Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Lucas Cranach


London Transport temporarily saw fit to ban this painting advertising the Lucas Cranach (friend of Martin Luther, production line output, Desperate Housewives Adam and Eve...) exhibition.

Reviews of blockbuster shows like this pop up all over the place in the papers, on the radio, on the telly, on the internet - and a varying bunch they are too.

Tom Lubbock Lucas Cranach The Independent doesn't like Cranach,
Laura Cumming and Waldemar Januszczak in The Guardian and The Sunday Times do.

As well as proving that production line artistic output (see this article featured in Mrs Deane) is nothing new, Laura Cummings points out to the physical tenderness apparent in Cranach's paintings.

Most interesting is Lubbock's view of Cranach's portrayal of bodies that come whose "...outlines are as sharp as paper, but the flesh inside them is as formless as beaten egg. Like soft cake-mix in hard cookie-cutters, these bodies offer no resistance to the weird, sinuous shapes that Cranach imposes on them. With snake-like torsos and frog-like limbs, his Venus and Lucretia pose against darkness, while standing on a shallow curved foreground. People who like to set the flesh-loving Old Masters against the flesh-denying ways of the fashion industry should remember their Cranach. You won't find a stranger or more artificial body-ideal on any modern catwalk."

And on Cranach's production line painting factories, Lubbock has this to say, "Christ Blessing the Children has Jesus thronged by mothers presenting their babies. Heads overlap. Eyes peep out of narrow gaps. A pressure of eager intimacy builds up. And then you notice that every single baby's head is the same baby's head, from the studio "baby's head" template book. If he won't bother, why should we?"

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