WTF Art History

For everyone interested in art history who has asked, WTF?

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  1. FART HISTORY. 

    For all of our previous posts on fart history, click here (and don’t forget the Japanese fart scroll we covered a while back here).

    James Ensor, Les Vents, 1888, etching. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

    Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, c. 1500, oil on panel. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon
    Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (copy), before 1516, oil on panel.  Musée de Beaux Arts, Brussels

    Chen Wenling, What You See May Not Be Real, 2009, fiberglass and paint. Installation in Beijing Art Gallery in 2009 

    Marco Zoppo, Three Putti and a Dog with Four Figures Behind from the Rosebery Album of 26 folios, c. 1455-65, pen and brown ink, brown wash on vellum.  British Museum, London (1920,0214.17.1 17 verso)

    Anonymous Flemish artist, Satirical Diptych, early 16th century, oil on panel. Université de Liège

    Aubrey Beardsley, Lysistrata Defending the Acropolis, 1896, illustration.  Photo courtesy of eBooks@Adelaide; The University of Adelaide Library, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005

    He-Gassen (屁合戦 Farting Battle), Edo Period (1603-1868), ink on paper.  Waseda University

    Fart History: Maerten van Heemskerck, Allegory of Nature (detail), 1567, oil on panel. Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

     
     
  2. Fart History: Maerten van Heemskerck, Allegory of Nature (detail), 1567, oil on panel. Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

    Fart History: Maerten van Heemskerck, Allegory of Nature (detail), 1567, oil on panel. Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

     
     
  3. Flatulation Defense

    imageAubrey Beardsley, Lysistrata Defending the Acropolis, 1896, illustration.  Photo courtesy of eBooks@Adelaide; The University of Adelaide Library, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005

    Aubrey Beardsly’s illustration accompanied the text of Aristophanes’sLysistrata.  Wikipedia summarizes the play as follows:

    Lysistrata is acomedy by Aristophanes. Originally performed inclassical Athens in411 BCE, it is a comic account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece towithhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace — a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes.

    The other images from the series are equally WTF worthy, so be sure to check them out on the University of Adelaide Library website.  I especially enjoy the image below.

    Aubrey Beardsley, The Examination of the Herald, 1896, illustration. Photo courtesy of eBooks@Adelaide; The University of Adelaide Library, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005

     
     
  4. Don’t Open This Diptych!

    Anonymous Flemish artist, Satirical Diptych, early 16th century, oil on panel. Université de LiègeAnonymous Flemish artist, Satirical Diptych, early 16th century, oil on panel. Université de Liège

    When a diptych warns you not to open it, you’d be wise to obey!

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  5. Putti Gone Wild @BritishMuseum

    Marco Zoppo, Three Putti and a Dog with Four Figures Behind from the Rosebery Album of 26 folios, c. 1455-65, pen and brown ink, brown wash on vellum.  British Museum, London (1920,0214.17.1 17 verso)Marco Zoppo, Three Putti and a Dog with Four Figures Behind from the Rosebery Album of 26 folios, c. 1455-65, pen and brown ink, brown wash on vellum.  British Museum, London (1920,0214.17.1 17 verso)

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  6. Farting Bull

    Chen Wenling, What You See May Not Be Real, 2009, fiberglass and paint. Installation in Beijing Art Gallery in 2009 

    The “farting bull” sculpture by Chinese artist Chen Wenling is pretty straightforward.  It depicts an explosive fart by the golden bull of Wall Street pinning a demon-horned Bernie Madoff to a wall.  One writer described the sculpture as weird, wild, and wicked.  Happy Sunday-funday!

     
     
  7. Bosch’s Farts Smell Like Roses & Sparrows

    Bosch fart history sodomyHieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (details), c. 1490-1510, oil on panel.  Museo del Prado, Madrid

    For He spoke and it was, He commanded and it stood. - Psalm 33:9

    The above words are inscribed on the closed panels of the Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch’s, an unsigned work that is universally accepted as being authentically by him (a rarity indeed among scholars).  But scholarly attempts to decipher the meaning of the painting’s intensely coded symbolism are as diverse, and at times peculiar, as the symbols themselves.  Interpretations run the gamut from an apotheosis of sinfulness to a world overcome by alchemical symbols, from sensuality with complete innocence to an esoteric scene about magic (among countless others).  The most straight forward reading of the painting is that the scene of Adam and Eve on the far left leads to the chaos of a world filled with sin, the result of which is Hell for unbelievers.  Seems simple enough right?

    Rather than ending up lost in the boundless realm of symbolism, I am interested in two particular figures – one from the central panel and the other from the right panel – who appear to be flatuating.

    The first detail is of a man bent over with roses protruding from his arse.  This figure may represent sodomy (as many interpret the central panel as representing vices).

    The second detail is of a man being swallowed by a blue bird-like creature from whose rear end swallows emerge with a bright spark.  Are these examples WTF enough for you?

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  8. Fart History: Ensor

    James Ensor defied everyone and everything.  Continuing with posts dedicated to fart history, enjoy Ensor’s appropriately titled Les Vents (The Winds).

    [In case it’s not obvious what’s going on, the witches and wizards are propelling themselves through the sky by farting!  And the wizard on the left farts birds!!  WTF?!?!]

    James Ensor, Les Vents, 1888, etching. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles James Ensor, Les Vents, 1888, etching. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

     
     
  9. F-Art History

    Some precociously sarcastic reader out there is bound to have realized that WTFArtHistory can also be read as WT-Fart-History.  And so I dedicate this entry as the first of several that take a humorous look at Fart history.  Enjoy!

    The next time you’re in Lisbon or Brussels, you must check out The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1500, replica in Brussels).  Bosch’s painting has been interpreted as a nightmare in painted form, an attack on prideful alchemists, a response to the hysteria surrounding witches, a hallucination of diabolical temptation, and a conjuring of evil’s spell.  Phew!  But I’m interested in a little monster in the left wing called a grillo – that torso-less figure who forever moons viewers.  WTF?!?!  Bosch is known for producing some of the most imaginative, if utterly insane, paintings and this grillo is a true WTF creature.  While some scholars argue that this bagpipe-playing grillo criticizes drunkenness or represents the devil, I’d like to imagine that his bent over posture farts in the general direction of such scholarship (and what’s that white stuff shooting out of its ass — or is it another tail?).

    Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, c. 1500, oil on panel. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon
    Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (copy), before 1516, oil on panel.  Musée de Beaux Arts, Brussels

    No other artist gives such frightening interpretation to the temptation of Saint Anthony.

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