Art

The Music Video as Art: Dark Ballet by Madonna

Since the video became a ubiquitous part of popular music nearly forty years ago, it has sometimes struggled as an art form. The marriage has not always been harmonious: sometimes you have great songs with mediocre videos and vice versa. What I have always appreciated about it, when it does approach art, is that a story or message can be conveyed without the constraint of a script, spoken word, or even the lyrics of the song.

Madonna, who rose to prominence during the early years of the music video, has produced a stunning body of work in both video and song. However, in the last decade, this has not been case; she seemed more occupied with cannibalizing younger recording artists and profitable touring than producing thoughtful work. Mercifully, she has returned to peak form with “Dark Ballet.”

The song and video are essentially a pop version of the opera by Tchaikovsky, The Maid of Orleans, which tells the story of Joan of Arc. Interestingly, this is not Madonna’s first time exploring Joan of Arc in her work: in her last album, Rebel Heart, she had a song titled “Joan of Arc.” In my review, I noted it as the most irritating song because she was essentially complaining about being famous and I questioned what that had to do with Joan of Arc.

“Dark Ballet” is told from Joan of Arc’s point of view. In the brilliant bridge of the song, set to a pulsating electronic arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Reed-Flutes” from The Nutcracker, Madonna speaks:

“I will not denounce the things that I have said
I will not renounce my faith in my sweet Lord
He has chosen me to fight against the English
And I’m not afraid at all to die ’cause I believe him
God is on my side and I’ll be his bride
I am not afraid ’cause I have faith in him
You can cut my hair and throw me in a jail cell
Say that I’m a witch and burn me at the stake
It’s all a big mistake
Don’t you know to doubt him is a sin?
I won’t give in”

The video is book ended by quotes, with one by Joan of Arc and another by queer poet and activist Mykki Blanco, who was cast as Joan of Arc in the video. Madonna is surprisingly absent except for a very brief cameo. Blanco gives us some incredible acting here. I also can’t heap enough praise on the cinematography, production, and direction by Emmanuel Adjei (he is one to watch).

And while the song and video is about Joan of Arc, it feels as if Madonna and Adjei are also addressing the toxic mix of bigotry and religion that pervades the world: too many people use religion to justify their prejudices and fears.  

Madonna’s pop version of the opera The Maid of Orleans is “Dark Ballet.”

www.edwinroman.com

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New York City Is Surrounded By Water

Sometimes living in New York City can be overwhelming. Believe it or not, there are oases in the concrete jungle. I rarely share them, but when I do it is when I bring a close friend to experience it. Many of them are near water. I remember once bringing a friend to one of my secret places near the water and he noted how amazing it was to find this peaceful place surrounded by such overwhelming noise.

I experienced great peace and inspiration on the days I took these photographs. I hope they make you feel the same way too.


“Mist to mist, drops to drops. For water thou art, and unto water shalt thou return.” ― Kamand Kojouri


edwinroman.com

Frida in Brooklyn

I visited the Brooklyn Museum on the opening day of the wonderful and timely exhibition, “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” I naively thought that I could beat the crowds: after all, I had arrived at admissions at 12 noon, exactly one hour after the museum opened. Instead, I was surprisingly told I would have to wait until 2:30pm to enter the exhibition (in the meantime, I was able to enter and explore the rest of the museum)! My first recommendation is to buy tickets in advance. I checked the website and noticed that weekend shows for the next several weeks are already sold out.

My second recommendation is to put away your phone! Visitors are told that photography is not allowed, but that didn’t stop quite a few rude people from taking out their phones and ruining the experience for others. If you are one of those people who just can’t help themselves, consider this for a moment: when you snap a picture of a painting, that you can probably find online via a museum website, how often do you go back and look it? How often do you study it? Why ruin a rare moment of seeing a painting in person by fumbling with your phone? And if you are snapping a picture on your phone for posting on social media, the exhibition has two interesting displays to do just that before you enter the actual exhibition.

The exhibition is presented thematically, using paintings by Kahlo and peers, photographs, and Mexican ceramics to explore Kahlo’s identity. Clothing and make-up are central to this: for example, Kahlo used native clothing to express her Mexican nationalism. It was surprising to see that she loved using perfume and Revlon products (Revlon is the major supporter of this show). Many of these items had been stored in Casa Azul, the home, Kahlo shared with her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

One of the most absorbing, and heartbreaking, pieces of art was a lithograph depicting Kahlo’s miscarriage. It was as powerful as the “Henry Ford Hospital” painting, which explores the same subject. I absolutely adored the home movies that were shown, which I saw twice! Among my favorite pieces were the photographs, many of which I had never seen before. Standouts were those by Gisele Freund, known for her documentary photography and portraits of writers and artists.

The major problem with this exhibition is how some of the artwork is displayed, most notably the photographs. Many are presented in groups of four, with two of the four well below eye range. This means that if two people stand in front of the four pictures, others have to wait to properly study and contemplate them (as well as contend with the impolite people who insist on taking pictures). With the crowds, this simply does not work. The first two rooms were rather small with one wasted on a second ticket checkpoint. Yes, there were two checkpoints to get into the exhibition: one at the door and one in front of a wall, projecting images of Kahlo. A wall. Interesting.

It has been over sixty years since Kahlo has passed away, but she still continues to fascinate. This exhibition is worth seeing—but only if you can go during a weekday, with minimal crowds. Each piece is worth quiet contemplation. The exhibition notes how much she loved New York City—the world is here and that is what she embraced and probably why we embrace here today. She is a voice from Mexico’s past conveying the need for more bridges and less walls.

www.edwinroman.com

Camera Ready

Edwin Roman: The Year in Pictures 2018

2018 was actually not a productive year for me in terms of photography. I don’t often go out on photo taking trips during the winter months because working the camera and changing and adjusting lenses is difficult while wearing gloves. My first trip out wasn’t until March. I did travel to New Mexico in July and took a lot of pictures, but the following month was hit with a crushing illness that kept me home bound for the rest of the summer and much of the fall. In spite of the illness, I still managed to produce some photographs with those from the New Mexico trip being among my favorites. I hope you enjoy these photographs, I absolutely loved taking them.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018.
Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.
red-sails-in-the-brooklyn-wind2
Red Sails in the Brooklyn Wind. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from Governors Island.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Sunset at The Triborough
Sunset Under the Triborough. Edwin Roman 2018.

adobe-red-and-blue

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Speakeasy-Sal-sepia
Speakeasy Sal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
Wards Island Footbridge in Black and White
Wards Island Foot Bridge in Black and White. Edwin Roman 2018.
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
the-sunbather
The Sunbather. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Ward’s Island.
bands
Bands. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
The Orange Parasol
The Orange Parasol. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
Underneath with the Tides
Underneath with the Tides. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen under the boardwalk at Coney Island.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Juan black and white 2
Juan Views the Atlantic. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Coney Island.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
The-Rockefeller-View
A Rockefeller View. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the Rockefeller Overlook in New Jersey.
I actually used the above photo as the cover for my forthcoming book, People Watching: New York City. Proceeds from this book will be donated to Humane Borders.

www.edwinroman.com



A New Yorker in New Mexico: Seeing Red, A Photo Essay

The first time I ever saw red rocks was in 2006 when I traveled to Las Vegas and visited Red Rock Canyon. I was in Vegas to see the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, commemorating the 40th anniversary.  Other than the Experience, I found Vegas to be largely tasteless and mind-numbing. Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam provided a relief from the smoke-filled overstimulated atmosphere. Red Rock Canyon really made an impression as did the areas outside of the city. It was the first time I had ever experienced the desert and the kind of silence and stillness it offers.

The following year, in 2007, was when I first visited New Mexico. I immediately fell in love! I can recall driving from the Albuquerque Sunport to my hotel in Bernalillo with my eye constantly being drawn to the Sandia Mountains (which still happens). On the third day of that trip, I explored the Jemez Mountain trail and it was here that I first saw New Mexican red rocks. They are nothing short of spectacular. The color is shockingly beautiful. On my third trip in 2018, I saw even more New Mexican red rocks, most notably on my drive to the Ghost Ranch. As I noted in my previous blog entry, the desert varies around the state. I found this to be also true, visually, of the New Mexican red rocks. I did a little research to find out why.

A disclaimer: I am an artist and not a scientist. However, I have a layperson’s interest in science and have done my best to preset reliable information in this blog entry. What I am doing here is trying to get answers to my own observations while presenting artistic photographs. Art and science can co-exist. If you don’t think so, please read this article on Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Back to the New Mexican red rocks!

According to the Earth Science Club of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology the Earth is made mainly of rocks arranged in three concentric layers. The Earth’s crust contains the rocks we see at the surface. Most rocks are a collection of one or more minerals, but some contain noncrystalline inorganic material (like obsidian) or organic material (such as coal). The ultimate origin of all rocks in the Earth’s crust is the mantle (magma or lava), space (meteorites), or organisms such as plants and animals (organic matter).

According this publication by the NMT Earth Science Club, it notes that the red rocks I saw on the Jemez Trail / Route 4, are rhyolite, an igneous-volcanic type of rock. Interestingly, rhyolite will commonly scratch a knife or hammer. While the red rocks I saw around Abiquiú are sandstone a clastic sedimentary rock composed primarily of quartz grains that may be stained red, brown, pink, or yellow from iron oxides.

I love red rocks and seeing them on a grand scale is an experience I recommend.  I think, in part, I love New Mexican red rocks because they remind me of classic New York red bricks. I hope my pictures properly capture these gorgeous colors of nature.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

edwinroman.com

A New Yorker in New Mexico: A Photo Essay

New Mexico. Those who know me well have heard me endlessly rave lovingly about this magical place. New Mexicans refer to their state as, “the land of enchantment” — and it is exactly that! It has culture, diverse landscapes, friendly people and excellent food. July 2018 marked my third visit, but it was my first trip with the intention to create. I have always been inspired by New Mexico and thought that I should properly incorporate it into my art. On this trip, I also discovered something else that fosters this inspiration.

On the evening I arrived in Santa Fe, I noticed a storm brewing in the distance. I watched this marvelous lightning show, with great awe, for about twenty minutes. Later, when I returned to my room, I received an alert via the Weather Channel app about a storm in Bernalillo, located fifty miles away. I couldn’t believe that I could see that very storm from such a distance. I then realized that this is the other way New Mexico inspires me: it expands my sight.

Growing up and living in New York City, in a way, has limited my sight. Yes, New York City is interesting (though becoming less so because of the rampant gentrification), but my eyes work in a very focused way. On the ground level, buildings (and even upstate with the trees) force your vision to work in a much narrower way. In New Mexico, my eyes have to adjust and go into the rarely used wide-angle mode. Before visiting New Mexico, I have never been able to see such distances on land before. I found that it is a great way to open your mind: via an expansion of the senses.

On this trip, I visited places like Taos, Abiquiú, Ponderosa, Cuba, Jemez, White Rock and Bernalillo. I found that the desert in Abiquiú is different from the desert in White Rock. I approached this creative trip taking inspiration from two websites I visit regularly: Wandering New York and New Mexico Nomad. Think of this blog entry as, “Edwin Wanders New Mexico!” I hope you enjoy these photos.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.

Abiquiú Red Rocks, Edwin Roman 2018.

Abiquiú Red Rocks, Edwin Roman 2018.

Bandelier Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018.

Bandelier Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018.

Cliffside Cacti. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Cliffside Cacti. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Forever by Allan Houser. Photographed by Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Forever by Allan Houser. Photographed by Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.

Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.

The Ascent. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Bottom of the Sandia Peak Tram.

The Ascent. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Bottom of the Sandia Peak Tram.

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.

Green and Red. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4.

Green and Red. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4.

San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel Detail. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel Detail. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kokopelli Plays! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

Kokopelli Plays! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

A View of Taos Pueblo. Edwin Roman 2018.

A View of Taos Pueblo. Edwin Roman 2018.

Art of Life Gallery. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos.

Art of Life Gallery. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos.

Vintage Cars in Ponderosa. Edwin Roman 2018.

Vintage Cars in Ponderosa. Edwin Roman 2018.

On Washington and East Palace. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

On Washington and East Palace. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018

In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018

Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Santa Fe Windows. Edwin Roman 2018.

Santa Fe Windows. Edwin Roman 2018.

Ponderosa Color Splash. Edwin Roman 2018.

Ponderosa Color Splash. Edwin Roman 2018.

Hey, Buds Below! Up is Where to Grow! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Hey, Buds Below! Up is Where to Grow! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the top of the Sandia Mountains.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the top of the Sandia Mountains.

Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.

Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.

 

I will be posting more pictures in the coming weeks on my Flickr page.

 

edwinroman.com

Horses and The Narrative in Ancient Greek Art

Camille Paglia, in her book, Sexual Personae, presents an interesting theory on the relationship between cats and ancient Egyptians. Cats, which have a sense of narcissistic personality and ceremony, were the model for Egyptian culture. According to Paglia, Egyptians invented concepts of beauty and femininity from their observations of cats 1. I found this theory thought provoking and would, for years after first reading Sexual Personae, look for other examples of how animals can impact a culture. A favorite example are the Aztecs, who according to legend, founded the city of Tenochtitlan when their god Huitzilopochtli had commanded them to find an eagle perched atop a cactus, devouring a snake.

Bronze man and centaur, mid-8th century B.C.E.

Bronze man and centaur, mid-8th century B.C.E.

Paglia makes an interesting contrast between Egypt and Greece: In Egypt, the cat; in Greece, the horse. Another way to view it is, in Egypt, the Sphinx; in Greece, the Centaur. Paglia hypothesizes that cats were “too feminine for the male loving Greeks” who preferred to depict the more muscular horse in art 2.  Paglia’s theory appears to be realized on an Archaic helmet from the late 7th century B.C.E. where a horse and two lions (one on each cheek piece) are portrayed in repoussé; the horse is about three times larger than the lions.  Conversely, Egyptian depictions of horses appear to be more feminine than Greek muscular / masculine forms (figure III).

One of Two bronze helmets, late 7th century B.C.E.

One of Two bronze helmets, late 7th century B.C.E.

Egyptian Horse, 1391–1353 B.C.E.

Egyptian Horse, 1391–1353 B.C.E.

The ancient Greeks rarely depicted contemporary or historical events in art.  However, horses were consistently present in mythical and historical depictions alike.  This blog entry will examine the presence of the horse in narratives depicted on various Greek works.

Death and War

Ancient Egyptians venerated cats and mummified them. The practice of interring horses was not uncommon in Greece 3 (a pair of horses were discovered buried at the outer end of a Stholos tomb at Marathon (The Mycenaean tholos tomb consists of a circular, subterranean burial chamber, sometimes referred to as the thalamos, roofed by a corbelled vault and approached by an entrance passage that narrows abruptly at the doorway actually opening into the tomb chamber. The chamber or thalamos is built of stone.  Tholoi of this kind are usually set into slopes or hillsides. Burials were either laid out on the floor of the tomb chamber or were placed in pits, cists, or shafts cut into this floor.); a human skeleton was discovered with a horse skeleton in a grave near Nauplia). Like the cat in Egypt, Horses were also featured prominently in works connected to funerary traditions. A Geometric krater, (740 B.C.E.) from the Dipylon Cemetery,

Terracotta krater, 750–735 B.C.E.

Terracotta krater, 750–735 B.C.E.

that functioned as a grave marker, depicts scenes of mourning for a man; the horses are pulling a chariot in his honor 4.  One theory suggests that the horse with chariot was a transporter to the afterlife 5.  The practice of depicting horses on grave markers continued to be common into the late classical period.  Several loutrophoros vessels, which were used as grave markers for soldiers, depict young men on horseback 6.  Ancient Greek citizens were required to perform a number of duties to help serve their community in the best way possible; soldiers saw the act of war as an act of patriotism.  The depictions may be viewed as a commemoration of the solider and horse.  The horse is as proud as a soldier, but unlike donkeys, cows, or bulls, is decidedly trainable and will, with no hesitation, ride into battle.  Horses are in line with the concept of unselfish Greek citizenship (unlike cats, which are self-serving animals).

Depictions of horses were not solely limited to krater or loutrophoro vessels.  A black figure terracotta amphora (Figure V) depicts a departing warrior on a four-horse chariot bidding his parents farewell.  Interestingly, one of the four horses are not depicted in black figure, actually matching the color of the charioteer, also not in black figure.  It is also curious that the charioteer was in the foreground while the solider and his family was in the background and behind the chariot.  Could this have also been a commemoration of charioteer and horse for their contributions to the cause?

Terracotta neck-amphora, 540 B.C.E

Terracotta neck-amphora, 540 B.C.E

 

Mythology and Reality

Rhyton in form of mounted Amazon, 5th century B.C.E
.

Rhyton in form of mounted Amazon, 5th century B.C.E
.

The horse, featured prominently in pottery narratives depicting combat and death, is also a fixture in mythology. One of the most remarkable works of a mythological subject prominently featuring a horse may be found at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which I had the opportunity to visit earlier this year.  The museum identifies the work as a  rhyton in the form of a mounted Amazon.  Another source identifies this same work as a  plastic vase 7.  The mounted figure wears a crested plume helmet with large appendages on the sides. The red figure vessel behind the Amazonian warrior depicts four figures, Persians and Greek, in combat.  A Persian figure is mounted on a horse and appears to be overtaking a Greek warrior with a spear.  Conveniently, the Amazon’s plume is bellowing on to the scene.  However, it is interesting to note the striking difference between the Persian and Greek horses; the Greek horse that the Amazon is riding is muscular, while the Persian horse appears to be almost Rubenesque and not proportionate.  The Greek horse also has a gait / gallop similar to the horses depicted on the Parthenon frieze, which is a somewhat curious because the Amazonian rhyton was found in Egypt.

Details of the Panathenaic Festival procession frieze

Details of the Panathenaic Festival procession frieze, 447-438 B.C.E.

 

Kylix,
 540–530 B.C.E.

Kylix,
 540–530 B.C.E.

The frieze on the Parthenon is thought to represent the Panathenaic procession, a religious festival held on 28 Hekatombaion, the first month of the Athenian calendar 8 .  The presence of the horse on the frieze of the Parthenon clearly demonstrates their importance in Greek society, real and mythological.  According to mythology, Poseidon desired Demeter and to put him off, Demeter asked Poseidon to make the most beautiful animal the world had ever seen.  Poseidon created the horse.  The horses represented on the frieze are based on the Greek ideal perfect proportions.  Beauty and proportion are bedfellows in ancient Greece.

North frieze, 447-438 B. C. E.

North frieze, 447-438 B. C. E.

One part of west frieze of the Parthenon depicts horsemen preparing their horses.  The care that the horsemen appear to be giving their horses recalls one of the first manuals on riding the horse titled The Art of Horsemanship written by a Greek named Xenophon.  Xenophon, who was a pupil of Socrates, was an equestrian for his entire life, first as a cavalryman and then as a country gentleman on an estate given to him by the King of Sparta 9.  Xenophon, in the same manual, encourages a mutual respect between man and horse: “There are, indeed, other methods of teaching these arts.  Some do so by touching the horse with a switch under the gaskins.  For ourselves, however, far the best method of instruction, as we keep repeating, is to let the horse feel that whatever he does in obedience to the rider’s wishes will be followed by some rest and relaxation.”

Xenophon’s approach to horse care and training appears to be realized on a kylix in the Met attributed to Amasis painter.  The reverse depicts an atmosphere of excitement in Poseidon’s stables, while four grooms attempt to soothe four high-strung horses.  The obverse depicts Poseidon among Greek warriors.  The subjects are drawn from book 13 of Homer’s Iliad: Poseidon, seeing the Greek soldiers hard pressed, decides to renew their spirit.  Prior to viewing this work, I happened to view a Terracotta pykster (figure IX) that depicted soldiers mounted on dolphins.  I found it curious that the scene on the pykster depicting the dolphins was not a work connected to the god of the sea, Poseidon.  Instead, the pyskster chose to depict Poseidon’s most beautiful creature, the horse.

Conclusion

Horses were an integral part of ancient Greek culture. Horses resemble the Greek ideal human form in terms of proportion and musculature.  “Coming to the thighs below the shoulder blades, or arms, these if thick and muscular present a stronger and handsomer appearance, just as in the case of the human being” 10.

Horses are also in line with Greek concepts of citizenship.  “Such an animal, we venture to predict, will give the greatest security to his rider in the circumstances of war.”10

 

 “The majesty of men themselves is best discovered in the graceful handling of such animals.  The man who knows how to manage such a creature gracefully himself at once appears magnificent.  A horse so prancing is indeed a thing of beauty, a wonder and a marvel; riveting the gaze of all who see him, young alike and graybeards.  They will never turn their back, I venture to predict, or weary of their gazing so long as he continues to display his splendid action.  Such are the horses on which gods and heroes ride, as represented by the artist.”

– Xenophon, The Art of Horsemanship

 

1 Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), Page 64

2 Paglia, Page 65

3 Jack Leonard Benson, Horse, Bird & Man; The Origins of Greek Paintings (Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1970), Page 20

4 Fred S. Kleiner and Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner’s Art through the Ages, The Western Perspective (Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning, 2005), Page 94

5 Benson, Page 24

6 Andrew Clark, Understanding Greek vases: a guide to terms, styles, and techniques (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), Page 115

7 Clark, Page 129

Columbia University Department of Art History and Archeology Visual Media: Center http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/parthenon/flash/main.htm

9  Xenophon, with notes, by Morris H. Morgan, The Art of Horsemanship (Imprint Boston, Little, Brown, and company, 1893), Page 70

10 Xenophon, Page 5

11 Xenophon, Page 5

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