One of our teachers asked us to come up with an art image that we like, that we feel is a good representation of love. It's a hard assignment! If it's a test of our cynicism levels, I think mine are scoring pretty high. The first thing that popped into my head was Courbet's Origin of the World but I think that's more like respect, and also lots of people think it's just lust and they might be right. I did think this little kid's art on flickr pretty much nailed it. I ended up choosing Da Vinci. I've always been a bit scared of and impressed by the look on St. Anne's face. All in all, I find it kind of strange how few examples I could come up with. Anybody else have any ideas?


- sally mckay 11-28-2007 5:56 pm

i guess i should get this out of the way early on.

- bill 11-28-2007 6:34 pm

thanks Bill. I'm posting it.

Robert Indiana, Love, 1967

- sally mckay 11-28-2007 7:35 pm

Frans Hals' Marriage Portrait of Isaac Massa en Beatrix van der Laen


- L.M. 11-28-2007 9:15 pm

there's this,
in a "love is messed up" sort of way.
- joester (guest) 11-28-2007 9:44 pm

Right on joester:


If you love me, kill my '80's blouse. Kill it. kill it.
- L.M. 11-28-2007 9:54 pm

Top Ten:

1) Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern:

2) The Koons series Made in Heaven, which i think, regards of its pornography, is a delicate discussion of what happens when lust and the idealization of heterosexual, protestant marriage move into something resembling love

Hockney, In The Beginning, Graphite, 1967

4) i cant find a picture of it, but Jack Peirson's installation in memory of Kurt Cobain, because its about growing up, and about figuring out who yr heros are, and because it makes something harsh out of trash, but harsh in a way that seems honest...

5) i know that this cassatt is cloying, but it moves me, and i think its because of its delicacy, at least formally
Mary Cassatt, Toilette

6) Freud, Man With Leg Up, 1992
the sitter is Lee Bowery, and I think FReuds ability to determine use value out of almost anyone, and also his desire to document flesh, to love flesh, to love all flesh, not out of desire but out of curiousity towards humanity, as a kind of non christ like christianity,

7) Warhol's Sleep

8) Chuck Close's Self Portraits, but not in an ego way (is that possible?)

9) All of Francis Bacon's portraits of George Dyer, how he hated him, lusted after him, how dyer completed him, and how he completed dyer, all of the seeking to create, and the instinct to erase, the obsessiveness, and the haunting, and the hurt--its love, but its a nasty, difficult, brutish/brutal love, a love that immolates all who step too close--its the exact opposite, i t hink of that cassatt (here is a snap i took where they were in my friend wil's apartment)

10) Houksai's 100 views of Mt Fuji/Atgets photos of Paris/Eggleston's photo's of Memphis, etc
where love is about place, not people
- anthony (guest) 11-28-2007 10:04 pm

Illustrated guide to anthony's post:













(I like the Koons too.)

- L.M. 11-28-2007 10:32 pm

oh my golly these are all great! I emailed my classmates in case any of them want to share their assignments too. We'll see if any of them bite.

I can relate to the plump contentment of those two in the Frans Hals painting. I've been thinking about that Ulay and Ambramovic performance ever since Joester told me about it back in the early 90s. I also think that Lucien Freud painting is totally fabulous, and Anthony I think you are onto something interesting with that bit about loving of flesh, all flesh.
- sally mckay 11-28-2007 10:58 pm

I had such a hard time with this assignment, too - I don't know why as it seemed so easy.

When it comes down to it, I'd probably have to pick some combo of:

Tracey Emin's "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With"

Even though I generally don't like her work, I've always liked the simplicity of this piece and how's it's literally everyone she has ever shared a bed with, including platonically.

And Nan Goldin's photo of her mother laughing, which is on the middle of this page:

The masochistic part of me also though of Daniel Barrow's "Catalogue of the Original" which is about one of Liberace's boyfriends who continuously had surgery to look more and more like Liberace. But that's kind of dark.

- gabby (guest) 11-28-2007 11:38 pm

That Daniel Barrow piece is brilliant,(I've seen the performance 4 times and I never thought it was cynical either). Good choice.
- L.M. 11-28-2007 11:52 pm

Images for Gabby's choices...

Tracey Emin's "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With"...
emin 1

emin 2

Nan Goldin's photo of her mother laughing...

Daniel Barrow's piece (although I'm not sure these are the right ones,
they are from a piece called The Face of Everything, documented here)...
barrow 1

barrow 2

- sally mckay 11-29-2007 12:20 am

The face of Everything is the name of the performance piece where he live animates all these illustrations with layers of acetate. Catalogue of the original might refer to the images he made from this performance. But it's all from Scott Thorson's "Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace".
- L.M. 11-29-2007 12:33 am

scott thorson

very interesting. Apparently, Scott Thorson is one of those people who uses the phrase "lady friend" (shudder).
- sally mckay 11-29-2007 1:15 am

And we shudder because we only answer to Lay-deh?
- L.M. 11-29-2007 1:21 am

I've never seen "The Face of Everything," which I think is all about Thorson and Liberace, but there's 2 cards in "Catalogue of the original" about him as well (under "trading cards" here: which is where I know it from.

I have a secret, non-sexual crush on Daniel Barrow.
- gabby (guest) 11-29-2007 2:33 am

The trading cards are what I meant by images, should have bothered to check his site, but I'm lazy.
- L.M. 11-29-2007 3:03 am

trading cards! they're fabulous.

barrow trading card

- sally mckay 11-29-2007 4:19 am

- anonymous (guest) 11-29-2007 4:24 am

Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses soeurs from anon's link above (artist unknown):


I was always curious about this painting ever since I saw it on a cover of some Italian novel years ago. (was it also reproduced as a tableau in a Peter Greenaway movie??)

From Wikipedia:

The presumed subject of the painting Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses soeurs [1] by an unknown artist (c.1594), is Gabrielle d'Estrées, mistress of King Henry IV of France. In the painting, Gabrielle sits up nude in a bath, holding (assumedly) Henry's coronation ring, whilst her sister sits nude beside her and pinches her right nipple. Henry gave Gabrielle the ring as a token of his love shortly before she died.

The painting is a symbolic announcement anticipating the birth of Gabrielle's first child with Henry IV, César de Bourbon. [1] Her maternity is expressed in three ways: her sister pinches the source of the new mother's milk, the servant in the background knits in preparation for the child, and the fire in the fireplace signifies the mother's furnace. The love between Gabrielle and Henry IV is expressed by the painting of a love scene on the back wall and by the coronation ring.

This painting is interesting in that everything is peculiarly left-handedly-biased. Gabrielle's sister is pinching her right nipple with her left hand, d'Estrées is holding what is said to be King Henry IV of France’s coronation ring with her left hand, and the seamstress in the background is sewing with her left hand. Additionally, the painting hanging in the background is of the lower body of a naked person, but contrary to rumor, he is not holding his penis with his left hand. A piece of red fabric is draped over his genitals.

- L.M. 11-29-2007 6:12 am

that is one trippy Wikipedia entry. Girl-on-girl nipple pinching action is not why the painting is interesting, left-handedness is why the painting is interesting. Maybe the left-handedness is actually subtle sign of homosexuality? Because they couldn't come right out and show it back then...
- sally mckay 11-29-2007 4:13 pm

their is a long history of affiliating left handedness and homosexuality tho
- anthony (guest) 11-30-2007 1:02 am

King Henri IV was one of more likeable and charismatic monarchs of European history, for his advocacy of religious freedom and peasant rights. Quotes: "Paris is worth a mass," and: "Everyone deserves a chicken in the pot on Sunday."

(posted by VB via SM)

- sally mckay 11-30-2007 3:28 am

the nipple pinch pic was me, sorry, not anon.

the lefhanded = homosexual thing is really interesting to me. the other day I had a bunch of my friends over to play Nintendo wii (most of whom were gay and/or in the arts) and EVERYONE was left-handed. it was freaky.
- jennyhead (guest) 11-30-2007 4:13 am

Anybody get injured?
- sally mckay 11-30-2007 5:44 am

any tvs get injured?
- anonymous (guest) 11-30-2007 10:19 am

No injuries to anyone or anything thus far. My household is pretty anal about the use of wrist straps and handgrip jackets for the wii-motes.
- jennyhead (guest) 12-01-2007 2:40 am


This one came in from Molly over email...

I'm not sure how to post comments on your blog but I wanted to share my love image with you. I've attached Joyce Wieland's The Sprit of Canada Suckles the French and English Beavers from her True Patriot Love exhibition. I think this image, as well as the exhibition as a whole, speaks to the idea of social love, the love of all things. Love of the earth, love of animals, love between social groups that have violent histories. I like this idea of love, although it may politicize love, it also allows love to be revolutionary. Can you tell my parents were hippies?

PS. In the spirit of academic honesty, the idea of social love in relation to Wieland's work was sparked by Jenna Winter's MRP presentation.

- sally mckay 12-01-2007 3:53 am

i saw Daniel Barrow perform the face of everything at AKA Gallery when i was in Saskatoon last spring. I was blown away - he is one awesome artist.
- myfanwy Ashmore (guest) 12-01-2007 5:03 pm