Fêtes and Folly: The Tea Party

Andrei Ryabushkin, The Tea Party, 1903
Me, circa 2013.
By ROSIE PASQUALINI

A tea party? Count me in! It's all fun and games until someone sees the severed human heads in the background. Actually, wait. They probably haven't even noticed. By "they," of course, I mean the fearsome foursome lined up at the table, looking like clowns in their obscenely pretty clothes. The brightness is nauseating, like the guests' frostbite, which brings out the dullness of their eyes. The table is laden with simple yet sacred food: Fish and bread. Nobody is eating. (When I discovered this painting, I was overcome first by a sort of thrill at the perfidy of it all, followed by an uncanny familiarity. Lunch on the eating disorder unit had a similar vibe.) Many paintings are conducive to laughter. Others inspire the urge to vomit. But few can produce these two effects in tandem. What's going on here?

Here's how I see it. This posse of relatively moneyed hooligans is rolling through a poor neighborhood when some emergency-- perhaps an ambush, considering the heads-- forces them to take cover in a local eatery. They both ignore and are actively disgusted by the wealth discrepancy, which terrifies them even more than the commotion outside. In avoiding the food they are served, our guests assert their perceived superiority while simultaneously resisting the "truths" of excess and poverty, including that undeniable wholesomeness-- here, a holiness-- which accompanies subsistence at its most basic level. Every member of our fearsome foursome deals with their discomfort in a unique way. The man on the far left is pretending that nothing is wrong. His face exudes an expert blend of self-assurance and exhaustion. To his right sits a man with splendiferous hair, who wears a curiously bashful expression. Perhaps he envies the first man's composure. Personally, I think he is smitten with the man in blue. (After all, while a smidge of anxiety helps us disguise ourselves, fear is self-revealing.) The woman on the right is peeved not only by her spectacular out-of-place-ness but also by her husband's homoerotic tendencies. The crease in tablecloth accentuates their divide. And just look at that glare. Only the man on the far right responds sensibly to the whole predicament. He is drinking his troubles away.

Beside the individuality of each facial expression, my favorite aspect of this composition is that it has no true center. After escaping the woman's death-stare, my gaze tumbles down her shoulder and gradually descents the line of the tablecloth, where it must then find a new face to keep from falling off the painting. The constant motion inherent in this arrangement mimics the discomfort Ryabushkin creates in his depiction of a wealth which seems absurd, nearly laughable, when juxtaposed with a lack thereof. We humans like to associate with those similar to us in order to feel normal. Ryabushkin's Tea Party pushes back against this tendency, revealing a truth, or at least a difference, that can't not be noticed.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.

  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne

Dosso Dossi, Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, 1514
By SAI GONDI

Though this work dates back to 1514, its modern prevalence to the many joys and regrets of Spring Break can not go unnoticed. The actual painting, done by Dosso Dossi, depicts a youthful Bacchus traveling with Ariadne, his special lady friend, and the rest of his squad. In mythology, Bacchus is the god of wine, so you already know his party train's looking to have some fun. Imagine them as a group of college students freshly arrived at some cheap hotel or resort during their break. Bacchus, the frat lord and ring leader, has assembled his companions and leads them towards the overly-crowded beaches blasting with music from the early 2000s. The food elevated high in the air symbolizes the needless desire to care about their health and the time to splurge. Its Spring Break, why would they care? They've been waiting for this the second their last Spring Break ended.

Their general readiness to party shows that nothing, not even the dark clouds in the background, can bring them down. The male on the far left who already requires assistance symbolizes that one person who really has no self-control upon arriving within the first hour. Also, the child should not be there. I mean, who lets their kid hang out with the god of wine? He should be at home eating Coco Puffs and watching cartoons. Anyway, that red, devil looking guy separated from his fellow friends poses as that one buddy we all have who forgets sunscreen and burns within seconds of exposure to the sun. Everyone else though seems ready to have fun and make poor decisions. But hey, for them its Spring Break, and you only live once.. unless you believe in reincarnation.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: The King Drinks

Jacob Jordaens, The King Drinks, 1638
By TROY WORKMAN

Members of the royal court cheer,"The king drinks!" The hullabaloo intensifies in drunkenness. The king is in reality, just a common man. But for the evening, he is the almighty ruler. The lucky man found a hidden bean in his tart, thus earning the title of king for the evening. Filling his royal court with what seems to be the rowdiest Belgian crew, the king buries himself deeper in gluttony.

The temporary king is actually Jordaen's step father and fellow painter, Adam van Noort. Beyond intoxicated, every person appears to be eternally trapped in a humiliating pose. From the vomiting man plummeting to the floor, to the mother wiping her horrified child's rear for no reason, even the audience can smell the reek of alcohol. Jordaens certainly learned his lesson from this painting, as he later in life became a devout Protestant. Located just above the king, a sign in Dutch reads "in een vry gelachllst goet gast syn," or in English "Where there is a free meal it is good to be a guest." Irony presents itself in the fact that these people are wasting to excess and are not appreciating their privilege as guests.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Bikini Figure

Bikini Figure, Wayne Thiebaud, 1966
By REID GUEMMER

Spring break is approaching and like many you are headed south to warmer weather. Winter and the stress of third quarter have left you hardly any time to overthink the usual pre-spring break festivities. You’ve neglected to self-tan your fluorescently-white skin and your usual attempt at a juice cleanse. You’re left with one last chance to redeem yourself this spring break: finding the perfect swimsuit.

Frantically you scroll through pages and pages of swimsuits online. After selecting a few, and might I say fairly mediocre ones, you reach the checkout. Although suddenly realize the delivery date would be two days after your departure to Cabo, and you are not about to pay $39.99 for express shipping. Your next move is to head to the mall.

After driving the 30 minutes it takes to get to the burbs of Oak Park, you’ve arrived at a crowd favorite, Nordstroms. You push through the mobs of frantic shoppers and ride the escalator up to the picked over swimsuit section. The once overly-exciting experience of shopping now seems like a miserable task. Finally you decide the burden of swimsuit shopping is too much, and decide to borrow your mother’s vintage high wasted bikini. 

  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: This Side of Paradise

Kenton Nelson, This Side of Paradise 
By EMMA SHAPIRO

The typical scenes associated with "sprang break" consist of "turning up" at tropical destinations with alcohol and extremely poor decision making, but you cannot spend your entire vacation intoxicated. This Side of Paradise by Kenton Nelson shows the part of spring break left off of social media, peacefully reading on the beach alone.

Kenton Nelson, born in 1954, currently resides in Pasadena. California. He paints realist figures, landscapes, and architecture bathed in light. Unlike the people on the horizon, the woman does not use an umbrella. Nelson utilizes the effects of light in many of his paintings and a narrative realism that mimics Edward Hopper. Hopper's paintings encompass the theme of isolation, similar to this Kenton Nelson. But, although the woman is physically isolated from the busy beach scene, it appears that this separation brings her more peace and contentment. She distances herself from the ocean, symbols of death and isolation, in order to feel happiness and the warmth of the sun.

The woman in Nelson's paintings usually wear outfits more fitting for another decade. The woman in This Side of Paradise wears a swimsuit top with matching high-waisted bottoms with loafers, a classier ensemble than one would see if they went to the beach today. Nowadays women have the mindset of "the less clothing the better." By not painting his women like so, Nelson allows for his paintings to encompass a timeless beauty.

  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Each Party has its Ending

Thomas Couture, Supper at the Maison d'Or, 1855
By ELLIE SCHNEIDER

Thomas Couture, the famous French painter, is known for his depictions of history. His most famous work, Romans During the Decadence, shows Romans who are exhausted from partying. This theme appears again in Supper at the Maison d'Or, which is also known as Each Party has its Ending and Supper After the Masked Ball. The painting itself is just as damaged as the people in it. In fact, the painting spent many years in storage due to the damaged frame and the poor condition of the painting. In 2014, the painting was shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery for the first time in decades.

If each party has its ending, this one did not end well. Three out of the four party-goers obviously hit their limit since they passed out. The fourth drunkard sits atop the table, appearing dazed and confused. People say, "Do not drink on an empty stomach," but these partiers didn't listen, and they will be sorry in the morning. Two of the titles,
Supper at the Maison d'Or and Supper After the Masked Ball, suggest they attempted to eat, but it was too late. While they are passed out, the party definitely continued at the Maison. You can see this by the dish and food all over the ground in the bottom left corner of the painting and the tablecloth that is askew.

I picture the man in white saying, "The night is young!" but the picture shows the consequences from partying too hard. This is the perfect image for a PSA on alcohol consumption and education. At the beginning of the night, if they knew the night would end on the floor of the
Maison d'Or, I bet they would have rethought that last drink.

So to those reading, put down that glass of wine and try a chocolate milk. 


*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: The Tea Party

Frederic Soulacroix, The Tea Party, date unknown

By MADELINE VASQUEZ 

As I sit and admire
Tea Party, by Frederic Soulacroix, I think to myself, “Wow, these women sure do seem like they are having a fun time!” It reminds me of when I was little and used to have my own tea parties with all my stuffed animal friends. But, obviously these are adults, not children, and they are having an exciting, sophisticated time in their elegant attire while drinking out of their ornate teacups. I, on the other hand, had a rad time with plastic toys. 

GASP! What could they possibly be talking and laughing about? Well, we all know how women are and how much they love to gossip. It appears as if the women in the chic silvery, green dress has done something that she regrets, but cannot take it back. She sits slouched in her chair and just laughs it off as she tells her friends what she has done, thus trying to hide her embarrassment by shielding her face with her lovely feathered fan. TYPICAL! Not surprised. Everyone makes mistakes. But what better way to bond with one another than spending time with a couple of friends and some delicious tea! 


Frederic Soulacroix does a fabulous job making the women in the painting look so realistic and eye catching with every inch of detail on their faces, dresses, and the beautiful furniture. A lot of his paintings were for private customers, and he painted a few tea party scenes with these exact women. So maybe he knew them on a personal level! But all in all, now I want to have my own tea part
y.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.


  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Holyday

James Tissot, Holyday, c. 1876
By LILI TUCKER

Nothing says folly like a picnic by the pond; a fresh linen blanket, milky-white china and lustrous chrome silverware. Early Autumn, the leaves crisp and burning gold and yellow-like embers dripping down the canvas to touch this scene of frivolity.

Here one finds Tissot's typical fishpond garden, encircled by his typical cast-iron colonnade, and his typical over-dressed women with their air of British Superiority.

And it all seems so typical.

That is the point of folly, and without folly, fêtes are nothing more than a gathering of familiar faces. This painting, captures folly well.

The laissez-faire air of luxury in Tissot's wife, Kathleen, on the lower right. She holds her delicately enameled teacup with a gloved hand as if the ivory porcelain should stain her lily-white complexion. She sits peacefully by the pond, cushioned from the harsh needles of grass by her gold and gingham skirt. The cricket player lounges in middle, hand to his temple, held up simply by the soft small of the woman's back- for the weight of his meager worries seems to require nothing more substantial. Finally, the pinstriped girl on the left puts every ounce of her energy into endeavoring to dip her cookie all the way into the cricket player's teacup. As their chaperone dozes off in the background, the young socialites worry over nothing but the waning afternoon and the wind blowing away their picnic paraphernalia. 

There's a peaceful finality of the whole scene. Time is slow - like pouring marmalade. There's no before or after to this vignette. This snapshot of bliss. Only the sound of the wind stirring the lilies along the surface of the pond resonates around this peaceful picture. 

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Follies: The Roses of Heliogabalus

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Roses of Heliogabalus, 1888
By LISA MAEDA

Oh, the glory of spring time. After months of coating-wearing and heater hogging, Nature gently reminds us that the world outside can feel, well, just right. 'Tis the season for animals (and people) to withdraw from their confined existence, and revel in their new found sunlight. For the average squirrel, this means going out, eating a bunch of food, and finding a mate. For the average teenage Roman emperor... well, it's essentially the same.

Elagabalus (Heliogabalus) was elected emperor at only 14 years old, and was assassinated only four years later. His reign was, to say the least, interesting. Like most youngsters with too much power, he frolicked in worldly pleasures. Wild rumors surrounded him throughout the empire, accusing him of freely prostituting himself to other men. He frequently sought out the company of the most attractive, well-endowed men he could find.

This painting is a testament to Elagabalus's short reign. He lays on his stomach, relaxed and draped in gold with a pensive, yet content smile. Behind him, a woman plays music and dons leopard fur around her hips, a tribute to the lusty Dionysus. A statue Dionysus, the Greek god of all things party, embraces his lover, a satyr boy named Ampelus, referencing Elagabalus's bisexual nature.

Roses seep through the bottom left of the painting, like incoming ocean waves onto the shore. It grows into the crowd of people, seemingly hiding their erotic ventures. Yet, they are drowning. Only the royals are safe from this public smothering. Yes, Elagabalus's rule may have been opulent, but only for him. This painting, though initially gay and full of life, enshrouds people below Elagabalus in flowery restrains. They are dazed, sinking further into their own pleasures. Rome needs a leader, and yet their ruler, though young, seems to care more about who he command to be his next lover, rather than commanding a country.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.

  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: The Large Bathers

Renoir, The Large Bathers, 1887

By MEGAN GANNON 
I present to you the 1887 edition of Girls Gone Wild. The boobs are free and the girls intoxicated. Sitting on the bank of the French Rivera as if it were Las Playas of Cancun. 

The breakdown of the squad goes like this. Our Voluminous Brunette most likely reigns as den mother keeping an eye on her ducklings as they venture into the world of red solo cups and bad pick-up lines. She warns them of men and reminds them to NEVER, and I mean NEVER set their drink down. 

The young woman glued to her side acts a loyal sidekick refusing to party unless she has her mother. Our braided friend represents the craziness of the group, the one who somehow always ends up on top of a table. As for the two in the background they only have one thing on their mind. The party tonight! In the midst of swimming they plan their provocative outfits and take guesses about the type of men who will be attending. 

You might be thinking that although my evidence convincing, The Large Bathers by Renoir does not completely capture spring break due to the lack of salivating men. Don’t worry I’m sure they exist beyond the canvas. To the criticisms I offer two things. First who wants to see men in Girls Gone Wild and second the absence of men in the painting helps to stress the sisterhood motif. With a man the painting would give off a predator vibe and destroy the happiness felt by the women enjoying their bodies and the sun. 

Yes, spring break is known for rampant partying and booze, but with The Large Bathers we see the other side of it - these women express their hot bods because they can...and they enjoy each other’s company to boot. 

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.

  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: What I Believe

Paul Cadmus, What I Believe, 1933
By ANIRUDH VADLAMANI

There is far too much folly in this painting. While I am no stranger to strange choices in paintings which (I hope) make one or two viewers uncomfortable, even I am thrown off by this painting. And for that reason, it would be criminal if I didn't share my views on this "modern masterpiece" (as Cadmus puts it).  However, despite harsh criticism, this painting has an underlying value that is far more important than the apparent strangeness thatsits before us.

Paul Cadmus is no stranger to works that incite ridicule from the intended audience. However, this painting incites the aforementioned ridicule in a different way to his other paintings. In most of Cadmus's paintings, he extenuates the nude male figure in very uncomfortable ways (like the ways above). Why is the man on the bottom covering his head, while some woman reads on his upper buttock? However, the most puzzling mystery in this painting is the fact that along the right border in the middle is a little baby, right next to the woman with the nipples the size of Mt. Everest? Who invited this baby to this... social gathering of nude adults. There is no way any of the happenings in this painting are PG.

While Cadmus's portrayal of the human figure is strange, it is accurate. He has spent long periods of time studying the male figure (with some of his methods being unorthodox for his time). However, in terms of proportions, all of his measurements are very accurate. It is the aforementioned accuracy that rose him to prominence during the World War II period?

I've been wanting to write about Paul Cadmus for a very long time now, however, have never had the opportunity, as none of his paintings seemed to fit any certain art style. This painting is part of a movement of America known as "Social Realism." This time period is almost exclusive to the United States with only a few other English Artists joining the movement. This period places a heavy focus on the struggles of the impoverished and needy, which was prevalent during his time (Great Depression).

This painting in particular shows a heaven-like place in the forefront of the painting with many of the characters in the painting frolicking in their nudeness. However, in the back, many others look upon these people, jealous or disappointed that their lives aren't the same way. Similarly, many impoverished, struggling to eat enough food or provide a roof for their families (or even themselves), looked upon the aristocrats and landlords (the top .1% of Americans) who took advantage of the system enough to have 20% of all money in the United States.

While initially this painting comes off as strange or joking, Cadmus created a painting which accurately depicts the wealth gap during the time it was created. The top .1% were able to enjoy their lives, and ignored the pain and depression that overcame the rest of 99.9% of Great Depression America.

*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.

  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, 1903
By LIBBY ROHR

Anyone who's ever been to a party knows the cast of one. With the million different characters you'd expect to see, it wouldn't be a party without the showy jester figure. We all know these people; the vibrant, wild beings floating through crowded rooms of people, laughing and talking and acting with carefree abandon. Picasso often described the subject of this work, Angel Fernandez de Soto, as an "amusing wastrel" who spent much of his time playing that very role, drinking and partying as though it was his last day on earth. He met de Soto during his time in Paris and as a close friend and fellow artist, Picasso painted him often. This portrait of de Soto falls into Picasso's Blue Period, at the turn of the century while Picasso was first experimenting with color and unconventional painting. Easily recognizable for the monochromatic blue, this time in Picasso's life was a rocky and uneven one.

In Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, de Soto sits at a bar with a glass of absinthe, smoking a pipe, and staring off at the audience. We see de Soto after the party, lonely beyond all belief, surrounded by nothing but shadows, with a look of bored disdain on his sickly-looking face. Like all Blue Period paintings, the whole pictured world is seen through a dark blue lens, however this one has a near impressionistic chaos to the brush strokes that sets it apart from his others at this time. Covered in shadows and general tragedy, the Blue Period would not usually be associated with a "Fêtes and Folly" theme, but upon seeing this depiction of the partier without his party, I felt it needed to make an appearance. Like many of Picasso's paintings in this period, the figure is gaunt with spindly features, especially visible here in de Soto's fingers. The El Greco-inspired facial structure adds to the discontent in this painting as well as emphasizes his sunken, hollow eyes.

So if there's no fête, where's the folly? Despite the dapper clothes, the slicked back hair, and all the alcoholic makings of a wild time, this painting shows what's left underneath the distraction of the "fête:" a depressed, deeply dissatisfied man, alone in a world that some part of him is trying to drink away. The overall feeling in this painting reminds me of something you'd read from the "Lost Generation," even though it was painted nearly two decades before they lived and worked in Paris. The simultaneous hatred of solitude and shelter in it that we see reflected in post-World-War-I writings is alive in Picasso's every tumultuous brush stroke. The more I look at de Soto's twisted mouth and dead eyes, I see all the people I've known who have suffered deeply and attempt to escape their world because they don't know how to be alive in life, anymore. It's not the hilarious and ridiculous party scene that many of my talented classmates will write about, but it still shows an important truth that we often ignore for the sheer discomfort of discussing it. The party unfortunately ends and you can kill yourself trying to live for it, like de Soto here is, or you can do your best to care for tomorrow's self too. If nothing else, this painting shows the other side of the "life of the party" figure, the kind that has to wake up in the morning and keep living, and that universal experience makes this such a human painting. Both the highs and lows are parts of life and, as Picasso demonstrates in this portrait, both are worthy of artistic representation.


*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Dinner Party

Fernando Botero, Dinner Party, 1994
BY MELISA CAPAN

What celebrates fetes and follies quite like a scandalous Colombian dinner party?

That’s right, nothing. Botero once again brings out his, not fat, but voluminous figures. 

Whether plucking a sweet tune from a guitar, or simply drinking in complete nudity, these figures are full of happiness as they take a minute to indulge in the joy of life. Wine is endlessly poured, cigarettes are lit and a tiny servant woman skitters around to fetch more cocktails… La fiesta nunca se detiene! 

Throughout Fernando Botero’s paintings people appear bloated and full while his color palette continues to be warm. Dinner Party was painted in a time of peril in Colombia, as his hometown of Medellin became covered in drug-trafficking. This exact year, Botero was a target of a failed kidnapping... As one of Colombia's most renowned artists, he sure knows how to share some folly with the world. Enjoyment can be found even in darkest periods. The good vibes radiate from the Dinner Party and la fiesta continuará.
*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: And the Band Played On

Andy Thomas, And the Band Played On, 2009
By KARL SHEERAN

Legend tells the tale of a harmonious oddity, a party unforeseen and shocking. In attendance, twenty-six notable musicians throughout the ages, from Louis Armstrong to Elvis to Frank Sinatra and many others. They dance about and enjoy themselves in a brotherly fashion, a not-so-subtle argument towards male dominance as few woman make an appearance in the piece.

Thomas's rich palette conveys the joy in the scene through the multitude of vibrant colors.  It fulfills its duty because music imparts a message, whether that of joy or sorrow or love.  In this case, happiness permeates the canvas with intense blues and reds. Oh yes! And alcohol!  Drink runs plenty from chalices, bottles, and mugs.  It lights up the canvas, leaving only the night sky in a somber mood. Thomas's use of flowing lines produces an easy-going personality to the piece, fueled by the alcohol, undoubtedly.

But then again, what do I know?


*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.


  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: Bacchus

Peter Paul Rubens, Bacchus, 1638
By SARAH XU

In this painting, Peter Paul Rubens paints Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and intoxication, which basically means Bacchus was an alcoholic who liked to party. But, this painting was not commissioned. Rubens painted it just for fun and kept it in his studio until he died. Considering he married a 16 year old when he was 53 years old, I don’t consider his fascination with chubby gods strange at all.

Spring Break as a fledgling includes beaches, music, and of course, alcohol. But, what would Spring Break be like in the future? Technically, there is no two week break that just asks for you to make poor decisions. But, there’s a good rule to follow, YOLO. Create your own Spring Break! You go, Glenn Coco. There are no obstacles to hold you back. Have children? Bring them with you and party with them! The more the merrier! There’s no stopping you. Beer gut? It’s not there if you’re too intoxicated to have the capability to focus. Outta sight, outta mind. Living with the parents is strange? No, it’s the new norm. Make the best of it and bring them with you. Parents are great drinking buddies, until they guzzle down all the good stuff. Thanks Dad. Bring your wife, Barbara! She might pester you about your weight, but geez Barbara! Cut him some slack! He just killed a tiger, what have you done today? Perhaps Barbara should avert her attention to her kids instead of always badgering her husband. We can’t have little Cindy becoming addicted to alcohol at such a young age. 

After a bit of pondering, I withdraw my statement. This is a public service announcement. Do not bring your family on your Spring Break vacation. Instead, just go to Vegas alone.


*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry, cheeky overstatement, and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.
  • 7:00 AM

Fêtes and Folly: The Youth of Bacchus

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Youth of Bacchus, 1884

By ISABEL THOMAS

Spring break is starting, and we all know what that means: crazy parties, new cohorts, and plenty of regrets—at least if you’re Bacchus. The god of wine and ritual madness (in the form of concerts and late-night bonfires around this time of year) always brings the drama. Without fail, he turns otherwise-sensible young ladies and gents into packs of irresponsible hooligans. Bouguereau captures the mood of Bacchus’ antics with The Youth of Bacchus, wherein young people (presumably letting loose after the never-ending workload of third quarter) drape themselves on the wine god, reveling in his reckless abandon.

The full-time party boy’s tan physique contrasts with spring break students who have not been outside in months. Bouguereau’s painting bursts with youthful gaiety, with subjects delighted to be temporarily free of academic and personal responsibility. The heavenly figures are all clearly defined but still connected and entwined, entirely unconcerned. I suppose that, when one is in the presence of the actual party god, one forgets about that homework due on the first day back.



*** Editor's Note: Students developed the topic of Fêtes and Folly to chronicle elegant celebrations, bad dates, late nights, or other things related to that time in Spring where barbaric yawps can be heard from backyards, beaches, or the more familiar rooftop. Enjoy their revelry and occasional tales of ribaldry over the next couple of weeks.


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Man at his Bath

Gustave Caillebotte, Homme au Bain, 1884
By LILI TUCKER

You know you've done something wrong when your painting has to be locked up because the public is so horrified by it.

But it wasn't the nudity that shocked the public. Nudity had been a fairly normal theme throughout this time and paintings of bathers rarely posed any problems. However, this particular painting caused such an uproar it was forced off the wall and into a locked vault where it stayed for over 80 years.

Brettell theorizes, in the late 1800s, artists such as: Enckell, Picasso, Manet and Caillebotte began using the nude in a new way. These paintings became realistic portrayals of people and their environment. There were no attempts to show an idealized form of the human body. The people shown were not gods or goddesses- just typical 19th century people doing typical 19th century things...naked.

This painting is no different. Caillebotte portrays this man at his bath in his private bathroom, devoid of any decoration. In the same way, this man is devoid of any decoration, any god-like lustre or fanfare. We are peering into a vulnerable, private moment and we feel guilty for it. It's not the man's fault for being nude, it's our fault for watching him. Brettell says, "we are asked...to recoil from the act of grazing. As viewers, we are ashamed" (Brettell 135). Thus, even though the man is shown in a fairly vulnerable state, it is the viewer that is rendered vulnerable and-- naked.

In 2011, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston tried to buy the painting but the donors wouldn't allow it due to it's subject matter. So, the MFA decided to sell 8 of the donor's paintings in order to afford the painting. The works sold for this particular painting included works by: Monet, Renoir, Gaugin, Pissaro, Sisley.

You know you've done something right when the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston sells eight donor paintings just to buy your painting for $7 million.

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The Wave VIII


August Strindberg, The Wave VIII, 1901
By LISA MAEDA

Powerful. Violent. Somber. Meaningless? 

"What does it mean?" asks the average gallery visitor, stumped by the eccentricities of modern art. What kind of statement is the artist trying to make?

Richard Brettell argues: "That there is a very strong and literary-charged subject here, the crashing sea, is undeniable. Yet Strindberg conveyed that subject in ways that have little to do with standard illusionism, and removed any sense of internal narrative from the canvas" (189).

So, essentially, it means nothing.

"Really?" I ask, doubting Brettell's roundabout logic. Don't get me wrong, Brettell is a fun read — but I couldn't find myself agreeing. Strindberg was an author at heart, and to say his paintings were without narrative seemed like an utterly ridiculous assertion. Surely Strindberg, writer of intense dramas that bit into social roles and norms would paint with a storyteller's hand. I believe that the internal narrative remains preserved, a rich element of the cardboard canvas in which Strindberg painted.

The Wave VII is a self-explanatory title. This wave is not Strindberg's first, nor his last. Despite the chaotic focus of the ocean and clouds, the horizon takes its place as the heart of the painting. Surreal, yet gentle, the pale orange light continues to shine past the wave's attempt at extinguishment. Like sunrise over a battlefield, it signifies a peaceful future.

I wonder, if I had a closer view of this painting (18 inches away, to be exact), if it would feel like a Rothko. Strindberg emulates Rothko's double rectangle formula before Rothko's time, and yet the distinct presence of a subject breaks that illusion. And while Brettell acknowledges that subject, he doesn't at the same time, simply by attributing The Wave VIII to his concept of "anti-iconography." 

Perhaps, rather than following vague explanations about how some art doesn't mean anything, we can define art on our own terms.
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Horse in Motion

Eadweard Muybridge, The Horse in Motion, 1878
By KARL SHEERAN

Photography brought a whole new type of bacon to the art table. While painting allowed for artists to use their own exclusive style, photography captured reality in its essence.  An artist controls the subject; he or she chooses the foreground, mid-ground, and background. Photographers barter with a system of gives and takes.  Nature controls the outcome of the photograph. Too much sunlight and the photograph comes out white from too much exposure.  Richard Brettell, in Modern Art 1851-1929, outlines the difficulty of outdoor photography.  The edges of photographs oftentimes contain objects undesirable, destroying an opportunity for that particular shot.  He writes how the originally aesthetically displeasing inconvenience mutated into coveted characteristics.

However in exchange for the drawback of nature, the photographer gains an exponential growth in detail than that of traditional painting. Francisco de Zurbarán's paintings contain an extraordinary amount of detail, such as in Lamb of God, but Muybridge's The Horse in Motion reveals a neuoteric perspective on the horse anatomy.

A horse's legs have always confused me.  The front legs bend backwards at the knee, but the back legs bend forwards at the knee.  Photography exposes the prodigious evolutionary feat of the horse gallop.  The horse momentarily drifts in midair after its powerful quadriceps propel it forward.  Painting on a canvas would fail in communicating the process of this system, but Muybridge beautifully lays out this series in the form of a progression.
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Drunken Faun

Drunken Faun C. 220 B.C.E., Sculptor Unknown.

By GARY WHITTAKER

The nude (nude not naked) form has dominated the artistic scene of humanity since cave painting was a legitimate career. However not all nudes are created equal. Greco-Roman and their offspring depicted nudity heroically; this particular disciple of Dionysus displays his genitalia proudly as if to say "Ya, I had way to much to drunk, but hey watcha going to do about it? Nothing, ya that's I thought... punk." Similar sentiment can be found in every artistic display of nudity from the Reign of Alexander the Great to the rise and fall of Rome and through the Renaissance; till a bunch of  painters in the 1890's decided to paint ACTUAL people, the gall.

Once the flood gates of depicting actual people were pried open by Munch, Picasso, Gauguin and their cohorts, they could not be closed. It started out simply, bathers dipping into a tub or river, their dumpy un-sculpted bodies proudly on display. Rolls of fat and wide hipped males became the norm, the gladiators of Rome were slayed by gangling youths and unshaven women.

Artistic nudity had hit bedrock, Gauguin painted nude Tahitian women with fat deposits, nude prostitutes hung in galleries to shock the public. Then Duchamp and Dada came with industrial grade mining equipment. They burrowed below the crust of earth itself and crashed through the roof of hell, here they discovered in the seventh circle the most feared style of nudity, and abstract nude.  

Duchamp labored on his sarcastic depiction of a women for nearly a decade. The final product consisted of shattered pane of glass with a technical drawing of a mold in which molten metal was to be poured. The Bride Stripped Bare reduced the nude human form to the very essential - the reproductive organs.  
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