Monthly Archives: November 2014

Bursting the Westminster Bubble?

Today we have a famous iconic image, controversial in its time, being reused by Dave Brown of the Independent to illustrate a topical political tableau.

I’ll start with the painting. It is a study of a child by Britain’s most famous Pre-Raphaelite artist, Sir John Everett Millais, and it subsequently became world famous when it was used over many generations in advertisements for Pear’s Soap. It was controversial during Millais’s lifetime as it led to a widespread debate about the relationship between art and advertising, something that Warhol many years later would turn back on its head.

Saturday 22nd November. The Independent – Dave Brown/John Everett Millais

The painting portrays a young golden-haired boy looking up at a bubble, symbolising the beauty and fragility of life. On one side of him (on the right hand side of the picture) you can just about make out a young plant growing in a pot, emblematic of life, and on the other is a fallen broken pot, emblematic of death. He is spot-lit against a gloomy background. The arrangement of the objects in the scene was based on 17th-century Dutch precursors in the tradition of vanitas imagery, which commented upon the transience of life. These sometimes depicted young boys blowing bubbles, typically set against skulls and other signs of death. (See here)

Bubbles_by_John_Everett_Millais

BUBBLES or A CHILD’S WORLD.

Sir John Everett Millais, 1886 – Oil on Canvas, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, England.

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The Thursday by-election in Rochester and Strood, caused by a second recent defector to UKIP from the Tories is over – and Mark Reckless, for UKIP, takes the seat. Speculation that other Tories are waiting to see the result before they decide to jump ship is rife. Brown cleverly uses a bubble modelled after Nigel Farage with a pin to prick Cameron’s puce-coloured condom head – popping his bubble – as Reckless sneers on. Poor Ed Miliband is once more depicted by Brown, not as a young plant, but as a dying red rose (Labour) symbolising the relentless pounding in the press he is taking as “not being up to the job”.

Chris Walker.

“Bring out the Gimp”

Motto: MILLONEN STEHEN HINTER MIR!
The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little man asks for big gifts.
Motto: Millions Stand Behind Me!

John Heartfield, 1932 – (German, 1891–1968), Rotogravure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Chris Walker.

 

Deadheading the Rose?

Oh please save me from the right wing media’s promotion of a non-story to suit their agenda. They seem to be running shit scared of Ed Miliband and are using anything to undermine his position as leader of the Labour Party. Is it because they are afraid of a Labour Party in power, is it because Miliband stood up for Leveson and against the excesses of the press or is it because he can’t be manipulated so easily as Cameron? Take your pick.

Let me ask you a simple question:-

One leader of an organisation has more than 20 members openly saying to numerous news sources and internal cabals that he should go, other members are leaving and joining another organisation that is opposed to the one they came from, and there is open infighting about the organisation’s membership of a wider alliance.

Or..

A journalist is told by “two unamed sources” that another leader of another organisation is not up to the job.

Which of these seems to carry the most weight?

Anyway Dave Brown doesn’t let me down in his historic reference to a 17th century genre of still-life – Vanitas.

vanitas, (Latin , “vanity”)  A vanitas painting contains collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent. The vanitas evolved from simple pictures of skulls and other symbols of death and transience.’ (The Encyclopedia Britannica)

Saturday 8th November. The Independent – Dave Brown/Philippe de Champaigne

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1280px-StillLifeWithASkullSTILL LIFE WITH SKULL.

Philippe de Champaigne, 1671 – Oil on Panel, 28 cm × 37 cm, Le musée de Tessé, Le Mans, France

A cold slab of stone, central and foreshortened, forms the base for Philippe de Champaigne’s still life. The painting is of the genre Vanitas, an image of earthly life’s worthlessness. There are three traditional representations of transience and doom.  The artist uses a cut tulip – for a brief life, an hourglass –  for time passing and a skull – for the inevitable.

Mr Brown changes the symbolism slightly. The red rose of Labour is dying, the hourglass is almost out of sand and the skull is hesitantly (mis)quoting Mark Twain’s famous rebuttal of newspaper reports. We shall see if the repeated character assasinations of Miliband the Younger by the rightwing mainstream media works in the six months up to the next general election.

Chris Walker.