Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Racy Hungarian Art: Part 3

Reclining Nude, by Lajos Pandy, 1930-1933, Hungarian National Gallery.

I picked this one because it seems to represent an aesthetic that has about a cigarette paper's distance from Green's. Like I said about surrealism a few posts back, it's very often not very far away from what one might take for 'realism' at all. For me, this picture could be the illustration for 'Surrealism 101': the half-open (or opening?) door to the parquetted Alice-world, the preoccupation with sleep, the wanton gratuitousness of its subject, the embodied tension between the fantasy of the painting and the fantasy that we are led to believe is being entertained in the painting, the open book which restages the tension between 'reality' and 'imagination' in mise-en-abyme. If Elizabeth Bowen's novels, which exemplify a literature at the ultimate breaking-point of realist style (somewhere out beyond Henry James), described 'life with the lid on', this is representation just to the other side of the looking-glass. It's an obvious allusion, perhaps, but the (Pandora's) box in the foreground has begun to lose its lid.

Less high-mindedly, that's a really comfortable-looking pillow she's resting on.

Don't know a lot about Hungarian surrealism yet. I'd be interested to find out if, like the English or Czech sub-strains, it differs significantly from its Francophone origins. I'm getting all of these pictures from the excellent Fine Arts in Hungary website, by the way, so feel free to go and inform yourself of Magyar art subjects that are less racy, or more to your own tastes in raciness...

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