Friday, October 29, 2010

Fanaticism is the only way to love

Alexander Ivanov's "Appearance of Christ to the People", 1837-1857
"Throughout [Ivanov's] long labors on this painting, he was driven by a concern for authenticity that astonished all who came in contact with him. He spent long hours in synagogues studying Jewish faces, made trips to the courtrooms of Rome to study the expressions of despair on the faces of condemned criminals, and invited peasants into his otherwise impenetrable study to tell them jokes and then sketch their spontaneous expressions of happiness and enjoyment.

He was particularly haunted by the problem of depicting Christ in art. He sought, up until the very eve of his death, to find the oldest and most authentic representation of Christ's earthly form--studying in museums, Byzantine frescoes, and finally embarking on a trip to Jerusalem and the Near East...

Slowly but inexorably, driven by some dark inner force which bears the mark of either sainthood or demonic pride, Ivanov became obsessed with the idea that he must in fact be Christ in order to be worthy of depicting him."
(No, The Icon and the Axe is not the only book I read, I swear.)

The neurotic is a wise man without disciples.

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