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Tony Grist

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Feeling Human Again [Jun. 24th, 2009|09:42 am]
Tony Grist
You know what? I think I feel human again. And to reinforce this feeling, it's a glorious summer's day, sunny and cloudless. With the exercise of a little willpower, I hope to get more than a little housework done.

Why, in words of Arabic origin, is "q" allowed to appear without the "u" that always accompanies it in English? I've been writing "burqua", but I notice most of you have it as "burqa".  An alternative- justified by the practice of The Times, no less- is to go for a "k"- as in "burka". I think I prefer it. The "u"less "q" is  unEnglish and my gorge rises at it. "Burka" still looks foreign, but less rule-slightingly so. I think I'll adopt it in future. Likewise I mean- if I can be bothered to remember this resolution- to refer to that book as "the Koran".

BBC 4 has a rather good series running about The PreRaphaelites- those English art revolutionaries who have always been immensely popular with the public but viewed a little sniffily by the sort of people who write histories of art. Last night, in episode 2, a strong case was made for regarding Ford Madox Brown as the first painter- anywhere, and a decade ahead of the French Impressionists- to paint human flesh in direct, out-doorsy sunlight. The painting in which he broke through the barrier has the unfortunate title (which has surely held it back) of "The Pretty Baa-Lambs".  There's an image of it- merely adequate, but conveying some idea of the vibrancy of Brown's colour- here. I think it's true to say, as they were saying last night, that it's quite unlike anything that had been done before in European art.

[User Picture]From: craftyailz
2009-06-24 09:48 am (UTC)
There is an article in the Mail today regarding the Burka http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1195052/Why-I-British-Muslim-woman-want-burkha-banned-streets.html. I'd thought that it was a religious requirement, but apparently it's a Saudi thing. According to one of the comments even some of the Muslim countries don't allow its use.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 09:55 am (UTC)
Thanks. I'll check it out.

(You still up there. I guess you'll be wanting a brew, then?)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 04:38 pm (UTC)
That's very true. We Brits know very little about the world East of Suez- though I suspect we know more about it than the Americans do.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2009-06-24 10:00 am (UTC)
I love the Pre-Raphaelites. I studied them on my first OU course, A102 the older version of the Arts Foundation course. I remember the Pretty Baa-Lambs. Stupid title, lovely painting.

I assume you've seen the Pre-Raphaelite paintings in Manchester Art Gallery? They have a fine collection. Birmingham does too.

I find it ironic that they were criticised by contemporary reviewers as being too ugly and coarse and now they're criticised for being too idealised. :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 10:31 am (UTC)
Manchester also has the Ford Madox Brown murals in the Town Hall. I've never been to see them- to my shame. As far as I can judge from reproductions they're really rather extraordinary.

I don't know why he gave the picture that silly title. It reeks of sentimentality, but the image itself- with its red-cheeked mother and starey-eyed baby- is far from sentimental. Perhaps he was being ironic.
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From: algabal
2009-06-24 10:08 am (UTC)
Oh, but that's a wonderful title! If only artists today were sufficiently unpretentious to give their works such titles.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 10:34 am (UTC)
You think?

I believe it had the effect of turning the 20th century against him.

Actually I can imagine some of our contemporary Britpop artists- like those rascally Chapmans or Damian Hirst- using a title like that.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2009-06-24 11:21 am (UTC)
I've always adored the Pre-Raphaelites. John William Waterhouse is my particular favorite.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 11:59 am (UTC)
There's a big exhibition of Waterhouse's work opening at the Royal Academy in London just about now.

I like him too. The BBC 4 series hasn't got round to him yet, but I imagine it will.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2009-06-24 12:11 pm (UTC)
Ooo was just going to mention the Waterhouse collection opening - I am going to try and go see it if I can.!

will check out the BBC4 programmes..
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 01:39 pm (UTC)
I think Waterhouse deserves a big exhibition. He's both hugely popular and oddly overlooked.

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From: sculptruth
2009-06-24 02:28 pm (UTC)
Ah! If only the BBC would let me watch this from their site (not being in the UK)!

Do you think the art world turns their nose at the PreRaphaelites? I haven't experienced that. Maybe individuals or some institutions do but I can't imagine that the extraordinary painting style and subject matter can be ignored. The mythology of the PreRaphaelites along with the beauty of the work is a perfect combination! I remember my art history professors (in NY) were in love with them.

I imagine given that contemporary art is so prevalent that there are some who feel they can ignore art history, but don't you think they're inseparable? I know I can't remove my work from its predecessors. And there's no way we would have arrived at abstraction without Caspar David Friedrich, or Cubism without El Greco. Those who snub history are without solid foundation, and sadly mistaken!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 04:50 pm (UTC)
I may be reflecting the prejudices of an earlier generation. I grew up in the mid 20th century- at a time when the great Victorian artists were largely derided- though on the point of being rediscovered by the hippies (including me).

I remember going into a Bond St gallery c.1970 and seeing a major painting by Lord Leighton on sale for under £1,000. If I'd had the nerve to borrow the money and buy it I'd now be a millionaire.

I think there's still a sense- within academe- that the pre-Raphaelites stand a little aside from the mainstream of modern art history (which is very francocentric). To claim- as this BBC show does- that modern plein-air landscape painting began not with Monet, but with Millais and Ford Madox Brown, is still rather a daring, controversial and counter-intuitive thing to do.

I agree with you about art history. It's one of my passions.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-06-24 04:14 pm (UTC)
Why, in words of Arabic origin, is "q" allowed to appear without the "u" that always accompanies it in English?

Because it's transliterating an emphatic consonant, which is equivalent neither to the English Q nor K. (It has become so in modern Hebrew, but absolutely not in modern Arabic.) Following it with a U is not accurate to the orthography of the original language or the pronunciation.

BBC 4 has a rather good series running about The PreRaphaelites-

Nice. I will hope it turns up on television here.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-06-24 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. I can see why a sound that doesn't exist in English should be represented by an eccentric spelling.

But I think I'll stick with the "k". I reckon it's more elegant.
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