August 8th, 2008

The Republic Of Letters

I dream that I am at a literary party or conference, talking about my writing to the poet Harry Guest- who once taught me French. He gets bored with me and  passes me to a lesbian writer, who tells me she has "dramatized Macbeth". The meeting is called to order and I understand that we are about to be addressed by someone called Professor (or Doctor) Drivel Hacker. 

Dead Hero On Horseback

 So, we now know why the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square hasn't been permanently occupied yet; it has been earmarked (by whatever unelected clique really rules this island) for an equestrian statue of the present queen- to be erected after her death.

That is to say, for something of no artistic worth whatsoever, which future generations will ignore- just as we ignore the memorial statues on all the other plinths.

Because it's almost inconceivable that a real artist would be handed a commission like this, isn't it?

Or would want to undertake it. 

It's not just that public expectations will restrict the artist to the bland and generic- though it's that too- it's also that the genre "dead hero on horseback" is completely moribund. For all the implicit drama, there's surprisingly little you can do with it. A horse is a horse is a horse- and there's not much variation you can work in the rider's pose either: the legs can only go so, the back must be straight, at least one arm must be holding the reins. 

The problem was solved- back in the 1480s- by Andrea Del Verrocchio.  His Colleoni monument (I'd post a picture, but I can't find a decent one online) is the genre's definitive masterpiece. Everything since restates or copies Verrochio- and suffers by comparison.