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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 28. The Case of the Long-Tailed Monkey

:Pottery



The former Vancouver artist I am researching on behalf of a client has been making pottery since the late 1960s and apparently does not sign his work. From 1970-1975 his studio was at the Angus Service Garage and in 1986 it was located on Alma Street. He currently resides in Montreal, Quebec; is registered with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia; and practices architecture in order to sustain his other artistic endeavours.

His work combines elements relating to ancient architecture, mythology, spirituality and burial totems and appears to be influenced by South American cultures of Incan, Nazcan or Mayan origin. The medium echoes the subject matter and is the message – the spirit of Marshal McLuhan may be lurking. The fired clay resonates with attributes associated with ancient building construction and production of food vessels, and as cultural objects specific to a particular civilization.

The image of the lidded vessel shows that the work is both utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing. It incorporates suggestions of architectural elements which collectively speak to the history of the material and all its varied and diverse uses in ancient cultures: the vessel as architecture and as container of human civilization.

The scale deliberately suggests an unresolved tension between architectural monument and personal object; communal or public and private space; and the building and household container. Perhaps there is a reference to a cosmic or astrological connection linking all that is contained within the universe with the practicality of living and the precious mediocrity of life itself. Is the universe contained within the vessel? His work could be read as a small architectural model produced prior to construction, or as a model produced after construction as a memory or record, or perhaps neither.

The universality of the laws of physics which permeates and connects all matter within the universe is a concept which brings to mind the opening lines of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

I am also reminded of Blake’s watercolour etching, The Ancient of Days, which depicts God using an instrument of architecture (a set of dividers) to delineate the universe from Heaven: the Creator as omnipotent architect of the universe.

The incongruity of maquette or modello as artwork to completed monument suggests an unknown spatial consequence which is, perhaps as Jean Baudrillard suggests, the hyper-real. The simulacra or modello is not a copy of the “real”, but a “truth” in its own right. The long-tailed monkey motif, framed within a square and prominently displayed, seems not to be a maker’s mark but a deliberate reference to the Nazca Lines as it is identical to an image of that monkey found in Peru’s Nazca Desert. These enigmatic geoglyphs of zoomorphic designs and phytomorphic shapes are generally believed by most scholars to have some religious significance.

So why do we contemplate the ancient architecture of the universe, spirituality and religion within the context of an ordinary vessel of ordinary material and size? Is the medium the message and is the mediocrity of life a divine miracle which we take for granted? Is the question relevant; is “why the right question to ask; or does it matter?”

Next: The Case of Mr. Dove

 Sun, Nov 6, 2011