Saturday, May 02, 2009

Beyond the obvious.

As an artist, and lover of old things in general, (but of old cars in particular) I find it interesting to note how the two passions combine.
Aesthetics aren't just the province of the artist, but also of the designers of yesteryear who created those beautiful curves and sweeping lines that describe the cars of the age. Above I return to a theme I've mentioned before - the combination of blue and orange, when combined with graceful curves is a sure fire winner as beautiful decay.

Another dimension used in art since the beginning of man's understanding was allegory. In the 17th century the Dutch painters relied heavily on allegorical scenes to instruct and inform the viewer. Paintings often represented themes other than the obvious, such as a lone woman playing a violin, which would represent hearing - one of the five senses, and so on.

There were also works called 'Vanitas' paintings, usually showing a book, a candle, and a skull on a tabletop of some kind. These were to remind us that all human life is transient, and we, just like the candle have limited time.

When I came across the photograph of the old Jaguar shown above I was struck by the symbolism of the scene. The photo has been photoshopped a little to adjust the colours but it was the title that made me stop and contemplate the scene a little longer.

The photo was entitled "The end of prosperity", which seemed pretty apt for these straightened times. I began to 'read' it as I would a Dutch allegorical painting, and the more I did the more I discovered.
The Jaguar in the foreground, always an expensive/exclusive brand represents those privileged folk for whom such things are made, the boat in the background as yet another symbol of wealth. In this composition it's as if these things have been cast away, they remain as rotting monuments to society's folly. The tyre in front of the car is worn out, again a symbol of a finite lifespan, while tucked away in the background, very subtly, is the scrapyard...which must surely represent both the car and our final destination, the grave!
Death, 'the great leveller' as they say. My conclusion is that far from being just another photo of an old car, this picture is a superb modern day Vanitas painting!

Now I go from reading something into the picture to just thinking what it reminds me of. The 1950 Buick again, but who can look at this scene without recalling seeing the fossilised bones of a T-Rex or other dinosaur as a kid? I still remember how impressed I was as a child when taken to the local museum to see a dinosaur skeleton, while looking at those teeth simultaneously I thanked heaven they didn't exist anymore!
Not so with the Buick, the teeth may remind me of that fossilised dino' but i sure wish these old Buicks still existed!

This final picture made me smile, if only in a mischievous way! I liked the composition and the colour, I liked the blue-ish chrome and the abstract shapes it makes against the orangey red of the metal. When looked at as an example of 'beautiful decay' it works quite well, and here's what made me smile... I never thought i'd say an Edsel could be beautiful! :-)


Raggmunk said...

The photo with the Edsel is very nice =)

Raggmunk said...
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