Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gasp! Frederic Edwin Church

Mark just pointed me to Church's home, Olana. I went to the web site. "Hey!" I said, "How come his stenciled stars looked Imperial instead of Country Cute?"

Then Mark used his campy Henry Higgins voice to read from one of his art books, Robert Hughes' "American Visions, the Epic History of Art in America," quoting Mr Church:

"A feudal castle which I am building under the modest name of dwelling house, absorbs all my time and attention. I am obliged to watch it so closely, for having undertaken to get my architecture from Persia where I have never been, nor any of my friends either, I am obliged to imagine Persian architecture, then embody it on paper and explain it to a lot of mechanics whose ideal of architecture is wrapped up in felicitous recollections of a successful brick schoolhouse or meeting house or jail."

And I knew that I had found, if not a past life, then at least a soul-mate. Mark added that Mr. Church was "poisoned by the heavy-metal colors he preferred, cadmiums and arsenic-based greens."

I did a quick internet search and came up with an elevation sketch of Olana. "Hey!" I said, "That's the castle on Rigel VII from the Star Trek pilot!"

Then I saw one of the rooms, the Court Hall: bronze cranes with curving necks standing on turtle-dragons, peacocks, elaborate tile mosaics, sumptuous curtains. "We must go there," I said, speaking as if from the depths of a prophetic dream.

"And that's just a staircase," Mark said.
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