans les marronniers

La dame sans ombre s’agenouilla sur le Pont-au-Change

Rue Git-le-Coeur les timbres n’étaient plus les mêmes

Les promesses de nuits étaient enfin tenues

Les pigeons voyageurs les baisers de secours

Se joignaient aux seins de la belle inconnue

Dardés sous le crêpe des significations parfaites

Une ferme prospérait en plein Paris

Et ses fenêtres donnaient sur la voie lactée

Mais personne ne l’habitait encore à cause des survenants

Des survenants qu’on sait plus dévoués que les revenants

Les uns comme cette femme ont l’air de nager

Et dans l’amour il entre un peu de leur substance

Elle les intériorise

Je ne suis le jouet d’aucune puissance sensorielle

Et pourtant le grillon qui chantait dans les cheveux de cendres

Un soir près de la statue d’Etienne Marcel

M’a jeté un coup d’oeil d’intelligence

André Breton a-t-il dit passe”

André Breton

L’Amour Fou, 1937.

 
 

___________________________________

 
 

SUNFLOWER

“The traveler who crossed Les Halles at summer’s end

Walked on tiptoe

Despair rolled its great handsome lilies across the sky

And in her handbag was my dream that flask of salts

That only God’s godmother had breathed

Torpors unfurled like mist

At the Chien qui Fume

Where pro and con had just entered

They could hardly see the young woman and then only at an angle

Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter

Or with the white curve on black background we call thought

The Innocents’ Ball was in full swing

The Chinese lanterns slowly caught fire in chestnut trees

The shadowless lady knelt on the Pont-au-Change

On Rue Gît-le-Coeur the stamps had changed

The night’s promises had been kept at last

The carrier pigeons and emergency kisses

Merged with the beautiful stranger’s breasts

Jutting beneath the crepe of perfect meanings

A farm prospered in the heart of Paris

And its windows looked out on the Milky Way

But no one lived there yet because of the guests

Guests who are known to be more faithful than ghosts

Some like that woman appear to be swimming

And a bit of their substance becomes part of love

She internalizes them

I am the pawn of no sensual power

And yet the cricket singing in the ashen hair

One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel

Gave me a knowing look

Andre Breton it said go on”

 
 

The woman in Sunflower is Jacqueline Lamba, an artist who was Breton’s second wife.

A Renewed Acquaitance

André Breton, Joseph Cornell, 1966

 
 

It was through the meditation of Susan Sontag’s review of Maurice Nadeau’s book on surrealism that Joseph Cornell renewed his acquaintance with the writings of André Breton. This renewed contact was as Cornell put it, a risorgimento, bringing again the image of “the midnight sunflower”. It was not only Breton’s face that appealed to Joseph Cornell but certain images associated with him. These had, like his face, a certain talismanic appeal: see, for instance, the diamond, standing for Breton’s dream of the crystal.

Two things associated with Breton had special meaning for Cornell. First, Breton’s image of communicating vessels, with the marvelous interchange of one thing and another, this baroque interpenetration perfectly emblematized in the scientific experiment of the same name. in a sense, this imagined communication of elements compensates for the radical enclosures of his shadow theater boxes, as if between the boxes a link could be perceived. The midnight sunflower refers to Breton’s poem Tournesol (Sunflower), in which he recounts the discovery of marvelous encounter of his love, inspiring Cornell’s box Tournesol, itself an encounter, like all of his boxes. On this particular box, he worked repeatedly in January and February 1966: Cornell’s Breton period.

Embracing Sunflowers

 
 

Joan Mitchell was born in Chicago in 1925 and died in Paris in 1992 at the age of 67. She came to attention in the early 1950s, exhibiting at the Stable Gallery in New York alongside Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg. In the summer of 1955 she travelled to France, settling there permanently in 1959. There have been numerous gallery and museum exhibitions of Mitchell’s work, including two major shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974 and 2002, which toured across the United States. Her paintings can be seen in museums and important private collections worldwide.

 
 

Sunflower III, 1969

 
 

Sunflower, 1972

 
 

Untitled (Sunflower), 1987

 
 

Sunflowers, 1991

 
 

Joan Mitchell’s Sunflower works count amongst the most experimental and vibrant of all her pieces. Hung in the upstairs gallery, six canvases, etchings and drawings dating from the 1960s to the year before her death, host an extraordinary diversity of marks with compositions whose ungovernable vitality refuse to comply to the rules of image making. Mitchell considered sunflowers to be ‘like people’ — subjects to empathise with whose life cycles were played out with exuberance but brutal swiftness. ‘If I see a sunflower drooping, I can droop with it,’ she explained, ‘and I draw it, and feel it until its death.’ Like Vincent van Gogh whose precedent she was brave enough to summon, she embraced sunflowers for their hopefulness as much as for their assertive and undeniable splendour. Her images do not much resemble the plants themselves: they are blue and red as well as golden, erratically dancing sweeps of colour that communicate internal as much as external landscape.

Mitchell began the Sunflower works after relocating from Paris to Vétheuil, a town 60 kilometers north of the capital. They grew out of a particularly difficult time in the artist’s life, following her mother’s death in 1967 after a seven year struggle with cancer. The paintings from this earlier period are dark and foreboding, roiling tempests of paint. In Calvi (1964) named after a Corsican fishing port Mitchell visited on a sailing trip, a central area of densely worked impasto sits on top of a haze of translucent layers of pigment which conjures a landscape distance. The impression of solid weight achieved through the tactile physicality at the heart of this canvas recalls Paul Cézanne, yet rather than suggest the volume of actual objects, Mitchell’s build-up of paint makes emotion palpable.

Untitled, 1968-1969, and the drawing Untitled (1967) convey a different, brighter mood, whilst etchings the artist made in the early ’70s establish a whiplash fluency of line. As the critic and poet John Yau has noted, the works of this period grant the viewer ‘an intimate encounter with a sumptuous but harsh lyricism that constantly courts but never succumbs to chaos.’ In these pieces, Mitchell’s marks possess a fresh looseness, their brio asserted in opposing colours and unexpected positionings. Nature is conjured at its most unruly and oppositional: frenzy co-exists with calm, flux results in disruptiveness.

In Untitled (1969) Mitchell pursues this diversity of painted gesture and unevenness of composition to magnificent extreme. Thick areas of red and yellow paint reveal a frenzy of working whilst elsewhere the canvas is marked only by faint washes of green. Drips slide down the picture and snarls of paint grow glistening and creamy where they collide with white. According to the writer Dave Hickey, Mitchell’s ‘manner is at once too varied and specified to ever be “a style”. She could make any mark but she never fell in love with one, just the speed of it.’ Her works make lasting passion, movement and energy, describing not the appearance of the world nor transcendent revelation, but the nature of being in it, its transient, intense pleasures and pains.

In the final years of her life Mitchell returned to the subject of sunflowers with renewed focus. These often multi-part canvases are assured, employing a carefully edited palette and calligraphic energy conveyed through lavish brush marks. In these, a potential self-containment of individual rosettes is countered by the sideways spreading from one into several canvases allowing for a range of inter-related expressions that are vast and open-ended. ‘I want them to hold one image despite all the activity,’ Mitchell has said of her works. ‘It’s kind of a plumb line that dancers have; they have to be perfectly balanced the more frenetic the activity is.’

The Difference Between Performing Arts and A Painter

“That’s one thing that’s always, like, been a difference between, like, the performing arts, and being a painter, you know. A painter does a painting, and he paints it, and that’s it, you know. He has the joy of creating it, it hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, and maybe somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he never, you know, nobody ever, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man!’ You know? He painted it and that was it.”

Joni Mitchell
1974

 
 

Turbulent Indigo (1994). The album takes inspiration from Vincent van Gogh for Mitchell’s self-portrait on the cover and the song Turbulent Indigo also references the post-Impressionist Dutch painter

When Sunflower Fails

Wilted Sunflower. Photo by Edward Steichen, c. 1922

 
 

“When sunflowers fail
They do not fail
In the manner of wheat and corn;
For fields of grain wither to brown
And sunflower fields blacken instead.
The great green leaves fall away;
Each plant becomes a stick.
The yellow eyes that once
So proudly followed the sun
Are humbled;
They bow their heads in ebony.
Row upon row the sunflowers stand
Like candy canes awaiting Halloween”

Jack Harter

From Evening Verse

Mine, In a Way

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 

Offering to Flora, Juan van der Hamne, 1627

 

The Sunflower. Engraving from Erasmus Francisci’s Ost- und West-Indischer wie auch Sinesischer Lust- und Stats-Garten in drey Haupt-Theile unterschieden.., 1668

 

Peacocks, Melchior d’ Hondecoeter, 1683

 

Small butterfly and sunflower, Ohara Koson, no date

 

Studio of Sir Kenelm Digby, Anthony van Dyck, c. 1630

 

Selbstporträt mit Sonnenblume (Self Portrait With a Sunflower), Anthony van Dyck, after 1633

 

Marquise Athenais de Montespan or Montespan en déshabillée, school of Pierre Mignard, c. 1670

 

Portrait of Elizabeth Claypole, Jacob Huysmans, 1680

 

Misses Wilson, James Sant, 1875

 

Bouquet of Sunflowers, Claude Monet, 1881

 

Tournesols, Claude Monet, 1881

 

Clytie, Evelyn De Morgan, 1887

 

Vase of Sunflowers, Henri Matisse, 1898

 

The Four Seasons (Summer), Alphons Mucha, 1898

 

Brita,a Cat and a Sandwich, Carl Larsson, 1898

 

Hide and Seek, Carl Larsson, c. 1900

 

Eighteen Years Old!, Carl Larsson, 1902

 

Farm Garden with Sunflowers, Gustave Klimt, 1905

 

Sonnenblume (Girasol), Gustav Klimt, 1907

 

Sunflowers, Piet Mondrian, 1907

 

Dying Sunflower, Piet Mondrian, c. 1908

 

Sonnenblume, Egon Schiele, 1909

 

Welke Sonnenblume, Egon Schiele, 1912

 

Welke Sonnenblumen, Egon Schiele, 1914

 

Sonnenblumen, Egon Schiele, 1916

 

Versunkene Landschaft, Paul Klee, 1918

 

Mature Sunflowers, Emil Nolde, 1932

 

Sunflowers, Sir Jacob Epstein, c. 1936

 

A Sunflower from Maggie, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1937

 

Girasoles (Sunflowers) Diego Rivera, 1943

 

Sunflowers at Choisel, Georges Braque, 1946

 

Composition with Sunflowers, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1949

 

Die Sonnenblumen und die (The Sunflowers and The City), Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1949

 

Le Tournesol, Fernand Léger, 1953

 

Cover for International Textiles, René Gruau, 1955

 

Sunflowers for Jonathan, David Hockney, 1995

 

The Orders of the Night (Die Orden der Nacht), Anselm Kiefer, 1996

 

Untitled (Sunflowers), Glenn Goldberg, 1999

 

Hommage a van Gogh, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, c. 1998

 

Sunflower in Grey and Green no.1, Jimmy Wright, 2008

The Truth of The Sunflower in Four Lines

Frau vor „Sonnenblumen“ von van Gogh (Woman before “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh), Isaac Israëls, 1917.

A close friend of Vincent Willem van Gogh, the artist’s nephew, Israëls had a version of the Sunflowers on loan for a while.

 
 

SUNFLOWERS
A rubái (quatrain)*

“Sunflowers: I have seen them everywhere;

They are beautiful, this no one can deny;

But, surely it was Van Gogh who painted the truth

Of the sunflower and hung it on the wall.”

Mahmud Kianush

 

Rubāʿī (رباعی) is a poetry style. It is used to describe a Persian quatrain (a stanza or poem of four lines), or its derivative form in English and other languages. The plural form of the word, rubāʿiyāt (رباعیات), often anglicised rubaiyat, is used to describe a collection of such quatrains. The plural form of the word, rubāʿiyāt (رباعیات), often anglicised rubaiyat, is used to describe a collection of such quatrains.