Sunday, August 14, 2011

Venus in Her Grotto

I ambled back to the National Gallery of Victoria today, to rethink the outstanding Vienna: Art & Design exhibition.

I'm writing something for the (inside) interior design review, which took me back to the exhibition: poring over the works of Wagner, Loos and Hoffmann.  More of this in the weeks to come, along with some thoughts on St. Patrick's cathedral.

In the meantime, I'm seriously impressed with Koloman Moser.  First off, his 'enchanted princesses' corner cabinet: a stunning combination of austere lines and organic curves; of flat wood and gleaming inlays.  It floats above its legs, an invitation to stare.

Moser was quite the artistic polymath: painting, ceramics, jewellery, tableware, and more. What caught my eye afterwards was Moser's painting.  In particular, his 'Venus in her Grotto' (1914).

Despite the sickly greens and yellows, there's a lean, tough health to Moser's Venus.  She's not all flesh and curves - she looks more like an athlete.  But then there are her fingers and wrist - poised delicately at the end of her firm arms.  And then that light smile, playing against the strong eyes, high chin.

A great mix of strength and elegance, which seems particularly modern to me. (Well, it reminds me of my wife after jogging.) Brilliant.

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