Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bosch, an artist I never knew I liked...

This picture is hanging up on the wall outside of our kitchen in the house. I've always loved it, but mostly because of the way we acquired it. Quinn and I went to Bar Harbor, Maine for our honeymoon. We flew out of Portland to fly home. While we were waiting for our flight (there was a delay), we decided to walk around downtown Portland to check it out. We went to a used bookstore and were checking out the old books. I don't remember what book we purchased, but this print was folded inside of it. And it wasn't just the print; it was a 'Seasons Greetings' card. Did someone give this card as a Christmas card? Very weird. No really, look at the print. The man on the right is conning the guy on the left and then someone is taking the swindled guy's wallet. Anyway, Quinn remembers that I didn't like it very much at first but I've grown to love it. I like the colors and the general darkness of the print. And that it came folded in a book; forgotten by someone else. We never the knew who the artist was, and really didn't even try to research it. We just bought a cheap, plastic frame and hung it up. Great conversation piece.

This morning, Quinn was checking his e-mail and Twoey (Matthew Taylor) had sent us a link to the artist who did the painting. The painter is Hieronymus Bosch and this painting was done between 1475 and 1480. The title was in dutch and their was no translation on the site. There were other works on the site and I really liked them. This is my new favorite. It's called the 'Ship of Fools'.
It's kind of small, but the painting is described in this way:

"In The Ship of Fools Bosch is imagining that the whole of mankind is
voyaging through the seas of time on a ship, a small ship, that is
representative of humanity. Sadly, every one of the representatives is a fool.
This is how we live, says Bosch--we eat, drink, flirt, cheat, play silly games,
pursue unattainable objectives. Meanwhile our ship drifts aimlessly and we never
reach the harbour. The fools are not the irreligious, since promiment among them
are a monk and a nun, but they are all those who live ``in stupidity''. Bosch
laughs, and it is sad laugh. Which one of us does not sail in the wretched
discomfort of the ship of human folly? Eccentric and secret genius that he was,
Bosch not only moved the heart but scandalized it into full awareness. The
sinister and monstrous things that he brought forth are the hidden creatures of
our inward self-love: he externalizes the ugliness within, and so his misshapen
demons have an effect beyond curiosity. We feel a hateful kinship with them. The
Ship of Fools is not about other people, it is about us."
Nicolas Pioch

I love this picture and I love the description by Pioch. It captures the hopelessness of the unfulfilled life. Even Bosch is on the ship- he painted himself there- with a 'sad laugh'. Even as a believer in the Sovereign God of the Universe, I find myself aboard the 'ship of fools' from time to time, wayward and lost in my own selfish desires. I want to find this print somewhere and frame it, with my other Bosch print. I love how he captures humanity.


Anonymous said...

The best class I ever took in College was Art History. There is a story with every work out there. Isn't it awesome how you can find an appreciation for something you never knew you could appreciate. I catch myself staring at the first picture pretty often in your house. I also am very fond of the posters that adorn your hallway. I have a thing for antique posters and food labels.

-C said...

love the story ... are you sure you're not a little artsy fartsy? :)

Kim said...

Perhaps, but only a little, and honestly I catch any appreciation of art I have from learning about the stories from my friend, Laura Morgan, who is an art guru.

Stace' said...

Great post! Thanks for the chance to expand myself.

I love the honeymoon story.

Laura Leigh said...

Hey, Kim, send me that link. I love the analysis given for The Ship of Fools. Art analysis, in my opinion, often sounds like pretentious hogwash (am I Southern, or what?), but not in this case. I want to read more. (Bosch also has a piece called Death of a Miser I think you'll find particularly interesting -- very Poe-ish. Let me know what you think.)

Scott H said...

If you have the name of the painting, there is a translation website that might be able to give you the name in English. Try, then click on BabelFish. It translates tons of languages.

Scott H said...

Try and Babel fish, you can translate any text from Dutch to English

Anonymous said...

The Conjuror


Anonymous said...

The Magician