Friday, January 22, 2010

I Do What My Fever Tells Me

Did you know that Freud used to paint all of his family members? How crazy is that? Maybe all psychoanalysts should paint all their patients? I only found this out while searching for artists who portray their mothers--a reaction I had to Aline Smithson's latest work. She painted a series of portraits of her mother in profile, wearing different costumes. The paintings are kind of campy, but I still kind of like them, especially the one of the mother dressed in equestrian clothing, holding the reins of a horse in a nearby painting. Pretty cute.

I think it's great that someone is depicting older women. Actually, my only compliment for that silly thing, Nine, was that two older women were featured in the film, holding just as much importance and weight as the other actresses. (Quite a sultry role for Judie Dench, eh?) I'll discuss one other film here, although it doesn't involve an older woman, but a strong women nonetheless. (These roles being less frequent these days). While sick in bed I watched Francois Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and although the character Lena is a young woman, I was amazed by what a strong (literally) role she has. Just after one man says all women should use nice language and be fragile all their lives, Lena carries her passed out lover Charlie into a basement to hide him from the police. This act also comes after she is forced to laugh with Charlie and the two cronies (after Charlie's brother) over the statement: once you've been with one woman, you've been with them all. We know Lena can laugh loudly at that, being at how frank she is with her lover, Charlie/Edward, saying if you don't want to be with me, just tell me. I love that.

With a group of friends last week I watched another episode in the so-interesting series The Secret Life of a Masterpiece, this one about Whistler's portrait of his mother. I wanted to spit every time an American woman said how nostalgic the painting made her feel. Really? They found the painting so comforting! They think she's the ultimate grandmother! I'm being for real! In the constant celebration of Puritanism and misguided morals, people around me continue to elect Republicans who will do more harm than good for the sake of morals. Will we ever shake off our Puritanism? One of the talking heads described Whistler's mother as the ultimate "old biddy," a detestable term, but kind of the right one in this case. She's dressed in black, she's unhappy, her husband left her with hardship. Whistler very purposefully went against lush Victorian norms, going so far as to call the painting "Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother."

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