Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Small Head of E.O.W., by Frank Auerbach

Oil on board, 1957-58

Some things about what I imagine the painting to look like make me uncomfortable. I think of the feces-stained walls of Hunger's prison cells, and how this vaguely fecal color forms a face. Small Head of E.O.W. doesn't look pretty, but it seems beautiful. The basic outline of a head, neck and hair interrupted by a single Egyptian eye that seems to be pointed at something behind the sitter. The suggestion of shoulders that are both delicate and hulking. This human shape being something that exists on the surface of an undulating mass, like sea foam forming on waves. A persona shaping. Auerbach, successor to Joyce.

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