Friday, September 23, 2011

The Mourners

This French Pleurant (Weeper) resin statue at Design Toscano reminds me of another exhibit we saw at the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. It was called The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy.

Forty small mourner sculptures from the tomb of John the Fearless, second duke of Burgundy, were on display,  in different poses conveying mourning or consoling other mourners, but all dressed similarly. These pieces have been on display in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France for almost 200 years, but are now on tour because that museum is being rennovated.

 Most are faceless, and rather eerie. I can imagine full-sized versions of these in a yard on Halloween.

John the Fearless's tomb, including these mourner figures, was completed following his death under the supervision of his son, Philip the Good.
If I were born in that time, I know my name would end with "the Weird."

The walls of the room holding the exhibit told the story.

One wall explained that funerals of that time "were lavish events that included black drapes and canopies, a golden drapery over the coffin, presentation of the insignia of the deceased duke’s power (his banners, weapons, and horses), and candles and music in abundance. Hooded black cloaks were distributed to all the participating laypersons, from the members of the duke’s family on down to pages and grooms, while the members of the secular and regular clergy wore the garments of their station. The carriages and horses were also draped in black....

...Class distinctions, normally expressed through dress, became temporarily suspended, the black of mourning reminding all present that death was an experience shared by everyone. "

These carved figures are obviously all in white, but that's probably because black marble was hard to obtain.

When the property where the tomb was located was sold off as national property in 1792, "the tombs were kept for the nation because of their historical value. The mourners had always been perceived as the tomb’s key attraction, and they were felt to possess a 'correctness' of style and modeling rare for the Gothic period." So forget the dead body- the mourners are the key attraction. That's a bit sad.

For more information on The Mourners, click here

In another building of the museum, we found sculptures that were FAR less intriguing, other than causing us to wonder how they could have possibly have been deemed credible enough to warrant being placed inside a museum. For example, there was the giant litter box full of clean kitty litter: 
Now that is some crappy art. It reminds me of this cartoon:

Then there was this ingenious painting, shown on the wall with its title card:

This 24x18 inch wonder is by Robert Therrien.
No Title (Blue Oval), 1994
Screenprint on spiral-bound acid-free paper and mixed mediums.

I researched it. The artists says: “Blue oval; all is a mirror, a female apogee, my mother.  Because of the edges, which recede toward the wall and create a shadow, from a distance it seems to float, and because of the paint, it seems solid or hollow.  This shows one aspect of the figure-ground play I’m looking for.”

Really? It just reminds me of a blue dot. And an episode of  the 1980's TV show  "Bosom Buddies" where Tom Hanks's character, Kip Wilson, sees a painting of a red dot that is highly regarded by art critics, and disgustedly exclaims  "It's the flag of Japan!"

 Someone is even selling a t-shirt with those immortal words:

The shirt designer and I are probably the only two people on earth that remember that episode :)

This thin glass case looked like there should be a poster in it. There's even a pushpin laying in the case. It looks like the cases in the halls of my old high school. But guess what? It's art. The museum's docent told me it was a work of "deconstructionism."

At least there was this cool, interactive, large piece of art outside:

during the day the noodles gain energy, and they glow in the dark at night.

And as everybody knows, if it glows in the dark, it's good art!


  1. Andy Warhol said art is what you can get away with. He was right.

  2. The Mourners are haunting, beautiful, graceful and mysterious.
    I loathe the blue dot 'art'. It's a freaking blue dot with some hoidy toidy words.
    The THAT'S ART! :)) I have an overwhelming desire to fly up just to run through the glowing noodles!

    The 'deconstructionism' piece looked like it needed a good shot of 409 spray and a paper towel after it!

  3. Dangit! Mr. Macabre got to my comment before I did. :) I was about to say how haunting and beautiful these are!

    I liked the "crappy art" line! Yeah, sometimes modern art just seems... lazy.

  4. I have a statue of The Mourner from Design Toscano. I have always loved the flow of robes and the mysterious air about him. And how fascinating that there are more! Would love to have a whole collection for the yard!
    Thank you so much for sharing your trip to the museum with us. I have really enjoyed 'my visit'. :0)

  5. The Mourners are absolutely beautiful.

  6. Great pictures within the post! Excellent to look at! Keep up the great work because you're excellent at it!


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