The Conversation of Prayers

The Abyss of Hell, Sandro Boticelli, 1485. This is Botticelli’s chart of Hell as described by Dante in his 14th century epic poem Inferno.

 
 

“The conversation of prayers about to be said
By the child going to bed and the man on the stairs
Who climbs to his dying love in her high room,
The one not caring to whom in his sleep he will move
And the other full of tears that she will be dead,
Turns in the dark on the sound they know will arise
Into the answering skies from the green ground,
From the man on the stairs and the child by his bed.
The sound about to be said in the two prayers
For the sleep in a safe land and the love who dies
Will be the same grief flying.
Whom shall they calm?
Shall the child sleep unharmed or the man be crying?
The conversation of prayers about to be said
Turns on the quick and the dead, and the man on the stair
To-night shall find no dying but alive and warm
In the fire of his care his love in the high room.
And the child not caring to whom he climbs his prayer
Shall drown in a grief as deep as his made grave,
And mark the dark eyed wave, through the eyes of sleep,
Dragging him up the stairs to one who lies dead.”

Dylan Thomas

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When I Paint My Masterpiece

Bob Dylan visiting the The Phillips Collection, standing in front of El Greco’s The Repentant St. Peter (1600 – 1605 or later). Photo: Barry Feinstein, 1974

 
 

Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs
Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
She promised that she’d be right there with me
When I paint my masterpiece

Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see ’em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb
Train wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece

Sailin’ round the world in a dirty gondola
Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola!

I left Rome and landed in Brussels
On a plane ride so bumpy that I almost cried
Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin’ muscles
Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside
Newspapermen eating candy
Had to be held down by big police
Someday, everything is gonna be diff’rent
When I paint my masterpiece

Bob Dylan

Hells Angels and Prolific Demons

“When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets”

Hells Angels’ motto

 
 

The Hells Angels’ official website attributes the official “death’s head” insignia design to Frank Sadilek, past president of the San Francisco Chapter. The colors and shape of the early-style jacket emblem (prior to 1953) were copied from the insignias of the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron

 
 

An image of the “HAMC Death Head design” mark registered for various goods, including jewelry, by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

 
 

The alleged infringing “Hell’s Four Finger” Ring

 
 

“Hell’s Knuckle Duster” Clutch

 
 

Jacquard box dress

 
 

Shoes from Angels and Demons, Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2010-2011 collection

 
 

In October 2010, the Hells Angels filed a lawsuit against  Alexander McQueen for “misusing its trademark winged death heads symbol”, after the fashion house featured motifs similar to its famous winged death head. Lawyers for the motorcycle gang cited four products from the late designer’s final collection, created shortly before his suicide in February 2011.

They named the  ‘Hells Angels’ jacquard box dress, and a knuckle-duster ring in the complaint, as well as a scarf and a handbag.

The complaint argued that the symbol has been used by the Hells Angels since at least 1948, and that it is protected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The lawyer representing Hells Angels claimed “This isn’t just about money, it’s about membership. If you’ve got one of these rings on, a member might get really upset that you’re an impostor.”

Twice in the weeks leading up to his death, Mr. McQueen messaged on Twitter, “Hells angels [sic] and prolific demons.” What seemed a non sequitur then appeared to be a reference to the collection he was working on, imprinted with the angels of Sandro Botticelli and the demons of Hieronymus Bosch.

In March 2007, the Hells Angels filed suit against the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group alleging that the film entitled Wild Hogs (Walt Becker, 2007) used both the name and distinctive logo of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation without permission.The suit was eventually voluntarily dismissed, after it received assurances from Disney that its references would not appear in the film.

The Nymph’s Apotheosis and The Birth of a Goddess

“Raphael did not mean for Galatea to resemble any one human person, but to represent ideal beauty.”

Giorgio Vasari

 
 

Il Trionfo di Galatea (The Triumph of Galatea), Raphael, c. 1514

 
 

The fresco is a mythological scene of a series embellishing the open gallery of the building, a series never completed which was inspired to the Stanze per la giostra of the poet Angelo Poliziano.

According to Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, Acis was the son of Faunus and the river-nymph Symaethis, daughter of the River Symaethus. His version of the tale occurs nowhere earlier and may be a fiction invented by him, “suggested by the manner in which the little river springs forth from under a rock”. According to Athenaeus, ca 200 CE the story was first concocted as a political satire against the Sicilian tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse, whose favourite concubine, Galatea, shared her name with a nereid mentioned by Homer. Others claim the story was invented to explain the presence of a shrine dedicated to Galatea on Mount Etna.

Raphael did not paint any of the main events of the story. When asked where he had found a model of such beauty, Raphael reportedly said that he had used “a certain idea” he had formed in his mind. He chose the scene of the nymph’s apotheosis (Stanze, I, 118-119). Galatea appears surrounded by other sea creatures whose forms are somewhat inspired by Michelangelo Buonarroti, whereas the bright colors and decoration are supposed to be inspired by ancient Roman painting. At the left, a Triton (partly man, partly fish) abducts a sea nymph; behind them, another Triton uses a shell as a trumpet. Galatea rides a shell-chariot drawn by two dolphins.

 
 

La Naissance de Vénus, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1879.

 
 

The subject matter, as well as the composition, resembles a previous rendition of Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, as well as Raphael’s The Triumph of Galatea.

Lines Carved with Passion

Mark Summers is a talented illustrator who was born in Canada. He usually draws by means of the long-established but uncommonly, scratchboard. Scratchboard or scraperboard refers to a burdensome illustrative technique using sharp knives and tools for engraving into a thin layer of white China Clay that is coated with black India ink.
 
It can also be made with several layers of multi-colored clay, so the pressure exerted on the instrument used determines the color that is revealed. Modern scratchboard originated in the 19th century in Britain and France. As printing methods developed, scratchboard became a popular medium for reproduction because it replaced wood, metal and linoleum engraving. It allowed for a fine line appearance that could be photographically reduced for reproduction without losing quality. It was most effective and expeditious for use in single-color book and newspaper printing. From the 1930s to 1950s, it was one of the preferred techniques for medical, scientific and product illustration.
 
There is just something about the balance between black and white tones and the characteristics of the scratched lines that provides well-done scratchboard drawings a exacting appeal. Mark Summers is one of the best modern practitioners of the art.
He has done illustrations for major publications like Time and The Atlantic Monthly and has received three gold medals from the Society of Illustrators and was the recipient of the Hamilton King Award in 2000 and in 2002 he was nominated to David Greenwich Workshop Award.

 
 

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