Thursday, April 30, 2009
This is a Mughal painting, attributed to Manohar, of Lovers. Though the setting is outdoors, perhaps in a garden, the blissful couple are upon a bed which itself rests upon a beautiful carpet. An element of culture is introduced into what otherwise appears to be a natural setting. The bed acts a both a focal point and a container for the Lovers' passion, enabling as well as ennobling their ardor.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The image depicted here is an early medieval Wheel of Fortune, from the illuminated manuscript Hortus Deliciarum (Garden of Delights) by Herrad of Hohenbourg. We shared this image with Tarot expert Adam McLean, who added, "This image was created around 1180, nearly 300 years before the first painted tarot cards were produced."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This is a 17th century engraving by Gérard de Lairesse, from an anatomical atlas by the Dutch anatomist Govard Bidloo. As if the skeleton were not a stark enough reminder of mortality, it is shown standing by a tomb and holding an hourglass. I think it would make a beautiful Death card.
I came across this nice photo, taken by Paul, of magician Jeffrey Jene performing at Riverfest 2006 in Troy, New York. I immediately thought of the older versions of the Magician card, or Le Bateleur. Mr. Jene is truly a 21st century incarnation of this enduring archetype. [Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The Tarot archetypes have so spread throughout popular culture that even people with no interest in the cards might identify a favorite. Could such a favorite card be emblematic of a person's life?
Let's consider the recording artist Nico, renowned for her work with The Velvet Underground. She professed a virtual abhorrence for Tarot cards. When asked if she ever used the cards, she answered:
"No, that is one thing I cannot stand. I just don't like tarot cards. I mean, I like the four of swords. That's about all." (interview from The Velvet Underground Companion by Albin Zak)
The Four of Swords traditionally symbolizes a period of rest, with a connotation of isolation/exile and an undertone of entombment. Does this card represent Nico's life? Her final fifteen years were characterized by heroin addiction. She died prematurely from a heart attack and head trauma while bicycling.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The May issue of La Cucina Italiana features a nice article about the Umbrian town of Orvieto. The San Brizio Chapel in Orvieto's celebrated Duomo features stunning frescoes by Renaissance painter Luca Signorelli (who was paid for his work partly in that town's famous white wine). While not as well known as some of his contemporaries, his work exhibits a power and vigor which still captivate the viewer. Above is a detail from The Damned Cast Into Hell.