A light-hearted survey course that I, Alexis Clements, put together for my former work colleagues upon the occasion of our weekly beer drinking celebration. Some of the links are dead (I apologize in advance for that), but some people seem to enjoy this, so I've left it up. Click here to return to my homepage.

A Brief Survey of Artistic Representations of Social Interaction:
From the Caves of Lascaux to the Halls of CIW

Unit 12 - The Rites of Spring

Well, it's not exactly to do with beer, but it is to do with carousing. With all of those cicadas about doing what nature requires, I could not help but think of certain themes this week. And so I bring you a favorite artist of mine--Amedeo Modigliani--accompanied by a couple of other related bits and pieces.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Nude on a Cushion, 1917-18
Oil on canvas, 23.5 x 36.25 inches
Collection Gianni Mattioli, Milan

There is little that need be said about this image--at once photographic and painterly, it strikes a chord in all its viewers. There is something both ephemeral and eternal in her full, soft breasts, her over-ample thighs and buttocks, the arch of her back. She is irresistibe, to onlookers of either sex.

Some believe that art often falls into the category of decorous pornography as with Modligiani's high-art Betty Paige, and so it does, with good reason. Recurring again and again through the ages this single form has managed to excite our feeble kind to all manner of highs and lows. Funny then that I was told that it would be too explicit to display the form's opposite and complement, but I suppose we've all seen so many examples of it in the cicada form, lying dead on the streets and sidewalks of our fair city, destroyed by their manna; their mates.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Figure, 1914-15

Female Figure
Late 19th-mid 20th century
Temne peoples
Sierra Leone
Wood, glass beads, plastic beads
National Museum of African Art
Washington, DC

Anthropomorphic vessel,
ca. 1400 - 800 B.C.E.
Iron Age I - II
Northern, Iran
Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Washington, DC

Related Links:
Two goods sites discussing Modigliani and his work: Guggenheim and Archives Légales (in English, French and Italian).

Home pages of the National Museum of African Art (almost the entire collection is online) and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

A page expounding on the "Rites of Passage," informed by the famous Dtuch anthrologist-cum-ethnographer, Arnold van Gennep.

Website dedicated to Archaeastronomy or Cultural Astronomy.

A catalogue of the constellations and their mythological legends.

Modigliani in his Paris studio.