Ask Morgana 133: A mixed bag

Today I’m featuring a miscellany of single images by various artists. They will be images that are not necessarily typical of the rest of their work.

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Adrian Alphona is a Canadian comic-book artist. The frame above (1) depicts, I am led to believe, two super-powered characters called Julie and Karolina. What the context is I do not know.

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(2) is by Bobby Zeik. In the middle of his strange portraits of Johnny Cash. Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Samuel L Jackson. Louis Armstrong, and the Rolling Stones, we find satirical comment on sexuality. A kneeling nude, Darth Vader’s head on her shoulders, balances the Death Star on one hand; two groomsmen watching a bride and groom kiss, agree “Marriage is so gay!”; a red-headed woman prostrates herself before a group of men whose faces we can’t see, because they are cut-outs in suits and ties. And the image above, making a comic-book pic out of lesbian romance.

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Harry Anderson (1906-1996) was a mid-20c painter, illustrator, and craftsman, in what I call the ‘American Realist’ school (think Norman Rockwell as its Premier). A devout Seventh-Day Adventist, he produced large corpus of works on Biblical themes, both for his own church and under commission for the Church of Latter Day Saints. One painting of a modest nude caught my eye as I was looking through his on-line portfolio; it was a view from the rear of a young woman towelling herself dry after washing, and it was totally non-erotic! But then a picture caught my eye – (3) is a detail of it – which was a gentle commentary on the American male’s eye for a ‘cute’ girl. Nothing is on show, but the young woman depicted is deliberately and cheekily objectified in order to make a point that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath commited adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). She is kneeling. Does this suggest female submissiveness, prayer, or a cheesecake pose? She is stereotypically blonde with stereotypically perfect figure. She is dressed in ‘all-American’ cut-offs and loafers, and a halter-necked shirt in come-take-me red. Admit it, Harry – you’re pulling our legs here!

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Émile Henri Bernard (1868-1941) was a French post-impressionist painter. I’m including his 1915 painting The Exotic Dancer (4) because it makes the point that being of an ‘exotic’ subject legitimises the state of semi-dress. You remember when guys used to look at pictures in National Geographic because it would show women from Africa or Polynesia topless? Am I being too cynical? Actually I find the subject here very beautiful…

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(5) is credited to Helmuth Stockmann, but I can find out nothing about this artist. Perhaps ‘Helmuth Stockmann’ is a nom-de-brosse.

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(6) is a simple nude by James Welch. Welch is yet another artist about whom I know very little, except that his output is very varied.

In a future miscellany I will showcase some artwork I have been unable to attribute to any artist, and I will be asking you if you recognise any of them.

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Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

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