Thinking of beauty today, I remembered being lucky enough to see Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Even in print the image is mesmerizing; gloriously unapologetical, celebrating beauty. To be eye to eye with the superstar painting that I had seen in art books countless of times, it felt like meeting a very famous person. Seeing the touch of the artist in the wave of her hair, her alabaster skin and the tumbling daisies it was as if pure beauty had time travelled 500 years to look me in the eye, it was simply amazing.
When photo-journalist / documentary-photographer Mary Ellen Mark died on May 25th this year, Vice magazine wrote about her work that it sings truths about the humor, horror, and joy of being alive. Not only was she a stills photographer on more than a hundred films (including famous ones like Apocalypse Now and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), she spent a life time documenting both the less fortunate and celebrities alike, always looking for that iconic shot, but never forgetting their dignity.
Song for today: Dolly Parton – The Bargain Store
“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”
– Orson Welles (1915-85), American director, actor, writer.
Song for today: Wild Beasts – Woebegone Wanderers II
On May 1st, 1947 Evelyn McHale commited suicide by jumping of the Empire State Building. Photography student Robert Wiles happens to be walking by and hears a loud crash. Only minutes later he takes a picture of the young woman who seems oddly at peace among the broken glass and warped car roof, almost as if she is sleeping. Tragic and beautiful. LIFE magazine published his photograph and it would become known as The Most Beautiful Suicide.
Song for today: Lone Wolf – Art of Letting Go
They say everyone who looks into their family history will find a secret sooner or later. So when Zooey started looking through the old family albums in the chest she found in her grandmother’s attic she intuitively felt she would find something. Some clue that an ancestor had carefully hidden away decades ago, hoping that skeleton would be taken to the grave with its last witness, forever silenced as if it had never happened. Zooey scanned the faces in the pictures carefully, sometimes recognizing the nose and heavy-set brow that dominated many of the faces in her family. On the back of most photographs her grandmother had neatly written the names of the dead mortals that peopled the images. Their attire old-fashioned, the men mustachioed, the women wearing little frilly hats; their stern looking faces looking unblinking into the camera. Zooey wondered if they had ever smiled and enjoyed life; savored the taste of a juicy peach or the scent of fresh-cut flowers. Everyone of them looked eternally forlorn, captured in their claustrophobic black and white world. Somewhat in a trance she flicked through the pile, but suddenly she stopped: It startled her; the man seemed completely alive, his bright eyes spoke to her, a long distance phone call through time itself. The photograph showed a man in mountaineering gear, posing proudly on top of a white-capped mountain, the sun was about to set, creating stark shadows contrasted by the white snow, yet his face was illuminated. The man looked at the one taking the picture with such gusto, Zooey instantly realized this was the secret she had been looking for. On the back it simple said “John S. 1932″, sadly not much of information to go on, but obviously John S. was the man her grandmother had been hiding deep inside the folds of her stifled heart more than half her life, making her distant and sour. How sad.
Song for today: Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep Mountain High
We are such stuff as dreams are made on;
and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
William Shakespeare – The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
A lovely animation was made of The Tempest as part of the Shakepeare: The Animated Tales (1992)