Sunday, March 17, 2013

Japanese Birds Fly

Here's a quicky on a special exhibit at the Metropolitan in New York. The subject of the show is birds, paintings thereof. The takeway of this post is that Japanese birds fly.  

It must be near  impossible to paint a bird that looks like s/he is actually in motion: so much easier to let them appear as if dangling from an invisible string.  I say "must be" in the sense that I've never myself lifted a paint brush, but I've looked at a lot of pictures and I can't remember many where the birds actually fly but the Japanese seem to know how to do it.  So also, come to think of it, when they are landbound: Japanese hawks assailing  mountain lions look full of life; it is the mountain lions that look dead.

New subject: Giambattista Tiepolo the Venetian--but bear with me here, there is a sequitur.    You recognize Tiepolo, painter of lustrous blue skies attended by billowing clouds.  And people: Tiepoolo skies are full of people, in and around the clouds.

And here's the thing: Tiepolo people fly.  Or at least float in the aether as if it is their natural elemement. Any other artist, their aerie figures look like they are going to drop like an anvil as soon as the painter turns his back.  

Tiepolo, meet the bird painters of Japan. Brothers in the aeronautic arts. 

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